So what does owning a home mean? What are the first thoughts that come to mind? Money? Investment? Deal? Chances are, if youre old enough to rent a car, youve been thinking about, or at least have thought about buying a home. Especially here in San Diego, where the idea of owning a home seems to have evolved from a dream, to a way of life “ its not something that you might, or hope to doits more like you will do it and its just a matter of when.
Further more, buying a home has become the new piggy bank for many people. Studies have shown that Generation Xers and now even the Ys, are shying away from banks and are keeping their money at home “ literally. Savings accounts are not as popular for people in their 20s, 30s and 40s, as they are with the Baby Boomers. Face it, real estate, now more than ever, has become an investment, rather than a home.
As a Realtor (and a home owner and a Gen Xer), I understand the value of a good investment and I also understand the use of real estate to gain wealth. I get it. What bothers me though, is how sterile the process has become. The American Dream of owning a home is not what it used to be. Its not about saving up to provide a safe place for your family to live, or a place to create memories that will stay with you for the rest of your lifeno, its a place to live in until you can sell it in a few years, for twice the amount you bought it for. Am I wrong? Does todays home buyer remind you of what our parents must have felt when they bought their first home? I doubt it.
As a first generation American, I have heard all the stories about how my parents could barely afford their tiny apartment in the bad part of Downtown Los Angles and how they had to save every penny my dad made to buy their first home (not to mention, what it took for my parents to move from South Korea to come here in the first place). And dont get me wrong, I fully appreciate what theyve done for me and my siblings and can somewhat grasp what they had to sacrifice for us (although I doubt I will ever fully comprehend what they had to endure). What Im trying to say is, is that my parents raised three kids in this house and my brother, sister and I all have great (and not so great) memories of growing up there. For my family, the word home, means a whole lot more than an address and a dollar amount.
Now I know part of the reason why my parents wanted to own a home, instead of renting, was because they knew it was a good investment. No doubt. But I also know that they looked at home ownership as an improvement in their quality of life and yeah, itd be nice to make some money on it as well. Today, I think that home owners are more focused on the financial aspect of home ownership and are putting the joys and non-tangible elements in the back seat (or even in the removable third row of their Suburban).
So what? Why does this matter? I am by no means saying that everyone who buys a home should have the same story, or should have to struggle to buy it. Nor do I think that buying a home is, or should be, like a cheesy scene from a Disney movie. I guess my point is, itd be nice if people took a step back and thought about some of the other benefits of owning a home, aside from trying to make a ton of money. Dont you remember getting your height measured on the kitchen wall? Or celebrating your birthday with all your friends? Or what about when you got your first dog? Sure you can do all these things in the place that youre renting, but can you really call it your home?
Is it a good time to buy right now? Sure it is. Prices are down, theyre not likely to drop much and prices will eventually rise. Should you buy if youre looking to sell in 2“3 years? NO WAY! I am not the type of agent who will tell you to do something, just so I can make a quick sale. And if you think I am, it doesnt matter, because you wont be working with me anyhow.
Heres the bottom line “ if youre thinking about buying a home in San Diego and plan on staying there for at least four years or so, Id say do it. Its not always the best option, but if you think it might be, give me a call and Ill help you figure it out.