"Hey Julie," came the email, "congratulations on controlling 50% of Piedmont's real estate marketplace!" (Too funny.)
With only two listings currently on the market - and one of them being mine - it's the first (and probably the last) time I'll be able to claim this rare distinction.
With less than 4,000 homes in the whole of Piedmont, the stark reality that there are only two properties currently available for sale is sobering news to many Buyers who have been anxiously waiting out the holiday months in hopes that inventory would pick up again after the new year. Take heart, it will.
In practice, the "spring market" begins to bloom after the Super Bowl, not before, primarily because most Sellers don't crystalize their goals until the new year rolls around . . . THEN they reach out to their local Realtor to discuss their plans in earnest.
If there are school-age kids involved, Sellers will likely hold off until April or May to actually bring their home to market in order to finish out the academic year. Others don't know they want to sell until an unexpected life event occurs that forces the move, OR until they walk into a property they hadn't anticipated falling head-over-heels in love with, and do . . . Cut to: a mad dash to get their home onto the market and sold within in a few week's time; a scenario that's best avoided with a little foresight and planning.
In contrast, my Seller at 120 Fairview Avenue has been looping me into conversations with her for the past few years about her eventual plans. As such, she's been meticulously preparing her house along the way, replacing the sewer lateral, repairing the deck, and touching up paint where needed. Once the BIG stuff had been tackled, bringing her house to market was a matter of editing her belongs, rearranging the furniture, hanging fresh towels, power washing the bricks, sprucing up the garden, and touching up the paint.
Which isn't meant to suggest that such chores aren't still a ton of work.(They are.) Preparing a property for sale is nothing short of a full-scale production, even when a property has been beautifully maintained. (We've all got too much "stuff" to sort through and shed.) And even with proper planning, there are often weeks of intensive labor to ready a home for sale, if not months. BUT because this Seller has been incredibly proactive, she's virtually without competition in the current marketplace (as am I, thank you very much) and to no one's surprise, the response to her lovely home has been overwhelmingly positive. Or as my mother always said: "The early bird gets the worm!" (We'll be open one more weekend and then take offers on Tuesday, January 30.)
It also doesn't hurt that my Seller has teemed up with an experienced localRealtor, not a discount brokerage, as is the case with the house down the street. While Jill and I hosted 80 colleagues on Monday for Brokers' Tour, that nearby listing was closed, unclear or unwilling to understand the Piedmont marketplace and how to operate within it. Over the weekend, I gave out more than 100 brochures and was able to answer pointed questions both at the Opens and in follow-up emails. I can track who has requested disclosure packages, who's reading them, and how interested their clients are. I know how many hits the listing is receiving online. Each morning, I turn on the lights, bring out the cushions for the outdoor furniture, sweep and vacuum as needed, and change out the flowers where required. You'd be hard pressed to find a discount brokerage giving your home this kind of personal service or attention to detail. In other words: "you get what you pay for."
And Jill and I do work harder than the average bear, no doubt . . . often transforming properties in the mix. We're currently overseeing painters, gardeners, handymen, flooring vendors, carpet layers, window washers, house cleaners and a marketing team that includes graphic designers, photographers, drafters, social media experts, etc. on upcoming listings, so that our Sellers get the full force of our experience as well as our teams. We're ordering lights, picking up plants at the commercial nursery, meeting with stagers and calculating budgets on upcoming listings so that the properties are presented in their best light and can compete for the Buyers' attention. (Yesterday, Jill actually pruned roses at a property.) We're writing copy, designing email blasts, sending out the blog and yes, baking cookies, making sure that all roads lead to your home, because in an Internet-driven world, these details are vitally important!
And that's what you want. With the vast majority of Buyers beginning their search on the Internet, creating a visually compelling story around your home has never been more important (assuming of course, that getting the largest return on your investment is important to you, and I'm assuming it is). Because when it comes to selling your home, you not only need a Realtor that understands what's at stake, you deserve it. In short, great Realtors understand BOTH the process AND the dream.
How can I help you?
Check out some "before and after" photos on my website at: juliegardner.com
P.S. My new email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.