- The Washington Times - Friday, September 1, 2000

I had a revelation today after riding a wave off the Outer Banks of North Carolina. As I emptied my swim trunks' pockets of shells and sand and wiped the saltwater from my eyes, I saw my 65-year-old father making his way toward the surf with a boogie board in hand.
In the past 39 years, I have seen my dad preach hellfire and brimstone, visit dying souls in the hospital then bury them, comfort the widows, visit the orphans, marry young couples, work on run-down Ramblers, garden the back yard with a hoe, play volleyball and softball, cook tons of oatmeal (his trademark dish), play an assortment of musical instruments for his parishioners and music students, transform tattered houses into cozy dwellings (many times the ones in which we lived) and love his wife, children and grandchildren.
But I had never, ever seen him ride a boogie board I don't even think he knew what one was until today.
What a sight. I guess the temptation was too overwhelming as he watched his grandchildren flopping over wave after wave, tumbling toward the shore. Their shrieks of laughter and anticipated wipeouts drew him to the water's edge.
OK, so what does this have to do with real estate? Everything.
Buying a house is an emotional experience. Most buyers are purchasing a house to create a home, not just to shelter income from Uncle Sam. Surely there are hundreds of better ways to shelter money than in a piece of property that will require continual upkeep, cleaning, painting and maintenance.
They are buying a way of life, a means of building something intangible a family environment we have called "home" for millennia.
Even now, my dad sits quietly in the corner as a couple of his grandchildren roughhouse. "Be sure not to bust open your head on that furniture," he says quietly, then goes back to his book to highlight another paragraph. This is home.
Oh, it's not my house. I'm renting it for a week, like most vacationers. But as soon as my dad arrived along with other family members, regardless of the fact that we were in a borrowed structure we were all home. Heck, we could have been in a tent or a cave, for that matter, and we would be home. I'm very lucky, for this is why we all purchase a house.
We work hard, save up down-payment money, maintain good credit ratings and climb the corporate ladder for several reasons, but one of the primary ones is to build or purchase a "home."
In reality, you can't buy a home that is an intangible, yet powerful force in the world created pretty much only by the commitment and dedication of two or more people who understand that their "home" is not bricks and mortar, but a loving relationship.

M. Anthony Carr has written about real estate issues for 11 years. Comments and questions can be mailed to 8411 Arlington Blvd., Fairfax, Va. 22031 or by e-mail to [email protected]

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