Over the years, we've identified some of the best times to sell, buy or refinance your home. As the real estate market has changed, we've pointed out tax-saving measures, home improvements, remodeling ideas and other real estate options that can enhance your equity and save you money. Many of us this year have reason to rejoice in our businesses, as well as our personal lives. Let's also remember others among us who have not been as fortunate.
Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath reminds us how lucky we are, not only to have a house for shelter but to have a home to enjoy with families. Other recent events have shown us how precious life is and how having loved ones around can change in an instant.
Let's pause here to draw a distinction between a house and a home.
A house is the bricks and sticks of the physical structure. When adequately built, a house protects us from most elements and serves as a place for family and friends to gather. We expend energy and money in the upkeep of our houses to protect our investments. Having a house is part of the American Dream, of having your own place to live. This dream begins when you rent your first apartment.
A home, on the other hand, is the emotional connection between people in the house. The home is a place of memories and traditions, old and new, many of which occur this time of year. This is the time when we, as parents and elders, create the memories of home for our children and teach them to share these memories with others. Our children, we hope, will associate home with the fondest moments of this special time of sharing.
Sharing is the key to extending the cherished memories of home into the community. Unfortunately, the needs in our community do not occur just during the holidays. They are often as great or greater after the holidays, when we return to the demands and commitments of our own work and families.
So with organizations reminding us it is the season to share, let's give a gift that extends past Christmas. This can be as simple as picking a charity or two and setting up your budget to regularly donate time or money. Then call to find out what important needs fit within your budget. The items will vary and so will the cost.
Perhaps canned foods are needed. If so, on your next trip to Sam's or Costco with the kids, purchase extra items to donate. Or keep your ears open for a family member or friend who might want to donate furniture or clothing.
Perhaps you want to do something closer to home. Consider how many people in Anchorage lack close family support. If you've thought about inviting them over for dinner, now is the perfect time to act. A shared meal doesn't have to be elaborate; in fact, share the preparation with others instead of doing everything yourself. Food is the perfect way for everyone to contribute.
If dinner is not doable, a cup of coffee or a phone call might be. These unselfish acts of kindness create cherished memories and start friendships.
Sharing starts with a single individual -- the power of one. Don't let your good cheer sound only at Christmas. Let community spirit begin at home and strive to continue a giving spirit throughout the year.
Barbara and Clair Ramsey are local associate brokers specializing in residential real estate. Their column appears every month in the Daily News. Their e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.