After all, what’s a year-end column without a little looking back…

Ok let’s be honest. As you read this, real estate may not weigh heavy on your mind. If you’re reading this as the magazine comes out, then right now you’re mostly concerned with how to survive holiday meals with your visiting in-laws. Or maybe you are the visiting in-laws—in which case, you’re probably just pretending to read a magazine. Or maybe looking for some interesting talking points to bring up later over dinner. Either way, I get what’s going on here.

We could discuss the statistical data regarding recent home sales, increased buyer activity and shorter marketing time. I could give some predictions for how the real estate market will behave in 2018. We could talk through tax reform and whether the mortgage interest deduction will survive—which would put everyone to sleep faster than an extra serving of turkey.

These topics are all interesting and important (yes, even the tax stuff) and well worth discussing. But there is a downside to focusing on the big picture. It tends to blur the many individual stories behind it. Every statistic is really a collection of specific and personal experiences. Faces and names—people and families—that bought or sold homes. So as we look back on the year now ending, allow me to share a sampling of those stories in which I’ve had the honor of playing a role.

…A hardworking couple with vision and boundless energy who took on an ambitious renovation project, this time with the future owners by their side. An old house got new start and a young family was there to help it take shape…

… A sweet young couple with their newborn baby in tow, sought just the right place to call their first home. Cautious but ready to build some sweat equity, they too are now breathing new life into a home that had been owned by the same family for 37 years. (And they left behind the biggest table lamp I have ever seen!)…

… One family sold their first home—a home they loved, where they went from being a couple to being a family—to move and be closer to parents. Another couple, now empty nesters, sold their family home—the home where their children were raised and the home from which they each launched their adult lives. Both bittersweet good-byes…

… An incredibly patient family, who forged an unplanned friendship with the kind but erratic owner of the picturesque farmhouse they had looked so long to find. Jumping through more hoops than a Westminster show dog—and helping him move in the process—now they finally get to watch those beautiful sunsets from their back deck…

…Several families whose plans of building a new home will soon be a reality with the purchase of the perfect piece of land. Walking through an open field with nothing but the sky above and big dreams in their hearts, they stand at the threshold of a new journey. And I can’t wait to see what they do…

… An incredible couple (and close friends—the kind that call you first when they have a home-related emergency) who learned they were expecting their first child—which led to the decision to sell an investment property that had been their first home as newlyweds. As life changes, so do our priorities. With their equity in hand now they’re preparing a nursery and shopping for strollers and car seats.

While I could go on, I think you get the idea. Here’s what I hope you’ll take away from these snapshots: first, 2017 was a good year. Maybe not all of it, but there were good things that happened over the past 12 months. Take some time to focus on those positive experiences, and be grateful for them.

Second, when you read my future columns (and I know you will) remember that the numbers are only part of the story. An important part, no doubt… but every transaction represents someone who sold a home that was part of their story, and a person or family that bought a home, making it part of theirs.

Finally, in all likelihood, you are in a home right now (and if not you will be soon). It might be your home, or someone in your family… or perhaps an old friend’s home. Wherever it is, I know one thing… there’s a story being told, and you’re in it. Make it a good one.

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