Let me count the ways.
In my 64 years on this planet, I’ve been married 10 and in longish-term relationships just twice besides. So I know a bit about dating. And I’ve sold over 2000 properties in the last 39 years, so I know something about buying and selling homes. I’m obviously much better at one of those than the other, but we’re not going there!
So first, let me point out that my headline says “home” and not “real estate”. That’s an important distinction. A quick primer might be useful to know why “home” is most critical to this subject.
Real estate encompasses many things, starting with land. Then, what you attach to that land becomes part of the real estate. A manufactured home rolling down the highway on a semi-truck flatbed is not real estate. But as soon as you offload and attach it to a foundation in the ground, it becomes a part of the real estate. That’s also what your tax assessor calls an improvement. Real estate is dirt. What you build upon it is an improvement. All homes attached to land are real estate. But so are apartment buildings, and industrial buildings and offices and strip malls, etc….
Any savvy real estate investor will tell you, when evaluating a purchase, check your emotions at the door. Sage advice. You’re making an investment, and what matters most is what return you get on your investment (ROI). The property doesn’t have to be pretty, or in a great location. It just has to sufficiently compound your investment, sooner or later depending on your needs. Barring a nuclear plant meltdown next door, real estate never loses all its value. It may go down, but it always goes back up and then up even more. It’s the most dependable long-term investment anyone can make. But your ultimate return on investment will be determined by how prudent you were when buying that investment property, what it earns for you while you own it, and then what you ultimately sell it for.
This is where purchasing and owning a home, however, takes a different path than that of buying and owning investment property. Purchasing a home is quite rightfully an emotional process. When it becomes your home, it becomes your sanctuary. It’s where you unwind and recharge. You will make precious memories there, hopefully for many years to come. It will also represent you to your friends and family who visit. All of these have value to your emotional state, be it comfort, pride, security or outright happiness. But like dating, no matter how attracted or enamored you may be, a healthy dose of pragmatism is advised. We’re going to look in the cupboards and closets. Get some information. The attraction, and the hopes and dreams of a long and happy relationship are all right there, front and center. But a dicey past, or a lack of full transparency in the present, are red flags that are not to be ignored.
There’s more. Once you’ve satisfied yourself that there are no untenable skeletons (or mold) in the closet, and the spark is still strong, you make the commitment. And that’s where the next phase of the relationship kicks in. There will be some unexpected characteristics that surface. Not all will be what you would prefer. And some will be very pleasant discoveries. Let me share my personal experience in this area, relative to homes, that is: I’m not a shopper. I need something, I go to the store and buy it—hard stop. I am just the same with houses. I need one. There’s one. It has what I need and it’s in a location that works. I’ll take it!
That’s how I buy homes. But then the magic begins. I’m settled in, or at least enough that I can put my feet up for a little bit, and I’ll start looking around. I notice things I hadn’t noticed before that are pretty cool. Did not the same thing happen while dating that person with whom you’ve been most enamored? In my current home, when I sat in my recliner that is in view of four large picture windows on three different walls, I noticed how aesthetically pleasing the timber construction and the tongue and groove knotty pine ceiling along with the size and dimensions of the rooms in my view were. Nice! And then I became aware that from my chair, through the large dining room window, I could see the sun rise over the silhouette of the foothills to the east. And after it tracked across the back of my house where the prominent feature is a large deck surrounded by open space, it would set over another foothills’ silhouette through the large window right next to my recliner. I love it!
Oh, but then they do this thing. And you don’t love that thing they do so much, like leak a little air or require a little more maintenance than you expected, but you’ll put up with it for all the other great things you get. Sometimes, knowing the discomfort this thing causes, you might be able to affect some change—or not. Most often, you live with it, focus on the good, and still feel happy to have them, or it.
Having worked with thousands of home buyers, I can tell you that no two are the same. That goes for dates as well. Some people, when they date, know exactly what they want, and they will filter out all others. Some don’t know exactly what they want until they stumble into it, and it just feels right. For most, however, it’s somewhere on the spectrum in between. The best advice I can give anyone who is dating with the purpose of finding that special someone to be with long-term, AND to the person who is looking for that special home in which they will be comfortable, happy, and secure long term, is to keep an open mind and open heart, for starters. Then pause, and visualize the possibilities. Your home, imperfect as it may be, wants to embrace you more than you probably know. And if it’s just all wrong, get out! Call me. I’ll help you, and I’ll help you find another. We’re all about Happy Homes.