I’m a homey.
I don’t mean that in the usual, slang way. I mean I’m a home-lover. Home to me is peace, safety, contentment. There is nothing more soothing after a terrible day at work than to walk into my home, shut the door behind me and leave all that black magic on the other side.
I love being home. Which makes me a homey.
I also enjoy watching the different “house” shows on HGTV. I can watch people tramp around houses with realtors, grumble their way through renovations and oooh and aaaah over the scrumptious results — all without having to spend a dime or move an inch.
This is bliss for a woman who is both a homey and curious about how other people live.
Some of these shows are obviously posed, at least a little bit. I mean, what straight man goes into a house and says “Oh I hate those countertops, and I’m just not feeling the color of that backsplash?” Get real.
And who calls every room in a house a “space,” as in “this is a great space.” Nothing ever needs remodeling or fixing. (an Okie term, I know, but this is an Okie blog) Everything needs “updating,” as in those horrid laminate countertops need updating to granite, and we’ve got to get rid of the perfectly serviceable white appliances and update them with stainless steel. Hang the cost and full steam ahead.
I just love watching that stuff. For someone from my part of the world, all this talk about updates and straight men twirling around kitchens and getting excited by backslashes is exotic and somewhat comical. It is high entertainment.
One of the more confounding things to this little Okie girl is the prices people pay for these domiciles. They’ll go into a house that’s smaller and more beat up than my little hovel and yack about how it’s “competitively priced” at half a million.
These people think nothing of plunking down upwards of half a million to a million or even more for what is just a plain, ordinary house. In fact, they often buy “fixer-upper” houses in this price range because their cool mill won’t get them something that’s “updated” the way they want it.
I watch this stuff and I think, “Where do these people live, and what on earth do they do for a living?”
It seems quite clear that my family income wouldn’t qualify me and mine for a pasteboard box under a bridge in their neighborhood. I couldn’t even afford one of their “needs updating” doormats. I keep wondering, do they rob banks or something? How do they afford this? And more to the point, why are they willing to spend so much for so little?
Then today, I came across an article that explains it all. It seems that in some parts of this country the incomes are totally out of sight by my standards. Unfortunately for the people who make all this good money, the cost of putting a roof over your head in these areas has kept pace with the incomes.
Of course, the other side of this extravagance is that somebody in those communities still works at fast food joints, still mops the floors and drives the delivery trucks. I have no idea how someone making that kind of wage manages to exist in that world. None.
I don’t buy real estate in places like Los Altos, San Francisco or Seattle, but every time I go there I am struck by the fact that it’s not just the real estate that costs more. A San Jose hamburger costs about two and a half times what an Oklahoma hamburger costs. Ditto for movies, hotel rooms and other things a traveler would notice.
This little article I found gives me a teeny bit of insight into the lives of people who think that a normal income for an ordinary family will support the purchase of a million dollar home that doesn’t exactly look like a million dollars. I’m not going to comment on what all this means to me and people like me. I’m still thinking about that. But I do find it interesting.
The 24/7wallstreet.com article says in part:
U.S. home prices have begun to rebound in the past year. And in the most expensive markets, where the average home sells for well over $1 million, recoveries are among the strongest, increasing between 20% and 50% in most cases.
According to Coldwell Banker Real Estate, there are at least 10 U.S. cities where the average listing price for a home in the first six months of this year exceeded $1.2 million.
The majority of these cities are on or near the California coast. For example, in San Jose suburb Los Altos, homes sold in the first half of the year averaged a $1.7 million price tag. Based on data provided by Coldwell Banker, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the most expensive cities for buying a home.
In an interview with 24/7 Wall St., Coldwell Banker Chief Operating Officer and President Budge Huskey explained that for the first time in years, residents of the country’s most expensive housing markets are largely professionals working in or very near their home. In prior years, he explained, many of the most expensive communities were simply very desirable for wealthy families or individuals, without necessarily being employment centers. Many of these people were retired or worked from home.
“Now,” Huskey said, “the emphasis is on those markets that are in proximity to true, strong business centers, where employment has been consistent, and the overall level of wealth and wages has been high relative to other opportunities within the country.”
These expensive markets are concentrated around the tech industry, which has remained strong throughout the recession. As a result, most of these cities and suburbs are near the heart of California’s Silicon Valley. These are areas driven by the tech boom, explained Huskey. “In an area like Los Altos, for example, you’re looking at a location that is 15 minutes away from the headquarters of such corporate giants as Google and Facebook.”
Income in the expensive housing markets is among the highest in the country. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, median household income in these cities far exceeds the U.S. median income by at least $20,000. In Saratoga, California, one of the cities on our list, median income is nearly triple the U.S. figure of $51,914.
Two cities outside California are on the top 10 list, one of which isn’t even the continental U.S.
Based on data published by Coldwell Banker in its annual Home Listing Report, 24/7 Wall St. identified the country’s most expensive cities for buying a home. Homes in these cities had the highest average listing price between January and June of this year. Markets with less than ten four-bedroom, two-bath homes were excluded from the survey. We also examined data on vacancy rates, median price per square foot, and changes in price from real estate listing service Trulia. Information on income, educational attainment, and poverty rate, among other data, is from the U.S. Census Bureau. (For the list of cities and their prices, go here.)