Sunday, February 1, 2009

Character of a Home

As you might imagine, since I have been investing in real estate for over 40 years, I have had the opportunity to enter a lot of homes. Many thousands. And early on in my career I noticed something that has been a part of my long and successful career.

I noticed that every older home has a character of its own. New homes seem to be devoid of any.

I am not talking about physical, architectural character. I m speaking about an emotional character. But before you write this off as some sort of strange, paranormal voodoo crap, I would ask you to consider a few things, and even test it for yourself.

I can walk into a home for the first time, and immediately get a "feeling" about the home. Some feel quite comfortable and homey, while others just give me the willies. And still others seem rather vacant of character, as if it were a new home.

I have come to believe that emotions are as real as, say, radio waves. Or radiation. You cannot see them, but they can still affect you. And strong emotions are absorbed, if you will, into the structure, itself, just as radon is absorbed. Over time, strong emotions of inhabitants would be absorbed into the walls, ceilings, floors of the home, and this gives the home its character. That is what you feel when you walk into a home for the first time. Perhaps you feel a coziness. Or a coldness. Or even a sadness.

Of course, some people feel nothing. It may be that a sensitivity to emotion may not be unlike a sensitivity to, say, pollen. It affects some more than others, and some not at all.

I have walked into homes where I immediately felt anger. Some exuded hatred. Others, sadness. And some just felt great. And in a brand new home, I feel nothing at all. It has no history of emotions.

How does this help me as an investor? Quite simply, most people can sense when a place feels cozy, or when it feels "creepy". And it is easier to resell a place where folks feel at home. In every case, any home I purchased for resale that did not exude a sense of comfort was a home that stayed on the market far too long. Buyers, upon entering, felt it. They might not understand why they felt uncomfortable. But it made the "first impression" one of undesireability. So, I learned not to invest in any property that had any negative feeling to it.

The next time you enter an older home for the very first time, immediately ask yourself how the place "feels". You'll see what I mean. Each home has its own character, created from emotions of its past residents that have become, if you will, the home's "memory".

Its character.


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