by Cynthia Cummins

Cynthia is owner and founder of Kindred SF Homes and a top San Francisco Realtor. Check out for refreshing reflections on the meaning of home and for more best real estate advice (since 2013).

Reading time: 2 minutes 

Maybe it’s a silly superstition – not counting chickens before they hatch. But I never estimate my commission in advance of a closing (or when meeting new clients). Instead, I root myself in my role as fiduciary and ignore the price tag. Keeping covetousness at bay is the only way I can stay sane and serve my clients.

It also makes me a better agent. 10m house or 800k condo, it doesn’t matter. My sole goal is a happy result for those whom I’m serving. Thinking about compensation is an ill-advised distraction, or it’s a pathway to disappointment if things don’t work out the way you hope they will.

No property is perfect. No escrow is smooth. And life after closing isn’t “happily ever after” (because that only happens in fairytales). But my job is to keep my eye on the prize – the prize being my client’s progress and well-being.

In 1987, I helped my very first buyer close on his very first condo. I remember being deeply worried about my ability to be a “salesperson.” The first pleasant surprise of my new career was the discovery that I wasn’t really selling anything. The property sold itself to my client, and I facilitated the purchase.

The second, more profound (and also pleasant) surprise was that I truly, madly, deeply wished for my client to have his dream come true. I wanted him to obtain his personal version of – say – Hearst Castle.

His castle turned out to be a $250,000 condo that needed some cosmetic refreshment. Yet it was located in a pleasant North Waterfront setting and the wee patio outside the living room was sheltered and inviting.

Even as a rookie, I observed how the space spoke to him. I understood how his desire for sanctuary swept him toward making an offer. My job was to help him obtain his ideal SF nest while watching out for his safety and bottom line.

This is something some buyers and sellers (and, regrettably, many agents) don’t grok: The exemplary agent who understands her role will indeed make many a sale, but she also shares and preserves her client’s vision of home, even when the client loses sight of it.

Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam 
Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home
        —       from the song Home! Sweet Home! by Bishop and Payne

Whether it’s a downtown studio condo or a wine-country estate, there truly is no place like home. Holding that dream is my calling. And it should also be your calling, dear colleagues. The money will follow.

Photo Credit: Sven Brandsma