Thinking About Real Estate

By: Victor Normand

PhiladelCampaignHessianMapAn article entitled, Obama After Dark: The Precious Hours Alone appeared recently in the New York Times.  It caught my attention because I imagined that the President of the United States probably gets very little quiet time. Turns out President Obama gets his quiet time late every evening, undisturbed in his private study where he stays up late before getting his usual five hours of sleep. It’s comforting to know that Mr. Obama does take time to be alone with his thoughts.

Rahm Emanuel, Mr. Obama’s first chief of staff said in the article “You can’t block out a half-hour and try to do it during the day. It’s too much in-coming.” He talked about how the self-described “night guy” uses late nights to put aside interruptions and focus.

Carving out a large block of time to think wasn’t always that hard to do. Consider how long it used to take to travel anywhere by foot or by horse and there you have your time to think. In the beginning of his book about John Adams, David McCullough describes the journey the delegate to the First Continental Congress took in 1774 from Braintree to Philadelphia on horseback. He traveled with others and made many stops along the way during the three-week trek (it would have taken only eight and a half days straight through). But he still had plenty of time to think; he wrote in his diary “I wander alone, and ponder. I muse, I mope, I ruminate.”

Today, travel is speedy and hardly quiet, technology has seen to that. In fact not only does quiet not exist as a naturally occurring event during any part of our daily lives, but the demands we place on our weary brains during every waking hour is daunting. Even though our brains are not wired to multitask, we attempt it routinely and we expect it of others.

Earl Miller, a neuroscientist at MIT was recently quoted in Neuroscience Magazine on the subject of multitasking saying, “When people think they’re multitasking, they’re actually just switching from one task to another very rapidly. And every time they do, there’s a cognitive cost in doing so.”

So, what’s this talk about quiet time and thinking doing in a real estate blog? It just seems to me that in this DIY, HGTV, FSBO, Big Data world, we have managed to reduce home selling and home buying to a simple task to be mastered by technology alone without much need for quiet time or deep thinking.

Our lives are busy and most of us need to find quiet time first for our families and also, our professions. A house is not a commodity and a real estate transaction does not respond to a bar code. The principals in the deal will always have to make the big decisions, but much of the heavy lifting that must be done thoughtfully and efficiently when buying or selling a home, should be the quiet work of a Resident Expert(sm).