I can't stand it anymore; I'll give up restaurants (Who needs the calories?), I'll dye my own hair (although I really shouldn't), I'll even REGRETFULLY forego my European vacation (say it isn't so, Joe), but it's probably the movies I miss most of all.
While our household has no shortage of televisions (too many, really), let's just admit that watching Netflix on the living room sofa is not the same as sitting at the Grand Lake Theater, or hoping to win the raffle prize at the charming Piedmont Theatre. I miss the BIG screen, the Coming Attractions, the buttered popcorn, the Milk Duds (preferably mixed into the popcorn), BOOMING SURROUND SOUND (although the nightly firecrackers are giving it a go), the organ music, and the overall experience of sitting in a movie theater laughing or crying with others.
Luckily, my husband misses the movies as much as I do, so last week, Cliff bought himself an early Father's Day gift and ordered a backyard home theater and then, with our son's help navigating the technology, the three of us watched Jerry McGuire under the stars, cozily wrapped in blankets. I cannot tell you how happy that made me. (HAPPY!) Yes gang, Covid Cinema has arrived at the Gardner household.
Having success with the trial run, we invited another family to join us last Saturday night for lasagna and a movie. As "social distancing" morphs into "social pods," "pandemic posses" and "quaranteams," we're reaching out to our nearest and dearest, while keeping in mind that collectively, Alameda county is approaching day 100 with many restrictions still in place, and yet, the number of Covid-infected individuals is on the rise. Consequently, physical distancing is still very much in play. With that in mind, be safe out there, stay 6' apart, and wear a mask, but feel free to come on over and join us. Just bring your camp chairs and your own drinks!
What's this got to do with Real Estate? (I thought you'd never ask.)
It's about adapting; adjusting to the current times, learning new skills, and creating new traditions and behaviors with the hopes that one day, in the not-too-distant future, we'll be able to say, "Remember when we were all stuck inside and couldn't go anywhere?" (Let's hope that's sooner, rather than later.)
Like other businesses that have had to adapt, the transaction of buying and selling houses has changed rapidly as well, and gratefully, COMPASS was already on the forefront of digital advertising, marketing, and promotions well before the pandemic hit. Even so, like everyone else, the Agents of COMPASS had to shift, grow, improve, respond, and then embrace the technology. Our weekly meeting went virtual right away and the tech wizards in New York and Seattle got busy(er) fine tuning products Compass already had on board, while simultaneously introducing new platforms to better help their Agents, and their clients, achieve their goals. What started as a race, has become a true sprint.
In other words, if you assumed that Real Estate had come to a standstill, it hasn't. Sarah, Jill and I are busier than ever as home owners move out of the City to "greener pastures" (quite literally). While some Buyers may have anticipated waiting a few years before making a move, current events have certainly played a pivotal role in moving up future plans and identifying and defining solution-based housing. That doesn't exactly sound sexy, but it makes sense. If you are working from home, conducting home-schooling classes, and sheltering in place, "home" is the optimum word, and more to the point, where we are spending the bulk of our time. So while you won't see as many "For Sale" signs on people's lawns, the houses that have come to market are, more often than not, getting scooped up in a hurry. We're working at breakneck speeds in many cases. (Sarah and I just sold 326 San Carlos in four days, exclusively.with private showings. )
Per the MLS (Multiple Listing Service), there were 81 sales in Piedmont last Spring (January 1 - June 30, 2019), with an average sales price of $2,589,000, or $814 per square foot. Statistically, listings spent 22 days on the market, although to be more accurate, there were a couple of very high-end homes that topped the 100-day mark, skewing that number quite a bit. (Given the small sample size in Piedmont, it only takes a few.)
Taking the same six-month period in 2020, 54 Piedmont properties are either pending or have closed as of today, and there are currently, only seven active listings. In other words, our market is down significantly. However, instead of seeing prices drop, they've actually gone up, due, in no small part to the LACK of available inventory. The average selling price to date is $2,823,000, at an average price-per-square-foot of $864. DOM (days on market) has been cut in half to just 11! (No wonder I'm tired.)
So while Piedmont is down approximately 25%, sales prices are UP! (Sellers, what are you waiting for?) Yes, it defies logic and expectations, given the state of world affairs, but certainly fits neatly into the "Supply & Demand" calculus and until that shifts, Piedmont is sitting pretty.
Pretty Woman, Pretty in Pink, I Feel Pretty, hmmmm, time to start thinking about this weekend's movie.
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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.