"What the hell is a car doing there!?! Was my last thought before violently slamming head on into the grey SUV driving on the wrong side of the street!
At which point both cars buckled, the air bags deployed, and we abruptly came to a dead stop (Ow, ow, ow - yeah that hurts). Let me tell you, that's not a great way to start a Friday evening. To quote Emrile Lagasse: "Bam!" (For the record, no alcohol or cell phones were involved.) Because this is Piedmont, two firetrucks, two police cruisers and an ambulance arrived on the scene in mere minutes, not to mention the many caring neighbors who quickly came with
ice bags and water in tow. Thank you. (I don't recommend it as a neighborhood meet and greet, but they were really wonderful.)
"I'm so sorry," the driver profusely apologized, "that was totally my fault. (Yes it was.) "Boy, I sure didn't need this . . ." she continued.
I'm sure she didn't. Who does? (Nobody.) Especially, as I'd just spent $1600 on a new fuel pump on Tuesday. Still, it could have been sooo much worse. I suspect my wagon is totaled (her ride as well) but better the cars, than the passengers inside them.
Ironically, I'd lived on Littlewood for ten years without so much as a fender bender, and now on my way to retrieving friends for a festive evening out, Jill and I had nearly met up with disaster. To be fair, it's a tough hill and completely blind, but gratefully, the air bags did what they were designed to do and my sister and I walked away a little worse for wear, but on our own two (four) shaky feet.
Darn, we'd just have to take Mike's Tesla to the art opening instead. (Now that's truly traveling in style.)
I'm not really a BIG fan of surprises (unless they involve diamonds) and I'd venture to say that if you are anything like me, you're not either. In the world of Real Estate, there's nothing that unravels a deal faster than an unwelcome surprise OR new discovery. "BAM!"
It's why I not only suggest full disclosure, I SCREAM it!
Unfortunately, not every surprise is as easy to put forth as what we know to be true about our homes: "My front burner doesn't always light." (Is that all? ) "Okay, my neighbors' dog barks when the mail arrives." (Dig deeper.)
More often than not, we have no idea what's really happening behind the walls and under the roof. AS it turn out, quite a lot. From wood-boring beetles, to active termite infestations, to inadequate framing, our beautiful older homes aren't always as "pristine" as we believe them to be.
Unless we are proactively having our properties professionally inspected every few years and correcting any negative findings, our homes probably aren't as "turn-key" as we might expect. (BTW, this isn't a terrible idea.) Even the most meticulous of owners can end up with a long list of unexpected items once we begin to look under the hood.
But, let's just assume you've done everything on your side to correct inherent flaws and to prepare your homes for sale as suggested; "SURPRISES" can still show up in the most unlikely and unexpected of circumstances, as happened to my lovely clients earlier this week on the buy side of a transaction.
We'd put together an almost unbeatable package which included an architectural consultation and a non-contingent ALL CASH offer WELL above asking, only to discover (post presentation) that the Sellers had "friends" they'd intended their parents' house to go to all along. Like the SUV I didn't see coming, I sure didn't see that unexpected 'brick wall' coming - and I wasn't too pleased either. BAM!
To the contrary, I thought my Buyers' offer was a sure winner by a clear margin. It wasn't - and as it turns out, no matter WHAT our offer had been, these 'favored' Buyers were ultimately going to get a second bite at the apple. (Nice for them, not so nice for us.) Now that's a surprise we didn't want, nor "need."
It's a stark reminder that no matter how well intentioned, in the end, we can only control our half of the equation. What Sellers or Buyers do on their end isn't up to us, AND as importantly (for me to remember anyway), "it ain't over 'til it's over."
That doesn't seem fair?
It isn't. (Supply and demand isn't about '"fair.")
The fact is, selling a home to whomever they choose, remains the prerogative of the Sellers - unless race, sexual orientation, or religion come into play. (Discrimination is never acceptable under ANY circumstances.) Thus a Seller can take the best offer and ask another party to meet it, beat it, OR court a lesser offer IF they so choose. While tough to accept when you come up on the short end of that particular stick, here in California, we don't have a closed bidding system for the sale of a home - nor do we have an open one.
Instead we have a hybrid bidding system of sorts, where the Sellers and their agent are the only ones to see ALL the offers on the table and then, are well within their rights to leverage one off of the other. Moreover, it's a listing agent's fiduciary duty to get as much money for the home as they can. If this means "tipping their hand" (or someone else'), subtly suggesting that one might be better served to come back with MORE money and stronger terms, OR outright shopping an offer altogether, it's not only legal, it's par for the course! SURPRISE!
(Didn't I tell you I hate surprises?)
No matter, we'll regroup and soldier on. The next ride is bound to be less bumpy if we just keep our eyes on the road and stay alert for any surprises around the bend. Bam!
How can I help you?
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.