Tag Archives: real estate

Where oh Where

Location, location, location. That is the classic real estate mantra. The other is buy the worst house in the best neighborhood you can afford. Of course, these things have different meanings for each buyer.

Location means a hot area, that is, popular. Or at least a good area. Obviously you don’t want to buy a house next to a landfill or sewage plant. Or nuclear reactor. And if you can, it’s a good idea to buy in an area with a low crime rate. And good schools. And good weather and nice people. You have to consider the resale potential of anything you buy.

For me, location meant outside of a subdivision. A place with a little bit of land. And a water feature. Lots of storage. Maybe even a separate building for storage. Of course, a run down shack on two acres with a drying up swamp and old shack of a barn qualifies for all of my wishes there. But that’s not what I would buy.

Then there is the geographic location aspect. How close to the city did I want to be. Very rural county? Bedroom community outskirts?

What I was looking for was a relatively updated house on several acres, not too far out in the boonies, with as small a yard as possible, and as much water as possible. Pond, lake, creek, river, oceanfront. Water.

As time went on and I continued to look, I became discouraged. What I was seeing was old shacks with overgrown yards and dried up creeks. The further away from the city I went, the more I could afford. More land, bigger house (though not necessarily a nice house!), more water. But I didn’t want to be too isolated. I’m a loner, but not a hermit.

I started to rethink everything. What about an urban loft? Or at least an in-town condo. There are a number of old cotton mills in this area that have been refurbished into lofts with a nice industrial feel. Old wooden floors, brick interior walls and iron bedecked ceilings. And there are plenty of condos.

Looking at several of those, I realized that living in one would be impossible for me. I needed some space between me and my neighbors. Lots of space. And some storage. So, back to the drawing board in the country.

I began to think about real fixer uppers. If it had four standing walls and an intact roof, I could remodel. Needs a little paint. Or landscaping. But maybe at my age I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life ripping out walls and painting the new ones.

Then it dawned on me. The housing market is like the job market. You can look all day and night at the want ads and job boards and company websites and apply for jobs until you are blue in the face, but it’s the hidden market that holds the gems. The jobs that never get advertised. Jobs that are created for friends of friends.

In the housing market, the best sales are word of mouth and unless you are in the right circle of mouths, all you can do is wake up one day, see that a transaction has occurred and say to yourself, “damn, I wish I had known about that!”

So, with the increased aid of my realtor, I developed a net that covered a wider area. And one day, bam, it was going to have that perfect house in it! And I would leave the whole community saying, “damn, I wish I’d known about that!”

That’s part of my story. What’s yours?

www.personalhistorywriter.com

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The Sign

Signs make a difference. They identify things to make our lives easier. Enter and exit. Men and women. Price tags. They tell you where to go, how much things cost, what you are looking at and in general allow us to understand without thinking so much.

The other day I was at the art museum and while I’m pretty good at figuring out what I’m looking at, reading the sign put up by the show’s curator sometimes brings me new insights. Who might have thought that a blank white canvas titled “Empty” was really a deep and penetrating examination of the loss of interaction and communication between individuals dwelling in our urban areas? That is a better, or at least more intellectually satisfying explanation of the blank canvass than would be scam artist trying to pull a fast one and expose the snobbery of art aficionados looking for a deeper meaning in a blank canvas slapped up on the wall as a joke. Jokes on you sucker!

Of course the same sign can have very different meanings for different people. That octagonal red sign so often seen on our streets means to some people “stop!” To others it means slow down a little, look both ways and speed on. And to still others it means nothing. Yesterday a sign was put in my front yard. It says “for sale.”

Twenty years ago I bought this piece of property and built a nice house. I’ve lived here with my family ever since. My two daughters grew up here and I’ve experienced all the joys and sadness of raising children here. I’ve painted the inside of the house and decorated it to reflect my style, taste and personality. I’ve planted trees and shrubs and flowers to make the outdoors satisfying to me. I’ve done many things here, all tucked away in my mind, some further back than others.

We have been talking of selling the house for sometime now. Ok, lets get it ready. And I’ve cleaned and scrubbed and painted and planted and beautified to make it appeal to another family. I’ve told myself that it’s a building with four walls and a roof. No emotional attachment. After all, I lived in my last house for seven years and never thought of it as mine. Selling the house will be like selling an empty picture frame at a yard sale.

My wife on the other hand talks about how emotional it all is. Our children grew up here. It’s been twenty years of our lives. I remind her that her family moved three times before she graduated from high school. And that my parents moved from the house where I lived for thirteen years the day after I graduated from high school. It’s just a house. Home is where the heart is. All that. The kids seem ok with the whole thing, but they do say that this is where they grew up.

And then the sign went up in the yard and I signed the deal with the real estate agent. I could feel my heart sink. This is my home. I’ve been here for twenty years. So many memories. Even the ones in deep storage came flooding back.

And now I look at selling the house as a matter of personal pride. This is the greatest house ever built and if you, Mr. and Mrs. Buyer, can’t see that then there is something dreadfully wrong with you. I’m waiting to be insulted with low ball offers. And I’m waiting for the perfect buyer to come along.

To a buyer, the sign says “this house is for sale, check it out.” For me, the sign says that a huge part of my life is about to change.

That’s part of my story. What’s yours? www.personalhistorywriter.com

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It’s Official

Well, after months of preparation, the day has finally come. Bittersweet. My parent’s home is officially on the market. I don’t know if there is a for sale sign in the yard. I would think so. But I found the MLS listing on the Internet today.

It’s a nice write up. Very descriptive. And I’m sure it will entice a good family to buy the house. But there is nothing the realtor could say that would begin to describe or explain the real history of the house. Or what has made it our family’s home for thirty-eight years. It can’t say anything of the family gatherings at Thanksgiving or Christmas. My sister’s wedding reception on the lawn. The horses in the barn in the early years. Nor can it recreate the experience of making the house, as it was in 1975, into what it is today. Ripping out walls. Rebuilding walls. Painting. Patching. Wallpapering. All of the custom carpentry work that went into the dining room, living room, kitchen and master study. There is nothing about replacing the slate roof. Rebuilding the barn when a blizzard caved in the roof. Or my dad’s ritual with the coal burning stove in the kitchen. Every night he would put it to bed. And wake the flame in the morning.

Thirty-eight years is a long tome. A lot of things happened in that home. Good things. Memories I will always treasure. But now my folks have moved and the house is for sale. My dad says it will be nice to sell it, and move on with life. But I know he will miss it. As will my mother. As will I.

The house is one hundred forty years old. The first one hundred were unknown to us. It was a working farm. It fell into some disrepair as the farm family aged, moved on, and sold it. We bought it and revived the place. Not to a working farm but to a comfortable home. And made many memories. Our stamp will always be upon the place. But it is the people inside the house who make the home, not the building itself. Now it’s time for a new family to make their mark. I can only hope they will love it as we have.

That’s part of my story. What’s yours? www.personalhistorywriter.com

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