Last week I was enthusiastically encouraged to join the Piedmont Educational Foundation's first annual "Raise A Racquet" tennis challenge by my pal, Ellen Wilson, a dedicated athlete, a first-rate friend, and a tireless advocate and fund raiser for our schools (Thank you Ellen, Suzanne, Mary, Doug and the rest of the organizers for a very successful and fun event!)
This Round Robin Tournament required each participant to play several eight-set matches, each with a new partner, against different opponents throughout the morning. In short, we played A LOT of tennis in a limited amount of time and also did quite a bit of mixing as well. (I think that was the point, right?)
After three hours of play and more than a few sore muscles, I can tell you that some of these women definitely GOT game! They have beautiful ground strokes that skim the lines, instinctive court positioning, quick hands, and graceful overheads that definitively finish the points -" forty, love!"
Me? I got a inconsistent forehand, a passable backhand, a rusty serve, and a well-intentioned net game; meaning I volley often, but it's anybody's guess where that ball may land. (Oops, sorry.) That's what comes from putting down the racquet for a year to heal a strained Achilles tendon. While my technique may not have been pretty, it still somehow got the job done. (Anyway, this was all for charity, right?)
Fortunately for me, I ended the play on a high note when I pulled Teresa Gilliland as my doubles partner in the last round. (Ringer!!!) Teresa moved to Piedmont last August with her family and not only "Raised A Racquet," she raised the BAR. (Teresa's definitely got game!) Clearly, this wasn't her first time in competition, as she easily COMMANDED the court, and what's more, she was TONS of fun to play with. In fact, Teresa was so good, she won the overall high point for our group (a feat I was quick to take credit for having been her final partner of the day).
In reality, while she was finishing off our opponents, I was mostly saying "I'm sorry," or "my bad," to which she would cheerfully reply, "Don't ever apologize to me, that's my favorite shot!" Booya! (Teresa is my new BFF.)
Luckily for my clients, I'm a much more skilled Realtor, than I am a tennis player. My "game" with respect to Real Estate is incredibly well-honed, as it comes through years of fine-tuning and practice (nothing beats experience). At this point, I've become a "Grand Slam" player. At the very least, here at The GRUBB Co., I am in a league among the very best, and that's as it should be. Don't fool yourself, as with any "partnering," the company you keep is vital to your overall success.
And when it comes to success, my "favorite shot" is the one in which I am representing the only buyer at the table. With no one to compete against, I can easily analyze the recent comparable sales, collect the appropriate documentation, read and sign off on ALL disclosures, and write a persuasive offer that's sure to bring you the desired result: home ownership. It's like getting that high short return that hangs just above the net . . . one clean swipe and - winner, winner, chicken dinner! These opportunities don't come often, but when they do, they sure are sweeeet!
Unfortunately, much has changed between last year's Spring Market and this one, where a Buyer is rarely EVER alone come the offer date. There are so many more well-qualified Buyers on every good listing in 2012, what with interest rates remaining at historical lows and substantially increased optimism within the marketplace. Home ownership once again feels like an opportunity (!) and that's the good news. The much tougher news to deliver is that you buyers are in stiff competition and unlike the round robin I just described above, the stakes aren't nearly so friendly. In fact, they can be downright tough to negotiate. "Serve it up!"
Under such circumstances, it's impossible to deliver a "win" in every case. I'm simply not in a position to control where the value lies for other interested parties, what they can spend, how much cash they have to bring to the equation, or how quickly they can close. In truth, I can only control our side of the transaction and in so doing, will encourage you to put your best foot forward or in tennis parlance, pay attention to your footwork. If experience has taught me anything, it's that you may only get one shot. Make it your best!
With respect to last week's tennis, I was fortunate enough to have several opportunities to put some points on the board and land squarely in the middle of the pack (I'll count that as a victory). Frankly, putting on a tennis skirt may have been the biggest victory of the day when it comes to tennis and where I stand at this stage of the game. (They really should make those outfits longer. Nike, are you listening?)
Even with that challenge, what a great event, I had such a good time. Ladies, sign me up for next year - I promise I'll practice!
Game, Set, Match!
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 18 years and has published more than 670 essays on life and real estate.