I'm falling back in love with my home once again. Thanks to a fantastic renovation that has virtually doubled the way my family utilizes our space, along with a sensational Spring bloom that has featured magnolia, cherry blossoms, lilac, dogwood and now two varieties of clematis that are prolifically climbing their way up the gazebo, I am actually quite smitten once again (our payoff after all that rain!). Even after viewing the "selected properties" on the CSL Home Tour last week, I still feel that I would rather come home to my house at the end of the day, than any other (warts and all) and that's pretty darn special.
That's not always how I feel about my "home-sweet-home," especially during the dark days of winter when heavy rains periodically flood my patio (too many pine needles blocking the drains) and the redwood forest I call my front yard has deposited 30' branches that require a hacksaw and some real muscle to access the driveway once again. With rubber waders and manual labor, Cliff and I manage to tackle most of these jobs in good stride, but the shortened days (I don't "get" Daylight Savings Time and never will) adds to the gloom and doom. During those times, I'm slightly less enamored and frankly, ready to sell. (Make me an offer - please!)
Welcome to Home Ownership. It's a Love/Hate Relationship.
Let's get real, no matter how wonderful one's home, owning (as opposed to renting), isn't always a "bed of roses." No one enjoys paying property taxes for instance (%^##^!) and spending hard-earned dollars on improved drainage or a new roof can hardly classify as "fun." When you rent, a clogged sink is the landlord's problem - not yours.
But when I am entertaining on my patio on a balmy evening while hosting a birthday party for my mother, and the twilight is filled with the scent of night jasmine and lively conversation, I can hardly imagine being anywhere else - and therein lies the magic!
I'm not a "Pollyanna" by any stretch of the imagination - I am actually quite pragmatic by nature. Given our limitations, my husband and I have bought every home with an eye towards "value" first and foremost. We've had to. In fact, it's taken Cliff and I many years to get to the point where we could begin to create the home we envisioned when we first purchased our current property several years ago. It hasn't been a quick fix (a promise I made to Cliff when we "stretched" to buy a home we could barely afford at the time) but it's been rewarding just the same. Like many of you, we didn't factor in the economic meltdown or "softening" values, so by circumstance and timing, I have had to adopt a completely new philosophy about home ownership and here it is: "A home doesn't have to pencil out - at least not in the short-term."
That's a fairly radical statement for a girl who bought, renovated and sold four homes in the space of twelve years to get to the bigger, better "prize." But with hindsight, I've abandoned that concept in favor of stability. Bigger isn't necessarily better, and all of us have learned that living within our means is a very good idea indeed.
And here's the real reveal . . . had I sat on the very first flat Cliff and I purchased in San Francisco (when we were young newlyweds) we would have reaped the same rewards with respect to appreciation, without the dust, inconvenience and higher property tax base we have accumulated along the way. (What a concept!) As it turns out, TIME is a homeowner's best friend.
So I am done moving and I am staying put (at least for now). Rain, or shine - bring it on. I am finally learning to accept my home - flaws and all (my husband too!) - and I'm appreciating the fact that we have earned every square inch of it (and then some). I know eventually, I'll get around to addressing some of the imperfections (or I won't) and that's okay too. I'm truly grateful in the moment.
In the meantime, I am building memories in a community I love and that value, may just be immeasurable! What's Happening?
Unbelievably, interest rates have dropped again! If you missed out on the re-fi boom earlier this year, jump, jump, JUMP to it. With the price of gas moving UP (I knew I should have bought that Prius last year) why not take advantage of rates that are adjusting down? At least that's within your control. www.lasallefinancial.com
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 15 years and has published more than 500 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.