Flash Fiction Challenge: Real Estate

 

The plan was not to write about real estate. Frankly, the subject does nothing for an author of romantic suspense.

Bricks, cement, mortar and wood- are not building blocks I look for to scribe a whodunit.

What intrigues me is human condition. A gripping narrative of a dream-chaser or the very real battle between head and heart.

When I read Gone with The Wind; Scarlett, its main character, left me cold.
I put value on people not the real estate they own.
People die. Our time with each other is limited. Have you read an obituary about a person able to take his colonial mansion to heaven with him?

However, my mother can identify with Scarlett.
After India’s partition her family migrated. Robbed of ancestral lands and possessions they paid heavy toll. My maternal grandmother lost her mental equilibrium. My grandfather burdened by the care of an ailing wife and two young daughters could not purchase a home.
For a child craving stability; it rankled.

My father was in the military. On his single income a home purchase was not a feasible option for a long time. But that never stopped his bride dreaming.
Packing fragile chinaware with loving care, each time Pops got posted to a new station, Ma would talk of a house where her sentimental treasures belonged. If you woke any of us up in the middle of the night and asked what Ma desired the most- we would all give you the same answer- a home of her own.

So, the year he retired Pops pulled off a master move that cemented his Hero status in my heart. He bought Ma her dream house. It was a humble apartment but paid off. They owed nobody.

My parents taught me life lessons. Speak your dream into existence. Prioritize your life and postpone gratification till you can pay for it. Your expenses should never exceed income. Always have a savings mindset and never get into debt.

picture depicting a new home and friends come calling

Friends visiting a new home

After our wedding, I recall friends visiting our rented apartment, feel sorry for us.

A second-hand sofa, a second-hand car, a five-dollar pram picked up from a garage sale. No sacrifice weighed heavy.

We were emotionally attached to our dream not the process that would get us there. Our dream was financial freedom.

Thanks to my upbringing I never imposed on us any pressure to keep up with the Joneses. Living in a rental we were dreaming big dreams. We were building our business first, before purchasing a home.

USA to us is the land of free enterprise. We had an opportunity to be entrepreneurs and it was the opportunity we craved.

We invested in education- why some people seem to have cornered the market on success. While others keep chasing its elusive shadow.

Owning a house versus owning real estate, are two different ballgames.

When you purchase a house, you invest in a white elephant. For most a home purchase is once in a lifetime deal. Those emotional triggers lead to impulse buying the best appliances, furniture, furnishings…

Who pays attention to non-glamorous expenditures like property tax, HOA, the library, parks-?

You end up literally socked by the wisdom of a nursery rhyme-

that’s the way the money goes

Pop goes the weasel!

 

On the other hand, buying a two flat apartment where you live in one and rent the other, puts you in business.
You learn how to create asset.

Purchasing real estate for a rental creates an asset while buying a home is a liability! Acquiring assets means putting money to work for you while a liability drains money resources.

But what about the American Dream?

Is this practical approach to real estate purchase going to rob one of the joys of owning a patch of paradise?

picture of a father stacking objects in a shop while his son snoozes by the fireplace

Father stacking things standing on a ladder while son snoozes by the fireplace

We are emotion driven beings.

The day he felt we had control over our finances, my husband relocated us so we could build a house on the land his father had purchased.

My father-in-law acquired it to build a home for his wife and family but fate cruelly intervened and he died an early death.

Was it easy? Was I happy?
People ask a lot of questions. Personally speaking, if I am around people I love the geographic latitude and longitude are meaningless. I will create my happiness around the folks I care for.

Yes, a lot of sacrifice goes into constructing. Taking care to select the right team, materials. Planning its details. Investing both time and money.

But bottom-line a house, no matter how grand, is all about stewardship not ownership.

My mother’s dream home is lying vacant today. After my father’s demise she lives with my brother who joined the armed forces just like my father. Ma might not be doing the packing but what’s really changed for her?

I see so many people feuding over real estate. Blood relations that treat each other worse than sworn enemies. The epic Mahabharata was fought over real estate, and nothing seems to change for some people between then and now.

I think and forgive the analogy- it’s the equivalence of fishing in a pool of pee. So much bad blood for what?

I have a cousin who won’t speak to his father or elder sibling because he thinks his father played the favored elder son card.

Seriously, money and energy spent fighting a court case, if channeled elsewhere, the same cousin could have purchased three new properties by now.

Not that he can take that house to heaven with him. Not that I can convince him to change his mind. But had he thought differently how much richer the family interactions could have been. How much laughter, bonhomie and tenderness has been lost to how many over the years?

I am grateful and doubly so that I was educated to dream differently. Today I have all that I had prayed for. When my husband was pasting pictures of a dream home on our refrigerator telling us that in five years we would be living there I did not know all of it would come so spectacularly true.

Image of a mom cooking in the kitchen while a child labels the jam jars for her

Mother cooking by the kitchen stove while the children study

My dream of real estate is a garden I potter in armed with spade and watering can. It is the house I rush about tidying when guests are at the door. It is the swing I sway in listening to the washing machine hum in the background while I read a self-improvement book. It is the desk I teach my children on or share my brand of homespun wisdom with the world.

Richard Bach writes in A Gift of Wings- maybe we are all looking for one, single, perfect place down there on the ground, and when we find it, we will glide down to land and we will never need to fly anywhere again.

A house beautifully set up with a cake in the oven and flowers on the table

Scene depicting a cozy home

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