"Mom!" my son, Tristan yelled up from the family room downstairs, "Buck has a tick on his neck. You need to get it off!" (EW!) Disclaimer: I can handle spiders (even the BIG, hairy ones) but I don't do ticks! The last time I tried, the displaced bug found a home on me instead. (I'll spare you the gory details). I quickly threw a leash on Buck, loaded him into the back of the Matrix, and headed for the local veterinarian clinic on Telegraph Avenue. Waiting patiently to see the doctor (evidently, they don't consider parasites to be an emergency!) I marveled at the diversity within the animal kingdom.
Sitting next to my nervous Labrador were an English Bull Dog with a bad cold who could barely breathe, a Maltese that had been abandoned and needed a bath, a highly anxious Jack Russell Terrier, and a shivering toy Chihuahua (as if they weren't small enough already); none of whom wanted to be there. (Uh, neither did their owners.) Still, it's truly amazing to think that each of these critters descended from the common grey wolf over the last 15,000 years (I looked it up). Forget Darwin and the theory of natural selection, it seems that man has been highly instrumental in the diverse engineering of dogs, which is now greater than any other land animal (thank you Wikipedia). Small, large, brown, black, red, floppy eared, stunted tails, long hair and now, through the miracle of science NON-shedding, you're sure to find a species that fulfills your needs and brings you great joy.
"With a knick, knack paddywhack, give a dog a bone; This old man came rolling home."
Houses are a lot like dogs; they come in all shapes and sizes. From a mud hut to a mansion, old-world to modern, there's no end to the diversity in styles the world over. Some of them are "value plays" meaning they offer A LOT of house for the dollar, while others are going to exchange hands at a premium, due to their outstanding condition, their coveted locations, or the highly desirable qualities of the homes themselves. Some are true "starter" houses, while others represent transitional spaces and still others, become the final home you will ever purchase. Whatever you seek, you are certain to find a home that meets your desires, although it's likely you may end up with something entirely different than what you thought. I'm not working with too many of you in search of mud huts, nor is there much call for mansions in this more conservative world nowadays (even "McMansions" have become far less desirable), but for those of you seeking a domicile in between (and that's just about ALL of you) I have a fairly good track record for helping Buyers find and acquire their first, second, or last home - as long as one's expectations are in line with one's pocketbook.
However, I have also discovered that Buyers may not actually know what it is they seek, even when presented with a near "perfect match" on the very first outing. It's a fact that most of you have got to do a fair amount of pecking and scratching before finding the house that feels "right," which is entirely appropriate by the way. For lack of a better term, you haven't quite been "house-broken" yet! That takes a bit of practice and experience and gets easier with time.
In fact, Buyers who stumble across the "right" home on the first outing, rarely recognize it as such. Until they have discounted several rejects and have seen enough properties to form a fair assessment of "value," they'll probably pass it by. That's okay, there will be others and they'll be just as wonderful. (They will!)
Cliff and I have bought several homes through the years, and they've all been vastly different from one another. When we moved to Piedmont from San Francisco, we had our hearts set on a turn-of-the-century Brown Shingle in the center of town (we just couldn't afford it). We purchased a mid-century barn with a fabulous garden instead. Either way, we've been incredibly lucky. Our home has evolved over time and its nearly where we want it to be (nearly).
As for dogs, my husband has always favored Golden Retrievers, but our elder son, Case, had other plans. He picked out an adorable Black Lab puppy instead, several years ago. Buck (the dog - not the boy) brings us tremendous joy (although the boys aren't bad either) and Cliff loves him every bit as much as the Goldens we've said goodbye to along the way . . . except for the ticks! (Those we don't love.) Like the spiders, they seem to have become my responsibility. I think I'll just keep heading to the vet's "With a knick, knack paddywhack, give a dog a bone, This old man came rolling home . . ." .
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.