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Sebastopol Home Ownership: a Bedrock of the American Dream

by Randy Mack and Heidi Faulkner

 

You’d think that the whole notion of the American Dream is vague enough that it would be immune from challenge, and for the most part, that’s still true enough. Not so for its principal emblem, which most Sebastopol residents would agree is owning your own home. Being free to work hard to reach that goal—no matter who you are or how humble your origins—has long been the leading sign that the Dream is alive and kicking.

Even so, lately it’s been getting hard to ignore some media discussions that seem to challenge homeownership’s legitimacy as a pillar of that whole American Dream notion. Simply put, the suggestion is that the financial benefits to be had from owning your own home are no longer valid—or at least, that they are growing less valid. 

There’s no arguing that there are many situations where renting makes more financial sense than does buying. Most of them are related to the expected duration of residence. As The New York Times observes, “Buying tends to be better the longer you stay” if only because the upfront costs are spread out over many years. In one of its Upshot commentaries, the Times presents a calculator which adds up “Initial,” “Recurring,” and “Opportunity Costs” for various rent and buy situations in order to show at what monthly rental dollar amount “renting is better.” 

Sorry, Times. Your calculator may accurately display the tradeoffs in dollar costs—but it overlooks one factor that can ultimately prove to be the most significant. It’s the real-life factor that is built in whenever Sebastopol families decide to graduate from renting to buying. It begins to take form with the first dollar saved for a down payment and continues until the last mortgage check clears the bank. 

You can call it “enforced savings”—but whatever its name, in addition to the emotional benefits of owning your home, a measurable infusion of financial independence is the usual outcome. For example, when the Federal Reserve last reported “Changes in U.S. Family Finances” during the years from 2010-2013, it found that although median incomes fell 5%, “the median net worth of homeowners increased 4%, whereas that of renters or other non-homeowners did not change.

If the American Dream is one of self-reliance and independence, then owning your Sebastopol home isn’t likely to disappear as its leading goal anytime soon. It’s one of the greatest parts of our job to help clients turn that distant dream into today’s reality. It’s a process that starts with a simple call to our office!

The Year One Sebastopol Thanksgiving Was Not Enough

by Randy Mack and Heidi Faulkner

 

If you have been looking forward to celebrating your Sebastopol Thanksgiving this Thursday, you’re probably confident that on Friday you’ll be able to put all the Thanksgiving paraphernalia away until next year. If you have plates or cups festooned with Pilgrims, Indians, and turkeys, back they’ll go into the cupboard until 2017—because Thanksgiving comes but once a year. 

True—except for that one year. That was the time when there were two Thanksgivings. 

If you haven’t heard this story, gather ‘round:

The year was 1939. On November 23, President Roosevelt ceremoniously carved a turkey, then took to the airwaves to wish his fellow citizens a happy and blessed Thanksgiving. The problem was, in many states across the country, radios were probably being clicked off because, for them, Thanksgiving wasn’t going to happen until a week later. If any turkeys had been aware of the situation, the lingering threat would have been more alarming than usual.

The anarchy had been years in the making. Presidents have the power to decree when the national day of thankfulness is celebrated. Ever since Honest Abe Lincoln had proclaimed it a national holiday, the last Thursday had been “it.” When Roosevelt began his presidency in 1933, he had come under pressure from business interests to move Thanksgiving from the last Thursday in November to the fourth Thursday—but he’d had resisted all attempts to overcome tradition.

But in 1939, the calendar again showed a five-Thursday November. The reason business hated such years was because they had to wait until December to launch their Christmas sales. After all, Americans didn’t even think about the holidays until they’d shaken off their calorie-induced Turkey Day stupors—everyone knew that! With the Great Depression still digging the economy an ever-deeper pit, The Chief reluctantly gave in. Early in 1939, FDR proclaimed that the fourth Thursday, November 23rd, was to going to be Thanksgiving.

No big deal, you might think. Wrong! Whenever any tradition is upended, some people are bound to get upset. Not to mention the calendar publishers, who reportedly had to scrap all the calendars they had printed in advance. School holiday schedules had to be redrawn; annual Thanksgiving football game dates changed—in short, in addition to the whipped cream on their pumpkin pies, states who went along with FDR had an extra dollop of chaos.

We haven’t been able to determine whether California was one of the states that refused to budge, but 23 of them crossed their legislative arms and issued their own counter-proclamations. And sure enough, lots of people put off the carving until the last day in November. Oh—wait! This just in: Colorado and Texas celebrated both!

In today’s more practical America, we have prevented two Thanksgivings from ever troubling us again by starting Christmas sales right after Halloween. We don’t know about your household, but in ours, one Sebastopol Thanksgiving is both welcome and sufficient. Here is hoping your holiday finds everyone healthy and properly thankful for the blessings we pause to remember.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Randy Mack and Heidi Faulkner
Artisan Sotheby's International Realty
7775 Healdsburg Ave.
Sebastopol CA 95472
(707) 696-6272
(707) 480-4098
Fax: (707) 824-0587