Bump, set, spike. Making the cut.


First let me introduce Daughter #2. She has the self-confidence of Patton playing a friendly game of Risk, she has the tenacity of the magazine subscription salesman at my front door at dinner time, and with gams that look like she spent the first 15 years of her life navigating the briar patch of death, her future as a leg model is bleak.

Soon, my youngest will report to the high school gym. As the result of an unfortunate laundry mishap involving poor sorting execution, she will be wearing one white and one slightly blue kneepad, but that’s not the point. She is a volleyball player. At least, this week she is.

Tomorrow marks the start of the Scripps Ranch High School Girls Volleyball tryouts. We have lived through this before, first with Daughter #1, and beginning last year with our second-to-be-spawned. And it is not the sports tryout you might remember. The competitiveness at her school for this particular sport makes the Spanish American war seem like child’s play. These kids are put through the physical and emotional spin cycle.


Day one in the gym will look like the line to get wristbands at the American Idol Tryouts. Fifty to sixty girls will be showing up to compete for 12 slots, 4 or 5 if you eliminate the returning shoe-ins. What does one do to prepare for tryouts? In #2’s case, she spent the requisite off-season playing traveling Club ball. (You haven’t lived until you have seen the sun rise over Torrence or Laverne or Anaheim… for the eighth consecutive Saturday morning). She attended a host of summer skills camps, one requiring that she forego the backpacking trip with her sister and Dad. She has conditioned, and she has set balls in the driveway until her arms threatened to flee her body. Sometimes, that just isn’t enough.

#2 is 5-feet-4-and-a-smidge inches tall. This does not bode well in a tall girls’ sport, tall being defined as residing in a different climate zone, above tree-line. She can devote herself to honing her skills from now until the troops come home, but she is still going to be short. And, at her high school, sports are all business, a business with an enormous height bias. Being good or even great is simply not enough. You must be at least this tall to ride this ride.


Can I pull a real estate nexus out of my hat? You betcha. (You had to know it was coming).

As a seller, it’s not enough to show up anymore. Just because you want to sell doesn’t mean it will be so. Competition is fierce, and your home has to measure up. For every one of you there are dozens more who all turned out with the same goal. Proper pricing, preparatory staging, exhaustive and extensive marketing, conceding to showing arrangements that are convenient to the buyer and inconvenient to you, and professional coaching are no longer necessary to ensure you make the cut; these things are expected if you want to be allowed to simply compete.

Much like the volleyball team, there are only a certain number of “sold” slots available this month. The judges want standouts. The good news for you, and the bad news for my daughter, is that her coaches are looking for size while your buyers are looking for value. She can’t grow, no matter how much she wants to, but you as a seller can give the buyer exactly what they want. The question is, are you prepared to commit?


This will be my fourth year at the gym. Each season, I see the competition getting fiercer and the girls getting taller. The Littlest Berg’s tryouts will eventually end, in a cut this week or the next, or in a spot on the team, but the window of opportunity is a finite one.

Your window is infinite, but our real estate market continues to trend downward. For how long and to what extent, no one truly knows. But this season, anyway, for each month your home remains on the market, the game gets more physical, and the buyers expect a little more “value”.

If you missed last month’s tryouts, the good news is that you can come back and try again. Listen to what you heard, and take the necessary steps to better position yourself for the next round. It may be time to make those cosmetic improvements, select an agent who is willing to more aggressively expose your home, abandon the “by appointment only” show instructions, or lower the price. For the foreseeable future, the other kids are just getting taller, so consider biting the bullet now. If all else fails, size (price) is one thing you can control.

That is, if your goal is to really make the cut.

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