How Does Your Garden Grow?
I spent last Saturday in the garden working out my frustrations over a transaction that had NOT been going well, despite everyone's best efforts. My front beds, in particular, were too schizophrenic and consequently, what started as a small project quickly grew into a larger one as I began moving plants from one bed to another in order to create a calmer landscape. Some struggling shrubs were eliminated altogether (I can be brutal like that) while others were moved to more fitting locations in hopes that they'll do better in the weeks ahead.
Suffice it to say that digging holes for hours on end was easier a few years back when I was younger, so my shoulders and knees paid a heavy price. However, my love of gardening goes way back to the time when I was a kid pushing a lawn mower around our front and side yards (okay, I didn't love THAT job so much) and helping my mother in her own, sweet garden.
When it comes to well-tended beds, everyday presents a new bloom, an emerging seedling, or a visit by a colorful hummingbird. Yes, it's the miracle of life, but it's also intricately-designed programming . . . coupled with hard work. A garden has a short window to expand and grow before it begins to store energy for next winter and then the cycle begins anew. In short, gardens got to get to growin'!
And they do, which is why gardens are never static; plants outgrow their space, crowding out their neighbors, or conversely, fail to thrive, and then a move is in order. It's tough stuff, digging out the root balls and dragging the plants across the yard where they must quickly adapt to a new environment (plants don't always like it. People don't like it any better). And to be sure, the odds of a favorable outcome are frequently higher when I approach the task- sooner - rather than later. If the plant is too large, it's likely to struggle. Like all things in life, good timing is often the critical difference between success or failure.
So it follows that good timing is definitely true with respect to Real Estate as well. In fact, timing is everything, and frankly, it's not entirely within our control. For instance, it's fairly easy to time when you bring your home to the market, but tougher to time when your neighbor around the corner does. (It's not necessarily a bad thing if your house is the better value by comparison, but far more problematic if it's the other way around.) Easier to time when you sell, than when you buy, easier in an UP market, than in a down . . .
Aside from the mechanics of when to sell, offers too, have a natural rhythm and timing that's critical to the outcome, which is why Realtors often set an offer date. We're trying not only to control the timing, but to drive the interest towards multiple offers. In our highly, dynamic East Bay marketplace, homes that haven't sold in the space of two to three weeks are either overpriced, underrepresented, have intrinsic issues that are impossible to overcome, or are incredibly unique ("unique" is a euphemism for odd).
BUT with respect to timing, once an offer has been extended, regardless of how quickly or slowly it arrives, there's a short window to respond. In truth, there's momentum in the moment, which I encourage both Buyers and Sellers to seize, and that's increasingly, a tough ask, given that the stakes are often so high. No wonder Sellers and Buyers often falter.
"We think we're going to sleep on it," is a phrase that should only be uttered when buying a mattress. Moreover, when you "sleep" on it, so too, do the anxious Buyers. At which point, they wake in the morning and decide they've offered too much, that the house is too flawed, or that they'll spend too much getting it to where they need it to be and BOOM (!) there went your lovely offer - right out the door. In other words, "He who hesitates is lost."
So, if I appear to be pushy, it's because I am. (I know what's coming next and it's not what you were hoping for.) In my experience, you want your negotiations to move swiftly, not struggle along, trying to come to a consensus, or worse yet, wither on the vine. Like the garden that surrounds my house, my goal is to help you flourish and thrive, and ultimately, to bloom. So dig in; it's worth the effort for the return. We might even see a hummingbird or two!
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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.