"Are the new lights throwing you?" Jill asked. "I know they're big." (It's a BIG house and it called for over-scaled lighting in a few key areas.)
"Kind of," the homeowner replied, "They are just so different than what we had before."
"Wait until the staging arrives," Jill assured this lovely but slightly nervous Seller who had agreed to nearly 30 light replacements in his spacious home," and I think you'll see that it makes more sense." (Which is exactly what happened.)
I'm a fan of "The Godfather" (and of "You've Got Mail"), but I've never understood the term: "go to the mattresses," so I consulted the Urban Dictionary:
"In times of war or siege, Italian families would vacate their homes and rent apartments in safer areas. In order to protect themselves they would hire soldiers to sleep on the floor in shifts. The meaning of the phrase turns on the association in Italian folk-memory of mattresses with safety in wartime. The phrase wasn't well known outside of the USA and Italy prior to the Godfather movies. It was used there, and later in The Sopranos television series, to mean 'preparing for battle'." (So now we know.)
The concept of going to battle is a discussion I'm having with nearly ALL of my Buyers these days.
"That's a great looking house," I wrote to a colleague of mine, whose e-flyer had just landed in my inbox. "Where's it going to trade?"
"Not as high as you might guess," she said "unfortunately, there's a power tower directly behind it."
Ahhh, got it (that item WASN'T in the flyer).
While it's often true that a picture is worth a thousand words, it's also true that the photos we post online are carefully curated and don't begin to show the WHOLE snapshot of a house or its surrounding neighborhood.
That was a heck of a wind that whipped up on Monday night which meant that there was a fair amount of clean-up on Tuesday morning at the properties we represent. At 8 AM, I was at Mountain Avenue deactivating the alarm, sweeping the front steps, watering the pots, and turning the lights on when I was gratefully joined by Sarah's husband, John, a few moments later - electric blower in hand (Cliff was conveniently engaged), which freed me to meet Jill and Sarah for a color consultation at our next listing that's set to debut in a few weeks. Such is the life of real estate; it's always full of surprises . . .
Under incredibly trying circumstances, 2020 was an extraordinary year, both personally and professionally, AND I have every reason to believe that 2021 may be every bit as surprising. While many an expert predicted that the pandemic would paralyze the real estate market, quite the opposite proved true. (So much for predictions.)
Confronted with staring at our own four walls 24/7, many homeowners used the opportunity to not only to change their addresses, but to change their lifestyles as well. It's been fascinating to hear their reasons, to support their choices, and to facilitate their solutions.
Hey Julie, can I bring a couple of friends to see the house?" the Buyer asked, "I'd like their opinion." (Respectfully, that's a bad idea.)
I still cringe when I remember an interaction years ago when a Buyer, who was firmly in contract, invited a good friend to join her during inspections and innocently asked, "So what do you think?" no doubt expecting two thumbs up. Instead, her friend looked at her, and without hesitation, said "It's a lovely house, but I can't see YOU living in it." Ouch!
Years ago, I worked for a Broker who was fond of reminding his Agents that "the market is only ever revealed when looking at it through a rear-view mirror." Now with nearly two decades of selling real estate under my belt, that sentiment has never been more true than it was in 2020.
In a year that delivered a devastating pandemic, a hotly-contested presidential election, spelled bankruptcy for an untold number of small businesses and restaurants, created stock market volatility, set our state on fire (quite literally), sent protestors into the streets to demand social justice, and laid bare the stark discrepancies between the "haves" and "have nots," high-end Real Estate may have been one of the few winners, which is surprising given that the "Shelter-in-Place" order Governor Newsom decreed on March 3, essentially stopped us dead in our tracks, spring traditionally being a Realtor's most productive season.
"I can't start the decompression today," I said to my chiropractor, Carolyn , "I've got toffee to deliver."
"Maybe you can postpone it." Dr. Finnegan politely suggested, "Delivering chocolates isn't as important as getting you out of pain." (Uhhh, yeah it is.)
No doubt the doctor knows best, but nonetheless, dropping off sweetly-wrapped boxes of Little John's toffee has become a holiday tradition I'm quite fond of, even though the number of stops has steadily grown to nearly 400. Knowing that friends and clients have come to expect this annual treat, not even a jacked-up neck is going to keep me from my appointed rounds. . . .
"If you plan on driving your car up to the mountains any time soon, you're going to need new tires," John, my Lexus rep., explained. "These only have a few months left on them."
"How much?" I asked.
"With taxes and installation, you're looking at just under a grand."
It's not that I can't afford new Michelins on my car, but as the lease is up in March, and as I don't plan to keep my current ride, I'd much rather get rid of the car than absorb the expense for someone else's benefit. And when I found out that the "Extra Mileage & Scratch Protection Program" I'd purchased when I agreed to the lease three years ago, allowed me to surrender the car three months early without penalty, the decision was all but made - time to shop around. (I'm decidedly NOT a lease-kinda-gal anyway.)
Thanksgiving was decidedly different this year with just me, Cliff, and his mother, Zee, in attendance. Zee, who lives in the apartment we built for her downstairs turns 95 this week and was hesitant about joining us for dinner. Meanwhile, my mother stayed in Sonoma and our elder son, Case, bunkered down in his own small, studio apartment foregoing turkey altogether. What with the new spike in Coronavirus, and stern warnings from the CDC to AVOID congregating, we followed their advice, but it came at a cost.
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.