If You Wait For Perfection You Will Miss All The Fun!

I have been selling homes in San Diego for a long time, 20+ years. Before that, I worked for a home builder and a general contractor. So, it’s no wonder that I love everything about homes…looking at them, imagining them, planting gardens, filling my home with the glorious smells from the kitchen, decorating for the holidays, hosting family and friends in our home, and helping my clients buy and sell their homes. Yes, I love keeping a loving, warm and comfortable home for my family.

I was reading an article posted by one of my favorite cooks and bloggers, Ree Drummond of The Pioneer Woman about cooking in small spaces.  It brought back memories of another time and place, about starting out in life as a young wife in a foreign country.

About a gazillion years ago (is that really a word?) I lived for two and half years in what was then West Berlin, Germany. Berlin SignThe story of why I was there and what I was doing there is another story for another day! I was young, in my early twenties and our apartment was not what I was accustomed to here in the US. We took very few possession with us. We looked at the opportunity as an adventure, and it certainly was.

The kitchen was teeny tiny, and I mean tiny. Just imagine filling up a little water tank on the wall above the sink and having to turn it on to heat up water to wash dishes. No garbage disposal. The oven/stove was apartment size, I could not get a regular size cookie sheet in it. Counter space? There wasn’t any. I did have a tiny kitchen table and I could put a board on top of the stove burners for prep space. And you know what? It did not bother me at all. I don’t know if it was because I was young or because small oven 2 (2)there was really no other choice!

I think about the holiday dinners I made, turkey and roasts with all the fixings. I even made Duck A L’Orange one time. I was young and fearless and not afraid to tackle anything. We had parties in our tiny place and no one seemed to mind the lack of enough seating for everyone, or juggling plates on their laps.

While I still like to “set a pretty table” (thank you Mother), plan and prep ahead, and cook wonderful food, the article from The Pioneer Woman reminded me that you can do that anywhere. It is the joy we give and receive that’s important, not the location or size or your kitchen that matters. Entertaining is so much more relaxed today. I find that many of my clients don’t even want a formal living or dining room any longer. In Southern California, we are blessed with the ability to entertain outdoors almost year-round.

table10So, don’t worry about everything being “perfect”. Don’t wait for the perfect home, kitchen, or cooking ability. Just go for it and have fun. Discover your own personal style, likes and dislikes. Learn from and laugh at your mistakes. Fill  your home with laughter and joy!

They Are So Cute!

Shoes 1I love shoes, always have. I am embarrassed to say how many shoes I have owned over the years. I mean, you need high heels, mid-heels and flats in all the basic colors. Sandals, Espadrilles, tennis shoes, shoes for those dressy occasions. Shoes for working in the garden and boots to ride horses. And then there are those shoes that you just have to have because they are so cute!

I have reluctantly donated many shoes over the years, and worn out even more. I am a real estate agent, so I am hard on shoes. When showing property, I sometimes walk two to three miles in an afternoon. I walk in dirt, over rocks and wet grass to find lockboxes when other agents don’t put them in convenient places and when taking photos. I am constantly scuffing and dinging my shoes on my office chair.

Yesterday, my eyes were drawn to a pair of cute little high heels on the shelf. I hadn’t worn those shoes in a while, at least over a year. I couldn’t remember why, and they were so cute and went perfectly with my outfit. Why not? They were my shoe choice of the day!

I spent the morning in my office and met clients at a home inspection in the afternoon. You might think a home inspection is boring and that the Realtors spend most of our time sitting around. But I usually take the opportunity to do my Agent’s Visual Inspection if I am representing the buyer. Of course, my clients and I follow the home inspector around while he explains what he has found. Because I love gardening, I usually spend time walking around the yard planning what I would do to it if I were the new owner. When the inspection is over, my clients usually like to walk around the home again, measuring rooms, space for refrigerator and washer/dryer, visualizing where they will put their furniture. It is such fun to see their excitement and anticipation, so I tag along!

On my way home, I stopped at the grocery store and walked every aisle. Then went by the dry cleaners to pick up laundry. And stopped at a client’s home to drop some paperwork off. And, my feet were killing me!

I have to admit, I am just not 30 years old anymore and what my feet could take then and what they can take now just aren’t the same! I hate that. But it is my reality!

Reluctantly, these cute shoes are going in the donation box today. I hope someone will enjoy them as much as I have. THEY ARE SO CUTE!

