Are You Renovating Your House...Or Avoiding Your Inner Demons?
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Are You Renovating Your House…Or Avoiding Your Inner Demons?

Some people believe that if they bury themselves in a big home renovation project, the Big Scary Stuff can’t get them.

By Kris Frieswick
Fri, Oct 22, 2021 1:45pmGrey Clock 4 min

One day, out of the blue, my dad decided to turn our back porch into a screened-in back porch with a big cathedral ceiling. We didn’t need a screened-in porch with a big cathedral ceiling. No one had asked for one. The existing porch worked just fine and wasn’t even that old. He’d never even mentioned the project until the day the work crews showed up.

The project dragged on forever, but my extremely impatient and cheap father never complained about the delays or the money once, which was beyond weird. Then it dawned on me and my siblings: Dad was convinced that as long as the porch was under construction, our mother, who had late stage cancer, wouldn’t die. We thought he was nuts. Maybe he was. But the fact is that Mom enjoyed many afternoons on that beautiful, completed screened-in porch before she left us.

There is something in our human nature that leads us to believe that as long as we are in the middle of a huge, complicated project that takes all our time and focus, nothing big and scary can happen: We are just too darned BUSY.

This belief is demonstrably, laughably wrong, yet we cling to it.

The ultimate example of this is the strange case of Sarah Winchester, the widow of the man who manufactured the Winchester rifle. She believed that as long as her home was under construction, the ghosts of those killed by Winchester rifles could not haunt her. Her home was under construction for about 40 years, right up until the day she died.

Be it cancer, ghosts, guilt or a relationship gone bad, you or someone you know has probably tried to keep it at bay with a massive home renovation project. Here are some of the most commonly seen forms of what I refer to as the Winchester Effect:

The Unemployment Delusion

Your company is on its last legs. There have already been three rounds of layoffs. You, a highly-placed employee, has survived them all, but who knows when the blood-letting will stop. Does this prevent you from hiring contractors to put in a massive 40-by-80 foot swimming pool with a gazebo, outdoor kitchen and wide-screen TV pavilion? It does not. You think that as long as you are spending and planning and living like a highly-placed executive with a stable, well-paying job, you will remain one. Who would possibly fire a person in the middle of such a project?

Pro tip: Your company would, that’s who. Unless you are expecting the mother of all severance packages, this is just a bad idea that will result in a giant muddy hole in your backyard that you can’t afford to fill in. Make living as frugally as possible your new big project.

Renovation Redirect

You are constantly involved in one home renovation project after another. You’re not methodically tackling one room at a time. You are maniacally reconstructing the whole shebang, from roof to cellar, as soon as the last project is done. Just like Mrs. Winchester.

What you’re really doing is creating enough mental static so that you can’t think about all the shady deals, the crappy relationships, the abandoned goals and dreams. You have the financial wherewithal to clutter up your brain with the sound of Sawzalls and nail guns. Who can think honestly and openly about committing massive securities fraud when you’re sleeping in a bedroom that’s been hermetically sealed to keep out construction debris? No one.

Pro tip: To paraphrase Buckaroo Banzai: no matter where you put the new kitchen, there you are. Instead of another gut reno, donate your construction budget to a relevant charity and stop being a horrible person. In the dark, when the bandsaws stop and the nail guns are silent, it’s just you and your guilty conscience and MAN is that thing noisy.

Historic Home Distraction

You are half of a disaffected couple that has decided that, in an effort to come together on a project—since the “marriage” project just isn’t as much fun as you thought it would be—you will buy and renovate a historic home. Well, my friend, you will be praying for just a simple, garden-variety crappy marriage the first time you tear down a horse-hair plaster wall and see the knob-and-tube electrical system that dates to the 1940s.

Pro Tip: Your marriage will not survive this house project so just sell the house now as is and pay for daily couple’s counselling. Compared to the house restoration, the marriage restoration will be about one-trillionth cheaper and it might actually work.

The Envy Endeavor

Your neighbors are attractive, wealthy and intelligent, their children are polite and their pets do not shed. You hate them all. Your life is a shambles baked into a hot mess. It is nothing like theirs, but your house can be! So you’re building a huge three-car garage with an in-law apartment above it, just like your neighbour’s.

Pro tip: Copy cat construction won’t make you feel like any less of a failure. Worse, you’ll attract the neighbours’ pity—they know you own only one car and don’t have in-laws. Stop construction and remember this: no family is as perfect as they appear through their picture window.

The Illness Illusion

You embark on a massive home renovation project when someone you love falls ill, convinced they cannot die until you’re done.

Pro tip: Sounds crazy, but what do I know?


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Ray White’s chief economist outlines her predictions for housing market trends in 2024

By Bronwyn Allen
Tue, Nov 28, 2023 2 min

Ray White’s chief economist, Nerida Conisbee says property price growth will continue next year and mortgage holders will need to “survive until 2025” amid expectations of higher interest rates for longer.

Ms Conisbee said strong population growth and a housing supply shortage combatted the impact of rising interest rates in 2023, leading to unusually strong price growth during a rate hiking cycle. The latest CoreLogic data shows home values have increased by more than 10 percent in the year to date in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth. Among the regional markets, price growth has been strongest in regional South Australia with 8.6 percent growth and regional Queensland at 6.9 percent growth.

“As interest rates head close to peak, it is expected that price growth will continue. At this point, housing supply remains extremely low and many people that would be new home buyers are being pushed into the established market,” Ms Conisbee said. “Big jumps in rents are pushing more first home buyers into the market and population growth is continuing to be strong.”

Ms Conisbee said interest rates will be higher for longer due to sticky inflation. “… we are unlikely to see a rate cut until late 2024 or early 2025. This means mortgage holders need to survive until 2025, paying far more on their home loans than they did two years ago.”

Buyers in coastal areas currently have a window of opportunity to take advantage of softer prices, Ms Conisbee said. “Look out for beach house bargains over summer but you need to move quick. In many beachside holiday destinations, we saw a sharp rise in properties for sale and a corresponding fall in prices. This was driven by many pandemic driven holiday home purchases coming back on to the market.”

3 key housing market trends for 2024

Here are three of Ms Conisbee’s predictions for the key housing market trends of 2024.

Luxury apartment market to soar

Ms Conisbee said the types of apartments being built have changed dramatically amid more people choosing to live in apartments longer-term and Australia’s ageing population downsizing. “Demand is increasing for much larger, higher quality, more expensive developments. This has resulted in the most expensive apartments in Australia seeing price increases more than double those of an average priced apartment. This year, fewer apartments being built, growing population and a desire to live in some of Australia’s most sought-after inner urban areas will lead to a boom in luxury apartment demand.”

Homes to become even greener

The rising costs of energy and the health impacts of heat are two new factors driving interest in green homes, Ms Conisbee said. “Having a greener home utilising solar and batteries makes it cheaper to run air conditioning, heaters and pool pumps. We are heading into a particularly hot summer and having homes that are difficult to cool down makes them far more dangerous for the elderly and very young.”

More people living alone

For some time now, long-term social changes such as delayed marriage and an ageing population have led to more people living alone. However, Ms Conisbee points out that the pandemic also showed that many people prefer to live alone for lifestyle reasons. “Shorter term, the pandemic has shown that given the chance, many people prefer to live alone with a record increase in single-person households during the time. This trend may influence housing preferences, with a potential rise in demand for smaller dwellings and properties catering to individuals rather than traditional family units.”


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