Tag: million-dollar homes

How the Street of Dreams Mirrors Life

5,185 square feet, $1,325,000
5,185 square feet, $1,325,000

“I live on the street of my dreams.”

Do you? Does your daily life take you through your dream landscape?

Since I wasn’t being wowed by the uniqueness of the homes on the Street of Dreams, my writer brain went to town to make a life connection. It doesn’t take much to wind up my creativity.

I found three parallels between my experience with the million-dollar homes and my pursuit of a writing career.

Expectations

When someone tells me about a million-dollar home, I’m expecting either an enormous lot or unique features.

If you read my post last week, you know I didn’t find either of these at the Street of Dreams. I found million-dollar homes with fantastic fountains and more floor space than I ever want to be responsible for cleaning.

Lot size? Not much considering how big the homes were. In fact, I could see clearly into all the neighbors’ yards from the second story balcony of one of the homes. Not much in the way of a private setting.

I’ll be honest about the writing career. I knew I needed to pen a million words before I could expect to begin to perfect the craft of novel writing. I have penned more than 750,000 (yes, I keep track) in the past two years. I’m still pre-published.

In fact, this writing gig is much harder work than I expected. Some days all the words I write sound trite or infantile. Other days getting the words out feels like an exorcism (not that I know what that feels like, but seeing one thanks to Hollywood – uh, similar screaming and pain quotients).

Comparison: Expectations while traveling the street of your dreams are never met. Bag them.

Awe Factor

Staring at the amazing great room, kitchen, dining and outdoor living area of the dream home we most loved dropped my jaw. I could visualize it teeming with the people I love – some of them aren’t even born yet.

An ooey-gooey swell of deliciousness warmed me from the inside out. A stuffed turkey roasted in the professional-grade natural gas oven. Trays of appetizers lined the granite-covered buffet along the wall of the dining room. A fire crackled in the great room and outside on the covered patio.

I wish you could see what I did and feel the emotions swelling like a tidal wave inside me. That’s the awe factor we expect from our dreams.

Writing, the dream of my heart, parallels this experience.

Fingers flying over the keyboard. Words, sentences and paragraphs become pages, scenes and chapters. Characters are born on those pages. Lives explode with love, fear, anger and adventure.

Hours pass and only the movement of the sun from my front window to my back deck signifies it. I’m engulfed in the fantasy of my creativity.

This exceeds what I imagined pursuing my dream and being a full-time writer would be like on a daily basis. No paycheck? That’s what you think. Contentment in the dream feeds a hungry soul and clothes lagging confidence.

Epiphany: Living the dream is like having Thanksgiving dinner every day.

Visualization

Imagination is the bedrock of my chosen path. If I can’t visualize, I’m not going to be able to write a story that comes to life either.

My vision of a million-dollar home includes elevators, stoves that cook entire meals without me and a private setting in the middle of the woods.

The Street of Dreams in reality? Stairs I had to climb, even though some of the homes had three levels. Professional quality gas stoves but no automation that would prepare meals at the touch of a button (don’t get sassy about a microwave here, either).

Worst of all, I could see acres of trees in the distance along the ridge of Mt. Scott. Below that were fields of homes, too many to number. So much for tranquility in my million-dollar sanctuary.

Creating a story from nothing but my imagination is what I visualized when I pictured me as a professional writer. I have done that – seven separate times in the past year.

Of course, what I’ve done to take that first novel (well, actually the third; the first two had to be thrown away. They were me writing to find the real story) to a place where it’s ready for public eyes is hardly that glamorous – or enjoyable.

Weeks spent rewriting after reading through the first draft almost felt creative. Revising every sentence to make it sound literary – creative but pushing tedium. Rewriting a third time based on the comments and criticism from my beta readers required a firm hand.

“You will write today. I don’t care if you’re sick of this story. You have a goal to meet.”

You think this manuscript is ready for an agent?
You think this manuscript is ready for an agent?

Revising the 300 pages to smooth the cadence and perfect the prose rivaled a marathon. I was unsure if there would be enough chocolate to see me through to the end.

Still…not…done. Now, comb over every sentence, looking for grammar, usage and typographical errors. Gladly send the thing to someone else for proofreading.

Time to query agents. Time to fix the dull beginning. Time to rewrite the first fifty pages because a professional finds them flawed beyond redemption – almost.

Nothing like I visualized.

Truth to be learned: real life is nothing like the dream. It can be better, if you’re willing to work on reality conforming it to the reality you want.

My allusions might not resonate with you. Or maybe they do.

How has your dream measured up to your expectations and visualizations? Or how has the awe factor kept you moving forward?

Pictoral tour down the Street of Dreams

Maybe you’re not from Oregon, so driving out to (or is that up) to Happy Valley isn’t really an option.

Maybe you think $15 per person to walk through five houses is a poor use of your financial resources.

Perhaps the idea of walking through more than 24,000 square feet of house you could never afford (or wouldn’t buy even if you could pay for it) holds no appeal.

