Chrome Plated

Chrome-PlatedEvery so often I step back and look at the way things are in today’s world. I think what triggered this of late was yet another 3-way conversation I was in with some older people who used to collect antiques as well as buy and sell a few on the side. Just this past year I was certainly shocked at what minimal prices very well constructed antique furniture brought at auction. I will likely never forget how low a price one of the most well cared for and sturdily built as well as designed chest of drawers sold for this past summer. At another auction there was a large hand tooled wooden trunk that was at least 150 years old that sold for a mere $50.00. I hadn’t been to an auction in a number of years but was curious enough about the furniture that was being listed on the sale bill to attend. I likely won’t darken the doors of another auction in the foreseeable future due to my dis-belief in how the general public will purchase cheaply built new furniture and pass over far better constructed sold wood pieces that would indeed out-last new pieces.  It may have taken a few decades, but I’m convinced the bulk of Americans have been duped by the media into believing that new is better no matter what it is they are looking at purchasing.

In real estate, I look at some of the newer constructed homes and often times see minimal at best quality when looking more closely at the nuts and bolts of the structure. With so many of the young professionals, I see them leaning towards newer and bigger. Many of the recent statistics show that the McMansions are falling out of favor for lesser square footage and higher qualities of construction. I smile to myself sometimes whenever I find buyers knit-picking easily remedied cosmetic changes yet they drive very expensive newer vehicles that have likely lost $5,000 – $7,000 in value as soon as they were driven off the dealer’s lot. Too many consider automobiles an investment in a false sense of status rather than a means of transportation. Yes, we must take care of our vehicles as well as our homes but our residences are far more important in every aspect than a car or truck. Remember, homes provide places to live for generations where vehicles have on average much shorter years of usage.

I couldn’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve had to tell buyers that due to their car payments being so high, they would have to either purchase something much cheaper than they were expecting or wait until the car is either paid off or sold.  I’m not saying we shouldn’t purchase what we want in time; especially if we have either saved for it or our disposable incomes allow for those shiny new items that keep piquing our interest, but to place luxury items ahead of the basics like housing, then I consider it a backward way of looking at standards of living.

Whenever I see someone standing outside a rickety rental property polishing his or her nearly new and quite expensive vehicle, I think to myself, “There’s another one who’s priorities are upside down.” Seems too many naive consumers are chasing after anything that’s new and chrome plated.

Joe Chodur

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