Watching the college letters arrive in our mailbox this month - some with good news and some with less positive results - it's slowly dawning on me that my job with my older son is quickly coming to a close. Looking back over the last 18 years together, it's both startling and profound to realize that it all went by so fast. Now that it's time to push my little bird out of the nest, it's also time to let him fly.
That sounds pretty good in theory, but as a mother, that's easier said than done. Without a safety net below, he'll either fall or soar and I'll have little - if any - control over where he lands. That's life in a nutshell, isn't it? Regardless of where we start, none of us truly knows where we will land. The future is either full of problems or ripe with opportunities. It's up to each of us to determine which of the two options define our journey best.
Watching my son struggle with this decision and the pressure he's trying hard to cover, the nurturer in me wants to wrap my arms around him (as I did when he was little) and tell him that whatever choice he makes, things have a way of working out. If he would still let me, I would whisper,"Go on son, take the leap! You'll be fine wherever you land. There's nothing but opportunity ahead of you."
Not surprisingly, I have often said words to that effect to many of my clients (unlike my teen, they are often more receptive). Like most BIG decisions we face, purchasing a home requires a leap of faith as well. Regardless of how well you plan, there is only so much of the process you can control. You can't control the inventory (or lack thereof). You can't control which offer the seller will favor or why. You can't control when the interest rates will rise (although we expect that they will). You can't control the demand, nor can you control when or where the market will head.
High, low, or somewhere in between - the market is what it is and fortunately for most of us, the market is also relative. If your goal is to buy or sell a home in today's world, you are left competing in the current marketplace. That's the ride you'll have to board which leaves you with two options; enjoy the dips and turns or get off.
In truth, Buyers and Sellers can only see the market through a rear-view mirror and often they are lagging well behind. With national reports that the market is down, foreclosures are plentiful and short sales are still very much part of the landscape, it can be difficult to reconcile the high number of multiple offers many of our local listings are now procuring or why homes are quickly flying off the market just as we were getting used to them sitting for much longer.
Guess what? It's time to adjust once more.
If you have identified a well-priced home, you are likely to be in competition which means you will probably need to make a decision quickly and under pressure. Is that a problem or an opportunity? That depends on your perspective I suppose.
While it may feel scary, a well-written purchase offer will (and should) build in an inspection period and often an appraisal and loan contingency as well. With these extra days in place, you will have time to carefully consider the disclosures and answer any outstanding questions you may have.
Unlike many situations in life (over which one has very little control) once in contract, you actually will see the landing pad.
So have a little faith and take the leap. These aren't problems, they are, in fact, solutions. Time to fly little birds. Time to soar!
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.