I admit it. I’m a sucker for watching those shows where people buy properties in different places around the world. It can be in any country. Alaska, Hawaii or the Caribbean. It doesn’t matter. I’m not picky. I have to watch it. It’s not only limited to television nor does it have to be very exotic or far away. It can be another town or another block. If I am in an area that I am not familiar with, I often will take a side trip or purposely get lost, just to see houses. One of my closest friends lives in a very affluent area located on the North Shore of Long Island. The road to go to his house is very winding and passes a number of huge beautiful Victorian homes and large estates. I find myself (much to my wife Laura’s angst) drifting to one side of the road or the other to get a better look. She does’t let me drive there anymore. If there is a private road leading to some mysterious grand estate, I have to become “lost” trying to find a through street. Especially if there is a sign that says “PRIVATE”. How dare they keep me from seeing what is in there. I know, I have a problem.
It is not that I’m unhappy what I have or where I live. I am quite happy where I live and with the house I live in. Realistically, I have absolutely no use for a house with 8 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms. Nor does anyone in my family want to clean them. Whether or not I want it, my wife is a grounding force. On more than one occasion I have heard to the effect, “no Phil we do not need a house with a boat slip”. I don’t own a boat. In the back of my head I am thinking “but I might get a boat”. As I sit here writing, I am trying to figure out why I do this. I don’t get the sense I am jealous or want what other people have. I am quite happy for friends and family who may have a larger house or a more expensive car.
I think it’s what houses/homes/real estate represents. When I was younger, (not that long ago) I guess owning property represented financial security, wealth, continuity and permanency. Growing up, our family moved a lot. As a child, I daydreamed about owning office buildings and maybe even my very own island some day. . . My wife still kids me about the island. As I got older, the need and desire developed a sense of urgency as I needed a home of my own to raise a family. I got the house but that need for continuity continued as I often thought about buying a building to have an office to run a law practice. While traveling, my family often heard the phrase “that building would be a great place for a law office”. Over the years, law school loans, mortgages and college tuition tempered my motivation to get that building. Now that I am planning for my golden years (very far off in the future), my thoughts have once again turned to real estate as a way in which to provide investments as a means to generate income in which to retire. There is a good chance that social security may not be a viable option when the need for it comes. I don’t see me receiving the same kinds of returns from the stock market or lotto as I could get from real estate.
I guess I practice real estate law because of what real estate means to me. That paired with the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction I feel when I put together (and close, most of the time) a complicated transaction or the purchase of a person’s first home. There is a feeling of pride that I have provided my clients (with what I hope is) a valuable service in achieving their goals and/or dreams. Very similar to the ones I’ve had throughout my life.