Many of you have called or e mailed to share your experiences and observations related to last week’s column. It’s good to know I’m not making all this up in my head. Even if I am making some of it up in my head.
All your stories are remarkably similar. They contain the same overriding questions. The same dominant themes. The same nagging fears. The same recurring leitmotifs drifting in and out of each narrative. Time after time.
Coincidence? I think not.
We are talking about a huge swathe of aging boomers that’s inexorably inching it’s way through the heart of our culture. An entire demographic of 80 million + people, 50 to 68 years old, that was swallowed whole by history somewhere between the post-war years of WW 2 and the assassination of JFK.
That same (now greying) horde is continuing to migrate forward. Moving slowly through the snaking belly of the beast. Heading toward the tail of time. Digesting life along the way. From birth to youth to adulthood to middle age to older adult to death. And so it goes.
Welcome, to the journey dear friends. All of us are living someplace on the great continuum. And we are all getting “there.”
At this point some readers might want to ask: “What the hell does any of this have to do with real estate? How can you wax so philosophically about all this big existential “stuff” when all I wanna do is sell my home? C’mon, just tell me what my house is worth and what I need to do to find the right buyer.”
My answer? Selling your home is never just about selling your home. If you think it is, then, you’re missing the plot. You’ve lapsed into a somnambulistic trance. You’re off track. Sleepwalking from empty room to empty room. Divorced from real life.
When I show up for a listing appointment, ostensibly it’s to talk about selling a house. But It doesn’t take long to figure out that there’s really some other bigger life transition that’s driving it all. It’s never about moving for moving’s sake.
For baby boomers it’s things like aging, concerns about health, caring for elderly parents, being closer to kids, getting divorced, planning for retirement or finally just coming to the conclusion that all of us only have a certain number of years left on the planet and it doesn’t make any sense to wait any longer to make them count! In fact, for a lot of aging boomers – it’s about all of the above. All at the same time.
No the house isn’t the real thing. Wrestling with the challenges of a huge chunk of change is the real thing. Real estate is just one small piece of the puzzle. If it was just about “selling the house” it would be easy.
The bigger question and the one that everyone seems to be asking these days is: Where’s the map? What does it look like? Where can we get help figuring out all these big questions that are coming all at once. Are there strategies that can allow us to navigate from here to there?
Because of the special nature of home, real estate is often the logical starting point for people first beginning their conscious search for a map. Homes are the largest asset most people will ever own. At the same time they function as the ineffable centering places of our lives.
Next week we’ll start figuring out how to find a map…or at least begin drawing one.