"I'm sorry," the Seller said. "The house is a mess, and I'm feeling overwhelmed." (You wouldn't be the first.)
"No worries," I said. "What can we take off your plate?"
"Everything," she said, with a long sigh. "I don't know where to begin."
Happily, we do, and what's more we know "people" who can jump in as well. From packers to organizers to movers, we've got you covered.
"Would it be helpful if we made some introductions?" I asked.
"Could you?" (Yes, we can.)
Here's the thing, most of us know how to pack a box - it's not rocket science - ergo, a move, even a large one, ought to be comfortably within our wheelhouse (or so the thinking goes).
The fact of the matter is that moving our "stuff," especially when we've been accumulating it for decades, CAN be OVERWHELMING, and for many people, it's a mountain to climb. Add stress to the equation and a move can feel totally unmanageable. What's more, Sellers are often taking on this Herculean task on behalf of others: an ex-spouse has moved out; you've inherited the property from a great aunt; you're transitioning an elderly parent into assisted living; your kids have gone off to college and left the bulk of their possessions behind. . . .
Faced with generations of belongings, some Sellers procrastinate until the moving truck pulls up and physically forces the point (not the best idea), or they make the mistake of thinking that once the furniture has been loaded, the biggest part of the job is complete and they'll come back for the rest later. (It's not; the real work hides behind the cupboards and in the drawers.)
Years ago, I watched a tiny, frail, 85-year-old Seller move everything in her beat-up station wagon in shopping bags and hangers, one load at a time, just to save the cost of packers. It took her, and her 90-year-old husband, weeks to move it all, and many trips back and forth across the Bay, which on balance, made little sense (and cents.). They were literally scrambling to finish on the day they closed escrow, and turn over the keys by 5:00 pm as contractually obligated. At 5:01 (I'm not kidding) the incredibly frustrated Buyers unceremoniously threw the rest of their paper bags onto the patio out front, and promptly changed the locks! (It wasn't nice, but it was probably deserved.)
My point is there's no shame in realizing where our shortcomings lie and in hiring others who not only enjoy the work but have mastered it! In other words, why not delegate?
For years, I've understood that part of staying relevant in the world of Real Estate means engaging on social media more often than I care to. Having grown up in a house where bragging was considered a character defect, the daily practice of going onto Facebook or Instagram felt awkward to me, especially if it involved self-promotion. While I grasp the basic mechanics of posting on social media sites, and why people do it, I won't be among the hordes announcing their anniversary, their kids' accomplishments, or what I had for dinner. Frankly, who besides my husband cares? (Actually, Cliff doesn't care either.) Kudos to those of you who do. It's great that you reconnected with your high-school sweetheart.
But with Covid-19, came the stark reality that the ONLY way homes were going to be seen by the masses was "virtually." Consequently, Sarah and I had to step up our game in order to attract young Buyers, and work in the medium that speaks best to them . . . aka: social media.
Enter Anna Shortley - my sister's beautiful, smart, and online media-savvy, under-30 daughter, for whom, posting is simply second nature. It's not a referendum on one's values; it just is. And whether we agree or disagree with social sites in a broader context, the importance of them to our profession cannot be denied: #getwiththeprogram, but because neither Sarah or I post often enough - nor care to - we turned to someone who could, and more importantly, would.
Once Sarah and I hired Anna to refresh our Instagram page, we stopped feeling guilty about our failure to be hip, postings were no longer a dreaded obligation, and we didn't have to spend hours creating cool new templates, or "Before and After" surveys. As a bonus, because Anna takes care of the "business" posts, I can now post pictures of my beautiful garden arches instead - #blooming!
The truth is that most of us are "specialists;" we're great at a few skills, capable at many, and mediocre OR terrible at the rest. Which is why we don't attempt to dry clean our own clothes, file those complicated tax returns, draft our own wills, or realign our back - nor should we. When it comes to my home, I pay a gardener, a housekeeper, and twice a year, a window washer, even though I know how to do all those things quite well. (I spent a summer cleaning sandy beach houses in Santa Cruz to pay the rent.) If my dishwasher breaks, I call Mr. Kim. If the plumbing backs up, hello Hector. Need my furnace serviced? I'm calling Don at Harry Clark.
Could I spend an hour on YouTube learning how to unclog a sink? Undoubtedly.
Is my time better spent elsewhere helping Buyers and Sellers achieve their goals? Absolutely.
Is it worth the money to pay others to do it better? For sure.
In a world where OTHER people are ready, willing and able to do the chores I can't do, don't know how to do, or don't want to do, I'm only too happy to delegate the tasks and compensate someone else for their hard-earned skills (including packing boxes), AND I'm going to encourage you to do the same. Trust me, you'll be glad you did, which in turn, will free you up to concentrate on other components of the move (like finding a new house)!
Turns out that selling a house for top-dollar really does takes a village - as does moving.
No worries, we've got "people!"
How can we help you?
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.