Monday, June 24, 2013

Moving Day - Finding Home

If there’s anything that makes you feel like an adult, and not in the fun way, it’s selling a house, applying for a mortgage, buying a house and then finally moving.

We did all of these things last week.

Owning your own house seems like an integral part of the American Dream. From the pioneers to Terra in Gone With The Wind and the sprawling suburbs, the pursuit of happiness seems tied up in the ownership of land and a house. Things seemed simpler in my parents’ generation. A house was something that even with high interest rates you could afford, especially knowing that you could very likely sell the house with a profit a couple years later. Through different markets changes and adjustments, buying a house seemed like a safe investment. Then the housing market went bust and the mortgages became something that instead of enabling people to have more purchasing power were used by some banks into manipulating people into signing up for a ride that they could not handle.

The vast majority of the houses that Diana and I looked at in the past year were overpriced, many of them significantly so. I had sympathy for people who bought a house thinking that it would be an long term retirement investment who had to face the reality that their house wasn’t even at 70% of the price they purchased the house. My generation is left with a different paradigm. We can’t lean on a house to grow in value. We have to get a different kind of value out of a house. The enjoyment of living in the house is almost as important as the price. It can’t just be about the bottom line anymore. The world has changed.

At the same time, I have to be able to pay the monthly mortgage and I can’t buy a house that I know has fundamental problems, which will inevitably lead to it being sold at a loss.

One of the most frustrating things about the house buying process is that things are only worth what people are willing to pay for a house. Yes, I’m aware that’s how most things in our economy are priced out but with houses there’s such volatility and that it’s difficult to get a feel for what something is worth day to day. This is the world we live in and we got to do the best with the cards that we are dealt. Everyone is part of the real estate industry. You don’t have a choice; you need to live somewhere and the choices you make actively influence the price of houses around you.

Within the frustrations, the stress and the compromises there’s a sense that all of this will be worth it and even though you are stepping into a seemingly convoluted mess of price fluctuations and paper work all of that stuff is somehow worth it because the goal is so worthy.

Diana and I spent a year looking for a new home for our family, to be safe and happy and to make a more beautiful life together. It was a difficult process but as I lay in bed on our first night in our new house, surrounded by boxes and listening to the chorus of Diana, Ollie and Buffy softly breathing, I felt like I was home.

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