Sunday, June 04, 2023

A few years ago a group of my friends surprised me in the office and while drinking coffee, one of them stepped away to take a phone call. A few minutes later she came back to the group and told us about the upsetting conversation she had just had with her daughter.

“Mike and I are having the biggest fight,” her daughter said on the phone. “He wants to go away on vacation for winter break with the kids but I told him that instead of spending so much money going to Disney World, why not invest in painting/updating a few rooms in our house?”

My friends all took the bait and I must admit I had rarely seen them become so animated. It’s been years since I had to plan and arrange a school break vacation together with my husband and my children. I somehow recall the options being simpler but that may just be me remembering my past through rose-colored glasses. This topic seemed to have touched a nerve for everyone sitting in the office.

The argument became more intense as each opinion was claiming a “family needs” first position. The “pro vacation” side was advocating the importance of getting away, as it offers the unique ability to bring the family closer together, sharing new experiences and bonding in a way that staying at home would never accomplish. The pro “invest and improve the house” side stressed that updating and enhancing the family home, especially the rooms that needed work and would add more comfortable living space, was really more compelling than a “just in the moment” high.

I recall many years ago taking off on the runway at JFK airport. I was sitting in my seat getting annoyed at everyone around me, especially the person sitting directly behind me who wouldn’t stop adjusting the television screen. My mind was replaying over and over all the issues of the day: children, work, buyers and sellers, etc. Even as I headed off on vacation my mind refused to break away from all of life’s responsibilities.

A few days later I found myself in a cafe many thousands of miles from home. I sat down for what seemed like the first time in many days. Suddenly, as I sipped a steaming cup of coffee, thoughts came creeping back into my head. But this time was different. I was able to see the issues more clearly. I didn’t exaggerate anything in my head, didn’t dwell on anything unnecessarily or worry about a possible failure. My brain on vacation, with a few days of rest, finally reset to a more mature state of mind.

I was about to chime in and tell my friends which side I was on, when I realized I was sitting in the V&N office, and my realtor brain gave me pause. Over the years, I had advised many a client to invest money into their home, assuring them that this would never be something to regret. I happily left the arguing to my friends and appreciated the reality that these questions will most likely remain unanswered.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this and what advice you would offer. Contact me at [email protected]


Nechama Polak is the broker of record and owner of V and N Group LLC, 1401 Palisade Ave, Teaneck. 201 826 8809, [email protected]

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