Writings about residential real estate and all things home, by Cynthia Cummins of Kindred SF Homes.
Reading time: 3 minutes
Every now and then I sell a “fairytale-come-true” property. Usually – though not always – that means it’s a very expensive home. It’s the sort of place that only the present-day equivalent of a prince or princess can afford.
During those escrows I carefully avoid calculating my commission. Instead I faithfully cleave to my longtime practice of bringing the highest level of care to every transaction, regardless of price tag. I root myself in my fiduciary role, and I won’t let myself or anyone else count proverbial chickens.
One of my most memorable dream-come-true sales was a newly constructed spec “house” that had the potential to be “all show no substance,” but as soon as I entered I sensed its character. It was grand but homey, impressive but understated. No spurious details or garish flash. (Except perhaps an overabundance of laundry rooms, warming drawers and “smart” features.)
This house felt right. Big, but right.
It was designed and built by people who brought artistry and integrity to their work. People who dreamed into its manifestation and who offered it up for the lucky stewards – my clients – who would make those dreams a reality.
I found myself daydreaming into the house on every visit. There was the window seat where you could curl up with a delicious book on a rainy afternoon. There was the pool where the future kids could swim on a hot, sunny day. There was the outdoor hearth where friends could gather on a crisp Sunday afternoon in October.
The dream was alight in the eyes of the affable listing agent and in the smile of his capable assistant. I watched them watching my clients as they, too, caught the dream. The builder and developer gave us all a grand tour, beaming with pride in their labor. The foyer lit up with our shared excitement.
Of course, even a dream house isn’t perfect. The escrow for its purchase included a few prickly patches. After the closing, there were punch-list and maintenance issues. And, as we all know, “happily ever after” only happens in fairytales so my young, wealthy clients have already experienced challenges and sorrows along with their many joys.
In the aftermath and middle of a real estate transaction, it’s easy to get mired in details of the deal. My practice as an agent is to focus on the nitty-gritty elements while simultaneously holding to a bigger vision of “home” and what it means for my clients.
In 1987, I sold my very first buyer a home. I remember being deeply worried about my ability to be a “salesperson.” The first surprise of my new career was the discovery that I wasn’t really selling anything. The property sold itself to my client, and I facilitated the purchase.
The second, more profound surprise was that I deeply, earnestly wished for my client to have their dream come true. I wanted them to obtain their personal version of – say – Hearst Castle.
Their castle turned out to be a $250,000 condo that needed some cosmetic refreshment. Yet it was located in a pleasant “quintessential-San Francisco” neighborhood and the wee patio outside the living room was sheltered and inviting.
Even as a rookie, I observed how the space spoke to them. I understood how their desire for sanctuary swept them toward making an offer. My job was to help them obtain their ideal SF nest while watching out for their safety and bottom line.
This is something some buyers and sellers (and, regrettably, many agents) don’t grok: The model Realtor makes the sale, but also shares and preserves the client’s vision of home, even when the client loses sight of it.
Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam
Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home
--from the song Home! Sweet Home! by Bishop and Payne
Whether it’s a Tenderloin studio condo or a Sonoma estate, there truly is no place like home. Holding that dream is my calling. It should be the primary goal of any agent you choose to represent you.
Photo Credit: Fern M. Lomibao
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