How Did It End?
I have a bad habit of falling asleep before the ending . . .
It wasn't always this way, although, admittedly, I've never really been a night owl, even when I was dancing the night away in my early twenties. (Remember showing up to the club at 10:00 and staying until last call? Those days are long gone.)
Like my parents before me, I've grown into this "early-to-bed and early-to-rise" pattern as I've gotten older. As a result, it doesn't take much to quickly fall asleep when my head hits the pillow, which is why I'm constantly wondering what happened on the television program last night. (Turns out, those last ten minutes are really important.)
This is when Cliff takes great relish in making up his own version as to how the plot resolved:
"Oh, a Great White shark ate Simms. You didn't see it?"
"'He' was really a 'her' so the father became the mother and the kids were entirely confused." (Oh wait, that one actually happened on the Kardashians, didn't it?)
"Aliens landed and abducted Ryan Gosling . . ."
(Someday I'm going to kill him.)
Because my husband is an entirely unreliable source, I've taken to recording the shows I enjoy so that I can find out what really happened in those last few moments.
I bring this up, because the "ending" isn't just a curiosity, it's an important element to every story and this includes a successful outcome to your real estate search. In fact, the ending, is the critical part. Without it, you'll never know how to play the game or what it takes to win among a sea of highly competitive Buyers.
Aside from the listing price and the attention a house receives, you also need to know how much the property ultimately sells for and at what percentage above asking!!! Yes, the answers may be startling in some cases, but you'll never know the whole story - or the plot twists - if we stop at, "I'm sorry, the Sellers chose another offer." (WHY?!?) BTW - if next year's prices are higher still, you'll look back and thank your lucky stars that you jumped into the market this year.
Because our local marketplace is still facing far more demand than supply, trying to figure out where a house will trade, is akin to chasing a moving target. In reality, if your offer price doesn't make you think twice, you probably didn't bid high enough. However, if we fail to recognize market patterns in the first place, we're going to have a hard time getting you where you need to go. And can I just say for the record, that "getting you where you need to go" is often to a place that's going to feel very uncomfortable and slightly scary, under any circumstances. (Boo!) That's the nature of buying or selling a home. Happy Halloween.
Yes, you heard me correctly. The winning bid is usually a jaw-dropping, mind-boggling, "Can you believe it?" kind of thing. (Why yes, I can. Nothing surprises me anymore.) In truth, the triumphant bid is aptly referred to as "the gift," and it usually arrives from a Buyer who has taken their fair share of hits and is tired of losing, has added pressure to secure a home QUICKLY (i.e: a baby on the way or a job transfer), OR is someone who has unlimited resources that makes competing for a property absolutely "no problemo."
No matter what you call it, in nearly every case, the successful Buyer holding the prize was willing to pay MORE for that specific house than anyone else on that given day.
What's that tell us about the current costs of real estate? About "value?" About whether prices will continue to climb or correct? AND is the market sustainable?
All excellent questions. And while I won't pretend that I can predict the future or that I have all the answers, our past economic history confirms that ALL markets are cyclical, including those involving Real Estate. Which isn't to say that economists expect a "correction" in the short term - interest rates remain low, as does inventory; creating high demand, which in turn, drives"value" (and run-on sentences, apparently.) Still, it'd be very unrealistic to think that value can only move in one direction. Thus, when you do pluck up the courage to buy, it's important to make a very smart decision; one that takes more than just the house into consideration.Think schools, think parks, think communities, think transportation, think location (location, location) think future potential . . . think competitively!
Irrespective of how the winds blow, there are a few things to remember that may provide some understanding: first and foremost, markets are relative so if you are selling at the same time you are buying, a loss or a gain is likely to be a push. More importantly, housing continues to remain a solid investment over time ("time" being the operative word here), especially in the highly sought-after Bay Area. Moreover, the arc of Real Estate tends to move in an upwards direction. And finally, our homes represent more than just an investment within our portfolio; they provide security, shelter, opportunity, and a place in which to build memories. Hey, it's not for nuthin' that home ownership remains at the top of most Americans' wish list.
In the "end," we either compete in the market we are in, or we wait. Both are valid choices, but both carry some risk. Without knowing what the future may bring, it's impossible to predict whether or not you should buy now or later; whether to sell now or later? (From where I sit, it's almost irrelevant having bought and sold in both up and down markets. Let me assure you, it all shakes out in the "end.") But here's the good news: you get to decide your own role in the story. SO you should buy or sell when you are ready and willing to make a change. It really is that simple (not necessarily easy, but simple.) You create the plot's"ending."
Perhaps the most important question is "What serves you and your family's needs best?" Once you define your goals, price point and timeline, we then create your "happy ending" from there. Let's get to work.
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Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 18 years and has published more than 670 essays on life and real estate.