I’m happy to share my curb shots of the five houses at the 2014 Portland Street of Dreams.

4,520 square feet, $975,000
4,520 square feet, $975,000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4,865 square feet, $938,000
4,86 square feet, $938,000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5,310 square feet, $1,399,000
5,310 square feet, $1,399,000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5,185 square feet, $1,325,000
5,185 square feet, $1,325,000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5,600 square feet, $1,400,000
5,600 square feet, $1,400,000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So much for how the “other half” lives. There’s no way on earth half the people in America could afford these monster homes, is there?

 

 

 

 

Street of Dreams Experience

I’ve taken you along on a few of my dates with my husband. By now, you know we aren’t the typical dinner and a movie type of couple. Sure, we eat, but we prefer to check out high-ticket items rather than buy a theater ticket.

I’m sure you remember the test drive date. We scoped out a $40,000 vehicle on that date. This time we raise the bar. Into the millions.

I don’t know if your city has a home builder’s association, but Portland does. They like to showcase the skills of their members with “street of” home shows.

Before we built the home we live in, my husband and I walked down the “Street of Affordable Homes.” Too bad we didn’t buy there. Those houses are about five minutes down the road from his current place of employment.

The concept of “affordable” had gone by the wayside, as well. There has always been a Street of Dreams. The first one we went to back in the late 80s featured a million dollar home. That was the most expensive home in the show.

Boy have times ever changed.

Or maybe it’s the prices of homes that has done the turnaround. Whatever the case, this year’s Street of Dreams featured homes ranging in size from 4,520 square feet to 5,600 square feet. They were priced between $938,000 and $1,400,000.

I have to admit they weren’t nearly as dreamy as the last Street of Dreams we attended. There was a 10,000 square foot house in that show with its own gym in the basement and a two level pool as part of the landscaping.

No pools this year, although the landscaping in every yard featured some sort of water feature. I’ll show you the one I voted “best landscaping” in the show.

There were five different waterfalls in this feature. Amazing!
There were five different waterfalls in this feature. Amazing!

Size

According to the census bureau, the median square footage of a new home in 1973 was 1,525 square feet. That increased slowly, until 1987 when the median jumped to 1,755 and has grown steadily since.

In 2010, the median home size was 2,169 square feet. Since I live in a 2200 square foot house and feel we’re close to average, I think these figures are fairly accurate.

Since the median is the number in the exact center of a set of data, I can say with authority that the enormity of the homes we viewed in Happy Valley must be at the high end of home size.

Why would anyone need such a huge home?

My husband suggested entertaining. Okay, so how often do these people entertain a crowd of 30 or more people? Because anything under that would fit easily in a more reasonably-sized home.

I know this because my in-laws host 30 people (or more) every year in their 1400 square-foot home. Yes, she uses her double garage and patio, too, but still it can’t be more than 1,800 square feet total. Not even half the footage of one of these “dream” homes.

In short, I think a house over 3,000 square feet is just adding size for an impression.

Cost

A more unsettling thought is that so many people spend a million dollars or more on a home. After all, these five homes were in a new addition to a huge neighborhood of sprawling homes. In fact, some of the other homes in the area might have been twice the size of the ones we viewed. That’s just insane!

Back to census figures to put this into perspective. You know that home in 1973 we talked about, it probably cost about $32,500. I know that everything cost less 40 years ago, but many cars will cost you this much in our world. Crazy!

The median new home price in 2010 was $221,800. This means that half the people buying homes in the United States paid less than this and half paid more. Does that mean those paying a million dollars are in the top ten percent?

A few weeks ago we looked at some 4,000 square foot homes that were priced between $350,000 and $600,000. They were every bit as nice as the ones on the Street of Dreams.

Features

I suppose the most disappointing aspect of walking through these homes was the sense that they didn’t have any superlative features.

Sure, they had automated lights, heat and security cameras. So did the under-$600,000 homes in Vancouver.

Most of them had unique architectural designs that certainly cost more to build, but they weren’t gasp-worthy (I’m thinking Neuschwanstein castle here). In fact, nothing other than the sheer size of them made them more remarkable than the average, upper-scale home.

One of many waterfalls that added ambience
One of many waterfalls that added ambience

The landscaping of these homes did turn my head. I’m a sucker for water features and all of them had one or more fountain or waterfall. Of course, considering the sticker price, anything less would have been insulting.

In short, these homes didn’t feel like out-of-my-league buildings. They are beyond my pre-published writer’s income, of course, but I didn’t get the feeling Bill Gates or even Stephen King would have lived in one of them. Beneath their rank in society.

I’m not saying these weren’t beautiful custom built homes. I am saying that the size was excessive for what a family needs. After all, most of them had four bedrooms, meaning a family of five might be moving in some day. Does each person really need 1,000 square feet to live in? I think not, considering my first home was 1,200 square feet and four of us lived there.

What do you think about this display of financial success (or often a road to lifetime indebtedness)? How would you describe your “dream” home?