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"Your Home is the Setting for Your Life"

Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Chino Hills

My first apartmentMy first apartment... heaven on earth: orange shag carpet, green yard-sale sofa, cinderblock-and-plywood bookshelves, and a gargantuan wooden spool for a table (what did you expect? It was 1978 -- I was 18 years old!).

I lived in that apartment for two wonderful years: working, dating, partying (moderately, of course!), and learning a few things about the world and my place in it. Life was simple, exciting, and filled with possibilities.  So I cherish every memory of that place -- orange carpet and all.

As a Realtor®, I often feel that we -- all of us, the society as a whole -- have forgotten what a "home" actually is. Houses have become "properties" -- all about the monetary value, as though their inherent emotional, life-affirming value no longer matters or even exists.

I've worked with buyers -- young couples in their 20's -- who seem to feel that their worth as people is somehow compromised if they don't buy a large, impressive home in an upscale neighborhood, complete with granite countertops, state-of-the-art appliances, and a master suite in which you could land a small plane.

I try to communicate to these people: Be careful. Don't get caught up in the pursuit of perfection; don't fall into the trap of rejecting every house with a single less-than-ideal feature. Because no matter where you live -- however small or large, shabby or impeccable -- a basic truth always applies: You will remember your home fondly.

You'll remember the life you lived there. You'll remember moving day, holidays, special occasions, visits from family and friends. You'll remember whatever simple, commonplace pleasures your life holds. You'll remember arguing in the kitchen (and making up in the bedroom)... you'll remember munching junk food in front of your favorite movies in the den, and laughing together in the living room at your silly private jokes. You might remember carrying newborns up the front walk, or the quiet incomparable joy of rocking them to sleep by the fireplace... or that funny little thing they said in the back yard one day that became a part of the family jargon... or standing in the bathroom combing their hair on the first day of school, and being utterly astonished at how quickly the years have passed.

And when the time comes to sell, and you've packed your boxes and walk one last time through the empty rooms, you'll be re-living all this, and the memories will be so precious that you won't give much thought to whatever really BUGS you about this house... and if you do remember -- the ugly tile in the kitchen, say, or how you had to squeeze past each other in that tiny master bath -- believe me, even those memories will make you smile.  

But I can't say these things to my clients -- not face-to-face. I'm a real estate professional, not a poet or philosopher or commentator on life. If I let myself run on like this, they'd find another agent, someone who would skip the emotional lectures, and simply show them a perfect property to match their comprehensive list of features, benefits and amenities.

So I try to be more succint, and get the point across this way: "I want you to make a good investment. I want you to be happy with your choice. And at the same time, I hope you'll remember: your home is the setting for your life." Sometimes, if they seem intrigued by the thought, I even use the example of my first apartment. 

As the years have progressed, I've had nicer homes. I married while living in one, had children in another, divorced in a third. Today I own a small, cozy condominium -- my attempt at simplicity in a chaotic and turbulent world. And though I grumble now about the detached garage -- the inconvenience of lugging groceries across the communal driveway, down the steps, along a walkway, and up a full flight to my front door -- one day when I've moved on again, I'll remember it all with nostalgia and fondness.

HomeI'll remember my son's stealthy, late-night trips to the refrigerator, and my little dog running joyful laps through the rooms, and the light in my daughter's eyes as she opens her college acceptances at the dining room table. I'll remember sitting in the sunshine on the balcony, sipping coffee and watching the grass on the hillside bend in the breeze. I'll remember standing at the stove when the call came from another state telling me my elderly father had wandered off and was missing, and how, many hours later, I was frantically rummaging through a closet, packing a suitcase, when the second call came that he'd been found dazed but unharmed. I'll remember jumping up from my chair in an impromptu victory dance the morning I opened my email and learned an e-zine was publishing a story I wrote... I'll remember the bright bougainvillea on the neighbor's patio, the rich tones of my cherry-wood floor, and how the sound echoes through my living room when I play my piano in the dusk.

Detached garage? Inadequate closet space? Tiny kitchen? Sure. It's small, it's cluttered, it's flawed. But it's home. The setting for memories... the setting for life.

Wishing you a houseful of well-loved memories --

Diane's blog signature

Copyright © 2011 Diane Mora Chino Hills Realtor®

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Comments (42)

Rosalie Evans
Meritus Group Real Estate - Sioux Falls, SD
The Evans Group, Sioux Falls, SD Homes For Sale

You weave a good story! You should write novels when your not selling houses.

Mar 19, 2011 11:56 AM
Nancy Conner
Olympia, WA
Olympia/Thurston County WA

This brings back so many memories of my first house - & I was oh, so proud of the orange shag carpet - and yes a spool table too!  (Where did we get all of those?)  And you are so right that the memories of life and family and friends and good times do not depend in any way on granite counters and a fancy 5 piece master bath...

Mar 19, 2011 12:03 PM
Shirin Sarikhani
Seattle Staged To Sell www.seattlestagedtosell.com - Seattle, WA

This is a lovely story and I enjoyed reading it. I had to stage my own mother's home few months ago and it was the most painful project that I ever did. Every change meant, that I was erasing a memory. At the end, my mom's home turned into a product and was sold, but it was sad for all of my family to say good-bye. We preferred the cluttered and mix matched look. 

Mar 19, 2011 12:28 PM
Patricia Aulson
Realtor - Portsmouth NH Homes-Hampton NH Homes

home is wherever you are, it's the memories, the love, the life....that count, orange carpet and all.

Love the post, thank for sharing.


