"Happy new Year," I said to Liz. Liz and her crew have been cleaning our homes for several years and she's like family to us. I can't begin to express my gratitude for the work she provides and the dollars she saves us in marriage counseling.
"What will you be doing tonight to celebrate?" I asked as we stripped the sheets.
"My entire familia comes together to cook tamales," Liz replied. "We make an entire production out of it. This evening we'll prepare three kinds of fillings (yum) and tomorrow, soak the husks, create the masa dough, and roll them. It takes an assembly line to do it, but we all go home with LOTS of tamales!"
I should preface this story by admitting that years ago, upon reading a Sunset Magazine article about a family in Santa Fe that spent their holidays in exactly the same fashion - cooking tamales and THEN delivering them to their friends - I felt truly inspired and ran off to the specialty store in The Mission to buy the ingredients and whip up a batch. Not that I'm a great cook mind you, but I can comfortably find my way through a recipe when inspired . . .
Cut to two days later, a BIG mess in the kitchen, and a sad bunch of anemic tamales and that illusion went right into the garbage can - along with my inedible creations. (I'll stick to chocolate chip cookies from here on out.)
Maybe it's a genetic thing; maybe it's a Latin thing; maybe it's a family thing; whatever the missing component, my foray into tamales was short-lived. Given the tremendous work involved, I've decided it's much easier (and smarter) to buy tamales from those that know what they are doing, then to blunder through at great time and expense, only to end up with less than stellar results.
So you probably know where I'm going with this . . .
There's a BIG divide between what we think we know and what we actually know, OR put another way, between experience and inexperience. Perhaps because real estate is so often a topic of conversation, it's become one of those jobs that seems easily accomplished. (It isn't.) Just plant a sign our front and wait for the offers to role in - right? Not exactly.
Several weeks ago I wrote about a FSBO (For Sale by Owner) that had essentially made a "mess in the kitchen." The owner had a Broker's license but clearly didn't know the local protocol with respect to point of sale ordinances, hadn't prepped the house properly, didn't know the correct day for the Brokers' Tour, wasn't connected to a Realtor network, hadn't addressed the "red flags" within the pest report, and most fatally, had overpriced the property. In a nutshell (or a corn husk, just to keep the story consistent), he'd done absolutely everything wrong.
As a result, in what has been the MOST dynamic marketplace we have seen in nearly a decade, his house languished on the market for many weeks before going into contract, but not until he had reduced the price and addressed some of the outstanding issues first. I'm certain, that's not the result Mr. Seller has anticipated. In this instance, the money the FSBO Seller saved by overseeing the sale himself, was absolutely lost in translation.
In practice, a good Realtor is: part salesman, part therapist, part cheerleader, part juggler, part magician, part problem-solver, part negotiator, part advocate, part director, part producer, and part detective. (Realtors are NOT tax advisors or legal consultants as our license precludes us from giving advise in those areas, so please speak to your CPA or attorney as needed.) Realtors not only know the market in which you live, they often shape it.
So if a move is in your near future, or sits much further out, please reach out to a professional and include him or her in the planning as part of the process. (I'm just a phone call away.) I'm available to oversee whatever transition you seek and most importantly, to help you achieve your goals. If you plan to move after the school year ends in June, it's really NOT to soon to speak to a Realtor now. In fact, you should already be getting on their schedule and moving into action.
Finally, a word about the concept of an "assembly line," which Liz offered as a key to her success. Here at The GRUBB Co. we also have a group of highly-skilled and dedicated professionals that work diligently behind the scenes. From photographers, to escrow coordinators, to assistants, to marketing specialists, to on-site Brokers and decision makers, the creative team is part and parcel of your success. When you work with one of us, you gain the collective wisdom and experience of us all. Hey, it's a new year and I'm ready to get back into the kitchen and start cooking (metaphorically speaking that is; tamales will definitely NOT be on the menu.). In short, I'll work with my strengths and focus on what I know, AND "what I know" today is that the market is incredibly exuberant, buyer demand is high, supply is underserved, interest rates are historically low, job growth is on the rise, consumer confidence is UP, gas prices are down, and we have every reason to believe that 2015 will deliver as well as or better than 2014. For Sellers, it doesn't get much better than that so don't miss this golden opportunity.
How can I help you?
(P.S. - That wasn't rain a few weeks back, those were my tears. An engineering snafu and a holiday break added up to a bit of a setback. (What else is new?) You can follow my ongoing renovation on my new Blog: Renovation Riptide. I invite your comments and stories. )
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.