""You're number 986,894 . . . ," the text message said. "We'll contact you when it's your turn.
No, that's not the number of blogs I've written (although it sometimes feels like it), it's my spot in line. At the urging of my sister, I signed up on Dr. B, an online standby list that identifies unused vaccines. As the Coronavirus vaccine has an extremely short shelf life, once thawed, those doses need to be administered PRONTO, or they quickly go to waste.
At last, a pathway forward . . . .
Now I don't mean to complain, but it's becoming increasingly clear to me that middle-aged Realtors are WAY down on the list. (In fact, we're not on the list at all, based on the sign-up sheet, placing me in the category of "other.") As working stiffs, that probably puts us just above dog walkers, used-car salesmen, and personal injury attorneys . . . but just!
My husband, Cliff (an attorney) turned 65 last October, so has already received his second dose. As I'm five years away from the cutoff age, I'll have to wait it out. That's fair: teachers, firemen, agriculture workers, delivery drivers, and cashiers all justifiably belong at the front of the line. Still, this may be the one time when being the oldest person in the room becomes a distinct advantage. As fate would have it (and by "fate," I mean the AARP), when it comes to vaccine distribution, older is definitely better.
However, when it comes to Real Estate, that's not necessarily the case. Sure, older homes may boast workmanship that's practically non-existent in newer homes. They may have grand scale and proportion, beautiful moldings, real hardwood floors (not the engineered stuff), lush mature gardens, and interesting curb appeal . . . but they rarely include family rooms or enough closet space. They often have knob & tube wiring, and frequently their main components (windows, roofs, foundations, plumbing, and electrical) have aged beyond their serviceable lives. As for technology . . . forget about it. Although older homes have the advantage of being one-of-a-kind, these century-old beauties can definitely be outdated.
This is where a good renovation can reap huge rewards. If you love older homes (as we do), it's likely that you're going to be looking at an update should you decide to stay put for the long haul. Let's face it, as much as we might appreciate the "bones" of older models, their kitchen and bathrooms leave much to be desired, as do the separately-defined, boxed-off rooms. Today's modern families seek more relaxed, open-concept living spaces and tend to congregate together in the kitchen while mother AND father cook, rarely, if ever using a formal dining room. In fact, most new construction has done away with the formal dining room entirely, and with good reason; it's often a waste of space.
Having sold hundreds of homes, Sarah and I can attest to the fact that it's the houses with great kitchens that open to large family rooms and big backyards that tend to do the best and attract the most attention - even if other areas come up short. As it turns out, the "great room" is actually GREAT. Moreover, the concept of a "nuclear family" has expanded and evolved bringing new traditions, understandings, and cultures to the house. Consequently, our homes have become a cornucopia of ideas, languages, and celebrations, and are far less formal gathering places than they once were.
So if your house has grown tired, OR if it no longer works for your family, OR if you have outgrown it, OR if it's now too large, OR if it's suffering from deferred maintenance, it's worth investing in some improvements and working with a professional to maximize the space and value. Just as life evolves, so do our needs, and so should our homes.
On the other hand, if the thought of a project is overwhelming to you; if you don't like the street or location; if you have difficulty making quick decisions; if you and your spouse are rarely on the same page; if your neighbors will make the process a nightmare; or if there are fatal flaws that no amount of renovation can cure, we encourage you to sell and move on to something that better fits your wish list.
But if there IS a renovation in your home's future, don't wait until you sell the house to undertake its restoration. Too many times, Jill, Sarah, and I have worked our magic, only to hear, "This is what I always wanted to do. It looks beautiful."
Wouldn't you rather enjoy the dreamed-of improvements rather than passing them along to someone else, having never used them? And with the advent of Instagram, Houzz, Pinterest, Etsy, and so many other creative websites, there's no lack of resources to ignite the imagination or provide guidance. (Start pinning!) And if you need help prioritizing what's a good return on your investment - and what isn't - we're happy to offer some guidance. Feel free to reach out.
If there's anything we've learned in the past year, it's that time is precious, life is fleeting, our homes are more important than we thought possible, and none of us is getting any younger! (Except me. I hear 60 is the new 40.)
Hey, looks like I've just been pinged; I'm now 986,893!
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.