Watching my son graduate from college a few weeks ago from the University of Arizona, I was filled with a mix of relief and joy. Just between you and me, there had been more than a few moments in high school when I worried that Case wouldn't actually make it into college, let alone finish. So the fact that he not only did, but graduated in four years (and with strong grades to boot) was tremendously rewarding. (Good job, son; sniff, sniff.)
"You are an elite group of only 6-7% of graduates the world over," the commencement speaker announced, "so recognize your exceptional achievement and GO MAKE YOUR MARK!"
Those are inspirational marching orders, but more easily said than done. The truth is, that while some of these exceptional young graduates have already been accepted into medical or law schools (or better yet, have paying internships lined up) the vast majority of them are feeling rather anxious and untethered. (Ironically, they felt the same way going in.)
It's beginning to dawn on them that after four years of a structured, supportive environment (not to mention the "gravy train") the world is no longer looking at them as "kids." It's time to leave the safety of their schools and venture forth into the big, wide beyond . . . They're ready. They just don't know it yet.
If I had to sum up their feelings, I think it would be:
Ah, that's the $128,000 question. (It used to be the $64,000 question, but have you paid a college tuition lately? Ouch.)
Regrettably, unless your child (excuse me, young adult) had the foresight and the aptitude to learn how to code (mine did not) college graduates aren't really trained for real-life jobs at all - a lesson my talented niece (a recent University of Washington graduate) learned after getting rejected from one company after another until finally landing in the training program at YELP. It may not be her "dream job" but she's developing all kinds of great skills to carry forward and isn't that part of the journey as well? (Yes, it is.)
They'll each have to figure that out on their own . . . and they will.
In Real Estate, the "What Now?" question typically arrives halfway through the process once Buyers and Sellers successfully get into escrow, followed closely by "What's Next?"
While I don't have the answers for my son's immediate future, let me take this opportunity to illuminate the "next steps" moving forward for Buyers and Sellers as they enter into contract . . .
(BTW, if you thought prepping your house for market was a tremendous amount of work, you'd be right; however, the crux of the deal actually happens IN escrow. If we are not mindful (and often, even when we are) the escrow process can be a bit like falling down the rabbit hole.)
For those who aren't tracking . . . "Escrow" is the neutral third-party process by which a home actually transfers ownership. Once a purchase agreement has been ratified, a copy of the fully executed agreement is sent to the lender and the title officer and then "escrow" is officially opened.
During this time frame (typically 30 days) "good-faith" monies are deposited, inspections take place and are lifted, an appraisal is ordered, renegotiations are argued, addenda bounce back and forth, request for repairs may be issued, title is searched and satisfied, pay-off demands are sent, loan docs are prepared, funding is put into place, homeowner's insurance is ordered, pro-rated property taxes and transfer taxes are assigned, any outstanding liens are retired, a new trust deed is recorded, and ultimately the home successfully transfers ownership. AND all of that happens after a contract has been ratified!
Usually, the transaction takes place without a hitch, but I'd be less than honest if I were to say that it's always smooth sailing - especially in today's go, go, GO marketplace where quite often, the timelines have been shortened from 30 days to 21, or shorter still, to 14. In one ALL-CASH transaction I represented this spring, we closed escrow in just seven days!
From the Buyers' and Sellers' perspectives, that's fantastic news, but with the exception of the loan in these "all-cash" circumstances, the same amount of effort has to take place, and that's frankly, a tremendous amount of work in a very short period of time. Escrow officers, inspectors, loan officers, Brokers, and yes, your local Real Estate Agents, are working around the clock as we try and meet the growing demands. (I'm writing this at 5:00 am in the morning while waiting for a document to be returned that was sent out last night.)
As with parenthood, much of our work (and our support) takes place behind the scenes. In fact, the majority of it does as we try to keep "feelings" out of the transaction to better serve the deal (an almost impossible task given that we are almost ALWAYS dealing with a highly emotional transaction when transferring a home).
So hang in there, like those bright-eyed college graduates, the answers become clear as we move forward with purpose (not to mention some dignity and grace). Remember, if it doesn't serve "the deal" don't do it. The sale of a home is a business transaction, first and foremost. If we keep our eye on the objective, we will usually arrive on time and in good shape (not always, but usually).
In the meantime, just keep putting one foot in front of the other and try to do the "next right thing" even when (especially when) things become challenging. Almost every outcome involves some stumbles and falls along the way, some recalibrating, and some adapting, AND Real Estate is no different. When struggling, I'm often reminding not only my clients, but myself, that ALL issues are surmountable with good intentions and at this stage of the game, I know that to be true. In fact, that's essentially the same advice I gave to my son upon graduating.
Now, go make your mark, honey; the world awaits! (We're so proud!)
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.