Back in the ‘90s, Tom Robbins’ imaginative novel was repurposed into a forgettable movie – but the ‘Cowgirls’ theme was revived a few years ago in articles about the glum side of skyrocketing property value appraisals: outsized tax bills whose rise was the source of much gloom and doom.
At least today’s property owners don’t need to complain about rising property values – but they can (and do) worry about the tumble in book value. Since no one who owns Marin County property bought it so that they could lose sleep over it, how do you (and the cowgirls) make the best of the residential deep six?
The first thing you can do is to take a reality-based look at whether the property value situation has any actual impact on your personal finances at all. Retirees and safely settled long time community residents often fall into the worry-free category. If you don’t plan on taking out a new mortgage, refinancing, selling or using your property as collateral for any other purpose, then a fall in property values is an abstraction as far as your future is concerned. In this case, the cure for the blues? Settle down with a good book; go out to the movies; plan your next vacation. And cut down on reading the financial columns.
But what if you are planning on selling or refinancing? What if a property down the street has just gone though a bank foreclosure, or one has made a short sale? What if your property value in November is 15% less than it was in October? What then?
There are a number of ways to handle the situation, led by a first, common sense mental adjustment, which is to remember and appreciate the fact that all markets always fall, rise, fall, and rise again. In other words, the Marin property value situation is part of a normal and predictable cycle, the same one other generations have been through in the past. After all, it’s gloomiest at the bottom of any property market cycle. And it’s only after a market turn is underway that its rise seems as if it ought to have been perfectly predictable to everyone (because even cowgirls have 20-20 hindsight!).
After stepping back enough to recognize the greater picture and appropriate attitude adjustment, the next step is to dive into taking maximum advantage of the situation today.
Positive steps include using the moment to make improvements that ultimately increase your property’s value. Remember the do-it-yourself landscaping you’ve put off for years? It’s largely overlooked until the moment when the prospective seller begins thinking about how those listing pictures are going to look along side all the other comparable properties.
Planting a shade tree this month can be astonishingly impactful even just three years from now. So can planting a row of gallon-sized bushes that will create a natural visual boundary later, or using a border spade with imagination and care to carve a pleasingly permanent edge between the grass and plant beds.
Once you begin to revisit the good feelings associated with pride of ownership, why not set aside a weekend to get rid of that peeling wallpaper in the bedroom? Not only will it transform the room, it will also help make the whole house just feel better.
So in case you’ve been brooding over how your property isn’t worth what it used to be, forget about it!
Even cowgirls get over the blues!