McGregor Says: Don’t sell the family farm

I was putting my garbage out at the side of the road in my Brookswood neighbourhood when a Lexus stopped and a tinted window slid down. An Asian gentleman asked, “Are you moving?”

“No,” I laughed, “I’m putting my garbage out.”

“Do you want to sell your house?” he asked. “I am looking for property in this area.” “No, it’s not for sale,” I said, and I turned to go.

“Everything is for sale,” he said persistently. “Can I come in and take a look?’

I smiled and waved and walked away. It’s not about money. Houses in our neighbourhood have been selling fast for ridiculous money in the last month.

I’m just lazy. Selling would mean searching for another place, reorganizing finances at the bank and, worst of all, packing and getting rid of stuff.

I don’t need all that stress in my life, sitting on my deck or under the trees in my backyard is worth an awful lot and I’m just plain happy where I am. I’m not sure how a lot of cash and a lot of stress could improve on that.

I’ve been in my current home for 23 years and it seems that families don’t stay in one place for a long time any more. We used to see a couple buy a home, add on when the kids came, renovate and stay for years. It was news when someone said, “Oh, newcomers bought the old Simpson place.”

I purchased my first Langley home in 1972. It was a two-bedroom, basement home on a half-acre of land for $16,500. I remember my wife and I, who were both working, sitting at a table with a pencil and paper and calculating if we would be able to make the $210 a month mortgage payment.

Financial experts will tell you that real estate is never a bad investment but I can’t imagine a young couple today sitting at their computer calculating the mortgage on an $800,000 home, which would be somewhere around $4,000 a month.

But, they’re no doubt making more than the $1.68 an hour I was making in 1972.

I don’t like to see once sturdy old barns collapsing in decay or old family homes being loaded into demolition trucks, piled on top of mature rhododendrons, azaleas or rose bushes. All of those family memories are just in the way and the land will sit vacant and fallow, waiting for the zoning to change so the condos can go up.

Between 1890 and 1914, the Canadian government was luring immigrants by offering 160 acres of land in the Prairie provinces for $10.

No doubt any promotional photos were taken in August.

More than 200,000 people from Europe and the Ukraine took the offer and moved here.

I am always in awe of stories of people who packed everything they had into trunks, sailed across the Atlantic, spent a week on the train and came to the Fraser Valley to  start a new life. Now,  foreigners drive up in expensive cars and offer us cash for our homes.

I watched developers cut down a stand of magnificent trees, haul out the topsoil and grass, haul in gravel, build a concrete and wooden structure, pour cement and blacktop the lot.

Then they called the complex Nature’s Walk.

No, everything shouldn’t be for sale, we shouldn’t put a price on our lifestyle.

At least that’s what McGregor says.