Scratch, scratch, scratch. An unfamiliar noise had abruptly woken me from my sleep. There was a deeply disturbing ruckus emanating from inside the wall. Scratch, scratch, scratch . . .
"Cliff - wake up." I urgently whispered; poking my sleeping husband in the ribs. "There's something in the kitchen."
"What?" he mumbled, still in a stupor. "Can't you hear that? " I said. "I think it's a mouse - or a rat - or maybe a raccoon." (This uninvited guest was getting bigger by the second.) Silence. "Cliff." (poke, poke) "Cliff!
"What do you expect me to do about it?" came the sleepy reply.
I was clearly getting nowhere fast. To be fair, my husband was in a deep Vicodin-induced coma, having gone to bed right after dinner with a painful toothache (a root canal was definitely in his impending future). Still, I was stone-cold sober and sleep wasn't returning to me any time soon what with the unwelcome critter gnawing away inside the walls of our home. Scratch, scratch, scratch . . . Whatever it was, the noise was growing more insistent. Scratch, scratch, scratch. "Cliff!" (Snore.) Jeez, who sleeps through a crisis?
PLAN B . . .
"Buck!" I whispered to my slumbering dog fast asleep on the couch at the foot of our bed. "Buck, come!" (No response. An unfortunate pattern was developing.) "Buck!" Grabbing the bedside flashlight and dragging my poor pooch off the sofa, we tip-toed into the kitchen together, my frightened dog in the unwilling lead.
Scratch, scratch, scratch . . . "GRRRRRR." The hair on the back of Buck's spine stood straight up. This was getting downright creepy. Thinking fast, I grabbed a broom from the closet (I needed a gun) turned on the lights and banged on the cupboard doors, hoping to scare the darn thing away away while Buck barked in chorus. That should do it. Scratch, scratch, scratch . . . $%*&I$!!! The only scared occupants were the dog and me and whatever the hell it was, it sounded as if it was building a freakin' timeshare for its relatives (I've heard of carpenter ants, but carpenter rats?) SCRATCH! SCRATCH! SCRATCH! . . . Buck turned tail and took off for the safety of the bedroom. Now it was just me and the rodent. Code red. Time to battle.
PLAN C . . .
Scouring under the kitchen sink, I pushed aside the Pledge and grabbed the can of Raid, two mouse traps, a box of rat poison and four tar strips and strategically placed them throughout the kitchen, under the stove, on the counter and in the cupboard. This was war. (It takes what it takes.) Sorry PETA, there's a mouse in my house! While I would have liked to resolve this outcome differently, when Plan A doesn't work and Plan B goes by the wayside, you have to regroup and move on to Plan C. In other words, life demands a great deal of flexibility.
So does Real Estate. Often a buyer won't get the first house they bid on, nor the second. There is an educational progress that takes place while buyers learn the ropes. Sometimes, this takes losing a few houses before buyers truly understand the process, or frankly, are ready to place a winning bid that outstrips the competition.
Sometimes, it is worthwhile to formulate a few positions on a single home, based on the level of interest in the property and on the motivation of the seller. As emotional as buying a home is for buyers, selling a home is often more so from the seller's point of view and it is important to recognize how strongly their emotions and expectations play into the final calculations. For sellers, it is rarely a simple mathematical equation - even when the market might demand it.
Is this a family home? How long have they owned it? Did they do work on the house? Is this an inherited property? Where are they headed? Why are they selling? In short, what are the seller's motivations? And how badly do you, the buyer, want the home? Sometimes, it takes what it takes.
So look at all your options, make the most of what you have, prepare accordingly, stay flexible and then attack! Or to quote the poet, Ogden Nash from his book, Zoo -
"You get a wife,
You get a house,
Eventually, you get a mouse . . ."
That about sums it up, although I might have reversed it to say: You get a wife, you get a mouse, Eventually you'll get a house!
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.