Doggone, is it a good time to buy a home?

Little Murray, the world’s cutest dog who was taught to read, write and speak by the wonderful folks at the Literacy Network of South Berkshire, looked up at me and said, “You know, Pops, you seem pretty happy these days.”

“That’s right, Murray, I am. Your sister the professor is coming home this week, your brother is doing great in his new job in New Orleans, and your mom’s art just won an honorable mention at the Housatonic Valley Arts League. Plus, it doesn’t stop there. The gardens look great and David Pixley, our neighbor who has been accused of trying to burn down a good part of Great Barrington, has been treated humanely by his community. And, Murray, we saw “Guys and Dolls”at Barrington Stage and it was phenomenal.

“What’s more, our friends at Tanglewood have just dedicated a statue to Aaron Copland and we were there. Copland’s cousin, Alan Copland, used to live here and is my friend. I once heard Alan Copland sing something, proving, I suspect, that there may not be a musical gene after all. Alan’s son, Andrew, is doing brilliantly at Tufts and wants to teach economics.”

“Pops,” asked Murray, “what happened on the street the other day? I saw a guy come up to you and then walk away.”

“Oh, that,” I said to Murray. “He asked if you could really speak. ‘Of course,’ I said to him. ‘There’s Murray, just go over there and talk to him.’ The guy looked at you, looked at me, and then walked away, shaking his head.”

“Hey, Pop,” said the little dog, deftly changing the subject, “the price of homes has really gone down in America. Shouldn’t you invest now while prices are low and get in before they go up?”

“You make a good point, Murray, but I have to tell you. I have several friends in Great Barrington who are looking for houses in our neighborhood, which is anything but universally affluent. They say that prices are not really coming down on the Hill. In fact, The Berkshire Eagle reports that the homes that have sold in the county have actually gone up in price but fewer of them are being sold.”

“There are always problems. Basements leak, roofs and heating systems need replacement. Tenants do not always take care of property as if it were their own. Taxes can be problematic. Of course, these can all be deducted as business expenses if you are using them as rental properties. But your point, dear Murray, is a good one. If you are going to buy investment property, this would be a very good time to do it.”

“Now the next question is, ‘With what?’ During economic times like this, many people have trouble making ends meet. So, in order to do this you might have to take some risks and make some sacrifices. There are some people who think that the worldwide economic problems may well mean we are in for what they are calling a double dip. On the other hand, if you want to live in a house, it’s a great time to buy. You’d never be able to build for what houses are selling for now.”

“Hey, Pops,” said the beautiful little white dog, “I read in the paper that a federal Appeals Court has upheld the Obama health care program that some of the mean people are calling ObamaCare. Is this a good thing?”

“Of course it’s good, but it’s not as good as if Obama had used his tremendous popularity when he was elected and extended Medicare so that it eventually covered everyone. Then the middle-class voters would have had some real benefits. Obama’s numbers would be much higher.”

Murray looked up at me and said, “You know, Pops, it’s always great to speak with you.”

“Anytime, Murray,” I said to the little dog.

Originally published in the Berkshire Eagle, 7/2/11

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