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Why I Live Here

Writer Elmore Leonard wrote: “Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.” The quote has application to real estate for example, Try not to buy the stuff you don’t need or don’t pay for space you think you’ll use – but won’t.

Mr. Leonard’s concept is beautifully captured in the story below. It’s a tale about “leaving out the parts you don’t need” and how a sufficient house can provide for an efficient space.

The home turned 50 this year. Elaine just celebrated her 102nd birthday. Elaine built the home and then in 1973 decided to enter VISTA… at age 60. Joining Elaine in her stint in VISTA were volunteers who had recently graduated from college. Now, 5 of the original VISTAS (as I refer to them) fly from the East and West Coast to Elaine’s small mid-western college town to celebrate her birthday annually.

The home used to house her car – since given up. It still houses Elaine. From a design standpoint, it may be the perfect home because it “leaves out the parts people tend not to use.”

The home is situated on a quiet street and backs up to a secluded wooded area. It’s a frame, one-story structure with a stained wood exterior. The rear outdoor deck faces the woods and holds feeders that provide grub to the local birds. Adjacent to the deck is a 3-season room that provides a quiet, restful area – each space welcomes you to become one with nature.




The kitchen is galley design and opens to a combined dining and living area serviced by a natural fireplace. The combined space has a full wall of windows that open to the wooded area. This area also serves as the staging area for Elaine’s weekly bridge and scrabble games. Just off the dining space is the attached garage entrance.

Two bedrooms provide the sleeping accommodations with a full bath situated between them. One bedroom serves as a guest room while the main bedroom is large enough to comfortably hold Elaine’s computer. (She plays online scrabble.) A master bath and third bedroom could be added and the home would still be less than 2,000 square feet.

I asked Elaine why she lives there. She replied, “Having travelled the world, this is where I ended up. My friends are here and it’s a University town. I worked with a contractor to build the home. It works.” She then proceeded to show me her handwritten notes from 50 years ago listing the cost of paint, ceiling fixtures and appliances.

You don’t have to build a home to find home ownership success, but like Elaine, you need a plan. Without a plan, you are just being sold something by a salesperson. That approach carries risk no matter what the advertising giants HGTV, Zillow, Trulia or other programs say. Like the apps to have listings delivered to you daily on your computer – all are a means to sell.

There is a reason we prefer to meet over coffee and talk with potential clients. Our goal is to help clients discover what they need in terms of space and explain the attendant costs of ownership. I think it’s why I find Elaine’s home almost perfect. It provides 1,500 square feet of very functional living space at an affordable cost.

If you, or someone you know, are thinking of buying a home, my very general advice is to know the difference between “buying” and being “sold.” More specific advice to follow in my next E-Note.



Have a coffee and enjoy the Zen of learning about real estate.

Thanks for reading,
Michael D. Holloway

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Homebuyer Associates
1835 N. Riverwalk Way
Milwaukee, WI 53212
Phone: 414-254-4129