Homebuyers who take a page out of Pippa’s focus on affordability will improve their financial future in the long run.
Poor Pippa Middleton. The poor girl can’t seem to catch a break. Yes, she’s been remarkably blessed with a hot bod, the perfect maid of honor bum and eyes that can stop traffic. But when it comes to her family’s party business, she (and they) keep coming under fire—most recently for (gasp) budget-friendly suggestions shared in an online magazine column.
A Middleton Roast?
In a Daily Beast post, Charlotte Edwardes calls the column “conspicuously in step” with Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee, which will celebrate her 60th year as monarch. The Middletons are generally roasted in the rest of the article, including a not-exactly-flattering reference to their “middle-class” status and Mrs. Middleton’s former status as a hostess for British Airways.
Across the pond, the U.S. is fighting to emerge from a recession which stemmed, according to a plethora of pundits and politicians, from banks and big business. The wave of foreclosures, they say, was caused solely by unethical lenders. But with some modicum of respect, may I suggest that the looking glass be turned?
Less People, More Space
According to the National Association of Homebuilders, in 1950 the average American family consisted of 3.6 people sharing a 1,000-square-foot house. By 1970, home square footage increased to an average of 1,500 square feet (despite the fact that the average family had 3.1 people). Fast forward to 2004, the average home size was 2,400 square feet; an increase of well over 200% in just over 50 years…even in light of the family size falling by 30% (down to 2.5%). And while average home size on new construction has started to fall, it’s still over double what it was during the post-war era when the U.S. was booming.
Homebuyers Wanting More
Watch a home buying show on TV, and generally you’ll see the prospective buyer wanting more space than they need with upgrades formerly available only in high-end homes. Many are willing to max out (or even exceed) their budget. And they frequently say something like “I need more space for entertaining” or “I’m not sure this kitchen would fit all of my friends.” In short, they’re willing to put their financial futures at risk to make space for friends who may be there a few evenings a month.
Buy What You Can Actually Afford
My guess? They’re also trying to impress those same friends by having a space that’s bigger and better. In short, they want to have full-blown, gem-encrusted Diamond Jubilee party rather than the hand-crafted wine charms and tiara-imprinted plates that are far more within their budget.
So with all due respect to Ms. Edwardes, I applaud Pippa’s middle class sensibilities and her efforts to bring a touch of royal flair to the everyday party hostess. I also applaud homebuyers who buy what they can afford, make upgrades along the way and focus on long-term investment instead of what those pesky Joneses think. In the long run, they’ll enjoy far more financial success and security (even if they never do achieve that maid of honor bum.)
God Save the Queen. And God save Pippa.