I glanced over at my new Buyer, an expectant mother who was just a few months along. She and her husband had recently arrived in the East Bay by way of Florida, and the three of us were on a car tour of the Oakland neighborhoods, while I described the pluses and minuses of each. Because of the topography of the hills and the expansive area to cover, it's an incredibly windy tour at best. Due to years of aggressive San Francisco driving and the limited time restraints, it was a bit like being in the car with Mario Andretti (my apologies, I really should slow down).
"How are you feeling?" I asked her as I curved my way down the hill, recognizing the all too familiar "green around the gills" kind of look I had experienced with my own two pregnancies, several years ago.
"I'm a little carsick," she meekly responded, as nausea began to creep in.
"Hang on, we're almost done," I said, heading back to the Village, "I know exactly how you feel" (and regretfully, I did).
Listen, I know there are women who weather pregnancies gracefully, but I wasn't one of them. Morning sickness? Please!!! I wrestled with it morning, noon, and night for forty weeks, only finding relief after giving birth - and still managed to gain fifty pounds with each son (that's just too cruel).
In contrast, my girlfriend carried so effortlessly, that she agreed to be a surrogate for her brother and his wife, who were unable to successfully carry on their own. That's true grace. Not me - extreme morning sickness had prevented me from trying for that elusive girl, although my husband, Cliff, passionately argued in favor of another attempt (you carry it). After two very "green" experiences, no way I was going back in for round three. I literally, couldn't stomach it.
That's a bit how my sellers felt recently as we worked our way through the sale of their lovely home. After wrangling on a price, waiting patiently for inspections, and then negotiating once again, they sincerely began to wonder at what point the whole thing would just be over. Mind you, their sale wasn't atypical; in fact, it was very common as home sales go, with several rounds of showings, inquiries, zealous inspections, and yet, more questions. Still, it's pretty nauseating in the moment as each side wonders what is left to be found and if the deal will finally give birth (it did).
Hang in there, selling your house is a bit like pregnancy; there's a longer gestation period than you would like, but the end result is usually worth the wait.
With respect to inspections, here's the thing you need to remember. Inspections protect the Sellers, as much as they protect the Buyers. So important is the "due diligence" process that The GRUBB Co. really frowns upon waiving it - even when buyers are more than willing to do so.
Why? Because disclosures - no matter how thorough - can, and often do, miss something that is likely to come back to haunt you down the road. Ironically, the longer we live in our homes, the less likely we are to recall imperfections or to point out items that may be of legitimate concern to potential buyers. Frankly, as homeowners, we tend to overlook the small defects (or even the large ones!) so its easy to make the mistake of thinking "if it doesn't bother us, why should it bother them?" And therein lies the trouble . . . .
In truth, that barking dog next door that you rarely notice because you work five days a week, can become a HUGE issue to the new buyer who is a stay-at-home mom with a young infant. The negligible amount of water that gets into the garage when it rains, becomes an EXPENSIVE lawsuit when the buyer mistakenly assumes that the garage stays completely dry, and the driveway you thought you shared (but don't actually have a recorded easement to) can really cost you BIG TIME if that agreement suddenly becomes something else once the new Buyers take possession.
In reality, an item that might carry virtually no weight - if known prior to the close of escrow - can and does, becomes a MONUMENTAL deal when discovered after the new Buyers move in and discover that their expectations (or your representations) haven't been appropriately met.
So don't just disclose 90% of what you think is true, DISCLOSE IT ALL - especially if there is something ambiguous that needs clarification. With a running start, these issues can usually be resolved or dismissed, and no serious Buyer will think less of your property, BUT he or she will be much better informed as a result (and rightfully deserve to be). With full disclosure, Buyers are hard pressed to claim ignorance and sidestep responsibility later on. Avoiding any unwelcome surprises with respect to a home sale from the start, makes everyone happier and less litigous in the long term. Ah ha, now I get it! (I thought you would.)
With respect to pregnancy, it's a different story. If we really knew what lay ahead - both with the pregnancy itself and the years of parenting that come after - it's doubtful most of us would go through with it at all.
Thank goodness babies are cute. They almost make up for the months of waiting and better yet, they are still years away from turning into surly teenagers (but that's another column).
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 18 years and has published more than 670 essays on life and real estate.