"Dear Julie," began the note,"Thanks again for all you've done to help us get to this point. A year ago I couldn't even imagine how to begin to move . . . your knowledge confidence and resources made it all possible for us . . ."
Can I just say how much I truly love such letters?
(Thank you.) Not to mention the beautiful flower arrangement delivered to my office. In a word, it was stunning!
In truth, our work didn't begin a year ago, but several years back when this on-the-fence couple had invited me to their home to discuss what they should do to prepare their house for the market . . . somewhere down the line. That line wasn't defined yet, nor was it clear that they would actually move anytime soon, but still, there was a grain of thought that someday . . . maybe . . . if all the stars aligned . . . (you know what I'm talking about).
Their vertical house wasn't the easiest floor plan to navigate with four bedrooms spread between three floors AND with a a good number of stairs to the front door. But on the flip side, it offered generous space, great light, stunning views of San Francisco and a central location that's hard to come by. That initial meeting was designed to come up with a plan to correct what could be reasonably "cured" and to let the rest of the Mediterranean architecture speak for itself.
At the time, I suggested they open a wall in their kitchen to capture a stunning bay view and we made a list of other home improvements that might help garner more dollars when, and if, the time came to make a change.They subsequently set to work on an elegant new kitchen and bathroom on the main floor with the help of their talented designer, Deborah Lewis, and I went back to work on my own home renovation. (What else is new?)
Cut to: last fall when we met once again and drilled down on a definitive timeline and marketing plan. This included a calendar of all the important dates to note, along with the "point-of-sale" ordinances for Alameda county, the sidewalk and permit history records required by the City of Piedmont, and the numerous inspections (sewer, pest, house, roof, chimney, etc.) the house should undertake in order to meet 'FULL DISCLOSURE' prerequisites. On top of all of that, were the logistics of moving out: painting, gardening, staging and repairs. It was a fairly lengthy "To Do" list, but frankly, no more than usual. (Selling a house is a production to be sure.)
Once the new year had passed (and due to a running start), we gratefully and unexpectedly put their Piedmont home into contract (off market) and then almost immediately, found them a replacement property in Orinda in which to retire and enjoy their golden years. It too, will need some updating, but they are excited about the prospect of this new chapter and are now meeting with architects and designers once again as they look forward to what lies ahead. All in all, a very happy ending!
This thoughtful couple doesn't represent the typical story. More often than not, a move comes about surprisingly quickly, as it did on my recent sale on Trestle Glen in Crocker Highlands, where quite unexpectedly, the husband had been offered a new job and a promotion in North Carolina. In that case, we had several weeks to ready the house, as opposed to several months, or several years.
AND just yesterday, I met with a couple who want to put their house on the market before spring break just a few weeks away as they are already in contract on another sale, subject to the sale of this one. While they too, have a few items to fix before bringing the house to market, they've been methodically working on their home for years, and with the help of a good handyman, (Yep, I've got one!) a fantastic stager, and our reliable gardener, we should be able to meet this very quick challenge, even though it's right around the corner. (Stay tuned.)
It doesn't hurt that I've got a full-time assistant, Jill, to run these projects for me and to juggle the million and one variables that come up. Nor is it insignificant that I can easily run over to the marketing department on the other side of the hall at The GRUBB Co. to set up photography and place my ads at a moment's notice. And certainly, it helps considerably that I've got years of real estate practice, renovations, contacts, vendors, and my own home buying and selling experience in which to rely upon - whatever the circumstances. (I not only talk the talk, I've walked the walk.) So at the risk of tooting my own horn, let's get together and have a heart-to-heart conversation, even if you're uncertain as to how it will all play out (especially then).
But be forewarned, if it's my opinion you seek, you're likely to get it, thus these discussions can be fairly blunt, especially when the goal is short-term as opposed to long-term. In other words, a quick sale means there's no time for "beating around the bush." The more coachable you are and the less defensive, the more productive we can be. (I'll just apologize upfront if I hurt your feelings.Talking about your house is as tricky as talking about your kids!)
Granted, asking anyone to be less defensive about their home is a tall order. (I have a hard time with it myself and I've had LOTS of practice.) If there's anything I've learned along the way, it's that we're all attached to our homes, not just for the spaces we create, but for the memories that lie within.
BUT if you can think of your sale as a "business transaction," first and foremost, as opposed to something you are giving up, you'll be far better served. Remember that whatever we gain on this side of the equation allows you much more choice on the other, whether it's to move somewhere out of state, to retire to a community, to find a 'turn-key' property nearby, or to purchase a 'fixer' opportunity through the tunnel!
Whatever, your goals, I'm here to help you achieve them. That's not an empty gesture, it's my life's work, and I love it. (Building Community, one family at a time.)
How can I help you?
Check out my Instagram at: piedmontrealtorgirl
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.