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Will Viola Davis' Plantation Home Post Spark a Trend?

Aug 12, 2020 by Maurie Backman

Update: Davis did not purchase the home but owns her story.

Actress and Oscar winner Viola Davis recently purchased her former family home for her 55th birthday: a house in St. Matthews, South Carolina, on a former slave plantation. The home is the one Davis was born in, but the actress is emphasizing not that she purchased a specific piece of property but that she now "owns" her story.

Still, it begs the question: Will more people be inspired by Davis and her South Carolina plantation home to purchase their own childhood or family homes?

The pros and cons of buying your childhood home

For Davis, it was clearly important to celebrate her heritage and humble beginning despite the pain that undoubtedly comes with knowing that her childhood home was located on a slave plantation. But it also exposes both the advantages and drawbacks of buying the house you lived in as a child.

First, the upside. Buying your childhood home means you know what you're getting into. You (mostly) know the neighborhood, and just as importantly, you know the house inside and out. The fact that large rain storms cause basement flooding won't come as a surprise when you buy a house you've spent a chunk of your life in. Similarly, you may be prepared to spend money on a new roof knowing that it’s been decades since it was put on.

Then there are the memories to consider. If those are pleasant, then buying the house you lived in your entire childhood may be worthwhile for the sentimental value alone.

But that leads to the downside of buying your family home. Doing so might bring you great joy if you had a happy life there, but if your childhood wasn't so happy, buying that house could bring up unpleasant memories -- memories you might really struggle to escape when you're back in the place where they all happened.

Also, if the neighborhood you grew up in has changed a lot, you may find yourself unhappy with your decision. And remember, even if the same shops can be found in town, they may have new owners. The restaurant you used to visit every Sunday with your family? It may have a completely new menu. That's something you'll need to gear up for.

Additionally, you may be hesitant to renovate your childhood home for fear that doing so will serve as an insult to your family. And finally, if your childhood house is still in the family, it means you'll need to engage in a financial transaction with a close relative -- and that could get awkward.

Will more people start buying their family homes?

Just because Viola Davis made the decision to buy her South Carolina home doesn't mean more celebrities -- or regular people, for that matter -- will start rushing to buy the houses they grew up in. But one thing we can take away from Davis' purchase is that she's proud of her modest beginning and proud to own her story. And if buying your family home lets you do the same, that could be a good enough reason to move forward.

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