Marlow Harris of the P-I blog Seattle Real Estate Professionals had a great post last week about the insatiable appetite of the American home buyer:
I am generalizing from the 100's of homebuyers I've met, plus the watercooler talk from the many agents I've known, and I know that buyers list of "wants" quickly become "needs" and color their entire search.Marlow raises some interesting points and poses some good questions. Are American's spoiled? I say heck yes—it's not even a question. Personally, I'd like to own a home, but I don't have any sense that I deserve to. The reason I'm sitting out of "the market" right now isn't that I can't afford to buy the home I want or that I think I deserve, it is because I'm of the opinion that even modest homes are ridiculously overpriced. But I digress.
Granite countertops, restaurant-quality stainless steel appliances, custom tile and other finishes, hardwood or bamboo floors, perhaps some skylights, high ceilings, designer fixtures, a master suite with a separate bath, 2000, 3000, 4000 or more square feet, a two or three-car garage, huge yards, the list goes on and on. Larger homes, larger lots, further and further away from the city.
There is still plenty of room right in the city limits to build attached homes, cottage homes, townhomes, cozy, sustainable homes, yet many people don't want them, and they'll drive 50 miles away from the city and mortgage themselves to the hilt to get them.
Are Americans spoiled?
What is this about? With increased concerns about the environment, why this consumer-driven drive toward conspicuous consumption and wealth? Why this sense of entitlement? Why is the Street of Dreams one of the most highly attended events of the year?
Obviously, this is a huge topic best addressed by sociologists, but it's my observation that these attitudes are pandemic in our society and cannot be sustained for much longer. Hence the upward spiral of prices and increasing anxiety on the part of buyers, builders and politicians.
I definitely agree with Marlow that the prevailing attitude of entitlement cannot be sustained for much longer. What is it going to take to collectively snap us out of it? It seems to me that a painful bubble burst might do the trick, but what if the real estate talking heads are right, and that never happens?
(Marlow Harris, Seattle Real Estate Professionals, 07.19.2006)