Earlier this week, David Brooks wrote a brilliant Op-Ed piece in the New York Times called “The New Humanism” (http://nyti.ms/eN8Toj). In it he argues that at all levels of society we have become too dependent on the idea that reason should dominate the softer emotional skills, and that this has led us to ignore or undervalue many of the less conscious but more profound ways in which our brains process information and move towards decisions. It’s a piece which leads any reader to profound thought about the operation of his or her own life, but one way in which it made ME think related to my job selling residential real estate.
The successful real estate purchase requires the satisfaction of numerous complex desires. Too often in recent years the notion of relative value has dominated the process, ie is the property a “good investment” and “will it hold its value?” These issues, while certainly important, should be far from determinative in making a real estate decision. And they are relatively new. When I began in the business 30 years ago, no one spoke of residential purchases as investments. You bought residential real estate to create a home.
So I began to make a list in my head, which is no doubt incomplete, of what needs and desires the ideal residential real estate purchase would satisfy. Here it is:
- It makes your heart sing. Everyone is different in this regard, but this is a feeling you recognize the minute you walk in the door.
- It addresses your needs. Even a singing heart isn’t enough, in the long run, if the place is much too small or located in a place so unattractive or inconvenient for you that you will grow to hate it.
- It reflects your identity. Like your clothes, and your books, and your friends, your home-its layout, room sizes, and furnishings-should reflect a highly personal sense of who you are and what is important to you.
- It will enhance your relationships. This is particularly important if you are part of a couple or a family. I have seen many instances in which one member of a couple imposes his or her will on the other. The ideal purchase not only deeply satisfies both participants, but it also creates an environment in which you and your children will thrive, and to which all look forward to returning.
- Finally, the cost to value equation makes sense, within reason. If you are buying for the long term there is actually no reason to fine tune the price too much. You shouldn’t spend more than you can afford, lest that add an additional stressor to your life. But if you can afford what you love, and you plan to be there a while, go for it. No one knows what will happen in the market, or for that matter in your life, over the next ten years. But whatever else, you will return each day to an environment which embraces you and which causes you to let out a small sigh of relief and pleasure when you walk in the door. And that’s not nothing!