Real Estate Roundup with Sharon Alva: Don’t be a real estate floozy
Would you agree to an arranged marriage? No? Hmmm … how about dating every single person within a 10-mile radius before choosing a mate? No to that too?
Okay. How about you define what you are looking for in a mate – gender, age range, lifestyle – and then date several prospective mates looking for all those things plus that special “it factor.” The two or three that seem the best fit, you might get to know a little better. But pretty soon, you narrow it down to the right one and then fall in love. Embrace the whole person, good and bad. The blemishes become as lovable as the gifts. Does that sound better? Good! Proceed with your home search the same way.
I would never suggest that you let a third party choose your home. But you want to avoid looking at every house that comes on the market. Don’t be a real-estate floozy. Dating every house in the East Bay, whether they are a good fit or not, will not let you develop a deeper relationship with the “right” house. Know your limits, for good and bad. No matter how attractive a home, you may not have the income to keep it in the style to which it is accustomed. It may be the perfect house for you now, but is this the house you want to introduce to your family?
And once you’ve chosen “the one,” stop with those sideways glances at others that may come along. Once in contract, consider yourself engaged. True, the marriage is not final until you close, but you are not free to date other houses anymore.
There are other ways that houses are like relationships. When I walk into a house I pay attention to that first minute. The entryway, or lack thereof, tells me how I will feel about a house. I bite my tongue if I am with clients because they need to feel that minute for themselves and their response might be (often is) very different from mine. (A complete lack of entryway always feels to me like the person you meet is telling you their deepest secrets in the first five minutes. That may be the right relationship for some, but feels a bit overwhelming to me. On the other hand, some houses have a discrete entryway that seems disconnected to the rest of the house. Too compartmentalized for me. It reminds me of the person you’ve known for five years but still don’t REALLY know.)
And does the living room say “come on in and stay a while” or is it a through-way to the dining room? Is the kitchen a place to heat food, or prepare it from scratch? Even windows have a story to tell. Some say “buy me expensive treatments” and others, “give me a sheer and call it a day.”
To me a garage usually says “buy me a ping pong table,” but to some it talks about fixing up cars or storing holiday stuff. In any case each room, and the garage and yard, are all relationships that need to be developed. The initial reaction to a property is probably telling. Love at first sight can lead to a long-lasting love affair. But listen to your inner self if it’s dislike at first sight. The house that’s good-on-paper may just not elicit any love at all from you.
Houses have huge roles in our financial lives. But they are so much more than that. The house you buy, and make your home, is one of the main relationships in your life too.
Sharon Alva is a real estate agent with Alain Pinel, living in Alameda. You can reach her at (415) 572-8759 or firstname.lastname@example.org.