What's in a Story?
"Love means never having to say your sorry."
Yeah, that may be the line Ali MacGraw famously uttered in Love Story, but for those of us who have been in relationships longer than a few weeks, we knowthis sentiment is nothing more than Hollywood fluff. (Cliff and I just celebrated 26 years of marriage, which in runner's terms, equates to a near marathon and you better believe we've each learned to say "I'm sorry" along the way).
After 400 uninterrupted essays, save for a few vacations each year - last Friday, I failed to send out a Perspective. (I'm not sure you noticed, but "I'm sorry" just the same.)
It's been at least ten years since a funky cold sent me to my bed, but by Wednesday, a MONSTER bug had hit me so badly, I crawled under the covers and didn't come up for air (or soup) until the weekend. Happily, I'm on the mend now.
That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.
With respect to stories, I hear a lot of them in my line of work, which makes for fascinating stuff and a never-ending parade of possibilities. It's one of the reasons I love my career and look forward to it each day (well, almost each day). Your stories allow me into your lives - if only for brief periods of time.
Recently, the stories have revolved around overseas Buyers, repatriating to the states and looking for longer-term solutions for their school-age children, empty-nesters deciding to move onto the next phase of life, or eager young Buyers just beginning the journey and scraping together the funds for their first purchase together.
In each case, it's often your personal stories that lead the way and make transitions truly possible. From where I sit, a move is usually the physical manifestation of whatever change has already taken place OR is currently underway; a baby that's due, a parent that's deceased, a graduate moving out and moving on (that's no small feat so congratulations); these are the stories that shape and bend our lives so embrace them; they're truly magical moments - they're also fleeting.
When it comes to purchasing a home, Sellers, more often than not, DO want to hear the stories of the potential Buyers. Is a great story enough to challenge the ALL-CASH Buyer who can close quickly and is willing to out bid the the rest of the parties by a fair margin? Probably not, BUT a compelling story often results in one Buyer being chosen over another when the offers are very close, or nearly indistinguishable.
Last week, I put two homes into contract and in both cases, the Sellers chose the Buyer because of the stories they penned and the photos attached to their personal "love letters." In one case, the Buyers were challenged to meet the highest price at the table (and did) and in another, we stood firm on price and terms, but my Buyer still won the day in spite of the fact that she couldn't risk removing her loan contingency. As a single mother, raising an active daughter, her struggle resonated with the Seller, who coincidentally, shared a very similar story as well.
It's these kinds of connections we are looking to create in those "love" letters to the Sellers, even if they do nothing more than produce a Counter Offer(that's at least an opportunity in this highly competitive marketplace.)
So tell your story . . . whether you volunteered for the Peace Corps, met in college, started a non-profit, sailed around the world, or grew up locally and are returning to your home town to continue the legacy; they're endlessly amazing - each in its own way. And yes, it's okay to be vulnerable within them.
My own move to Piedmont was predicated on a child who was unexpectedly diagnosed with a learning disorder and required a completely different educational environment. That "challenged" child has graduated from college, traveled through New Zealand with work visa in hand, and is now employed in Colorado for the summer. (The photo above is my sweet Case, although he's outgrown the costume.) Our stories make us human and give others an opportunity to glimpse inside our worlds, and certainly, they can absolutely make a difference when push comes to shove.
That being said, here's my current story: proud mother bear, dutiful daughter, happily-married marathon wife, identical twin, scrappy GRUBB CO. Realtor, serial renovator, flea-market junkie, weekend walker, garden enthusiast, dog lover, retired jazz dancer, world wanderer, community volunteer, neighborhood organizer, pithy blogger, and prolific chocolate-chip cookie maker! (See how easy it is?)
No, I haven't done many of the impressive things my clients (or my kids) have accomplished who have started companies, fed orphaned elephants, lived in exotic locals, built homes in Mexico, competed at the Olympics, or adopted a child in need, but if any of my 401 stories hit a chord with you, chances are we'll find our way to one another and have a successful working relationship to boot. That's how it rolls and not surprisingly, that's how it works for Sellers too. They often sell to the Buyers who come closest to their own histories and cheer for those that are creating future tales in the home they have loved so well.
So get out those family photos and hit the keyboard. It may absolutely make the difference (and it will also make you smile to come across these "moments" in time.)
What's your "Love Story" and how can I help you?
(BTW - ALL of our stories began with our mothers, so Happy Mother's Day, mom! I certainly wouldn't be here without you. )
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Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 18 years and has published more than 670 essays on life and real estate.