Your home: 5 things your first home teaches you

As I write this, I am celebrating ten years of marriage to my wonderful wife and business partners, Leah. More than once this week we have discussed how time has flown by, and how we have changed through the years and, most importantly, what we have learned from the last ten years. While discussing our early married life, our first home in Prairie Village has come up several times.

We loved that house. We put a ton of sweat equity into that home, as do most first time home owners. That house taught us a lot as well. Leah and I like to say that, “Your first home is like your first major relationship. It teaches you what you like and what you want to do differently next time around.”

Here are five things that our first home taught us:

  • 1. Home improvement projects will take twice as long as you thought. And in most cases, they will be more expensive. It is easy to underestimate the time it takes to complete almost any project. Err on the side of caution, and at least estimate 1.5 times what that you originally thought should be set aside for completion.
  • 2. A home requires maintenance at all times. Period. There will never be a time when something in your home does not require attention. Whether it is a repair or simple deferred maintenance like cleaning your gutters or trimming your trees seasonally.
  • 3. You learn where you spend most of your time while at home. For some, a living room or a family room is the most important. Or perhaps a spacious master bedroom. For our family, the most important room is the kitchen. Leah and I cook a lot and our first home taught us that we need a highly functional kitchen. Our current home has an older kitchen, but it is a very efficient space.
  • 4. Location, location, location. Our first home was in PV right across from the Prairie Village pool and the police station. This was a great location for us one Cinco de Mayo when a former neighbor of ours drove his car into our front yard and within 30 seconds there were seven police cars there to assist us. Yet as the years went by, it became increasingly clear to us that we wanted to be within walking distance to our elementary school. I grew up walking to school and I wanted that for my boys. It might surprise you, but many home buyers look for a home either conciously or subconciously like the home or neighborhood in which they were raised. It all comes full circle it seems.
  • 5. It’s not a house, it’s a home. This is why I love my job. We get the opportunity to see our clients move into perhaps their first home, or maybe their second or third. Whichever it may be, we get to hand them the key to start a new chapter in their lives, and it is very personal. And we don’t take this honor for granted. It is a big deal to them and us.

I don’t look back on my first home and think about the windows that we changed out, or all of the hours that Leah and I spend painting every single square inch of the interior of that home (although I still sound a little bitter.) Instead, I think about how proud we were when we closed on our first home. Or how terrrified I was as I drove home from the hospital with our first son, Ben. Or how for some reason I installed about twenty smoke detectors in our home before he was born. I must have been nesting. I often think about our early Christmases in the house with both boys. They were magical to say the least.

We can learn a lot from our first home, and the second and third for that matter. Our home becomes a part of our story through the years and is constantly teaching us something. I am fortunate that I am reminded of this fact as I drive down Mission Road every day of the week and I glance over east of Mission at 77th St and see good ole 7701 Howe Drive. That home was a good teacher for nine years of my life and for that I am grateful.

Your home: Which NEJC city has the highest walkability?

I was excited and honored to receive an email last week from John Yé, the mayor of Westwood. He had just read my last column on walkability and wanted to share with me that Westwood’s walkability score is a 57. Compare that to Prairie Village’s score of 35 and clearly Westwood is on to something. Actually, compared to all other NEJC cities, Westwood has the highest walk score according to Walk Score. Congratulations to Mayor Yé and his team of city councilors and other leadership! Personally, I am proud to have witnessed Westwood’s evolution over the length of my career and how they are embracing the fact that convenience and walkability are very important to the new families they are now attracting to Westwood.

It is no surprise to me that our most recent listing in Westwood sold the first day on the market with four offers. It was a feeding frenzy. As I shared in my last column, high walkability results in higher real estate values in 13 out of 15 real estate markets. Again, congratulations Westwood!

So now we know that Westwood is first in the local rankings. How do the other cities shake out?

  1. Westwood, KS – walk score 57
  2. Roeland Park, KS – walk score 43
  3. Prairie Village, KS – walk score 35
  4. Fairway, KS – walk score 34
  5. Overland Park, KS – walk score 33
  6. Leawood, KS – walk score 21

Please note that all of these walk scores are city wide. That being said, there are certainly specific areas of each city with higher walkability. For example, if you have a home near the Village Shops in Prairie Village, your neighborhood walk score is 67. Much better than the citywide score of 35, right? In Overland Park, the zip codes with the highest walk score are 66212, 66204, and 66223. In Leawood, the highest walk score of 25 goes to 66206. Which honestly makes sense: Leawood is known for its palatial lots and winding roads, not for its convenience to retail or other services. And to me…. that is okay.

Some residents want a lot of foot traffic and regular interaction with their neighbors. Some don’t. And again, that is okay.

I love the fact that we can help families buy and sell homes of all different ages, sizes, neighborhoods, etc…, and all within a 15 mile radius. Each individual family has an opportunity to choose the environment in which they will feel the most comfortable. To some, a lower walk score may be seen as a negative, while others may appreciate the fact that their neighborhood it tucked away and off of the beaten path.

From a resale perspective, I should close with saying that the old adage that it is all about “location, location, location” still holds true today. Although, it appears that the new generation of buyers might say that it would be more accurate to say that it is “proximity, proximity, proximity” to local schools, shops, and parks.