I just read an essay from our own fabulous neighborhood college admissions counselor, Dane Copeland, entitled "Life Interruptus" that struck a chord. (If you're not on her list, she's worth the read.) To be clear, my boys have both graduated from college, but good writing is good writing so I enjoy her blogs even though that segment of my life is now blessedly over (thank goodness). Her optimistic message is worth passing along, given the sea of negativity that continues to mount day after day after day . . . . For those of us who choose to stay positive, we can feel as if we are swimming upstream. On the other hand, bad news tends to cling, and let's face it, there's no shortage of bad news.
Which makes Dane's message all the more profound. In essence; life is not linear and a life interrupted does not translate to a dead end. Let me repeat that last part because it's incredibly on point right now: "A life interrupted does not translate to a dead end!"
For many of us who are currently in the land of limbo (and I'm one of those "nonessentials") and unclear about what lies ahead, I need to remind myself daily that collectively, as a nation and as a people, we have overcome difficult, harrowing, inconvenient, and heartbreaking trials before, and will do so again; that even as we are quite literally, more and more limited in our movements, there are still things that we can accomplish, both singularly and as a whole. (This is not the part where I tell you to wash your hands. I'm sure you've already received that email umpteen times. Corporate America, we got the message!)
Likewise, for Buyers and Sellers who were on the cusp of either bringing their homes to market, or were in the throes of purchasing, today's world-wide events are certainly a setback, but not a fatal blow. Because technology has made it possible for us to conduct so much of a transaction virtually, from qualifying you for a loan, to setting up property-specific websites, to delivering disclosure packages, to presenting offers, to moving through escrow, to obtaining homeowners' insurance, etc., etc., etc., the sale of properties has continued - even with tremendous hurdles in place. Granted, the sales are well off the pace we kept just a few short weeks ago, but the transference of real estate has NOT yet come to a complete standstill (although it may be headed there). In the meantime, there's still work to be done.
On Wednesday, good friends I'd referred to a COMPASS colleague (why, is another story), were successful in their bid for a home in Crocker Highlands and they were by no means alone at the bargaining table. In fact, their offer was one of six! It helped that this darling home had managed to have its first Open House before the SIP order came down. However, my listing with Sarah at 33 Cortez Court sold last week despite having no Opens whatsoever. To be clear, both these homes were staged and photographed AND online, but my point is that with respect to the sale on Trestle Glen, five Buyers left that negotiation still needing a house, and with respect to 33 Cortez Court, those fortunate Buyers jumped in and took advantage of a golden opportunity; one that wouldn't have been available to them just three weeks ago. (Smart.)
Moreover, these examples point to the fact that good houses sell irrespective of the market conditions and certainly no one is arguing that the stock market tumble, coupled with the inability to move about freely, doesn't create a DIFFICULT market (and marketing) conditions. (It absolutely ties our hands.) But here's my message of hope regarding real estate: lenders are still lending and they are lending at incredibly low interest rates, and that's a piece of the puzzle that didn't exist in 2008 after the financial meltdown. (If that changes - and it may - we'll need to adapt once more.)
So if you are asking me if now is a good time to buy a home (and many of your are), my answer is yes, especially if you intend to live in the house for the next decade or two. (Remember, homes are long-term investments.) That being said, if you are on the fence, if you are highly risk-adverse, if there's been a change to your employment status, if you are likely to cancel your offer as quickly as it is accepted, then this is not the marketplace for you. Wait it out. There will be other homes to buy when you feel more secure and when we can actually walk you through the house face-to-face, whenever that may be.
So what happens next, when we finally emerge from our respective dens?
I wish I had the answers. (Unfortunately, I don't.)
But if we will have learned anything, I hope it's going to be the value of our families, our friends, our loved ones, our communities and our homes. There's no doubt, our lives have all been undeniably interrupted, altered, and for some, thrown into a complete tailspin, but I believe the concept of "home" is more secure than ever. What happens next (for any of us) may certainly be delayed, but we're not at a dead end. Far from it.
So while I'm "sheltering in place," I'm using the time to organize closets and drawers, to tend to my garden and to clean out the garage. I'm reaching out to friends, I'm leaving bags of homemade cookies on front door steps, and I'm rediscovering Scrabble (and getting badly beat). I'm writing, I'm reading, I'm baking, and I'm on my Peloton (to counteract the baking). I'm prepping clients' houses for sale (digitally!), I'm doing my best to reassure Buyers and Sellers that the market will return even if it looks different from what it looked like previously. I'm choosing positivity, I'm practicing gratitude, I'm trusting that time heals all wounds, and I may even, at long last, tackle bread. (The need to knead.)
Why not? I've got the time, and time is a gift I am rarely afforded. I'm sure that's true for you as well.
Real life, real solutions, real real results . . . . . . . . Real Estate!
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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.