A New Perspective: Maternal instincts | Real Estate Insights

May 12th marks Mother’s Day this year and as one of six siblings, I definitely gained a whole new level of respect for my mom once I became a mother to my own two boys (now young men)​​. How my mom managed six children on my father’s modest salary as a traveling salesman is a mystery to us all, but she did . . . . Not that we didn’t eat our fair share of tuna casseroles and pork & beans (we did),​ but we never went hungry, nor did we worry about having a roof over our heads.

The personal stories of one Realtor’s battles and triumphs in the highly-competitive Bay Area Real Estate Market, seeking to illuminate and humanize the very real ups-and-downs of homeownership.

Only in retrospect, can I appreciate how hard our folks must have worked to meet our needs, along with the sacrifices they made on a daily basis – especially with respect to our mother who did the lion’s share of care while our father was on the road.

While our neighbors likely dismissed the Shepherd clan as “feral cats,” we weren’t much different than the rest of the neighborhood kids who were sent outside to “play.” (What a concept.) Truth is, I grew up in a more carefree (aka: unchaperoned) era when children were “shooed” out the door in the morning, or dropped at swim/soccer/baseball practice (take your pick), and weren’t expected home until close to dinnertime. Children of the 60s & 70s had WAY more freedom than today’s generation as we wandered the neighborhood on our Schwinn bicycles, taking full advantage of our liberty (for better or for worse).

But given our financial circumstances and a belief that we should all pitch in, the kids in my family were expected to carry their own weight. Consequently, from an early age, we raked lawns, babysat, sold lemonade, and worked the drive-thru at the local McDonalds, in addition to becoming our dad’s cheap (very cheap) labor force once he changed careers and began buying “fixers.” As such, there’s no one in my family who doesn’t know how to use a paint brush, pull weeds, or mow a lawn.

​Many of those early skills find their way into my practice today because the reality is that the bulk of any successful Realtor’s work load is a host of menial jobs . . . only then, do we sell these stunningly-staged, and insta-worthy properties. Up until that point, we are organizing work crews, along with scheduling necessary inspections (pest, home, sewer lateral, roof, etc.), while literally transforming many of our listings into much-improved versions of their former selves. (Ta-da!)

It’s no wonder then, that after spending weeks or months at a house – many Realtors begin to develop maternal feelings around the properties and the clients they represent. That’s both good and bad as Agents – most emphatically – DO NOT control the outcome, which is an extremely difficult concept for most of us to concede, but there you have it. Nor do we have the luxury of taking things “personally” when the final result doesn’t unfold the way we thought it might, OR the way our Sellers would have liked . . . .

In the end, selling a home is both an emotional AND a business transaction, which is why the entire ordeal is often overlayed with ‘feelings” that don’t necessarily move the needle, but do manage to bring a tremendous amount of angst to the process. As a mother, can I politely encourage you to set your feelings aside? (Feelings aren’t facts.) The offers you receive aren’t personal affronts (although they can feel that way); they represent the market in action. Remember, value is a subjective concept at best.

So where does that leave us?

As Realtors®, we control the timing, presentation, marketing, and negotiations of the properties we bring to market. That being said, where a home ultimately trades is almost entirely up to the pool of Buyers who are willing and able to pay the going rate at a given point in time. (“able” being the operative word here). Obviously, with interest rates hovering near 7%, purchasing power has been significantly eroded, and as a result, prices have perceptively softened from the highs of 2021-2022 when interest rates were 3% (or less).

It follows then, that home values have come down accordingly. But to no one’s surprise, this reality doesn’t necessarily land too well with Sellers, especially if they bought within the last few years, and now hope to sell and come out whole. (Please note, homes are meant to be long-term investments.)

Do Agents lose sleep over Seller expectations?


We want the best for our clients, and we hate to let anyone down. In fact, we’d love to manage the results as well as we manage the preparations of the home, but ultimately, the outcome isn’t up to us. That’s not to say, we’re not going to negotiate and leverage every bit of interest (we are), but there actually is a ceiling for every property, just as there is a floor. Expecting a result beyond what is supportable makes for a difficult (possibly insurmountable)  task. As your Realtor®, my advice is to temper your expectations appropriately and align your goals accordingly.  Everything, everything, EVERYTHING sells once it meets the market.

And on that note, I wish you all a very Happy Mother’s Day. 

Please, don’t forget to call your mom, and if there’s a gift to give – let it be your time . . . . Speaking for mothers everywhere, we really don’t want or need anything more than your presence in our lives.

How can we help you?

Julie Gardner & Sarah Abel | Compass Realty

Not just Realtors, but consultants in all things house and home, we’re here to educate, explore, examine and refer . . . In short, you may count on us to take care of your home as if it were our own and anyone who knows us, knows we take pretty darn good care of our homes.

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