Column: The Softer Side of Home Ownership
The Softer Side of Home Ownership – Seven Reasons to Buy a Home… That Aren’t About Money
By Mark Pruner
One of the problems with being a real estate agent in Greenwich is that the town has too many financial people. Now don’t get me wrong, I love people in the financial industry. Most of my buyers and sellers are involved in the industry one way or another. The problem is that they often turn to a spreadsheet to solve their problems.
Personally, I love spreadsheets. But there is a saying, hard numbers drive out soft qualities, and there are few things more qualitative than buying your home.
This week I want to share with you what I have learned about the non-financial reasons people love owning their 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 you spend quality time either by yourself or with your family. A long-term rental can begin to feel like that, however it comes with much less control of your home.
If you own your own home, you are certainly 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. Being part of a community is rewarding 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 Greenwich a better place to live. Obviously, renters can do the same thing and lots of them want to do so, but in my opinion, 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, friends and guests stopping by that can actually stay in a guest bedroom, or can be used as a home office for a new business. We do have starter homes that get too small for expanding families and people can also rent a single-family home rather than buying one. However, people who buy tend to move less and they can always expand their house.
One of the great things about owning is that you can do what you want with your house. If you want to paint the ceiling black and have light up constellations, it’s no problem. If you want a pool, you can add a pool. You can take out the garden in one area and move it to another. It’s your house. Feel free to add on a wing for that expanding family. Just note that expansion is not free, and you’ll need a bunch of permits. However, hundreds of people are doing that right now.
Your Athletics, Cars &Parties
With your house you can add a basketball goal, pitchers’ mound or even a tennis court. You also have your own garage rather than a shared garage or no garage at all. 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 people over for the holidays and never needed to drag those extra tables out of the basement.
Your Spaces and Interests
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 your memories when the lease expires. I have some friends that are amazing photographers and they built a custom-designed room for editing, printing and framing. If fishing is your thing feel free to mount and hang as many fishing trophies as you want and 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 bigger dogs. The kind 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. It’s wonderful see them running and playing in the backyard.
Pets are a big part of people’s lives and lots of landlords don’t allow pets or restrict tenants to one small dog. I have a rental listing at 181 E. Putnam Avenue, 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 rentals.
On a side note, 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.
The bottom line is that if you want to figure out if you can afford the house, you can use a spreadsheet. However, if you want to know if you will be happy there, you should use your heart.
Mark is an award-winning agent with Berkshire Hathaway. He can be reached at 203-969-7900 and firstname.lastname@example.org