Is Your Agent Keeping Your Home From Selling?


I recently spent a few days with clients being transferred to San Diego. They had never been to San Diego so we toured several areas and homes that seemed to fit their needs. My clients were here for a very short period of time, just a few days, and had limited time available to view homes each day.

I never expected to experience such difficulty in showing homes. Only two of the homes I showed had a seller’s phone number available for scheduling appointments. The others required an appointment made through the listing agent or their assistants. I have no problem with calling the listing agent for an appointment. What I do mind is the lack of cooperation we experienced for about half of the appointments.

When I show six to eight homes in a day, during a specific time period (usually two to four hours), I provide the seller, or their agent, an hour window of time when we expect to be there. I always call if we are running early or late, but that window usually works out. Being told that I need to “narrow it to a 15-minute time period” so the listing agent can meet us is an impossibility. Being told that “1 pm doesn’t work, can you be there at 5 pm” doesn’t either.  So, there were several homes we were not able to view, and my clients are well-qualified and motivated.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a listing agent also. I know what it is like to have agents who have made appointments to view a home and then they do not show up; I have received those phone calls from irate clients. I have had clients who had a situation that prevented the use of a lock box – an elderly client, an illness, when children are at home alone after school, a newborn, and other extenuating circumstances. But, the number of instances I encountered this past week makes me wonder if the industry is creating an illusion for sellers. That we, as the listing agent, need to be present at all showings; that we are somehow “protecting” them.

The new lock boxes actually track who has been in a home, the date and time. By making a home difficult to show it significantly reduces the number of buyers who can see your home. One of the buyers who can’t view your home may be the perfect buyer, but you will never know it. And, while we are experiencing a “Seller’s Market” in most areas of San Diego County, there were plenty of homes to view this last week, even though we were unable to view many.

Is this trend actually preventing buyers from being able to view the homes? We all know that we want as many buyers as possible through a home.  It will bring the best price and best buyer. Making a home difficult to show is like opening a new store in town and then have it open only an hour a day, and not at a time when most customers will be able to visit.

I recently sold a home in an area in which I was showing homes this past week. We had multiple offers within a week and sold the property for the full list price, much to the amazement of the “area expert”.  The home was priced well, but I wonder if the fact that it was on lock box and I had a very cooperative seller who let the home be shown at the convenience of the buyers and their agents made the difference?

Should we do a better job of educating our sellers about the importance of having their homes shown? Are we playing into our own egos when placing ourselves at every showing appointment?

And, don’t get me started on only being able to communicate with a listing agent via texting….

From Our Home To Yours

2-IMG_9173Christmas is my favorite holiday. I just can’t help it, I love this time of year. The decorations, the smell of pine trees and candles, the Christmas carols playing, the squeals of excitement from children. People seem to be kinder to one another this time of year, they smile more.

Now that my daughter is an adult with a home of her own, Christmas at our home is a bit different. While decorating this year, I decided that if I had to climb a ladder, I wasn’t putting it up. Step ladder, was okay, but no more ladders!

We have carefully assessed decades of Christmas ornaments and sadly eliminated some, those that were just worn out. We still have a couple of macaroni and dried bean ornaments with our daughter’s photo in the middle, made when she was in elementary school. What memories!

My friends and I used to do it “all” at Christmas…we baked and cooked and prepared the guest rooms, getting ready to host extended family and friends. We shopped for and wrapped endless Christmas gifts. We stood in line at the post office. We took the kids to “Breakfast with Santa” and “The Nutcracker”. We had Gingerbread House decorating parties for the kids. We went to school programs and visited nursing homes with Girl Scout Troops. We went to Christmas parties, and sometimes hosted them. We shopped for the perfect Christmas tree, sometimes even cutting it down ourselves, then decorated it while drinking hot chocolate and listening to Christmas carols. We popped popcorn and watched “It’s A Wonderful Life” and “A Christmas Carol”. We went to church on Christmas Eve and helped with the Christmas flowers, music and programs. We made sure the kids found the reindeer hoof prints on Christmas morning and the crumbs that Santa left after he ate the cookies and drank the milk we left for him.

What stands out to me while I remember years of holidays is that it was never about the presents. Yes, the kids loved opening presents and Santa was always generous. And, we love getting thoughtful gifts from our loved ones. But, what stands out is that it was the gift of ourselves and our time that was the most meaningful.

