This is the comment I found on my own blog Christmas morning:
I can honestly say I wish there were fewer agents like you… Buyer beware, right?
Joy to the world! This from a gentleman whose own blog promotes his mission as sharing his vast research of the Pacific Beach, San Diego real estate market. Specifically, he says, “I plan to focus on listings where the seller is taking a loss”. His most recent post is titled “Another Notice of Default Filed in PB”. Lovely. Notice, I don’t provide a link, because I am finding this recent proliferation of to-hell-in-a-hand-basket reporting nothing more than childish, ambulance chasing tripe of which I have grown weary. Get a hobby, read a book, play with your children, but stop taking perverse pleasure in the misfortune of others. Grow up and stop blaming your personal unrest on NAR, economists, real estate agents, mortgage lending practices and everything and everybody in between.
His little holiday message to me was an epiphany of sorts, and in my typical around the block fashion, I will attempt to explain.
It has been a long-standing tradition in our family to spend the week at our cabin in Lake Arrowhead. Steve and I have been fortunate to be able to offer our children many opportunities, but we are not blessed with a large extended family, the kind that you see in the warm and fuzzy Christmas movies. So each year we pack up Simon-the-world’s-dumbest-dog and the NSYNC Christmas CD and head out of Dodge. Each year has seemingly been better than the last; we look forward to the opportunity for sledding, hiking, entire “Jammie Days” and the annual 007 Days of Christmas. (The girls prefer Pierce Brosnan, while I am still partial to the Sean Connery Bond, for whatever it’s worth).
So, with the greatest of expectations, we headed off for our little definition of family bliss as soon as school was out. Actually, we left a day late due to illness. Fluffy, the family feline, picked the morning of our departure to show the first serious symptoms of Something Is Very Wrong With The Cat disease. The first sign that something was amiss came when she let Steve pet her, this being a bad sign in that she likes Steve about as much as Donald Trump likes Rosie O’Donnell. Day One of my Very Brady Christmas was spent identifying the only vet in town who could see us before the vernal equinox. $363.87 later, we could find comfort in the knowledge that Fluffy (who isn’t) was “not feeling well.”
By Vacation Day Two, we were on the road. Granted, we had to practically carry our oldest to the car as she now had the Something is Very Wrong With Becky disease, but keep in mind that we only delay vacations for our pets’ illnesses. And, this marked the beginning of my very blue week. It is hard for me still to put my finger on the defining moment. The children grew up overnight, and suddenly it became clear that family time was not the priority it had once been. At times, I get the distinct feeling that my daughters see our time together as a sentence, yet I think I have finally figured out how to get them to tackle their chores. “Clean your room or else we are going somewhere together!” Eiyeeee! I know now that this isn’t bad, but just different. We were evolving as a family unit, and I didn’t like it. I knew I was in trouble when I pulled a book off the shelf to cheer myself up, and Death of a Salesman actually did the trick! (I won’t tell you how it ends). Sure, there were some high points to my week leading up to Christmas. I successfully accomplished my goal of finishing A Year in Province in better than real time (by one month). My brisket did, in fact, taste slightly better than shoe leather (but not the fine, Italian variety). On the feed-the-family front, we managed to put four transaction sides into escrow from our remote location in a little under a week.
I woke up Christmas Eve morning with renewed enthusiasm. Fearing my extended absence from the Bloodhound would cause Greg to rethink my “contributor” status, I fired up the internet connection. Alas, in a single morning when Tech Support (or as I like to call them, The Ghost of Christmas Past) is apparently too busy with the holiday office party to answer the phones, my own blog server is down (as in gone from the planet for the better part of the day), my website has decided to morph into an intelligent being who has decided that actual photos of my listings do not belong there, and Sellsius, in a post dedicated to the Who’s Who of real estate bloggers, sends their best wishes to everyone but yours truly. Ouch.
Then it hit me. I am sitting on a deck at 5300 feet, and I can’t see the forest for the trees. As Willy Loman so eloquently put it, “Work a lifetime to pay off a house. You finally own it, and there’s nobody to live in it.” Jeff Brown’s clients make real estate decisions based wholly on financial merits, but most of us make our purchases with a “home” in mind. When I began to see the redefinition of my definition of home, I got uneasy. And, yes, we are mirrors of those around us. I was letting others, including my children and the bubbleheads (even Sellsius), bring me down.
Ironically, during our stay, Steve and I found a vacation home three doors down from our current one that we fell in love with. It has all of the features we have always wanted in our retirement and would serve us well in the meantime as we prepare to close the chapter on our children-at-home years. Steve called our agent in Lake Arrowhead to inquire about the home and, much to the delight of our bubble friends I’m sure, she told him what we knew: “The market sucks”. And do you know our reaction? “So what.” This is a home that, from a strictly financial standpoint, makes absolutely no sense. The timing is wrong, and the price tag is wrong. We have a perfectly good, albeit infinitely older and inferior vacation home, a home that we stretched and sweated to afford. Yet, if we had made all of our life decisions based solely on return-on-investment, we wouldn’t have this second home, we wouldn’t have our San Diego home, and, dare I say, we wouldn’t have children.
We may take the plunge on this new property, but we probably won’t. The point is that, for most of us, home purchase decisions have always been and will remain a very personal decision and a very personal choice. Many will chose to heed the warnings of the doomsdayers and wait it out, which is a perfectly appropriate response if that is what you find best for your personal situation. In the meantime, I see no value in lambasting those whose goals or decisions may not jibe with yours. I fail to see how devoting an entire blog to counting the numbers of homeowners in the red serves any useful purpose, except perhaps to justify a real estate decision you were unable to or failed to make. Your decision to not purchase is no more valid than the decisions of many others, such as four of our clients this past week, to buy. Their motivations and goals may simply have been different. To those on the bubble train that like to consider their cargo of negativity a public service, you will likely continue to hold to your beliefs of an industry maliciously driving the weak and unsuspecting into bankruptcy. Steve and I, as professionals in that very industry, are all too aware of the “market sucks” conditions of which you and our agent speak, yet we define our return-on-investment in different terms. In short, we don’t want to find ourselves waiting for the right time to purchase a home only to find that no one will be living in it.
Life’s good.Related posts: