Thanksgiving was decidedly different this year with just me, Cliff, and his mother, Zee, in attendance. Zee, who lives in the apartment we built for her downstairs turns 95 this week and was hesitant about joining us for dinner. Meanwhile, my mother stayed in Sonoma and our elder son, Case, bunkered down in his own small, studio apartment foregoing turkey altogether. What with the new spike in Coronavirus, and stern warnings from the CDC to AVOID congregating, we followed their advice, but it came at a cost.
Typically, our Thanksgivings our BOISTEROUS, fun affairs with as many as 30 people in attendance, at least two turkeys, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, pies, and the works . . . . We set up tables in every spare corner and out comes the china, crystal, and good silver. The day starts with the annual Piedmont Turkey Trot, football games, board games, and finishes with coffee and dessert before heading home five pounds heavier. (Burp!)
Not this year. This year, everyone in my family were in their respective pods, each doing the best they could, and wishing we could all be together. My niece, Karen, set up a Zoom call just so we could say hello. (Hello!) It wasn't the same.
The thing is, whether you are cooking for thirty or just three, it turns out that a turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, and pie are the same amount of work. The only real break comes in the form of cleaning up after the meal, unless you bought your dinner at Whole Foods or KFC. (No judgment, the Colonel deep-fry turkeys for the holidays.)
The same is true for real estate. In other words there aren't any shortcuts when preparing a home for the marketplace. There are meetings, clean-up, hauling, power washing, disclosures, bids, painting, gardening, staging, inspections, marketing, showings, contract negotiations, and 101 details in-between. (That's a lot.)
When it's a condo or a townhome for sale, there are also HOA documents to prepare as we aren't just presenting the unit but the entire association, including the financial picture, and overall health. In short, whether it's a condo or a large estate, the process is very much the same, all requiring precision, timing, technology, hands-on efforts, a fair bit of juggling, and good old-fashioned know-how (just like a turkey dinner).
When working with Buyers, the process has become increasingly more challenging now that public opens are no longer permissible, meaning that Buyers can't weed out the houses they don't want on their own. Consequently, nearly every spare moment seems dedicated to meeting Buyers individually, sending out Covid-19 waiver forms (aka PEADS), chasing signatures, setting appointments, requesting entry codes, ordering disclosures, and driving out to meet the Buyers for a visit. (No matter how great the technology, it's the rare Buyer who can buy a house without stepping over the threshold.) And as we're still dealing with multiple offers on many properties, the majority of offers you write are going to lose as there can only be one clear winner. (Hmmm, sounds like our political discourse.)
Gratefully (and I'm grateful for much this year), I have Sarah and Jill in my corner, where three is decidedly NOT a crowd. Each of us brings different strengths to the table and as a result, our representation has become stronger and far more successful than our individual practices. It's been a match made in heaven. It's also provided balance, camaraderie, and a sounding board in a year that's not only unprecedented, but incredibly difficult to navigate as well. Suffice it to say, we'll all be better off with 2020 in the dust. (Last January, who'd a thunk we'd be here now?) Bring on 2021 . . . .
Speaking of which, if you are thinking of selling your home come the spring (and Covid-19 has definitely changed the trajectory for many of us), NOW is not too soon, to reach out. While the early Shelter-in-Place orders had many of us projecting a BIG loss for residential Real Estate (commercial real estate took the hit), prices actually soared, which means that painters, stagers, and movers are already booking out for next year. (One caveat, there is still a fair amount of pain on the horizon for many people, so the residential market could still shift . . . and probably will once the relief & stimulus packages have ended for good.)
Incredulously, for those of us in the high-end market, and in the midst of the worst health crisis since the plague, people who can afford to buy homes are buying them. In fact, I would argue that our homes have never been more important than they are at this moment in time - physically, emotionally, and psychologically - which in retrospect, makes total sense in a world where everything has been highly volatile, unpredictable, and uncertain. Our home environments may be the one thing in which we, seemingly, have some measure of control. ("Control" being a default setting for many of us - also an illusion, but that's another column for another day.)
So while the world scrambles to get back to a place of more stability, Sarah, Jill, and I will continue to do our jobs as best we can, to work with diligence and transparency, to adapt and thrive, and to deliver the highest result in the end, even if we have to pluck a few feathers along the way (and there are often ruffled feathers; it's the nature of the beast), JUST LIKE A TURKEY DINNER! (See how I did that?) Gobble, gobble. Happy holidays.
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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.