Does your daughter remember what gifts she received when she was four years old? Or does she remember sitting in the balcony at the Crystal Cathedral watching the Christmas program and the angels flying by and saying “Mama, are we in heaven?” Still brings tears to my eyes!

The gift of our time is really what is most important to our loved ones. So, this Christmas, my wish for you is that you enjoy the time you have with your family. The time spent with them is more precious than any gift you can purchase. Cherish your time with loved ones and create wonderful Christmas memories!

Merry Christmas!

What To Do With Too Many Limes?

You may know from some of my posts that I love to garden and love to cook. We have a wonderful lime tree that was supposed to be a “dwarf” tree. Well, it didn’t turn out that way and we have hundreds of limes on the tree! We give them away by the dozens, but can’t keep up with the limes. IMG_8906

Inspiration sometimes comes in strange moments. This morning while I was enjoying a cup of coffee I decided there had to be something to be done with some of these limes. So, I found a great recipe for Lime-Ginger Marmalade. It was really easy to make and I had a great time making it – and it tastes really good!  It has been years since I have made jam or anything like that. I had forgotten how getting lost in the moment of doing something you love is so good for the soul.

Gardening and cooking are such creative outlets. I love the planning, planting, caring for and harvesting a garden, whether it is flowers or vegetables. Cooking for a family has so many dimensions. The planning, shopping, looking for what is in season, what’s on sale, making what your family likes and trying out new things. Cooking together, setting the table, giving thanks, having great conversation, that’s what I remember about meals in our home.

I guess some of the creativity carries over into my real estate business. Challenges almost always seem to arise and thinking creatively about how to best resolve the challenges, and do what’s best for the clients, is a necessity. Whether it is a loan gone bad, something major found in a home inspection, clients who have life altering things happen to them while in escrow…I could go on and on. Thinking creatively to make it all come together is fun and very rewarding. Guess that’s why, for me, being a Realtor ranks right up their with gardening, cooking, and making a happy home!



So you think you are ready to take the plunge and buy a home in San Diego. What’s the first step? Well, buying a home is a big step, especially if it’s your first home purchase. After all, it is the largest purchase most people make. It requires thought, preparation, planning, sometimes sacrifice, and the LAST step in the process is looking for a home!

  • Unless you are a veteran or active duty military eligible for a VA loan, you will need a down payment, somewhere between 3.5% and 20% of the purchase price. With some loan programs, you can obtain a “gift” of the funds from a family member. You will also need normal closing costs, 3% of the purchase price is average, but it can be more or less. You can request that a seller pay some or all of the closing costs. If you are asking the seller to pay the closing costs, you don’t have as much negotiating power when it comes to the price. In today’s market, you can expect to pay the asking price OR MORE if you are asking for closing costs.
  • Now is the time to meet with your lender and become pre-approved for a loan. Yes, BEFORE you go house hunting! The lender will need tax returns for the last two years, your most recent pay stubs, copies of your bank statements, information about all your current debt and more. Start collecting the information so it’s easily obtainable when you need it.
  • The lender who is loaning you the money to purchase a home will require that you have some money in “reserve” for an emergency. Even if you have family members willing to “gift” you the down payment and closing costs, you need to have some money saved. Once you are a home owner, you will be responsible for repairs and maintenance on your home. Plumbing leaks, dishwashers break, windows are broken. And, if you are like most people, you will want to make the home your own with paint, maybe carpet or flooring, new furniture or appliances. Now is the time to start the discipline of saving your money! It may mean fewer lattes, fewer dinners out, or skipping a vacation. It will be worth it!
  • Do not buy anything on credit now. It will affect the purchase price of the home you can buy. Wait until AFTER you have closed escrow to buy the new car, furniture, washer and dryer. Do not co-sign a loan for anyone else.
  •  Make a wish list and include everything you want in a home…the area, the size, number of bedrooms, bathrooms, garage, pool or no pool, fixer upper or not, etc. Next, divide the list into “Must Haves” and “It Would Be Nice If It Hads”. Realize that you won’t find everything on either list in any home. Be realistic.
  • Your real estate agent will meet with you and discuss what you want in a home and advise you on what you can and can’t expect to find in your price range in the area you desire. A good agent will take the information and find the homes that meet your requirements. They won’t show you homes that don’t. Why would you want to see them anyway?

The home buying process will be exciting, stressful, and sometimes tiring.  Achieving your goal of home ownership is the ultimate reward!