Patricia/Seacoast NH & ME

Mar 19, 2011 01:39 PM
Martha Brown
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc., Annapolis MD 21403 - Annapolis, MD
Your Homes Around Annapolis Agent

So true, so very, very true. memories are what a home is for and each one is destined to bring those our way that are 'our lives' at that very moment. Great post and rightfully featured.

Mar 19, 2011 02:02 PM
Karen Feltman
Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group - Cedar Rapids, IA
Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

I think that it is important to remind, albeit gently, to today's first time buyers that they should really consider their quality of life.  You don't want to be house poor do you?  You want to be able to entertain, take vacations, relax and not be one paycheck from disaster.  All of this makes me and you great agents!  A voice of reason that is not parent-like but just advice based on our own experiences.  Great post and I am happy that you shared it.  Have a great weekend.

Mar 19, 2011 03:07 PM
Hella Mitschke Rothwell
(831) 626-4000 - Honolulu, HI
Hawaii & California Real Estate Broker

Interesting how our wants and needs change over the years. Just before the market sank, buyers wanted bigger and bigger houses with all the latest bells and whistles. Now they can't get rid of them. You are right, Diane, it's time to get back to living in a home where you can build memories, one that is warm and inviting.

Mar 19, 2011 03:34 PM
Gina Nugent
Donohue RE - Palm Beach, FL
Real Estate Agent - Palm Beach, FL

You ARE a great writer, Diane!

Mar 19, 2011 03:38 PM
Diane Mora
Keller Williams Chino Hills - Chino Hills, CA

Karen: It IS amazing. Not sure I would have thought this way in my 20's either... gettin' old and soft, I guess. :-)

Diane: Thank you. I appreciate the read and comment.

Bea: I'm with you -- if you're going to splurge, it's GOTTA be on the sound system. Thanks for stopping by.

Evelyn: Thank you for the kinds words. Amateur poet and armchair philosopher, maybe...

Sharon: Thank you, and best wishes for your life in the new place.

Rosalie: I actually am writing a novel, so I really appreciate the vote of confidence. Thanks for reading.

Mar 19, 2011 03:50 PM
Diane Mora
Keller Williams Chino Hills - Chino Hills, CA

Nancy: That's a great question -- where DID those spools come from? My 20-year-old son brought one home recently... when he decided he didn't want it I couldn't bear to throw it away. I think it's actually still in my garage!

Shirin: Sounds like one of those goodbye's that feel like you're losing part of yourself. Thank you for sharing the story.

Patricia: Glad you agree. Thank you for reading and commenting.

Martha: Guess it's easy to see why I stick with residential... it's all about the memories.

Karen: Absolutely. Just because the lender says you CAN afford it, doesn't mean it's the right choice. It's about deciding what's most important. Thanks for stopping by.


Mar 19, 2011 04:05 PM
Diane Mora
Keller Williams Chino Hills - Chino Hills, CA

Hella: I could never understand the trend towards bigger and bigger homes. All I could think about was how much time you'd have to spend cleaning them! Definitely not for me... Thanks for the read and comment.

Gina: Thank you for that, as well as for reading and commenting.


Mar 19, 2011 04:15 PM
Susan McLaughlin
Keller Williams Realty - East Monmouth - Red Bank, NJ
Monmouth County Real Estate

A wonderful post.  We had an electric company spool for a dining table and we sat on milk crates, but it was on the ocean in West End New Jersey and my roommates and I loved it.   I've often said "What I wouldn't do for one more day in the summer of 1974... No car, no mortgage, not a care in the world.  :-)  Thanks for the post. 

Mar 19, 2011 05:16 PM
Susan McLaughlin
Keller Williams Realty - East Monmouth - Red Bank, NJ
Monmouth County Real Estate

p.s.  I'm glad to see you think the way I do.  Most of the young couples I work with do not want anything less than fabulous, granite & stainless are just the start of it and the list is long.  I don't see the roll up your sleeves couples anymore...

Mar 19, 2011 05:18 PM
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

Diane - I love the idea of a home being a setting for your life.  It is the memories you build that are important.

Mar 19, 2011 06:30 PM
Sarasota & Manatee Counties FL
SaraMana Properties - QuickFreeMLS.com - Bradenton, FL
QuickFreeMLS.com - Listings In Paradise

That was a good blog post! Thank you for sharing it!

Mar 19, 2011 07:40 PM

It was better than what you discribed, what is next on your list!


Mar 20, 2011 02:42 AM
Diane Mora
Keller Williams Chino Hills - Chino Hills, CA

Susan: On the ocean...? I'm very, very jealous.

Christine: Thank you for reading and commenting.

J.A.: Thanks! Appreciate it...

Mark: LOL. Thank you, my friend. Not sure what's next... I'll keep you "posted".

Mar 20, 2011 05:57 AM
Tammie White, Broker
Franklin Homes Realty LLC - Franklin, TN
Franklin TN Homes for Sale

This is so true and so often forgotten. I teared up just thinking about the places I have lived and raised by kids. I wouldn't have changed any of them.

Mar 20, 2011 08:41 AM
Cheryl Ritchie
RE/MAX Leading Edge www.GoldenResults.com - Huntingtown, MD
Southern Maryland 301-980-7566

I love this catchprase. Your home is the setting of your life. It is more than just an investment. Excellent!

Mar 21, 2011 12:41 AM
Randy Elgin
Option One Real Estate - San Antonio, TX
Sells Affordable Homes for sale in the San Antonio

Diana, this was a fantastic post. I loved reading it and it took me back to my college days of having my own place for the first time away from parents and then purchasing my first home on my own.

Mar 21, 2011 02:45 AM