Monthly Archives: February 2012

Never is a promise: Avoiding concepts of eternity when buying real estate

Everything has a time limit.

Everything has a time limit.

Sales pitches for expensive items - either expensive in money or expensive in time needed - are designed to make you think about concepts of eternity. "A Diamond is Forever." "You'll never have to replace your windows again!" "Believe in this deity and you are guaranteed an eternal afterlife full of kittens and chocolate!" "Will you be comfortable passing this home on to your kids?"

When we make major choices, like our spouse, our home, our car, we tend to think that the object we are buying is the last one of its kind that we'll need. "I have problem," we think, as we enter the store, "and this item will solve that problem forever." However, in focusing on solving our big problems, the smaller ones of day to day life get swept under the rug, only becoming apparent after our major purchase is finished. This leads to the feeling of "buyer's remorse" that we all know so well.

It happens to us in the real estate market as well. (more…)

There’s No Such Thing as a Safe Neighborhood

When I start working with a new renter or home buyer to find them a new place to live in Chicago I have a certain list of questions that I review with them. It helps me to figure out what they're looking for and refine the search criteria that I will use in the MLS. Included in this list are things like their price range, the names of the decision makers, their timeframe for moving, whether or not they have pets, whether or not they smoke... all of these are very basic questions that most folks can easily answer.

Then comes the big one. "What neighborhood would you like to live in?"

Many at this point will have a list of areas that they'd consider acceptable. Some even have street coordinates beyond which they do not wish to live. I love clients like that. But at least half of the time there will be this comment: "I want to live in a safe neighborhood."

And I wince inside. (more…)

What’s Your Personal Starbucks?

Starbucks doesn't work for everyone

Not everyone goes crazy for coffee.

Starbucks has become the default reference point for wasteful spending. It has become an easy cliché. But there's a problem.  Starbucks' revenue in 2010 ($10.7b) works out to about 1 Large Coffee of the Day ($1.70) for every person on the planet, or one Venti White Chocolate Mocha ($4.00) for every three people. Considering the folks who have multiple cups per day, it's worth believing that the Starbucks analogy doesn't work for everyone. When the analogy doesn't apply, it's easy to mentally check-out on the rest of the lesson.

If you're going to buy a house, though, you need a down payment. You can do it, but there can be no excuses. Starting right here I'm going to indulge a little entitlement and help you figure out your own personal central source of wasted cash.

It might be scratch-off lottery tickets. It might be eating lunch out at work, or higher octane gas. It might be high-end makeup or your weekly trip to the salon. As we move forward, when I refer to YPS, I mean Your Personal Starbucks. (more…)