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The history of properties—homes intrigues me. The unexplainable psychology of why people feel a kinship with a certain piece a real estate fascinates me, even more. At times, when I accompany a buyer or even a renter to view a property, for the first time, I become witness to their instant, vocal-certainty that, “This is the One,” as they open the unit’s door.
I, too, have had such a conviction when owning and renting a home. I just knew—before viewing the rest of the dwelling, This-is-the-One. Most recently, in 2009, my children asked me if we could move—to a larger apartment. Since our lease was about to end, I agreed, on the condition that they did all of the leg-work. I gave them a list of must-haves: three bedrooms, two full bathrooms, washer/dryer within the unit, as well as our monthly budget. I scheduled the appointments for them, and then, they went-a-hunting for our new, larger home. The hunt lasted two hours before they called to inform me, “We’ve found ‘The One,’ Mom.” Umm, I thought, that’s interesting.
The One, happened to be the smallest of the apartments that I had scheduled for them to see, and it was on the top floor of a walk-up building (at the time we lived in an elevator-building). As to why my teens would want to walk three flights-up to enter this possible new home, I had no idea. I reminded them that they would have to carry the groceries up those three flights–every week, carry the trash down three flights of stairs–every day, and the apartment was basically the same size as the unit we were currently living in, not larger. “We know.” Okay, I thought. So, I went to see The One.
After I hiked-up three flights, and opened the front door, I understood their conviction—that inner, unexplainable pulling, telling me, “This-is-the-One.” As to how my oversized furniture was going to fit into the small living room, I did not know; but I wanted the apartment, just as my teens, wanted it. It just felt right. And yet, it was a mystery, to me.
Then last summer, as I was exiting my building, I noticed a couple, standing in front of it, looking up and conversing amongst themselves, so I interrupted them, asking if they needed help with something. The woman, who appeared to be in her sixties, informed me that she used to live in the building as a child. Her father purchased it in the 1940’s. They rented the first floor to tenants, resided on the second and third floor, and then a few years later, her aunt and uncle moved into the fourth floor unit. I told them I lived on the fourth floor, and then, asked about her aunt and uncle. To my astonishment, the woman informed me that her aunt was a once opera singer, who taught at Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, and because her husband fell ill, they moved to be closer to her family. Her aunt continued to teach music from the fourth floor apartment, for where I now lived. Upon hearing this, I stood, stunned for a few seconds before I replied, “I used to be an opera singer, and I used to teach music—private violin and piano lessons to kids from my home—a long, long time ago—in Ohio.” After we parted ways, I wondered if this was the reason for that unexplainable kinship I’d felt when entering my soon-to-be-home back in 2009.
Over the years, I’ve dwelled upon such unexplainable kinships to properties—per my own customers in real estate and those who are not my customers. I’m just intrigued by it all—all of those histories, linking strangers to the same home. So much so, that in my free-time, away from real estate broker duties, I study deeds—recorded real estate documents of transfers, Google the owners, at times, read biographies, trying to find a link–owner to owner, of why such a place is The One for all of them.
I call this methodology—a kind of genealogy of homes, so to speak: Dwellology.
I dwell on dwellings.
My dream job, outside of Manhattan real estate broker, would be to research and write—professionally, unraveling these mysterious kinships, not just here in NYC, but around the world; and create a television show similar to, “Know Who You Are,” with the more appropriate title, “Know Where You Dwell.” (This is all just a rambling day-dream, not necessarily a goal, dear reader.)
Do you really know about where you dwell?
If so, I’d love to hear about it…
Cary Daniel Blumenfeld
Harry Norman, Realtors