"Wow," was my first thought. Who are the flowers for?
"They're for you," our receptionist, Mario, said; a big smile across his face.
Silly me, it hadn't registered AT ALL that my husband, Cliff, had actually ordered and sent this abundant bouquet (although it should have) to honor our 25th wedding anniversary. It's such a rare romantic gesture on his part that honestly, I'm more likely to get flowers from a satisfied client than from my spouse on any given day. We're both too guilty of taking one another for granted (especially after 25 years).
That's clearly been a mistake.
"A rose for every year," the card read.
Okay, I was shooting for diamonds (I've definitely earned them) but that's a lovely sentiment and I'll happily accept this beautiful bouquet with great gratitude. Hey, who knew Cliff could be so sentimental when the mood struck? Thank you, honey, I'm deeply touched that you went out of your way to acknowledge this very special day. I've truly been "lucky in love."
I have to say that twenty-five years has literally flown by, and I, for one, am looking forward to the next 25, especially now that you've learned to do the laundry and shop for groceries. (Can I say, that you've never been more attractive to me?) As it turns out, you can teach an old dog, new tricks.
When I look back, I'm proud of the things we've accomplished together (house, kids, dogs . . .) AND I'm excited about what's to come (house, GRAND KIDS, dogs . . .) but whatever the journey, I know we're in this together and that there's bound to be a lot of laughter along the way. (Just for the record boys, we're not in a hurry for those grandchildren anytime soon.)
How's this all relate to real estate, you're asking yourself? Isn't this about where Julie segues into some pithy comparison or literary metaphor ("A rose by any other name . . .")?
It doesn't really, but I wanted to gush just a little. However, if I were to draw upon my own experience as a homeowner and serial renovator these pass 25 years, there are a few lessons that stand out with respect to the world of home ownership that I will happily pass along . . .
1) Buying a home is an emotional journey - not a pragmatic one.
2) Although buying a home may seem like a "forever" purchase, it isn't. The average homeowner moves every 5-7 years and the average individual will move 11.7 times in their lifetime. (I'm clearly ahead of the curve.)
3) Besides our children, nothing is truly permanent - not even our homes. Feel free to change the paint, hang wallpaper, remodel the kitchen, and open walls if you see fit. It's your house; make it so. You've earned the right and it's one of the best things about home ownership, as opposed to renting. YOU get to decide!
4) No matter the price point, you are going to want to change something about the house. This is AS true for the $500,000 condominium as it is for the $5,000,000 estate. Stop expecting perfection (no matter the price); it doesn't exist. Homes evolve as lives evolve, and so they should. Make yours a reflection of you.
5) For the majority of us, our homes are our single largest investment, but even if it that isn't true for you (lucky dog), DO take care of this valuable asset. There's simply too much at stake to allow your home to deteriorate over time and remember - "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."
6) Truth? Not everyone is meant to own a home. If you don't like the responsibilities that go along with owning and caring for a property, paying taxes, and updating as needed - RENT. It's perfectly acceptable to enjoy traveling more than mowing a lawn. (Most of us do!) If we're truly fortunate, we get to do both.
7) The rest of the world aspires to home ownership. Aren't you fortunate to live in a country that not only honors this concept, but gives you a tax deduction for it? (Yes, you are.) Take advantage of this enticing government-subsidized bonus; it's the only one we receive courtesy of Uncle Sam.
8) Buy high or buy low, in the end it matters very little over
T I M E ! Worry less about what it costs to buy and more about what it costs to carry. (Remember, you're working with leveraged money as opposed to your own valuable dollars.) Today's interest rates are at historical lows.
9) The ONLY time to worry about the value of your home is when you go to sell it! The rest of the time, it matters NOT AT ALL! While markets go up and down, correct and rebound, wax and wane, homes are tangible assets.
10) Love your home, but don't treat it like a museum. The loveliest of domiciles aren't worth much if friends don't gather together to break bread, to celebrate, to share a moment, to make a memory and to dance and sing. No, homes aren't worry free. Like a good marriage, they require time and attention and a fair amount of TLC and sure, there may be a few thorns along the way, but how else can you get a rose? (Ahhh, you knew I'd get there.)
How can I help you?
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.