Before we broke for the holidays, Jill and I spent several days delivering English toffee to many of my Buyers and Sellers and to those of you who have referred or supported my practice throughout the years. This isn't just any old English toffee, it's like crack in a box from Littlejohn's in San Francisco and it's truly addictive. So much so, it probably should be illegal.
"Thank you Julie, I hid it from my spouse and kids." was not an uncommon email response.
"My scale won't love me, but man this stuff is GREAT - we ate it in one sitting. Do you have more?" (I 'm sorry, I don't.)
The best part about these packages, aside from the yummy confections inside, was delivering them in person. Although a multi-day event, each checked-off name represented my own personal year-in-review. Jill drove while I jumped out, or, when it was raining, visa-versa (only kidding, we took turns). And while a good many deliveries were left on thresholds or in mailboxes, there were a fair number of opportunities to knock on front doors and say "hello."
Because the business of buying or selling a home is always an intimate affair, it's not surprising that many of you become my extended family along the way. It's in these rare moments when I chance to find you home, that I get to hear the happy ending and how your lives (and families) are evolving . . . In one case, my client was literally at the hospital giving birth! (Now there's a REAL delivery.)
"We couldn't have done it without you! Thank you." (You're welcome.)
"Come look at the plans our architect has drawn up. We're so excited."
"We landscaped the backyard and use it all the time now. The kids are in heaven."
"We're unexpectedly expecting!" (Okay, I had nothing to do with that last one but it's great news just the same.)
The point is, that homes change our lives and impact who we are in very meaningful and tangible ways. Whether "turn-key," or in need of substantial renovations, our homes take us on a very personal journey; one in which we get to explore the meaning of "home" and place our own powerful imprint. Yes, they require care, yes, they are undoubtedly expensive (especially here in the Bay Area), and yes, they will have ongoing maintenance requirements, but our homes are where we gather to build our lives, expand our families, and establish our dreams. In countless ways, our homes often represent the physical manifestations of these adventures and give us the opportunity to truly express who we are and how we embrace the world.
For those downsizing properties that in many cases, are now too large for their empty-nester transition, the change is, often, every bit as dramatic.
"We went on the trip of a lifetime. "
"Condo living is so easy."
"It feels so great to finally simplify . . ."
Not every response is unmitigated joy.
"Help, our roof is leaking. We didn't expect this." (Nor should you have. Let's see what needs to be done to make things right.)
"We want to refinance and found an outstanding lien." (That's problematic.)
"There's water in my basement." (Let's gather our facts and come up with a solution.)
But good, bad, or ugly, the opportunity to reconnect with you is what brings me tremendous pleasure and makes my job so very worthwhile.
To say that it's a privilege to walk along side you on your quest to create your own special "place in the world" is an understatement to be sure. To be trusted with what is often your single largest investment and any many cases the fulfillment of your dreams, is both an honor and a huge responsibility worthy of sleepless nights and gleeful celebration (I experience both although I could do without the sleepless nights.) to which I can only say, "thank you, thank you, THANK YOU."
Like any family, sometimes we've had spirited debates and I've been unapologetically blunt with you. (For better or worse, that's my style.) Sometimes, we've lost a house only to have gained something better and greater down the road; and sometimes I referred you on to a colleague who could better serve your needs. Some sales came quickly while others were a grueling marathon on the road to home ownership. On the best of occasions, we skillfully out-maneuvered the competition and came out winners.
As we look back at 2015, the market was both kind and unrelenting - depending on what side of the coin you inhabited. Through it all, you gave me your trust, your fear, your faith, your respect, and your gratitude. (No one ever said this would be easy.) What more could one ask for? Again, I'm incredibly humbled and tremendously thankful.
So ring in the New Year! May 2016 be filled with love and laughter, prosperity and health, and new adventures along the way. I look forward to hearing from you, your families, and your friends and continuing to be a resource for all things "house." Please continue to send your referrals and I'll continue to treat them with great care and deep appreciation. You have my word.
How can I help you?
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 15 years and has published more than 600 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.