Classic VW bus after the CZU fireColumns Real Estate 

Real Estate: Home Is Where the Heart Is

SLV Homes

By M.C. Dwyer

Life events are often the motivating factor behind people’s decision to move, and emotions usually play a big role in the decision-making process. In addition to managing all the rational details of a home purchase or sale, it’s important that people be assured when they’re outside of their comfort zone – learning about new neighborhoods, getting a house ready to sell, negotiations, inspections, loans… plus, moving itself is high on the list of life stressors. 

New households

Millennials are reaching the age where they’re settling down to create new households. Helping these first-time buyers is truly rewarding. I’m working with newlyweds who recently found a home they really liked. As we reviewed inspections and disclosures, and wrote their offer (over Zoom), they shared their hopes and plans. I counseled them to try to remain detached and to steel themselves against disappointment, knowing it was a multiple offer situation. Despite their great offer, the property got 24 offers, and they didn’t get the house. Breaking that news was difficult. If these ultra-competitive market conditions persist, first-timers may have to switch to a different strategy or location.   


40-50% of marriages end in divorce, another life event prompting home sales. A pair of my clients were divorcing, and decided to sell the house. After she moved out, embarking on a new adventure, he came back to walk the property with me. Unexpected perspectives percolated to the surface. Located close to parks and beaches, with good neighbors, the positive feelings about the home are inspiring him to offer to buy her out. It’s a delicate balance, helping clients as individuals, as their goals diverge.


This life event often leads people to want to move closer to family, to a more affordable area, or to a smaller or single level home. These clients are balancing selling their home with finding a new place to live. Some have a lifetime of possessions with emotional meaning, so I help them declutter. Because they’ve become so comfortable with their home, it can be hard for them to see the flaws that reduce its value. Some retiring clients can deal with the loss of the home they’re selling – with all its memories – because they’re excited about their new home, although they will miss friends and neighbors.  


After the catastrophic loss of one’s home in the CZU fires, emotions are like a roller coaster. Many like myself felt the need to sift through ashes in search of anything that survived. Others cannot bear to return at all. Some are pragmatic and focus on the many tasks ahead. Others take longer to weigh their choices. Many realize “home” is where the heart is – they cherish our community and want to stay. On top of grieving the loss of their sanctuary, they feel loss about the dramatically altered landscape, whether natural or manmade.   

My husband’s property is in the queue for the county-led phase 2 clean up. All the toxic burned debris will be hauled away, along with some of the topsoil. On our last visit, we saw all the vehicles had been marked by crews with spray paint, indicating they were to be removed, which is a huge relief. But his tenant’s classic VW bus was also tagged with spray paint, even though we’d clearly indicated that he wanted to keep it, both on the map we’d drawn for the county and on the vehicle itself. So as hard as it is, I encourage survivors to stay on top of the process to be sure your property is treated the way you want. Special note: filing your income tax return after a significant loss requires tax expertise beyond what out-of-the-box tax programs can provide. You will likely need professional assistance.

“M.C.” (MaryCatherine) Dwyer, MBA, REALTOR® CA DRE License 01468388 E-mail:  

Featured photo by MC Dwyer: Classic VW bus after the fire

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