A few of you have caught on to the fact that I'm now "a chain." Well, not technically, a "chain," but I am now being published in the Piedmont Patch, in addition to my weekly Blog here in The Piedmont Perspective. It's not exactly syndication, but hey, it's a start . . .
Writing twice a week has been an interesting exercise to say the least as the editor had politely suggested, that "a 'Real Estate' column wasn't exactly what The Patch was looking for," but that she felt my observations about life in and around Piedmont might draw a fair amount of attention. (Flattery will get you everywhere Amy - or was that a backhanded compliment? Hmmm.)
I can't say readers are exactly clamoring for my autograph, but I have met several who upon introduction, say. "You don't know me, but I know ALL about you!" Or as one very good friend succinctly described it, "Julie throws her family under the bus, and then she says something about real estate too." (Thanks Pam - although I see it more as restitution.)
Still, she may have a point, but with a full-time job, two kids and a household to run, I don't really have the time to create two unique columns each week (remember folks, I do this for free) so I've taken the liberty of borrowing liberally from myself, but changing the ending. (Is it still plagiarism if you steal from yourself?)
And what I've discovered should probably be taught in high school English - preferably before our kids start writing college entrance essays - and here it is (drum roll please . . .) there's more than one way to finish a story . . . . In fact, it's been a real growing experience to change directions and veer off into completely different endings altogether (as it turn outs, NOT everything is a real estate analogy. Who knew?).
However, this is a real estate column so let's connect the dots, which is to say that with respect to real estate - as with story telling - there is often more than one way to go as well. Sure, conventional wisdom would have you paint and stage every house before bringing it to market, but some homes have much better results when sold essentially "As Is" and honestly and aggressively marketed as "fixers." If there are significant structural issues, "putting lipstick on a pig" won't charm the buyer from deducting for major defects - no matter how dressed up that pig is (sorry Wilbur).
And with respect to buying - depending on the other players at the table, the number of interested parties, the current lending practices, and your ability to be flexible on terms, there are several interesting ways your offer can play out. Acceptance, rejection, counter offer, are just a few that leap to mind, but they are just the tip of the iceberg.
The question I'm most often asked - the moment a prospective buyer sees a house they like - is, "What's this house going to go for?" And to no ones' surprise I suspect, it is almost exactly the same question sellers ask as well. "How much am I going to get?" (In other words, "show me the money.")
Here's the unvarnished truth - "I don't know" (and neither does anyone else)! Until we have a real sense of the condition of the house (investigations and disclosures) the interest surrounding the listing (the number of parties writing) and the strength of the competition (WHO exactly will be writing?) it's all guess work. Absent that information, I'm truly stabbing in the dark. So while I often have a strong sense of where the market will lead, what I don't know exactly, is . . . how the story will end.
Remember, we only control half of the equation at any given time (yes, there are agents who represent both sides of a transaction, but I'm not one of them) and the only surprise ending I seek, is one in which the sellers get quite a bit more than they anticipated OR the buyers pay less than they expected. (That rarely happens in Piedmont, but it's nice when it does.)
In the meantime, I will do my best to inform you, based on the supportable data, the current market performance, my "hands-on" experience, my day-to-day observations and my highly atuned instincts. I'll seek to guide you in a way that makes sense for your family, advise you as to any relevant developments, advocate on your behalf, and support you throughout the process - and then I'll do my best to deliver the result you desire. (What more can you ask?)
But how the story ends? That's up to the market. Here's to happy endings!
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.