Zdravo (hello in Croatian), I'm back. Having now checked off the beautiful countries of Hungary, Slovenia, and Croatia, Cliff and I also squeezed in a short visit to historic Venice for a few days with his brother and wife, and then met up with my lovely niece and her fiance in London before I caught a United jet home. (Cliff continued on to Africa to meet a friend from high school. Rough life.)
While Cliff's on safari, I'm dealing with jet lag, catching up on work, putting the house back together, and meeting with clients.
It's now Sarah's turn to enjoy a few days off with her family in Laguna Beach, while Jill joins friends in Marblehead, Mass. This is why summer (and partnerships) exist. It allows us all some time away; a necessary respite in the face of a fairly stressful work life.
In case you were wondering, the vacation was extraordinary, offering stunning views at every turn that encompassed stone-walled pastures, glacier-covered alps, and balmy beaches. Moreover, the Backroads guides, as well as our traveling companions, were fabulous (as always). Of course the Hungarians, Croatians, Slovenians, Italians and Brits, could not have been more inviting or welcoming. In short, I'm truly blessed and grateful for the opportunity to travel, to meet new people, to sample new cultures, and for the time away. It's a great big world out there full of endlessly remarkable moments and I'm only too pleased to experience a few of them.
While Cliff and I sampled copious amounts of dried meats and cheese, and breezily e-biked our way up and down hills through charming villages, back home a crew was hard at work replacing the problematic PEX pipes in our house with brand new, shiny copper throughout. By the time the plane landed, I was able to take a hot shower, run a load of laundry, and start the dishwasher without fear of springing a leak in the walls. (BTW, several other drips were discovered once the walls were open, so replacing the plastic pipes was a very good call. Expensive but good.)
Da. (That's "yes" in Croatian.)
With the new piping in place, the crew has moved on to painting the newly-patched drywall so the house, at least, will be in good order once Cliff arrives home NEXT week. (Time to pay the piper.)
More importantly, when Cliff and I decide to sell, we'll be able to honestly DISCLOSE that the water issues have been thoroughly corrected. In essence, we have "cured" the house. For better or worse, this is the journey of home ownership, but on balance, I'd still rather own than rent as homeownership has a profound effect on the ability of individuals to accumulate wealth over t i m e . . .
It's the "time" part many people are struggling with in this new marketplace, and a reminder for us all that real estate is meant to be a long-term investment - not a short one. The unprecedented highs of 2021 were pushed beyond limits by a world-wide pandemic, by interest rates that hovered around 3% (give or take), by an over-valued stock market, and by a huge imbalance with respect to supply & demand. These colliding factors created the "perfect storm," but we don't expect it to be repeated any time too soon. In other words, let go of 2021 expectations; they're no longer realistic.
With market's normalizing in most places, (aka: "correcting"), those who bought at the height of 2021-2022 may now find themselves with properties that are worth less than they paid for them just two years ago. (Fear not; this too, shall pass.)
When Cliff and I bought our Piedmont home in 2006, followed two years later by the subprime mortgage debacle, we found ourselves unable to refinance as the home had lost too much value. I tearfully watched a half-million dollars of sweat equity slip away. Several years later, we sold that home for far more money than we ever imagined possible and certainly recouped that loss.
While you can't always time the purchase of a home, you can often time the sale.
As I often remind my clients: "the value of your property is only important when you decide to sell it." If you're in a position to hang on, hang on, because eventually, time may well be on your side. However, (and this is a BIG however) once a property is actively on the market, "time" can definitely work against you. In other words, the quicker the sale, the better the result.
And on that note, hvala vam (that's "thank you" in Croatian) for allowing me the time away. It certainly helps me appreciate all that I have once I return.
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Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 18 years and has published more than 750 humorous but always informative, essays on life and real estate.