"I still fondly think of our runs through the Presidio and Land's End every time I smell Eucalyptus," my friend Traci said. Traci and I hadn't seen each other in many years - she, having moved to the East Coast with her growing family,while I migrated across the bridge to the East Bay with mine.
Traci and I had met at an audition for the Town School musical in San Francisco (a fundraiser for the boys' elementary school) long before college tours were part of our vernacular, and we had immediately bonded. After the play wrapped, we cemented our friendship with long morning runs, while the kids were firmly ensconced in school, learning Latin or something else they'd later hold against us.
That was 13 years ago, but it seems like only yesterday . . . . Traci had texted me that she'd be visiting SF briefly on business and I was determined to see her before she returned to Greenwich so I zipped over the bridge on Saturday afternoon to meet up with her, her brother-in-law's family, and the 12-year-old twins she gave birth to after moving away. (Time flies!)
We met up at the Hilton rooftop swimming pool off Union Square where they had booked a room and were all splashing in the water. Amazingly, after five children, Traci was wearing a bikini and is still as stunning as ever! (I'm trying not to hold that against her.) In fact, it was almost as if no time had passed, but of course, it had. We hugged and laughed and quickly caught up on the story of our lives and our kids' journeys while the fog crept in and the sweatshirts came out. (San Francisco summers - remember to pack a coat!)
Her oldest son, Tyler, has just graduated from Trinity, while Case is away working for the summer at a Dude Ranch in Wyoming before returning for his Junior year of at the U of A. Her daughter, Isabelle, who was Tristan's playmate at Fairyland when they were just three, is now volunteering at an orphanage in Africa this summer, while Tristan is eagerly awaiting his driver's test before heading off to his last year at Camp Augusta. (Sadly, he'll age out this year at 16.) It's all going by in a flash. Life has a way of moving very fast!!!
This is especially true with respect to the Real Estate Market here in the Bay Area in general, and in Piedmont specifically, where homes seem to be trading at lightning fast speeds (11 days on average!) and often, with multiple offers as well. That's not the case everywhere. In fact, it's not the reality in most places.
While in Tahoe last week, I took the opportunity to see a few homes on the lake (yes, even on vacation, I'm interested in real estate - much to my husband's chagrin) and saw several properties that have been on the market for more than two years (now that's a long-term commitment). Granted, these are second homes so the pace is going to be dramatically different, but even so, I think it's fair to say that the practice of Real Estate here in Piedmont is a decidedly different animal from may other cities and towns across America, and even those here in California. (You might expect we'd be a "go, go, GO!" community when you live in a Hamlet where the lawn chairs start lining the street several days before the Fourth of July parade actually happens.) Piedmonters are red, white and true blue!
And once getting into contract, time moves faster still. With 30 days or less to typically close the transaction and vacate, you will want to quickly check off your "To Do" list in short order. (Remember your timelines begin as soon as the purchase offer is accepted and ratified!)
As the Buyer, that includes completing ALL inspections, meeting any new lender conditions, removing any and all contingencies, obtaining homeowners' insurance (you cannot take title without it) contacting a moving company, packing up your household, changing your address, transferring utilities, obtaining loan documents, signing escrow papers, funding, recording, and then taking title. Whew!
As the Seller, many of your responsibilities are the same with respect to packing, cleaning, moving, signing escrow papers, etc., but instead of loan docs, you will have pay-off demands from the lien holders who currently hold your mortgage and equity lines. You'll need to make your home available to the Buyers for any inspections they require which may result in a request for repairs or a deduction in price. (Hmmm . . .) Additionally, Buyers often ask for a final walk-through with the Sellers for a tutorial on the working components of the house (sprinklers, alarms, heater, etc.), prior to the close of escrow. While you won't be scrambling to meet the timelines the way the Buyers undoubtedly will, your pressure may come from finding a replacement property to move into - if you haven't yet done so, and that's no easy task. Take it from me, it all goes by in a whirl.
BUT you want it to. When it doesn't, it's typically because the sale has run into difficulties either with the inspections, renegotiations, unrecorded easements, or with the loan itself (but that's another topic for another day). Today you've sold your house and the sooner it closes, the better.
Congratulations. Now go enjoy the parade. You've earned the right to rest - just for a few moments at least. Tomorrow you'll be packing once more.
Happy Fourth of July!
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.