The high school baseball season is underway,so once again, everything is right with the world. Between two boys -respectively now 22 and 17 years of age - I've been watching baseball games since Case and Tris were old enough to swing a bat off a T, which makes for a LOT of years of shouting in the bleachers and driving carpools.
With the exception of a few painful moments (watching your kids strike out OR worse yet - sit out - is never easy) I've cherished the years cheering them on. Blue skies, a verdant field, the stare down of a pitcher, the crack of a bat . . . baseball hasn't earned the title of "The Great American Pastime" for no reason. It's not only the world's most beautiful game; a microcosm of life, of love, of working through slumps and overcoming challenges, of great saves and extraordinary leaps, of singular courage and team play . . . it's full of drama, last minute wins, and walk-off home runs. Baseball, has it all.
As equally rewarding as what takes place over the course of nine innings (seven in high school) is the friendships I've made along the way and the camaraderie among the team parents come the spring. Admittedly, after a winter off, I'm often enjoying my time in the stands, almost as much as the action on the field.
As anyone knows who's every been to a game - professional or club - there's a lot of down time between the plays, which leaves plenty of time to catch up! Which is why my husband and I RARELY sit together at a sporting event. I'm too talkative, too animated, too social for his liking. Cliff is a man who knows his sports and enjoys them with laser-like focus. He hasn't come to talk, he's come to watch.
In an effort to focus my wandering attention on the field (I prefer to think of it as 'muti-tasking') my husband, bought me a score book this year (what a romantic) and last Saturday, Cliff patiently taught me how to actually score the game. I'll admit it - for the first time in 15 years, someone asked me the count, and I KNEW IT! "2-2," I smugly answered, "top of the fifth." (I hate to admit it, but I kinda love keeping score.)
"That's an F-9," Cliff said. "It's a fly to the right fielder and the first out. Put a #1 in the box and circle it."
"That's a sacrifice bunt . . . you score it like this . . ."
"That double play is scored as a 6-4-3 and it ends the inning!" (Okay, that much I knew.)
And so the lesson went, through several innings until Cliff could wander off to his preferred spot behind the backstop leaving me with my new book.
I believe our relationship has reached a whole new level of intimacy!
It occurs to me that "keeping score" is just as important in the world of Real Estate. Like the game of baseball, the buying and selling of real estate is full of statistics. There are winners and losers and often, we go extra innings. But perhaps the most important lesson to be learned is that you've got to swing the bat in order to get on base! And remember, even the BEST players in the world only get a hit one out of every three times.
But in case you were keeping sore in what appears to not only be a fast-paced market, but a skyrocketing one, here are a few stats that might be of interest to those of you who follow Real Estate as closely as Cliff follows the box scores in the newspapers and helps explain why the housing market hasn't just stabilized, but rebounded in force! (Please note, this is a small sample size and doesn't reflect our nation as a whole, but is specific to the Bay Area. What's happening in Kansas isn't relative.)
While Piedmont, Berkeley and Rockridge weren't exactly the epicenter for "distressed" sales; nevertheless, this under water, state-wide inventory affected every communities sales statistics and median prices significantly and more importantly, the underwriting practices of Fannie and Freddie Mac and lending intuitions nationwide, making it much more difficult to qualify for loans and tougher to appraise the pending homes once in escrow. Those days seem to be well behind us . . .
So what's happening closer to home?
Per the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) home sales are considerably down in our fair hamlet. (No, this isn't just your imagination, there really is very little inventory.) Last year, as of March 2013, 16 homes had transferred ownership in Piedmont. This year, it's eight!
Not surprisingly, the average price per square foot has increased from $591 to $635; the average sales price, from $1,692,777 to $1,863,827; and the median from $1,380,555 to $1,545,000. Days on market were reduced from 28 to just 11!
So not only do you have to swing when the opportunity comes along, you'll need to out play your opponents, be swift on your feet, get on base, and then slide into home.
Gosh, I hope you like baseball. Buyers will be playing a lot of it this spring!
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.