I'm back after 16 days from our trip to Norway, Denmark, and Sweden; three extraordinarily beautiful countries that have managed to get it right both from a social perspective - no homeless encampments, clean streets, little crime, universal healthcare, affordable childcare, one full year of maternity/paternity leave, free university tuition, a $20 minimum wage, and five weeks of paid vacation (say what?) - AND from a green perspective. Each of these countries has significantly combated climate change and ALL are on their way towards zero-net emissions within the next few years.
With an onboard population that doesn't debate the science, and one that frequently bikes to work, or uses the fleet of electric cars, trams, and buses at their disposal, these countries aren't just beautiful, they are extraordinary examples of how government works for its people. No wonder Denmark (Not Disneyland) lays claim to the "happiest place on earth." (I suspect it's less happy come the winter when the sun is only up for 4-5 hours each day.)
No matter, for us it was an "endless summer!" We landed in Oslo, took the train to Begin, boated through the Fjords, and then journeyed to Copenhagen to meet our fellow riders where we then crossed the bridge to Sweden and spent the next week on e-bikes in the lush and gorgeous countryside, bicycling through waving fields of grain, beech forests, and coastal shorelines (e-bikes are a game changer).
The weather was perfect. It stayed light well into the night, and our traveling companions and Backroads guides, as always, were accommodating, resourceful, and beyond interesting. These global kids travel the world and speak multiple languages while dealing with all kinds of unknown variables, which means they also have to be able to pivot quickly. "Fearless and intrepid" describes them best; qualities that always awe and amaze me.
In a word, it was MEMORABLE. If Scandinavia isn't yet on your bucket list, it should be. With wide, flowing bike paths virtually everywhere and an entire population that speaks English fluently, these stunning destinations make it family-friendly and easy to navigate, regardless of one's age or skill set. (The airports weren't nearly as user-friendly; they were a mess.)
However, having been gone a little more than two weeks, there's always a rough reentry period to manage. With a nine-hour difference, just as I finally adjust to another continent's time zones, I'm back on the plane needing to reset my internal clock once again (I'm writing this at 2:00 am - WELL past my bedtime).
In my absence, Sarah put two of our upcoming listings into contract off-market and helped a third set of Buyers successfully get into contract on a duplex in Oakland. In other words, I could truly enjoy my vacation knowing that Jill and Sarah were expertly at the helm, which is why Real Estate partnerships work so well. Given that the profession is a demanding 24-hour, 7-days-a-week job, learning to enjoy the time away, counting on others, and letting go is critically important to the "fun" of it all - even if jet lag is the price to pay.
"Letting go" is a topic I've written about quite a bit through the years and one I'm bringing up again as it's truly the hardest thing to do, especially in a changing marketplace where fear, angst, and the desire to control the process all seem to coalesce. Nonetheless, here we are in a world of rapid inflation, rising interest rates, increased inventory, an ongoing war in Ukraine, low consumer confidence, the tale-end of a worldwide pandemic (we hope), congressional oversight hearings, and global warming . . . (Have I missed anything?)
At its best, moving is extremely stressful, and under stressful circumstances, it's downright painful, made more so by the fact that how we live in a house, and how we sell a house are two entirely different reindeer. (We didn't see any on our trip, but we were told they're plentiful.) Make no mistake, we ARE going to urge you to neutralize your home and that's not going to feel great to many of you who seek control, or have spent a great deal of time making your home reflect your preferences and tastes, often at great personal expense.
As your Realtors, we are asking (no, pleading) with you to surrender earlier, rather than later to the process, and let us do our jobs, with the additional understanding that many of the things that affect the final outcome of your particular sale will absolutely be out of our control. (We don't control world peace for example or interest rates!)
As to what IS in our control, that always comes back to presentation and pricing. Despite the many current hurdles that, frankly, simply did NOT present earlier in the spring, people will still need good homes. That being said, if we don't price the property correctly, no matter how great the house is, it's very unlikely to sell.
Buyers, don't squander this opportunity. Having suffered through years of NO voice, no choice, and no time (while offering more than you ever thought humanly possible), only to lose over and over again, NOW is your moment - there will be far greater parity at the table, and more properties from which to choose. JA? (JA.)
Sellers, your journey IS going to be longer, which not so surprisingly, is how it works just about everywhere else in the world. (We've been spoiled in the Bay Area.) Price adjustments and "transparent pricing" have begun to reappear, and negotiations over inspections will now routinely be back in play. Think of it as your own version of jet lag: the reentry can be uncomfortable, and both your body and your mind are going to fight it. Nevertheless, adjusting will certainly come for everyone involved, including Realtors.
Again, our best advice is to let go. We've sold hundreds of houses in varying stages of the marketplace and we can tell you that markets are relative. Although your house is likely to receive less than it would have a year ago, you'll undoubtedly be paying less for its replacement property as well. One of the beauties of a Backroads trip (and Cliff and I have now been on five), is that there are no decisions to be made; the hardworking folks at Backroads take care of it all and in turn, we trust the process and consequently, enjoy the benefits.
So let us steer the wheel, the boat, the tram, the barge, the bike (the property!) just as smoothly as we can. Our goal is not only to sell your house but to help you be "fearless and intrepid" while doing so.
How can we help you?
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 17 years and has published more than 650 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.