"Yes, I'd like to hike in the morning. How's 9:00am?" came the late night text to my earlier inquiry from a co-hiker and good friend.
"Too late." I replied. "I'll be back by then" (and indeed, I was).
Sundays are working gigs for me. The more I get accomplished EARLY in the day, the better my running start. On any given Sunday, I'll put out Open House signs, make copies of the Ad Review and bake cookies prior to the actual start time of 2:00pm. On the home front, I'll also typically make a batch of waffles for my family (a long standing Sunday morning tradition) water the garden, start the laundry, and begin work on this week's "Perspective," so a hike in the hills has to come at the crack of dawn - or not at all . . . .
I woke up and checked the clock - it was 6:30am. I glanced out the windows and spied a thick blanket of fog. Shoot! Maybe I could stay in bed instead? No, I quickly got up, grabbed a sweatshirt, threw on my hiking boots, and whistled for our dog, Buck, who is happily indifferent to time frames - or fog. (He NEVER needs prompting.) Me? I was a little less sure. The down comforter looked a whole lot warmer, but the day beckoned and as the car
climbed, the mist stayed well below the trails and Buck and I were rewarded with clear blue skies and stunning vistas.
It's not always so crisp and clear, or awe-inspiring, but it was last Sunday, reminding me once again how lucky we are to live here in the Bay Area. ("Is this heaven? No, it's Oakland.")
A few days later it was a different story. The thick mist draped the hills, while the sun did it's best to peek through with very little success. The only view worth noting that morning was Buck's wagging tail and the path in front of us. In fact, I got a little turned around for a minute or two on the loop back. Some days are just like that.
If I'm being really honest (Why not? We've already shared so much) that's a bit of the journey with respect to Real Estate as well. Sometimes the path is crystal clear and at other times, it's downright foggy at best.
As happens, whenever I find myself at a crossroads and struggling with how to help others over the same hump, along comes a bit of clarity to balance the equation and set the world right. This time, it was imparted by John Glynn of LaSalle Financial, who was asked to present at GRUBB Co's weekly Tuesday morning meeting, and held our attention (Of course, it doesn't hurt that John is a dead ringer for Brendan Frasier.)
"You and your clients focus on the purchase price," John began (how true!) "I focus on the COST to finance that purchase."
In short, John was speaking to the "Affordability Index" and here's what he had to say that was even more eye-opening . . .
"Although the overall median price in Oakland has dropped 44.91% since the high of 2007 (a figure that is skewed by foreclosure and short sales), the average mortgage rate has also dropped 43.57%, the monthly payment has dropped 59.87%, and the TOTAL INTEREST OVER 30 YEARS HAS DROPPED A WHOPPING 71.87%!" (Wow!)
"It's not just the PRICE you pay for a home, but what it COSTS you over time to finance it that really makes a BIG difference. Most of you, as well as your Buyers, are focusing on the wrong numbers!" (Thank you John, I couldn't have said it better myself.)
So grab your hiking boots and join me on the trail. Whether its clear skies, a bit of fog, or even a walk into the great unknown . . . the reality is that you are going to be okay. Remember that homeowners are the lucky ones. You have the luxury and the coveted opportunity of owning a home (not everybody gets that chance).
And if John's assurances weren't enough, then let's turn to the master of phraseology, Yogi Berra, who put it best:
"When you arrive at a fork in the road - take it!" You may just have an amazing journey! (I added that part.)
(John Glynn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (510) 339-4300.)
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 18 years and has published more than 670 essays on life and real estate.