4th of July in America: Freedom Isn

by Karen Briscoe
July 1, 2015

This week as we celebrate the 4th of July reminds me of a sign our son Drew had in his room growing up that stated boldly:  FREEDOM.  Drew bought the sign because he found it hugely ironic that he could purchase something that says “freedom” but that it wasn’t “free,” it had a cost in order to acquire it.  As we celebrate the 4th, let us remember the benefits associated with living in a democracy that it wasn’t and doesn’t continue to be without cost.  There are many who have given their lives and sacrificed deeply so that we could become a democracy, many who fight for us daily so that we may now live freely and those who will in the future so that our children and their children will have the opportunity to know the meaning of freedom.

It may seem obvious, but home ownership isn’t free either.  Most people plan for the monthly payment which typically consists of:  principal, interest, taxes and insurance.  But there are many more costs as well.  If the property is within a planned development or a condominium, there will be association dues.  In addition, those entities can and often do charge fees as well as special assessment to pay for repairs, replacements and the improvements of shared components to the association.

There are utility costs, obvious are public water and sewer, but even private wells and septic systems require maintenance, repairs and sometimes even complete replacement of the system.  There are pest control costs, obvious is termite and wood destroying damage, but rodents and other critters can cause significant harm to property as well.

Landscape maintenance has costs associated with it.  If you do it yourself it costs your time and some money for equipment and materials.  If you hire it out, it just costs money!  Landscape maintenance includes mowing, weeding and trimming.  But don’t forget that trees and vegetation too close to a home can cause considerable damage to the property.  The drive up appeal of a home is a significant contributor to value, so this is an area worthy of attention.American-flag-on-the-front-porch-of-a-house-in-white (1)

We have all seen houses that upon entering one is transported in a time warp. The 1950’s was famous for pink tile, sink and toilet in the bathroom; the 1960’s color scheme was teal; the 1970’s saw shag carpet and paneling; the 1980’s the predominant color scheme was mauve, and so it goes.  Experienced Realtors® know that those homes that have been consistently updated over time sustain their value better than those “stuck” in another era.  There is the exception where sometimes a look becomes “retro”, but that is the exception to the rule in my experience.

I recommend that homeowners budget between 1-3% of the value of the property to contribute towards the annual maintenance and updating and renovation costs of a property.  Bottom line, the purchase of a home is just the beginning.

Just as freedom is not really “free”, but still worth the cost to maintain it; the costs to homeownership in my view are worthy of the investment.  Shelter is a fundamental human need, and home is a place where one spends a good portion of time.  One can view home ownership as a burden or one can view it in light of the incredible opportunity it affords people to have a place one can call their own.  Renting is temporary, but owning is real.  That is why it is called real estate . . . because it is the only true estate that is real.

The Huckaby Briscoe Conroy Realty Group is intimately familiar with the Northern Virginia, Washington DC and metro Maryland real estate market.  Whether looking to buy or sell in the area, Karen Briscoe and Lizzy Conroy would be delighted to be of assistance.  Please contact via the means most convenient for you:  www.HBCRealtyGroup.com, 703-734-0192, Homes@HBCRealtyGroup.com.

Karen Briscoe is Principal of the Huckaby Briscoe Conroy Group (HBC) and author of "Real Estate Success in 5 Minutes a Day". She is an Associate Broker in Virginia, a Certified Luxury Home Market Specialist, and a member of the Women’s Council of Realtors. Karen began her real estate career developing residential lots with the Trammel Crow Company in Dallas, and in commercial real estate with The Staubach Company in the Washington, DC Metro area. Karen has a Masters Degree from Southern Methodist University and her BA from Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri – her hometown.
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