Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Home does not have to be ostentatious to be special

I have been doing some reflection here lately on the brands and styles of homes that are the current appeal to consumers. I am in the home sales business. I see a current trend towards simplifying in choice of homes. Most of the press I read expresses the fact that people in general are leaning towards this simplification in terms of housing. Not that long ago the McMansions were the order of the day. A home purchase was predominately for the purpose of gaining equity so that you could spin off and buy something bigger and better eventually with that equity.

Now you are lucky if you have a mortgage payment that is manageably within the framework of your family budget. There are many, many homes sitting without occupants that are memorials to the tendency of Americans to use the home for a cash cow in second and third mortgages to finance expensive vacations, buy bigger cars and purchase those beach houses. Those are all lovely things but unfortunately the current financial crisis has exacerbated many people in the direction of short sales and foreclosures. If you do a walk through of the current MLS I would wager that 1 in every 3 offered for sale is a short sale. We live in hard times. Hard times that are largely of our own making.

Back in the early 70's my sweet wife was into needle point. She loved to make little samplers with pithy little sayings, framed for display in the homes of those she loved. One she made for her parents said this: " A house is made of brick and stone. A home is made of love alone." That is a pertinent call for reflection.

Her parent's home was a monument to living within one's means. It was just the three of them in that home. You had to search very far to find a little family that just flat out loved one another and led a more happy life than they did.

I was raised in a home that my grandmother owned in southern West Virginia. There was a total absence of indoor plumbing. I had to follow a well worn path some 500 yards from the house for bio-function. We drank water from an old cistern that was gathered from the rain when it came. I remember very well getting our first TV and our first telephone.

I now live in a much nicer house. It has three full baths indoors. We have phones galore, wireless ones, cellular ones and have a TV in three of our four bedrooms and of course one that is much bigger in our family room. There is a pool in the back yard and a golf course 50 yards from the front of my house.

Do all of these amenities make me a happier person? Not in the least. My happiness is drawn from the person I am married to. The three children who have given us, so far, 7 grand children are the reservoir of happiness for myself and my wife.

So I sit back and reflect now at 66 yoa and think back to a thirty year career chasing a paycheck which could buy me a little bigger house, car and play things and realize that the pursuit was superfluous to the things that matter. Perhaps that is one positive aside from this recession/depression that we find ourselves mired within. I think that we have all learned a valuable lesson from this belt tightening experience.