Today is my parents’ 50th anniversary – an amazing milestone to reach in this day and age – and it got me thinking about sustainability. In our world of bigger, better, faster, oftentimes a new widget is replaced so quickly that you barely had time to enjoy the now “old” version you just purchased a few months ago. I still love my iPad 1, and don’t plan to buy the 2. As for my iPhone 4, it does everything I need and I don’t plan on replacing it with the iPhone 5 that is shrouded in mystery but being hyped up nonetheless. Housing is similar.
Back during the housing boom everyone wanted to upsize – McMansions sprung up all over and there were multiple offer situations going on everywhere. It was a listing agent’s dream. I remember I put a listing on the market on a Thursday, with instructions that there would be no showings until Saturday (the sellers wanted to clean it), and I had 3 offers Friday night (sight unseen), 7 by the end of the weekend. It was a great time to be a listing agent, but I often wondered why so many people wanted to move up – many of them had nice homes and didn’t need more space. I think in part many people were keeping up with the Joneses, others just were thrilled that the banks were going to give them mortgages on their dream homes – ones they thought they’d never be able to afford (and many could not).
Sustainability is defined as the ability to be sustained, supported, upheld, or confirmed. In an economy that is gripping people around the wallet so tightly, many don’t focus on sustainability. But housing is sustainable. Let’s consider how: first, it is necessary; we all need a roof over our heads. Second, it is like the stock market – it goes up and it goes down, but when it is down you know it will rise again. The difference with housing is that the risk in buying a home (that you can actually AFFORD) is not as great as investing in stocks, bonds, or minerals. In the long run it becomes sustainable. But that is the trick: you need to focus on the long run.
Buying a home these days is not as easy as it was in the early 2000s, and in this we should take comfort. Buyers who buy a home that they can live in for a long time, one for which the payments are comfortable and possible, will eventually see equity grow. Investing in a home is investing in your future, the future of your family, and the economy as a whole. So choose wisely, and focus on long term goals. You will be happy you did, and you will understand that homeownership is still part of the American dream, and a smart choice.
In the spirit of sustainability, I wish a very happy 50th anniversary to my incredible parents. They are enjoying an Alaskan cruise, courtesy of their loving children (something I am so glad I was able to do). I too celebrate a wedding anniversary this weekend – 18 years; not as long as 50 years, but we plan to be there too one day. No matter what you do in your life, sustainability is a positive goal on which to focus in many situations, especially when you are in it for the long haul.