Sunday, April 13, 2008
Home Is Where the Power Tools Are
While we're on the topic of real estate, I am currently agonizing over when to jump back into the real estate market.
I've been on the sidelines for a while—having sold by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin in the nick of time—and have been waiting for things to level off. I personally believe we still have a long way to go before the market hits bottom and starts creeping up again. I don't believe that there are regions that won't be touched. I just think they get touched later, perhaps in different ways.
Say, for example, that the financial services industry gets wrecked. Doesn't that eventually trickle down into lost jobs, lost bonuses, and lost ability to spend like crazy?
One would think.
In another scenario, property values explode at an insane rate, creating unsustainable financial situations that depend on too many x-factors. Job loss, ARMs, divorces, property taxes, even flooding are all factors that can affect people's best-laid plans. Are Manhattan and the surrounding areas immune? Are we all suffering from mass delusions? If we're so immune, then what's up with the foreclosures near me? The apartments for sale in the high $200s when last year nothing was under $300k?
So if I'm so sure we've barely begun our slide, why am I tempted to buy right now?
A couple of single-family, four-story brick houses from the 1800s have gone up for sale near me. They need complete overhauls. I would have to rent out a "granny flat" in the bottom floor to cover the property taxes and utilities. The mortgage would be as much as renting elsewhere, but I'd be pushing it if I lost my job or jumped back into freelancing. I'm not one for precarious lending situations.
But the idea of a house, a real house with a backyard one stop from Greenwich Village, is tempting. A whole room just for my underwear, as C is fond of saying. An office! A guest room! A dog! Another dog and office for my guests! My real estate strategy is this: Buy what you can afford, and buy with intent to live in it. Can I? Could I? What about future travel? What about renovating? What a hassle.
Then today, I looked at the before and after shots of my last place. Wow.
Can I do it? Do I have the energy and skill to renovate for a third time?
Get back to me on that one.