June 23, 2004

house stock

A friend of mine says the real estate market is at its peak right now. That we should sell and wait to buy. That we should ride this wave right into a fabulous new house when the wave crashes and leaves us high on the piles of money weíve saved.

And maybe sheís right. I know of people who are doing just that, renting and waiting. And maybe theyíll clap their hands in glee when the time comes, chortle at the rest of us fools who stayed put as they waltz into their tacky mini-mansions with marble floors and fancy multi-tiered shower heads in shower stalls the size of our current bedroom.

But maybe sheís wrong and those people are going to grow old in their rental apartments while the housing market continues to grow ever more unaffordable and then weíre the ones laughing or at least not crying as we can afford to, well, jump from one decent-but-not-ideal house to another.

I can tell you reasons I think sheís wrong. I can justify my position. But of course I donít really know. And I think it comes down to something very different. It comes down to this: How much of a gambler are you? This isnít just playing the stock market where if you lose money, itís not money you were actively using. But your house? Your house is ideally your home base, your sense of place and belonging. So to give up a house thatís not just a piece of financial property but is a real three dimensional yard-and-living-room-and-kitchen, is where you nap and play street hockey and have knock-down drag-out-fights and cuddle under a throw blanket on winter nights watching TV together, to give that up in search of some theoretical but not solid monetary gain, thatís a big deal. You have to be able and willing to gamble, not just with your money but with your day-to-day life.

Iím not.

We do want to move. Probably soon. Within the year, I hope. But we want to know this will be somewhere we can stay for a while, for as long as need be, that it can change with us as we change, that the walls around us can absorb our memories and our lives. That itíll be ours.

I realize home ownership is a luxury. I do know that. I lived in rentals most of my life. Until three years ago, in fact. And that was largely fine, and I think back especially on the apartment where I grew up and feel great nostalgia and an intimate kind of affection. You do own a rental in a sense too, because it too is home. But I find myself loathe to give up the knowledge that this structure is mine and nobody is going to kick me out, even if I paint the walls fuschia and have loud parties. I like the emotional security in that. And so Iím no gambler, not in this. When we sell this house, itíll be because weíve found another, not because weíre waiting for the gold rush.

Posted by Tamar at June 23, 2004 11:24 PM

Tamar - I think you are being wise. People have been saying the NYC market was going to drop ever since 9/11 and so far it just keeps going up!


Posted by: NYCMom at June 24, 2004 04:09 PM