Growing up, every Sunday at 2 p.m. my parents would put me in the back seat of our two-toned green Chevrolet and we would drive across Brooklyn to visit my grandparents in Williamsburg. Upon arrival we would be promptly ushered into the living room and for the next two hours it was the same thing every week. Politics, politics, politics. By the tender age of 4, I was well briefed on all the pros and cons of the NYC mayoral candidates, and when John Kennedy ran against Nixon the Sunday visits reached new heights of animation bordering on frenzy.
There was a second topic du jour which always seemed to find its way into the conversation and that, of course, was real estate. I grew up in Boro Park and both my parents and grandparents were renters, and in the rare break between conversations about politics, there was an ongoing discussion about the pros and cons of owning a home versus renting.
One Sunday it was decided that talking about buying was not enough and an actual step needed to be taken; we took my grandparents to look at homes in Flatbush with the idea that we would all buy a home together. As excited as my parents and grandmother were at the prospect of owning a home in America, my grandfather, with all he had been through, could not pull the trigger. It was just too much of a commitment. Years later we discovered that contrary to what everyone thought about my Zayde, he was actually doing something besides keeping his money under the pillow. In fact, while he never bought a home during his lifetime, starting at some point in the earlier part of the 20th century he did invest every penny he had into General Motors and General Electric stock. He had no home he could claim as his own but when he passed away he had a portfolio that any of us would envy.
Fast forward to today, and the two topics which continue to consume me are, of course, politics and real estate, the combination of which in November of 2022 might be enough to make any of us shudder.
The conversation really hasn’t changed much over the decades. We continue searching for the same security, financial and otherwise, for our families. I take it as some form of comfort that my parents and grandparents (in America since 1922) all experienced the same ups and downs of market crashes followed by times of stability. To be sure, the current travails we are experiencing are quite unique but “uncertainty” is not a new thing. Speaking only from personal experience, this mindset curiously feels like “the family tradition.”
To be clear, anxiety notwithstanding, the real estate market remains stable. The most intriguing statistic I am watching is the widening gap between the average list price of homes for sale, which continues to move upward, and the average price of homes sold, which continues to move downward. This phenomena is true for our immediate area of Teaneck, Bergenfield and New Milford, and for the entire county as well. For the time being, it seems we will have plenty to talk about at our next family meeting.
Nechama Polak is the broker of record and owner of V and N Group LLC, located at 1401 Palisade Ave in Teaneck. [email protected] 201 826 8809.