Thursday, March 01, 2007

Of Beets and Feasibility Studies

“Iron Chef! Your secret ingredient this week…BEETS!!!!”

Yeah, that’s right. My produce box arrived, and within I found a large bunch of beets.

I have a level of ignorance when it comes to beets that is truly shocking. Beets, to me, are bright purple things pulled out of a tin. They sneak their way into potluck meals. Occasionally, one will surprise me in a salad. But to be confronted with a bunch of beets and the cheerful reminder NOT TO FORGET THE GREENS has perplexed me.

I’m thinking Harvard Beets. I may be fixated on the fact that it has (a tiny amount of) brown sugar, a substance which I could personally sit eating right out of the bag all day, but it does look pretty good.

So that’s the beets.

The feasibility study is all about the McMansion by the River.

I’m getting a kick out of how many of us have the same exact thought when confronted by a !BIG! house: Dang, that’s a lot of vacuuming! I actually found myself thinking that, if we were to actually buy that place, I’d want to have a wall-rack of charging Roomba batteries – so that the instant one wore down I could grab the next one and keep the little robot going-going-going.

But Jan? If I hurt you for what you said, I’d be a big old hypocrite, because it’s what I’ve been talking to myself about for two whole days now. I tend to have a knee-jerk reaction to the concept of spending more money on things, especially when connected to something like a McMansion. There is a part of me that dislikes the idea of a McMansion the same way I dislike SUVs: on principle.

However, unlike the SUV, which depreciates before the ink is dry on the loan papers, the house is an investment. And, I suspect, a rather good one: It’s a down market and a somewhat ‘undiscovered’ location. The feeding frenzy is currently a good twenty miles west, where similar homes are going for anywhere from $200,000 to $600,000 more than these.

I would not be a bit surprised to find the return on investment would be impressive on these babies; there may be some near-term volatility (which should be pronounced, ‘the prices may drop like stones a few months after we’ve bought the place’) since the overall market really hasn’t decided which way it’s going to jump, but over the long haul, ten or twenty years out…yeah. I think it will see well over double digit growth.

I went over the numbers again and again and again, arguing with myself, asking what I’d missed, why was this looking like…well…frankly…not to jinx it or anything…but…well, if all this is correct…it’s actually…a pretty good deal, a good investment, a…gads, dare I say it? move

Honestly, we can afford the house. In four years, when the loan on Homer is paid off, we’d even be able to go back to a single-income situation.

But I can’t escape the feeling that, somehow, I just don’t deserve that house. That it’s wrong of me to even want it. That it’s…too flashy, too classy, too big…

That I should be happy with a Den with bedrooms so small that we literally don’t think we can get a bed and a dresser in one of them, with a lot of square footage that really isn’t usable space (but which still needs cleaning, mind you), and that really – wanting to ‘trade up’ is just ever so yuppie of me…

Well, I’m not a true yuppie. Try though I might, I can manage neither the attitude nor the flashy spending habits of a true yuppie.

But you know what?

Not only do I really, honestly think that the financial return on the investment is going to be impressive, that house would enhance our lives, a lot. It would be much more comfortable. It would be easier to work and play. It would be much easier to prepare meals (my kitchen, like most, has a ‘counter space’ issue). It has a lot more storage space, little cupboards and pantries and closets tucked in every available wall space.

The community is being designed like a village, such that schools from K through high school, supermarkets, drug stores, office space, medical centers and so forth are all within easy walking distance – a big improvement over our location here, which pretty much requires a car for all of the above.

So even though I am probably dragging the entire ‘classy factor’ of the whole development down a notch by showing my makeup-less face and non-designer-jeans around it…we’re going to look into it further. A realtor friend is coming over tomorrow to give us the dirt on how much she thinks we would list the Den for, and what-all we should consider doing to prep it for sale (upstairs carpet, I’m sure – not only is it threadbare, well, let’s just say that the recent flu season has left it’s indelible mark up there) to maximize ‘curb appeal’, blah blah blah.

She’d have to give me a really shockingly low figure before I’d have issues around down payment; if she gives me the number I think she will, we’ll be set for basically an even swap, in terms of ‘amount financed’.

And, we’ll go from there.

Exciting stuff. And also, I feel a little sick. Big decisions, even ones that I’m not technically making right this instant do that to me.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have an awful lot of picking up to do before my realtor friend comes over tomorrow.



Amy Lane said...

Anyone who can cook beets and knit on the same day deserves a McMansion... good luck with that...especially for the good money management that got you there...(trust me, I'm on the other side of the fiscal rearrangement spectrum--if you can afford the big house, that's why you've been putting off buying yarn...)

Anonymous said...

I like to bake beetroot in the oven (covered with foil) then peel and slice when cooled a little. Sprinkle with a little red wine vinegar and salt.

Seriously fab dressing for warm/hot beetroot is 3 heaped tablespoons sour cream to 1 teaspoon wasabi. It's incredible- the sweetness of the beetroot with the hot creaminess of the wasabi cream.

And cold beetroot with mayonnaise/wasabi. Also divine.

That house is sounding awfully tempting and if the benefits really will be financial as well as spatial then it's sounding kind of irresistible, isn't it?!

Very Herodotus said...

How exciting! Have your kids seen this house yet?

Seriously, you must have had this in your plans already, since you and your husband drove out there and toured the house. So the little "idea seed" was there already, right?

Jeanne said...

You deserve it!!! I think the Universe is rewarding you for all those years of carefully-minded budgets. Good things DO happen! Oh, I'm so excited for you!

wrnglrjan said...


You talking about bringing the classy-ness level down makes me think of a story.

My brother and his wife bought an obscenely expensive house last summer. As in, waterfront, surrounded by snooty "... and my great-grandfather lived here before him ...", "of course you'll be joining the country club" neighbors. In spite of the hideous expense, these places go like hotcakes (hard to come by), so when they got a call from their realtor about it, they just scurried their booties right on over there.

Later they realized with horror that their first appearance in the neighborhood featured my 3-year-old nephew in a dirty t-shirt, a diaper and no shoes and my brother in his "fixing up his boat" attire, consisting of an old t-shirt with holes and a pair of shorts basically held together with baling wire.