My computer is stalking me. It knows I've been on the hunt for wallpaper and lighting so when I showed up this morning at 6:30am to write The Perspective, there was a lovely little prompt on my home page: "New Patterns!" and I was off to the races, spending the first half hour at my desk ordering swatches. (My boss doesn't pay me by the hour so no, I wasn't stealing company time.)
It should probably make me uncomfortable to acknowledge that my computer KNOWS that my home is currently under construction; that I'm in need of attractive bicycle shorts (a misnomer is there ever was one - NOBODY needs to wear shorts that tight); that I don't sleep as much as I use to, and that Cliff, Case, and I are headed to New York to settle Tristan in for the next four years at Colgate and to say good-bye (sigh). Thus, like many newly-minted empty nesters, I'll need to readjust my interests and priorities seeing as both my boys have now growu up, and are on their way. (It was inevitable, I suppose, but it doesn't mean I have to love it.)
So with little invitation, my computer has begun sending me suggestions . . .
Invasive? Possibly. Useful? Absolutely. Hey, I get that it's a little "2001, A Space Odyssey," but I'll gladly trade some loss of privacy for the convenience and direction in its place. (A mother without a child is a bit untethered. Bring on the distractions. As it turns out, I really can look at Pinterest all day.)
With virtually thousands of choices available online, this type of consumer-specific spam is both time saving and time consuming all at once, but more to the point, "it's the new, NEW," as my boss DJ Grubb, is fond of saying. Between our Smart Phones, our I-Pads, and our laptops, we're spending more time in front of our screens than ever before and often our computers are leading the way . . . (Let's face it, our gadgets are much, MUCH smarter than we will ever be.)
As computers pertain to Real Estate, that means that much of our paperwork will come to you via Docusign (a program that's truly changed the way we practice Real Estate); your disclosures will be sent via e-mail; and your hunt will undoubtedly include more time on your favorite search engine than in your car. Property flyers will be sent over the Internet and with respect to my own listings, each property will have it's own dedicated URL. That's as is should be in an ever-changing, evolving world. We want to utilize the gift of the "World Wide Web" and embrace it fully. Spam? Perhaps, but it's only "spam" until it's what you're looking for; then it becomes necessary information.
While I'm still sending The Open Home Guide out to my Buyers on the weekends (old school), it's more likely that my clients will shoot me an email with an inquiry about a house that's "popped" up on their screen well before then. Gone are the days when REALTORS carefully guarded this information and spoon fed their Buyers the properties they felt met their specific criteria. Now YOU are clearly leading the charge. Again, that's as it should be. Your active involvement creates a far more collaborative working relationship and I'm all for that.
However, there's a fine line between a partnership and micromanaging and as a gal, who's been known to micromanage herself (guilty as charged), I'm here to tell you that such a process changes the outcome not one bit, but undoubtedly, adds to the overall stress of the transaction. In fact, we micromanagers tend to get in our own way - well intentioned as we are - with all the baggage that accompanies our fear and trepidation.
"No," we won't need that. (Yes, you do.)
"Nobody's going to really care about . . . (Yes, they will.)
"Why should we agree to that?" (Because it DOES make a difference.)
I get it, this stuff is hard. Our homes don't just represent a roof over our heads, but the culmination of years of memories and experiences. When one hands over one's house to a REALTOR, it's truly an act of faith and trust and I for one, am honored. I know that your home has a story to tell and it's my goal to tell it. It's also my job to deliver the best result which often means, I'll need to change the narrative . . .
Going back to my love of wallpaper, nothing probably dates a house more, as do tiles, and colors (avocado? gold? mauve? They won't do in today's Restoration Renovated muted world.). If your home is very stylized, saturated in color, or highly specific, chances are, I'm going to recommend that we change it, which is why professional staging has become the norm, - and not the exception. When we sell our homes, we need to be willing to let go and neutralize the backdrop so that the next family can place themselves in the house instead of focusing on the memories you've left behind. The family photos of your fantastic trips and your adorable kids are great, but please pack them up for the time being.
Here's the upside. When we truly let go, we get to create NEW PATTERNS, and that's as it should be in an ever-evolving world (whether we like it or not). So please, feel free to offload some of the stress you may be feeling about selling your family home, secure in the knowledge that I have your best interests at heart. Remember, I'm only getting paid when I bring you a satisfactory result (aka: a happy ending) so I have a vested interest as well.
You, me, life, new journeys, and the computer . . . we're all in this together!
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.