I miss Mr. Rogers (I do). Even though I preferred the quicker pace of Sesame Street to the slower programming of this gentle man, there was something reassuring about the song of community he sang as he tied up his laces and put on his cardigan sweater. "Could you be mine? Would you be mine? Won't you be my neighbor?"
This tune has been going through my head quite a bit the last few weekends at the Sunday Opens on Winsor Avenue here in Piedmont www.1109Winsor.com (Take it from me, once in, it's tough to get out.) Situated on a very visible corner, where five streets come together, this well-known "camel house" has enjoyed record-breaking numbers of guests. And no surprise, a fair number of these visitors have been "neighbors!" (Hey, the more, the merrier as far as I'm concerned. I'm a captive audience and time moves v e r y s l o w l y when no one bothers to visit.)
Like Mr. Rogers, I love neighbors! In fact, neighbors are more than welcome at any and every open house I host. Actually, I make a point of inviting as many of you as possible to your own private "preview" with each new listing I undertake. I even hand deliver nicely-printed invitations and bake cookies! (I really do!)
Neighborhood previews serve several important functions you probably haven't consider as you apologize to me when you come in. "I'm just a neighbor," you sheepishly say, "I was just curious." Great! That's truly music to my ears. Why?
The first obvious reason is that neighbors love to pick their neighbors! You quite often are the first to spread the word to family, friends and coworkers. "I know you've been wanting to move. There's a great new house on my street and the 'Coming Soon' sign just went up - you should come and see it . . ." 'Buzz' like this is priceless. Neighbors are walking, talking billboards - and better yet - you're free!
Second, when neighbors have an opportunity to view a nearby home and answer questions about it prior to the public open, it allows me to concentrate on the 'real' buyers come 2 pm. With the neighbor's curiosity in check, my attention can be appropriately diverted to the soon-to-arrive out-of-area buyers, as it should be!
Third, it gives me a private forum to meet potential new clients and customers. If you are impressed with the home and the marketing I have created (The GRUBB Co. does a beautiful job, doesn't it?) I am counting on you to remember me should you (or a friend) need an experienced Realtor in the near future. (Thank you for the referral. I'm so happy to help!)
Finally, Sunday Opens create a great deal of inconvenience on any neighborhood. "Warning" the neighbors that parking might prove problematic and that you might consider scheduling a movie or doing a little shopping during the Brokers and Sunday Opens is a matter of simple courtesy in my mind. Delivering a few invitations with the open schedule clearly defined, is an easy way to keep neighbors informed and to thank you for your much appreciated patience during this short-term invasion of your previously, idyllic neighborhood.
So stop apologizing and know that you are more than welcome. You are, in fact, an important and integral part of the process for which I am truly grateful. I look forward to meeting you!
"Would you be mine? Could you be mine? Won't you be my neighbor?"
I do hope so!
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.