Monthly Archives: April 2014

Heart and Home: Buyer’s Remorse and the Fatal Egg

“Remorse, the fatal egg by pleasure laid.”William Cowper, 18th century poet and hymnodist


What pleasure to instantly find a suitable quote about “remorse” as soon as I Googled it!

Yet imagine my remorse at having taken so much time reading online about William Cowper (whose life was apparently filled to the brim with pleasure and remorse, joy and sadness, soundness and insanity) that I had to work an extra hour to make up for my diversion.

Where there’s pleasure, there’s remorse.

I’ve been blind-sided by remorse on many auspicious occasions: Right before walking down the aisle to get married. Just after bringing my first child home from the hospital. Midway through a trans-Pacific flight to a dream vacation in Tahiti.

It’s a regular occurrence with real estate purchases. Especially in San Francisco where buyers are required to strip naked, place large baskets of money on their heads and dance like their lives depended on it. All for the chance to be the lucky owners of a one-plus-million-dollar, two-bedroom condo without parking but in a fairly nice area.

It goes something like this:

Buyer’s agent: Guess what? You won!

Buyer: (Holding cell phone at arm’s length and screaming) Oh! My! God! How many offers were there?

Buyer’s agent: Fourteen. Twelve were for waaaaaaay more than the asking price. Only two had loan contingencies. But apparently your willingness to close in just four days and let the sellers stay for three months for free really made the difference.

Buyer: That and offering 60% more than the asking price.

Buyer’s agent: Well, yes. Plus they really liked the sculpture you submitted with your offer.

Even if you don’t create original artwork or donate to seller’s favorite charity or provide two roundtrip tickets to anywhere in the continental U.S. with your offer, there will be a twinge of buyer’s remorse when you visit your new home for the first time after closing.

You fiddle with the keys. You shove open the door. It’s dark. It’s vacant. It’s cold. And it smells funny because the stagers removed the potpourri along with the staging.

Yet it doesn’t have to be “fatal,” as in Cowper’s quote. Instead, now is when it gets interesting: After the closing. Before the destination. Following the honeymoon. During the journey. That’s when life is richest.

Cynthia Cummins is a Top Producer and Partner at McGuire. For info on SF real estate visit

Homewords: Völkerwanderung Real Estate


Obtaining real estate was once a more casual affair. After the collapse of the Roman empire, Germanic tribes swept into Britain and claimed it as theirs. In the Bill Bryson book At Home, archaeologist Brian Ayers is quoted, saying, “It didn’t…involve a lot of slaughter or bloodshed. Probably one day you would just look out in your field and see there were twenty people camped there, and gradually it would dawn on you that they weren’t about to go away, that they were taking your land from you.”

Cynthia Cummins is a Top Producer and Partner at McGuire. For info on SF real estate visit

Heart and Home: But a Skinny Burglar Could Shimmy Down an Unused Chimney


Two peculiarities afflict approximately 3 of every 5 sellers of San Francisco properties:

  1. Asked if the fireplace is operable, they don’t know
  2. Asked if the security system is operable, they don’t know.

Furthermore, these homeowners:

  1. Have never tried to use the fireplace or the security system
  2. Don’t believe the fireplace or the security system ever worked
  3. Are pretty sure that the previous owners and the owners before them and possibly the owners before them never used the fireplace or the security system

Listing agents’ inspections proclaim no knowledge of the status and condition of fireplace or security system, and advise prospective buyers to “obtain a professional inspection” of the mysterious fireplace and “contact the vendor who installed” the enigmatic security system.

Luckily, it’s rare that we San Franciscans actually need either of these items. A posse of fat candles can evoke the ambiance of a wood-burning fire (without the pollution and mess). While quality hardware and concerned (albeit slightly nosy) neighbors go a long way toward preventing burglaries.

Still, what does it all MEAN? And how can we learn more about the mystery of the fireplace-security-system Bermuda Triangle in San Francisco?

Cynthia Cummins is a Top Producer and Partner at McGuire. For info on SF real estate visit

Value Added: Vacant Equals Vapid

It’s simple: Vacant homes sell for less. Rooms appear to be smaller, and the house feels cold and unwelcoming. Exceptions to this rule are far and few between, and an agent who says otherwise isn’t serving your best interests. These two photos tell the story.




Cynthia Cummins is a Top Producer and Partner at McGuire. For info on SF real estate visit


Hot on Tuesday Tour: Creative Touch

I dig the retro sewing machine. It takes me right back to 1967 or thereabouts. Set on a narrow table in a Richmond district house, it’s part of a crafts tableau that brings some life to an otherwise drab ground-floor space.


I got a “C” in home economics (yes, I’m that old). And I take my sewing repairs to Miss Sally’s on 20th Street. But even I know you’d never jam that folded up fabric under the pressure foot or set that pincushion there.

Still, I give the stager Three Buddha Busts for switching (or shall I say “stitching”?) it up.

Cynthia Cummins is a Top Producer and Partner at McGuire. For info on SF real estate visit

“Love begins at home.” — Mother Teresa

Cynthia Cummins is a Top Producer and Partner at McGuire. For info on SF real estate visit

Heart and Home: An Empty Nest


When I first visited their home, they were both there.

I could tell she was self-conscious and a tad overwhelmed by all the stuff they’d accumulated over 25 years. She kept blushing and nodding to me as we walked from room to room. Here were the books he’d brought home when he retired from teaching. Here were the masks, drums and textiles from their African travels. Here were the baskets of yarn, the half-finished scarves, the knitting needles sprouting like spring onions.

He proudly pointed out the mantelpiece he’d installed himself, the stained-glass windows he’d built, the now-tall tree they’d planted 25 years ago.

“There used to be a wall there.”

“We added that skylight.”

“When Jamie was little he lived in this closet for years. Here’s a little patch of orange paint left! He still loves orange. And black. Giants colors.”

He wasn’t ready to sell and she assented. I, naturally, supported their decision: When the time is right it’s right; not sooner.

Three years later I returned, but he wasn’t there. It had been sudden – a blessing and a shock. For years she’d yearned to sell the house but now it was painful to let go. Everything evoked a memory. Shoes, tools, garden gloves. Skis, bicycle, golf clubs.

Together, she and I made a plan. We hired a stager, a painter. Inspections were done. Repairs were made. Storage was arranged. Yard sales were held. Movers were called.

I steadied and encouraged her as she sorted through the treasures and detritus of a lifetime. I witnessed her grief. I offered compassion and gentle yet professional advice.

In the end, the house no longer felt like home to her. Yet it felt good, she said: Renewed, inviting, shining, beautiful. The effort of preparing for sale had made the sadness easier. And the result was gratifying. She had created a new version of her home – one a new family could inhabit.

Memories were embedded in the foundation, the floors and the walls. But she could let go now. She could use the money to travel back to Africa, to spend time with her grandchildren. She was free to find new places to live and love.

Cynthia Cummins is a Top Producer and Partner at McGuire. For info on SF real estate visit