Tuesday, January 8, 2013


Go ahead—make me an offer I can’t refuse!

It’s that fickle trickster, the real estate market. I live in McLean, Virginia, a close-in suburb of Washington, DC. It doesn’t matter that I live in the cheapest housing in my zip code—the value of housing is still astronomical. I’m in the cheap seats, but still in the highest rated local school district, so my measly little 1967 vintage townhouse is worth a relative fortune.
I bought the house 15 years ago from the estate of the original owner. Very little had been updated and over the years I’ve done a lot of work on the house. It’s quite charming, if I do say so myself. But is it worth nearly $800,000?

A renovated house down the street, almost identical to mine, just went on the market for $799,999. If my house sold for even close to that price, I would have lots of equity. What I could do with that money! I could buy a really nice Airstream and live anywhere I want. I could move either to Austin or Seattle to live near my grandchildren. Or I could move the Airstream back and forth between Austin and Seattle.

Merely thinking about the logistics of moving makes me freeze. I turn into a dithering fool. I think about culling through my stuff, I think about packing, I think about how much trouble it would be to have my mail forwarded. Really—starting over again in another city would be a daunting task for an old woman. I’ve lived in the Washington area my entire life. I know my way around. I have a good dentist and I’m not afraid to drive on the beltway.

But then I think about what it would mean for me never to move. I didn’t even go away to college so I’ve lived here my entire life. Have I no sense of adventure? If I don’t go soon, I’ll only go when my kids take me kicking and screaming to “the home.” My daughter assures me that “the home” in Austin has good air conditioning. I love redoing houses and I think I have one more house in me. But these high real estate prices mean I can’t afford to do another house in the Washington area.

So I'm thinking about it hard while I get my house ready to put on the market, perhaps in the spring. Maybe I'll just jump at the opportunity, take the money, and run. Or maybe I'll be too afraid.

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