No sooner did we clean up from Thanksgiving than the holiday decorations began popping up here, there, and everywhere. (Some folks didn't wait for Turkey Day to pass before going all out.) For many, it's an annual tradition, and why not? The holiday season is upon us, which means it's time to start stringing the lights, trimming the trees, and dusting off the menorahs. Whatever you celebrate, our homes create the perfect backdrop to display our holiday spirit.
But have you ever wondered why we go to such great lengths to decorate during this time of year? . . .
This week, Sarah and I have been in beautiful San Diego, along with 2,500 other COMPASS colleagues from across 50 states who are all taking part in COMPASS' national retreat. The theme of this year's event was: "High Tech, High Touch," which encapsulates our personal philosophy in a nutshell.
In other words, it's great to have advanced technology support, but ultimately, Buyers have to cross the threshold in order to buy a home. No one has yet successfully converted the industry into "virtual" sales (although they've tried). Consequently, Real Estate Agents are here to stay, although the industry is certainly evolving.
"Does the recent antitrust settlement change the fee structure in your proposal?" the email inquired, referring to the listing appointment Sarah and I had presented a few weeks ago.
"Not immediately," is the short answer (the appeals alone should take years to wind through the courts).
But to be sure, the biggest topic for discussion at every Real Estate Brokerage in America this week, including COMPASS, is the class-action lawsuits that are taking aim at how Brokerages, and in turn, their Realtors®, are paid. As it currently stands in the state of California, the Seller pays BOTH sides of the commission. (In point of fact, the Sellers pay their own brokerages, who, in turn, pay the Buyers' brokerage.)
"Quick, quick, slow . . . quick, quick, slow . . ." the dance instructor said. "Watch me; the combinations fall on one, two, three, and on five, six, seven," he continued, "which means, what happens on counts 4 and 8?"
"We pause?" I asked.
"Correct! And this is her very first class," the teacher said, pointing at me with delight and approval. (Not exactly my first rodeo, but I'll take the compliments where I can get them.)
"Forward, step, back . . . side, step, together . . . step, pivot, turn . . . " (at which point, Cliff was lost.)
Earlier this month, I visited San Quentin with my husband's law school class. Cliff, whose legal practice has primarily focused on post-conviction remedies, has hosted this annual, student field trip for many years, and after nearly two decades of politely deferring his invitation, I wanted to know if "humanity" lived inside those imposing walls. (It does.)
"Do we really have to do that?" the Seller asked. "None of that was done when we bought the house." (True.)
Uhhh, when exactly was that?
We understand that when Realtors show up "recommending" a long list of items to attend to, our suggestions are rarely met with enthusiasm and zeal. (Why would they be?) And it wouldn't be too far afield to admit that there's something innately offensive about Realtors® explaining why it's important to "neutralize" the design to make it more current. (It's because we're usually selling to a younger generation.) We also acknowledge that selling real estate has become a HUGE and inconvenient production often involving many moving parts that quite frankly, weren't required two decades ago when you bought the home, well before Instagram, Meta, and Tik Tok became the vessels for mass marketing.
All week long I've been pondering the phrase, "hope is a discipline," which I heard in an NPR interview last weekend regarding the ongoing struggles around civil rights and reparations in the U.S. (We've a long way to go.) But the concept of hope as a discipline aptly applies to global warming, gun violence, "Black Lives Matter," "Me Too," the attack on Israel, the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, the war in Ukraine, 60 million refugees worldwide, rising crime, homelessness, addiction, food insecurity, book banning, reproductive rights, equality, lack of education, clean water, etc., etc., etc. (Pick your battle; there's no shortage of problems).
In a world that seems increasingly hostile and full of despair, "hope" can be hard to muster.
"I've called a dozen insurers," my client said, "and NO ONE will agree to insure the property!" (You're not the first I've heard this from.)
Whether its water intrusion, overhanging trees, wood-shake roofs, knob & tube wiring, advanced age, or any of 101 excuses the insurance companies have put on their 'hit list," the latest hurdle with respect to Real Estate ISN'T the fact that we're facing the highest interest rates in nearly 25 years, it's the inability to insure properties once in contract.
If you're under the impression that the current insurer will be only too happy to continue to insure a home they already cover (That would make good sense, wouldn't it?), you'd be sadly mistaken . . .
"My friends have a house in town they're considering renting," the email said. "Can you help them?"
Yes . . . and no . . .
While a C.A.R. (California Association of Realtors®) license certainly allows Realtors® to act as leasing Agents (or to actually sell ANYWHERE in the state of California), and while Sarah and I have certainly stepped into the leasing role when pressed to do so, the truth is, there are better options for homeowners and landlords than working with a residential Real Estate Agent when it comes to renting their homes.
"Wanna let you know we just got out of the mud," the email said. "We can make tomorrow's appointment as planned."
Good to hear you're alive and well. We'll see you then.
It certainly can't have escaped anyone's attention that those who participated in Burning Man this year ran into some unexpected MEGA rain storms that turned Black Rock City into one BIG, GOOEY, MUDDY MESS (!), making it nearly impossible to escape. A few survivalists walked miles in knee-deep mud to do so while others spent 10 hours by car slipping, sliding, skidding, and slowly inching their way eight miles out of camp onto a 2-lane highway, with tens of thousands of other trailers, RVs, and vans in a long line of slow-moving traffic. (Exactly, how fabulous is this event?)
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 18 years and has published more than 725 humorous but always informative, essays on life and real estate.