If you buy a car that, after some days or weeks or months or years, you decide that you do not like, you trade it in on a different car. If you buy a pair of jeans that looked right in the store’s altered mirrors only to discover, later, that you do not like those jeans at all and, in fact, you have no idea what you were thinking, that’s not really a big deal. You’ll just stuff those jeans into the back of your closet, or you’ll sell them at some resale shop, should you be that aggressive in your disdain for those ill-fitting jeans. If you order a meal at a restaurant, and you know you should have ordered the chicken but for some ridiculous reason you ordered the fish, you can pretty much either not eat the fish and go home hungry or you can send the fish back, pretending that you ate a bone or something, or that it tasted like ammonia and soap. I find that if you’re sending back fish you should always tell them that it tastes of ammonia and soap, because listing both flavors makes it seem as though you have, indeed, really suffered some unexpected injury to your tastebuds.
In life, if you don’t like something you’ve bought, you have options. In real estate, too. You have options for what it is that you’ve bought, in the event that after some time, weeks or months maybe, but hopefully years, you have decided that you either deserve better, or that you don’t deserve that house at all. This latter feeling would have been nice to feel in, say, 2007, for those who bought real estate in, say, 2005, but as a matter of fact most in that boat only felt that way once the market crashed and the only option was to hand the keys to the sheriff. I have sold many homes and many condominiums and many vacant lots. Most of those properties are still owned by those dear people who bought those things from me. I would guess that my condo sales have turned over the most, but not because people dislike the condominiums they bought, but rather, because they like the lake and the accoutrements so much that they need more space, more views, better everything. So they go single family, and in theory everyone lives happily ever after, except the Realtor in question, who constantly wonders when it’s time to upgrade into a bigger single family.
For all of these homes and condos, there is one small segment of my sold market that has experienced tremendous market stability. There is one class of property that my buyers have bought and held, and held, and then held. These are buyers turned owners, not buyers who are temporarily the owners of that thing before they become the temporary owners of the next thing. And I suppose, when it’s all said and done, that such stability and longevity is the entire goal behind properties such as these. They are the co-ops, those magical, misunderstood properties at the Congress Club, Belvedere Park, and the Harvard Club. These are the properties of which I speak, and of all of the sorts of things I’ve sold, the buyers of these properties have been perhaps, the most content with their purchases.
The Harvard Club, that’s a unique creation. There are rules and rules, and when you think the rules have all been written and every single one has been read, there are yet more rules. Don’t bring a dog onto the property in the summer, turn the water off in the winter, pay cash and cash only, don’t run over here and certainly only whisper after this time. If you must wear stripes and your body type isn’t what a panel of observers would describe as SLENDER, please make those stripes vertical. I added the last rule as hyperbole, but I have not read the rule book lately so such a thing may exist. These rules make the market a bit uneasy, and I have had no greater difficulty in my real estate life than selling a simple, affordable, Harvard Club cottage. Buyers balk at these rules, wondering how life could be suitable under such conditions. But after much time, one buyer who finds the rules to be acceptable, perhaps even quaint and aspirational, buys and settles in. After some time of ownership, the buyer realizes those rules may be a tad annoying, but the special emotion that one feels when walking over that grassy front lawn on a mid-summer day would be completely missed if those rules didn’t exist.
Currently, there isn’t a single offering in any of our esteemed, rule riddled co-op style clubs. There wasn’t anything available for all of 2014, either. As an estimate, there are around 50 such residences in these three clubs, and it looks to me that the most visible thing that all owners have in common is that they quite obviously love their cottages. No water in the winter, no dogs in the summer, no this and no that. While the rules may seem cumbersome to outsiders, the insiders know something that no outsider ever could. They know the value of a simple lakeside cottage, and in that, we can all be pleased.