I caught a recent episode of “Louie” on FX. It’s the humor series based on the stand-up comedy of Louis C.K. This show is often funny – painfully funny. And sometimes it’s just painful because the observations are pretty dead on, unapologetic and completely honest.
In this particular episode, Louie decides he’s ready to move from the apartment he once lived in with his ex-wife. He goes out looking for suitable rental properties in New York City for himself and his girls, who live with him part-time. Of course, after several trips through some bad places and a few bait-and-switch ads, he becomes exhausted – until he stumbles upon a townhouse for sale.
This is where the show goes from realistic to hyperbolic. The scene reminds me of what it might look like to take the collective conscience of America during the 10-year run-up in housing prices and play it out in front of an audience. See, it wasn’t just any townhouse; it was a $17 million townhouse. And Louie of course, while famous, is not exactly part of the crowd that can afford to buy such a place.
Louie then becomes determined to buy this place. He is consumed by the idea that this house will make his girls happy, and make everything fall into place in his miserable life. Never mind the fact that he only has $7,000 in the bank. Never mind the fact that that $7,000 isn’t even one-tenth of one monthly mortgage payment. He wants the house.
I believe it’s because homes are more than the walls they’re made of – more than the investment of many years of hard work. Real estate isn’t just a market; it’s a state of mind. Homes are deeply connected to the life we live. This is why all buyers will “imagine” themselves living in a particular home when they go to see it, and why they try to think about what life would be like within those walls. This is why it was so easy to get in over your head during the days of loose lending. This is why foreclosure is so emotionally draining.
A home is a future, a present and a past. It’s a living thing. It’s where we feel attached to life, where we dream and where we plan for what’s next.
As for Louie – his show isn’t the type to slap on a happy ending. He didn’t buy the house. He merely told the real estate agent that he would buy that house, and instead went back home and repainted his apartment with his daughters. He already had it.
That episode for me said something really profound about where we live – the places we call home. The connection and what’s inside are the most important aspects of any real estate deal.