American Gothic - Drop the Pitch Fork

Three articles popped to my attention this weekend. All about small homes, their qualities and the real estate market (See the links below). They moved me to think that nearly all homes available to us are commodities. Yes. Economic goods that can be bought and sold on a market.

And as with any such commodities the idea is to buy low and sell high.

Yet for you and I such a commodity also happens to be our home. A place where our children grow up, where our lives are anchored, our personalities are met and expressed, our memories held, where we wake up to meet the day, find safety and pause, where everything we hold dear is kept. They are the very reflection of us, of our expectations and dreams, our nagging desires and pulling aspirations. 

As commodities go, we have figured out how to generate a product as cheap as we possibly can. Every company becomes an expert in their field on how to cut cost. They also know how to market it. To sell it. To raise the price.

And so I come to think that most homes available to you and I are cheaply built. They are as cheap as a builder could possibly get away with. And so they should. And they are sold as one of a kind with the newest appliances, the trendy rain shower heads, quartz countertops, gas cooktops, or whatever else it might be that is currently pushed as the must-have. And so they should.

We buyers, too, always fret over the resale value. We, too, want to be the cunning business person in the deal. We will, too, buy low and sell high. Buy in the right neighborhood, an up-market. We have done our homework. And we'll defend our assumptions with pitchforks, establish HOA's and Zoning "Overlay Districts". We'll shut out the other and take the common offerings as the status quo.

Good. But how does that meet my needs again? Those desires and aspirations? My life? It doesn't. The homes we get to chose from are cold hard commodities. Soulless dead carcasses of industrial thrift.

There it is. One fundamental dichotomy in the housing offerings out there. Commodities that we turn into our homes.

And even If I can't help you to close the gap (and I sure have and idea or two), consider this:

Drop the pitch fork for a minute! Look up and see if you can allow yourself to ask for something more! To be different and specific. To live in a space that enriches your life, and yours only. And no. Don't spend more money. Spend less if you must. But spend it right. Spend it on the pieces that matter to you, that meet your own needs. Go for the right stuff. This place, this home, will define your life every single day. You ought to do it right.

And you might find it in the "wrong" neighborhood. Or without the stainless rain shower head. You might find it not where you friends expect to find you but maybe where you need to be.

Go for it. You'll buy a house once or twice in your lifetime. Don't think just because the newest neighborhood one street over declares itself to be the new IT, it actually is. Ask around for what is available to you. How much you can actually ask for to meet your life and your life only. You might be surprised.



Living in a 'Gothic World' (Beth H. Howard, The New York Times, 03/19/18)

The Big Picture on Tiny Homes (Billy Maddalon, The Charlotte Observer, 03/20/18)

A Case of the Nashville Blues (Margaret Renkl, The New York Times, 03/19/18)