Solano Real Estate Scene: A home is more than a house

My niece is a young first-grade teacher. She and her boyfriend along with his parents, grandma and brother live in Santa Rosa on a 350-acre ranch on a mountain a few miles from Highway 12. This compound was the pride and joy of this family that moved up to Santa Rosa from San Francisco 30 years ago. I think it was a dream to own something similar to the ranch the great-great-grandparents owned in Italy. They built four custom homes on the property over the years and also had living quarters for a few ranch hands. In the middle of the night on Oct. 8, my niece was the only one on the mountain when she saw and heard the fire. All the men were on a hunting trip and the women were on a getaway. She grabbed the three dogs and got the heck out of there with her car and the clothes on her back. One of the dogs bit one of the others because of the stress and rush. All of the structures burned to the ground that night but somehow all of the cattle and farm animals survived. My niece lost everything, including her baby blanket that she had since she was a baby. When I heard about the baby blanket, it reminded me that a home is much more than a foundation, framing and a roof. I have been in the mortgage business for 35 years but tried to sell real estate in 1987-88. My manager at Dolphin Real Estate in San Bruno told me to never call a home purchase a “deal.” He overheard one of his salespeople ask another agent, “How many deals do you have going right now?” The manager, Denny Fahey, stepped in and said that to a family, buying a home is much more than a deal if the home is going to be a family residence. You can call a purchase of a rental property a deal but it is not a good idea to use this term when selling an owner-occupied home. The 4,000 families that lost their homes in the area the past couple of weeks were horrified and scared but are now dealing with the sadness and depression. The house can be rebuilt but the baby blankets, photo albums, important documents, artwork on the walls, family portraits, antiques, jewelry, graduation certificates, report cards, inherited keepsakes, mementos, family heirlooms, collectibles, favorite furniture and, most of all, the memories of past holidays sitting around the Christmas tree and the dining room table for 30 or even 50 years cannot be replaced. Buying a home to live in is an emotional purchase and way more than just a house. It is where a family may celebrate 50 Christmas mornings, maybe a wedding, parties, graduations, Easter egg hunts and birthdays. I don’t think Realtors will be replaced by robots or the internet any time soon because a family buying a home wants a professional real estate human that lives in the community and cares about the community to help them find and purchase their family home.