One of the problems with being a real estate agent in Greenwich is that we have too many financial people. Now I love people in the financial industry, most of my seller and buyers are involved with it in one way or another. The problem is that they often turn to a spreadsheet to solve their problems. I personally love spreadsheets. There is a saying, however, that that hard numbers drive out soft qualities and there are few things more qualitative than buying your home. So, this week I thought I’d like at some of the non-financial reasons to own your own home.
There is something deeply comforting about owning your own home. It’s yours; it’s a place of refuge from all of the stress and trouble of daily life. It’s the place where your life is truly yours and your family’s. Now a long-term rental can start to feel like that, but it comes with much less control of your home.
If you own your own home, you are literally more invested in the community. You need to care about what’s going on in your community, its schools, parks and government. The flip side for some people is that homeownership can make them feel stuck and tied to the community. Overall, though being part of a community is a plus for individuals, families and for the community and you see that every day here in Greenwich. We have thousands of people who volunteer their time to make this a better place to live. Of course, renters can do the same thing and lots of them want to do so, but homeowners really need to do this.
Owning your own home also gives you more flexibility. Whenever I rented, I rented what I needed for the term of the lease. Homeowners tend to buy houses with extra bedrooms that can accommodate expanding families, or a home office for a new business and that have guests over that actually stay in the guest bedrooms, be they related or friends. We do have starter homes that get too small for expanding families and people can rent a single-family home rather than buying it, but folks who buy tend to move less and they can always expand.
One of the great things about owning is that you can do what you want. If you want to paint the ceiling black and have light up constellations no problem. If you want a pool, just do it. You can take out the garden in one area and move it to another area. It’s your house. Feel free to add on a wing for that expanding family. (Expansion is not free, and you’ll need a bunch of permits, but hundreds of folks are doing that right now.)
Your athletics, cars and parties
You can add a basketball goal, pitchers mound or even a tennis court, it’s your house. You also have your own garage rather than a shared garage or no garage. Of course, some houses don’t have garages or enough garage space, but that’s a decision you can make when you buy. You also have more space to entertain both in the house and in the backyard.
And, you can do it your way. One of the cooler features, I’ve seen was a high-end house that had a room off of the living room just for storing tables. The family had lots of folks over for the holidays and never needed to drag the extra tables out of the basement.
Houses come with extra spaces for hobbies, workbenches and storage. You can keep a lifetime of memories in them and you don’t have to move them when the lease expires. Friends of mine are great photographers and they built a custom-designed room for editing, printing and framing. Do you have a bunch of fishing trophies or lots of sports trophies feel free to display them proudly. (This doesn’t actually work in my family, but that’s a different issue.)
One thing we do agree on in our family is that we like dogs that you don’t have to bend over to pet. We’ve had a variety of Bernese Mountain Dogs, Scottish Deerhounds, Newfoundlands and Golden Retrievers. These aren’t exactly apartment dogs.
Pets are a big part of people’s lives and lots of landlords don’t allow pets at all or restrict tenants to one small dog. I have a rental listing at 181 E. Putnam Ave, next to where the crocuses bloom in the spring at the intersection of the Post Road and Maple Ave. By allowing pets, the number of potential tenants expands greatly, because there aren’t a lot of pet friendly rental. (BTW: Thank you to the wonderful town garden clubs that plant the flowers on Crocus Hill. They are my favorite sign of spring each year in Greenwich.)
Bottomline, if you want to figure out if you can afford the house use a spreadsheet, but if you want to know if you will be happy there use your heart.
by Mark Pruner
December 12, 2018