Dear Aunt Tilly,
It‚Äôs wonderful that you’re actually doing it ‚Äî moving from a small town in Vermont to San Francisco. Selling up and starting over. Adventure is you.
But before you sell your Vermont house, I must warn you ‚Äî buying a home is very different here.¬†Very¬†different.
As your official San Francisco nephew, I feel I must prepare you for that. Here’s how you go about buying a home in San Francisco.
You and half the city‚Äôs adult population race to this Sunday afternoon Open House. You fight your way in. If you like the place (or can convince yourself you¬†might¬†like it after heavy renovation), pick up a property statement.
Read the bottom line. Sit down. You aren‚Äôt sick; that‚Äôs sticker shock. You’re not in Vermont any more.
No, that extra zero is not a mistake. Yes, the price for this fixer-upper, pre-slum, mildew-smelling joint is indeed $899,999. Breathe in; breathe out. Good. Ready to bite the bullet and make your bid?
Not so fast. First, you write your letter.
Dear Ms Seller,
As one practicing Catholic, Sonoma College grad, moderate Democrat to another, let me say how much I love your home. If you would be so munificent as to sell it to me, I promise I will cherish it as you so obviously have.
[Advice: Don‚Äôt mention the falling-down roof or the rusted-out bathtub.]
Your beautiful home would mean so much to me and my gainfully employed husband, and, most of all, to our children.
The children! If we don‚Äôt get it, they may not survive another winter in the cold, rat-infested flat where we now reside. They already pray for you nightly.
I enclose a photo of the children at prayer.
One more thing: I have a pair of first-class tickets to Maui that we simply cannot use. You would be doing us a great favor if you were to accept and go in our place.
Mother In Need
PS I do hope you liked the flowers.
Next, send a similar letter to the seller‚Äôs agent. Only this time, say¬†four¬†first-class tickets.
Now, put in your bid. You were thinking of offering $750,000? Think again. In San Francisco, bids are always¬†higher¬†than the asking price.
Yes, dear Aunt, higher. And the competition is fierce. Better go for $950,000.
Nah, if you really want it, just add thirty percent‚Ä¶ which brings us up to $1,169,998 ‚Äî oh, let‚Äôs round up to $1,180,000 just in case someone else has the same idea as you.
That should ‚Äî but probably won’t ‚Äî leave the others behind.
Oh, and Auntie ‚Äîmake sure you liquidate your retirement funds and investment accounts. Why? Because without 100% cash, this offer won‚Äôt cut it. And don‚Äôt even think about getting an inspection.
Welcome to San Francisco.