First-time buyers more educated, but passion same

(Series of surprises makes for happy week)
#286 in a series of true experiences in real estate
June 1999, Hills Newspapers

This has certainly been a cheery week. I got all sorts of pleasure. First, a friend presented Anet and me with an armful of just-cut, very long-stemmed Japanese irises from her garden. What a gift! For several days we swooned over these exceptionally lovely, deep purple “ladies.” The flowers began in tightly-wound buds which slowly “un-twirled,” then laid out their large crepe-like petals almost flat before falling into ball gown-like skirts.
Never, ever have I seen before such a bouquet – not at iris shows, not in any garden, not even in garden publications. Living with these flowers all week made me feel like I’d been given a million dollars.

Also this week, we received a memo from the buyer of a house we put on the market a few weeks ago. He is not our client (we represented the seller) and so it was unusual for him to take the time to write to us.

“Hello,” he begins. “Just a quick note to thank you for delivering my new home to me in such outstanding condition. I was so very impressed with all the little things you did around the house. Please thank your client as well. I really love the house and am looking forward to many years of happiness there.”

This man’s happiness delights us. On the afternoon that he got the news that his offer had been accepted, he asked his agent if she would take him back to the house that night after work. He wanted, he said, to stand again in his house.

We loved hearing this. “Wow, an old-fashioned buyer!” Anet said. “Remember when buyers said things like that? These days buyers seem almost shell shocked when they win, more relieved than excited.”

The house that this man bought had already given me much pleasure. Anet and I had been there as it was made all clean and bright. The wall-to-wall carpets were removed and the wood floors refinished. All of the walls were painted a warm off-white, and the exterior which had been gold and dark brown was changed to an attractive light beige with dark green trim.

Then the stager came. She hung sheer curtains, some lacy and some not, and brought in furniture, rugs and flowers. The sore thumb in the all-white kitchen was an avocado green refrigerator. The clever stager managed to turn it into a visual asset by adding a gray-green print cloth over the top, along with a wicker basket of fresh herbs. The effect was magic. The house looked so very pretty all dressed up; for many nights I “walked” through the rooms as I was falling asleep.

Elizabeth Delphey and I create together all of our house flyers. It’s a wonderful collaboration, something we enjoy doing very much. Mostly, I am the one who writes the words while Elizabeth does the layout and graphics, but our contributions frequently overlap.

This week we mailed out to agents and to neighbors our latest flyer for a house located on Woolsey Street in Berkeley. Before Elizabeth and I got together to work on the flyer, I did some research on Mr. Woolsey, the man for whom the street was named. I thought it would be easy to find out about his life and also to locate a picture of him which we might put on the flyer, but it turned out to be difficult.

I was able to find at different public libraries books that contained Woolsey information; the trouble was that the authors don’t agree on the facts. Mr. Woolsey came to California from Ohio, lured by the mining fields, in 1850 or 1853 or 1859, depending on the source.

He made money at mining and invested it in a tract of either 85 or 100 acres of Berkeley land, and began agricultural pursuits. (What kind was not mentioned.) He married and built a grand house (the various authors agreed) in Oakland or in Berkeley. (No one said on what street the house was located.)

Woolsey’s wife, according to one book, was the daughter of another Ohio transplant who crossed the plains to California in 1850. (If correct, Woolsey’s wife must have been many years his junior.)

I read many more things about Woolsey that I found most interesting, his founding in 1864 of a horse-drawn streetcar running between Oakland and Berkeley being one. I never did find a photo of Woolsey, nor did I learn when he died. A librarian at the Bancroft Library told me that they have just received the Woolsey family papers, including photographs, but it will be some time before they are cataloged and available to see.

In the end, I included some notes on Woolsey history on the flyer which I hope are close to accurate. My research experience made me wonder how historians settle on what the true facts are; I simply had to guess.

This week Elizabeth and I finished another flyer, this one for a house on Keith Avenue in Berkeley. We had a grand time doing it and we are very pleased with the results. For this one, I made a crossword puzzle, something I’ve never done before. I don’t think I’m especially talented at crosswords; it was hard for me, took a lot of time, but it was fun. The clues and answers all say something about the Keith house which is set behind a glade of maple trees and has a large and sunny meadow for a backyard. I’ve never seen a setting like it.

You see why my week was so good. The only fly in the ointment is an outrageously expensive sewer line which I must replace. The sewer, which collapsed, is an old one which services a duplex in Oakland that I own. I’ve learned more about sewers this week than I ever wanted to know. For example, in Berkeley, it is apparently the case that the land owner is responsible only for the portion of the sewer that is on his own property; in Oakland, the owner must maintain the sewer line all the way into the middle of the street. The cost of repair or replacement is largely determined by how deep the sewer lies; in the case of my building, it’s ten feet deep. Very expensive.

This entry was posted in Buyer Information. Bookmark the permalink. Comments are closed, but you can leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

  • Sign up to receive our newspaper columns: