Excellent home searching advice, especially for first time buyers…

by J. Money -

pretty door house

Guys, first off – THANK YOU for all the love and tips and thoughts from yesterday! I can’t tell you how nice it is to get all this out in the open instead of being so stuck in my head all day, haha…

And the Mrs. greatly thanks all of you too! Especially those on “Team Wife!” ;)

We’ll be getting back to the more *financial* aspects here in a bit, especially as we move to getting pre-approved with mortgage stuff and figuring out our budget and what not (PS: we’re strongly considering a 15 year mortgage! You save so much – wow!!), however in the meantime I wanted to share an excellent note from a reader on things to pay attention to while house hunting…

If you’re new to the home buying process, or dipping your toes back into it again after some time off like us, this is for you.

Shout out to Larry for passing this over! Who you might recall from his dumping of “80 years of financial hindsight” on us a few years back ;) Another excellent post jam packed with tips.

Good morning, J.

I have owned a home forever. Not just the current one. We spent a lot of time and money looking for Utopia (there ain’t one) so we bought and sold a LOT.

One big recommendation when looking: know how much space you really need. We had a large house in California with a gourmet kitchen and large family room. We also had a living room and dining room. We stored a wind surfer and a claw foot bathtub in the living room and used the dining room about 4 times in over 10 years. We lived in the family room.

Give serious thought to your lifestyle and where it will play out in your house. Our best friends have a huge living room – we have never been in it. We live in their kitchen and family room when we visit.

My “office” doubles as a guest bedroom with a trundle bed – we have guests maybe once or twice a year – there is no reason for a dedicated guest room.

Look at some of the references on small houses and see what people have done with minimal space – not that you need to do that, but it may give you some ideas. A Murphy bed with bookcases on each side in your office. Don’t spend the money on just space. Spend more on where you spend the most time.

Don’t skimp on the “important” stuff – if you are into cooking, spend the money on the kitchen with a decent pantry and good appliances. My wife just replaced some family room furniture and replaced two swivel chairs with non-swivel and she hates them. My rationale – get a new chair – you spend over 20 hours a week in the friggin’ chair, get what you want. I offer that as an example of where/how to spend the $$$.

Do you grill and spend time outside? A nice patio might be a consideration. Room to build a fortress for the boys in the back yard?

A “Mud Room” was a must for us so snow and mud are not tracked through the house – Virginia might be for lovers, but I understand it also has weather.

Same with wood floors – we will see them every day – they are more forgiving than tile – let’s get wood in the kitchen and family room. Putting the money where you can appreciate it.

Bottom line, look intensively at your lifestyle and what you do day in and day out and then look for a place that facilitates that.

We just did a 10 day trip to Mexico and did it with just carry-on – our first attempt. One of the main things in packing was forget about bringing all the “what ifs”. Apply that rationale to your new home. No “what if we start having dinner parties?”, “What if we have frequent house guests?” What if… If ya ain’t done it in 39 years, you probably won’t start.

Take your time and get something you are both happy with and that fits your real needs/wants – try to prevent the “damn, I wish we would have done that, or why did we do this?” You want turmoil in your life, move into a house one of you is not comfortable with. We have friends with that situation. The day they closed, she told him she hated the house. 😕

Sit down after the kids are in bed and have a serious discussion in the realm of “what do you really like about this house? What don’t you like? What is important to you? What did you like better in the last house? Why did we decide to rent? Etc. Develop a list of sorts – here is what we have to have, here is what we would like to have, here is stuff that is not important, etc..

Keep us posted, at least to a degree – it would be fun to see what you guys consider important and what can fall by the proverbial wayside.

Good luck

That’s my bolding up there which I think sums it up nicely. We can get so sucked into the *niceties* a home offers that we might end up accidentally chasing the wrong things and completely overlook the more important ones! Like the ones that best *fit* our specific lifestyles!

And while we still haven’t sat down to list out all our “must haves” yet in this potential new home (emphasis on potential – it’s not a given  yet! ;)), here’s what our list looks like so far:

  • needs at least 3 beds
  • 2 baths
  • yard
  • some sort of basement or play room for the kids
  • place for me to take all my daily walks (and not be worried about getting shanked)
  • garage for my wife (who apparently has never had one before?)
  • storage for the 1,000’s of kids clothes we’ve hoarded because Lord knows as soon as we offload them #4 will make an appearance!! And it’ll be another boy!!
  • kid-friendly community
  • something comfortably within our budget (to be determined)

We’ve also got some strong preferences on what the house should *look like* and feel like too, however that’s for another day as we’re not seeing eye-to-eye on that either ;) I prefer an older, more unique, house that has some style closer to the city, and she’s into more modern and newer homes in a community that, dare I say it, is more “cookie cutter.”

But hey – baby steps! It’s going to be a compromise no matter what we end up going for, and so far I’d like to think that I have an extra feather in my cap for simply having this conversation, haha…

One other tip someone sent over that might prove helpful to you over time (thanks “SL!”):

Here’s a fun fact about home ownership which snuck into mine a couple of years after I bought. Check your homesteading tax laws. I bought from an elderly person who had lived in this home for 50 years, and in my state, home owner taxes DO NOT INCREASE from the amount you paid when you were 65. So, the taxes I expected on my home were 30 year old tax values. On reappraisal, my taxes went up by 400% because I am not elderly. This drastically increased my home payment even with the option to lump sum escrow.

I had no idea this was even a thing, did you?? And does that mean that this owner was 95??? Good for them! Haha… They deserve a nice break after living that long!

At any rate, I’ll continue sharing tips as they come up here, but tomorrow we’ll be back to our usual NON-house talking posts as I’ve already hit my limit for the year, haha…

I DON’T KNOW HOW I’M GOING TO DO THIS FOR THE NEXT THREE-FOUR MONTHS!!

SOMEONE SAVE ME!!!

house halp

PS: If you missed yesterday’s news, click here.

{ 47 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Bryan March 6, 2019 at 7:22 am

Larry is right on!!! Guess who stays in that “guest room” 99% of the time? No one! Formal living rooms? What the h*ll are those? Look around on the Internet…I remember coming across a study that used a heat map where it analyzed the family’s main use of their house. It was concentrated in the kitchen and family rooms. And as far as MAJOR expenses/repairs…roof, siding, new windows, foundations, etc ($10,000.00 and up). If any of those things ever need replaced you’ll only have to do it once. They will outlive you :-)

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2 J. Money March 6, 2019 at 10:14 am

It really is funny about those formal rooms – so far every house we’ve looked at has one! If not two?! I actually don’t know what some of these rooms I’m seeing even are for, haha…

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3 Krista March 11, 2019 at 6:35 pm

The concept of a heat map for house usage is so awesome! Googling “heat map house usage” led me to this blog post: http://lifeedited.com/residential-behavioral-architecture-101/ Already so intrigued, and feel like I’m just at the tip of the iceberg. Thanks for tipping me off to the idea. :)

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4 J. Money March 12, 2019 at 5:37 am

That poor dining room, haha… the largest room of the house too!

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5 Fred Leamnson March 6, 2019 at 7:53 am

The first comment you reposted nailed it. Figure out where you spend your time.

When we were in Indianapolis, we had a living room family room. 95% of our time awake we spent in the kitchen and family room, which had a beautiful fireplace.

In our townhouse, we have three levels. it’s the same deal. 95% of our time is spent in the kitchen and family room on the main level. We have a “TV” room on the lower level with a fireplace. The only time we’re there is to watch recorded shows we like or movies. We rarely use the fireplace because it gets too freaking hot in the room and sucks the heat out of the upstairs bedrooms. I have a dedicated office on the lower level where I spend my days.

We’re going in the opposite direction than you are. We’re selling and going to rent. We’re currently in discussion about what’s important to have in our new rental. Your posts are timely for us though we’re applying them to renting.

Good luck!

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6 J. Money March 6, 2019 at 10:15 am

Oh good! And I’m jealous!!! :)

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7 Christine March 6, 2019 at 8:24 am

Good advice! I have to admit I wanted a “guest room” and mostly just because I like the idea! If we end up having a child, the lone guest room will go away, for sure. But it makes me feel like I’ve arrived to have a place to put guests!

We had our must have list, but what ended up happening is we looked at a bunch of places and ended up walking into the house we bought and it “felt” right and like us. It probably was because it did tick off a lot of the must haves and like to haves, and for the ones it didn’t, it made up for it in other ways. Location also won out…it was a bit closer to our jobs and closer to some area amenities. it actually wasn’t where we thought we wanted to be, and sometimes we miss our old area, but we love it here and it ended up being perfect for us.

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8 J. Money March 6, 2019 at 10:21 am

I think feelings play a huge and important role, so i’m with you on that :) I’m also learning that school districts are now all of a sudden a top priority which is a new one to us, haha…. who thinks of that when you’re young and moving around?!

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9 M T March 11, 2019 at 4:52 pm

School Districts are very important. I moved 52 miles for the school district. I live in Fort Bend County and we moved from Clear Creek for the school district. If you can afford private school then the school district is not important. Otherwise its important to see the school district as well as how the schools are performing within the district as well. Also here in Houston the distance from your house to the school plays a role. You have to be 2 miles away or have a major road crossing to avail the bus service. You can always drop and pick up the kids everyday if that’s your thing? :)

BTW we went for a 5 bedroom, 3.5 bathroom, game room and patio. We have in laws always living with us, plus my kids are a few years apart. They are in high school, middle school as well as elementary. Its hard to mix them together if the school schedules are different. A lot of things to keep in mind when purchasing a home.

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10 J. Money March 12, 2019 at 5:42 am

Oh wow – they really are a part, look at that! And double yes to that education… We’ve already selected the two school zones we like so now it’s about doing our best to keep our focus despite pretty houses popping up on the outskirts ;)

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11 Paul March 6, 2019 at 8:50 am

Right sizing is very difficult since needs always change. Whose to say you’ll never have another kid or maybe you need a dedicated work space, stuff like that. Bigger isn’t always better but in most cases it usually is… Here’s the kicker though, after owning 2 houses, if we ever move from this one I am going to get a house that needs 0% improvement, I don’t want anything that needs a redo from being old, I don’t want to fix anything or update anything. Move in ready as is. Maybe painting is all Ill be open to doing.

This goes against what I just said but if you want to save money you can do like I did with the house I live in now. Get something that has enough space as is but has an unfinished basement. That way you can finish it IF you need more room later on. I just did that and our finished square feet and stats went from a 2400 sq ft 4 BR 2.5 Bath, to a shade over 4000 sq ft 6 BR (full size egresses FTW) , and 3.5 Bath. I’m serious man, learn to do it yourself, post it on here and write it off as a business expense. With 4 kids and I work from home 6 bedrooms is nice. Everyone gets a bedroom and I get an office. Shoot, I’d even help you out, but since you are moving to Virginia, well you know how I feel about that state.

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12 J. Money March 6, 2019 at 10:27 am

Haha tell me again please?? (#NOT)

One of the realtors we’re talking to actually brought up that exact idea with snagging a place with an unfinished basement so you can get it cheaper now but still expand later… our kids pretty much LIVE in our basement as its’ their place to play and explode all their toys, however if we had other rooms we could certainly shift it on this next place… Maybe right into that formal dining room that no one uses anymore?? :)

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13 Paul March 6, 2019 at 1:56 pm

I guess we are weird in that we still eat family dinners at the table. One room I can tell you from personal experience is a waste is the formal living room. You know the one that’s for show that no one sits in. Complete waste of space. Who needs 2 living rooms… one giant living room would be way better. For real though, I wouldn’t mess with an old farm house or something similar unless you want to spend all your time and money fixing it up. Newer is definitely the way to go if you just want something low stress that you can live in and not have to spend all your free money at home depot. Unless you are going to buy a 100 year old house and gut it and redo it before you move in that is.

If you get something with an unfinished basement, let me suggest a rancher. People sleep on ranchers but as in my case I doubled the square footage of my house, because even though my house may not be massive at 2400 sq ft, people typically fail to make the connection that the basement is also 2400 sq ft… seriously finishing it is not that hard. I did it all by watching you tube reading electrical schematics and articles on green building adviser (mainly for moisture control and researching best insulation techniques).

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14 J. Money March 6, 2019 at 2:12 pm

I’ll just buy you a keg and invite you over for a weekend (x 10) :)

True on the Ranchers though – perfect for stealth wealth too!

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15 Libby March 6, 2019 at 9:13 am

Big changes coming!!

Here’s one of my philosophies about home size: it is nice for everyone to have their own space, but the larger the house, the less integrated a family can be and the more stuff can accumulate. Smaller space forces more interaction between family members. People lived for centuries in very small spaces – the idea of everyone needing their own bedroom is a relatively modern (last 30-40 years) idea.

There are some good resources regarding smaller house size – and outfitting them with higher priced, thoughtful features: Sarah Susanka’s The Not So Big House book series and site http://notsobighouse.com/ and Carmella Rayone’s family of five complete with three boys lives in a 665 sf house https://www.assortmentblog.com/assortment/665-sq-ft.html

I’m not suggesting you need to go this small :) So many people automatically head towards the McMansion size. The smaller the house, the smaller the operating expenses and repair costs and the better the location you can afford.

BTW – my house is 768 sf former summer cottage in a lake neighborhood and worked very well for a single parent and teenage son. The only major compromise for me was when my son had his girlfriend over to watch movies, I hung out in my bedroom to give them some space.

So much to think about! Sending you good wishes.

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16 J. Money March 6, 2019 at 10:29 am

True!!! Never thought of it that way!!

Starring the links to check out as soon as I have some free time to myself – thank you :)

And your cottage sounds just glorious!!! And peaceful!

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17 Adam March 6, 2019 at 9:29 am

You cannot beat the sense of community in some of these older close-in neighborhoods. Fifteen years after growing up in a cookie-cutter 1970s development halfway between DC and Annapolis I bought a place inside the beltway; my parents wanted a big wooded lot, and it was fun when I was six, but things are so much more vibrant here. And after lucking into a career where I’ve worked from home the last three years — when the walls start to close in, being walkable to coffee shops and restaurants and taprooms is absolutely vital. We can’t walk the dog around the block without waving at people we know, and there’s nothing like a porch on every house when the weather’s nice.

Granted we don’t have kids, so our circumstances are more flexible. Good luck with your research and pursuit!

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18 J. Money March 6, 2019 at 10:32 am

Walking to coffee shops would be a DREAM for me, but sadly I don’t think it’s in the cards for this move due to the school districts we’re aiming for :( Which makes me feel SO OLD saying haha, but it’s true! So soak it up!!!

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19 Joe March 6, 2019 at 10:20 am

Good luck with the search. Our new home is still around 1,000 sq ft and we use every inch. Someday, we’ll get a bigger place so we can spread out. Maybe 1,500 sq ft…

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20 J. Money March 6, 2019 at 10:35 am

Impressive! Our last place was 1,100 sq ft and it def. started feeling tight towards the end (and that was before the 3rd one came). I could prob do it in a place that was configured better, but odds are we won’t venture that way at least on this upcoming move. Unless perhaps we do end up renting for another year and banking the savings ;)

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21 Kyris March 6, 2019 at 10:28 am

What a wonderful adventure you’re embarking on! I would suggest a 30 year loan or even longer. Pay it off early, nothing says you can’t turn a 30 year mortgage into a 10 or 15 yr mortgage with extra payments. The longer term keeps the required payments low if you need a break because of an emergency. I’m a big proponent of home ownership if done right. Think about it, in the six years you have rented, at $1000 a month rent you have thrown away $72,000 that you’ll never get back. You can pay a lot of contractors to do maintenance on your home for that amount. Good luck on your hunt!

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22 J. Money March 6, 2019 at 10:40 am

Not when you factor in the $$$ to sell it after every move ;) But yes – I hear ya! We did the 30 year option the first time and paid extra when we could, but i might push myself and force in the savings by going with a 15 which should save tens of thousands of interest by the end. But still marinating on things :)

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23 Nords March 6, 2019 at 11:14 am

Oh good, I’m glad someone already brought this up.

A big advantage of a 30-year mortgage is that *you* get to decide when to make it a 15-year mortgage. If you have a couple of slow months (or rather, slow-paying clients) then you have the flexibility to ease off the extra principal payments instead of dipping into savings to comply with a lender’s amortization schedule.

Lenders won’t let you turn their 15-year mortgage into a 30-year plan for free, and meanwhile those higher (mandatory) 15-year payments can put a lot of pressure on your hustle. As if your kids will even let you sleep comfortably at night in the first place.

I hope you can simplify the mortgage selection by working with a mortgage broker. (Casey Fleming from FinCon can offer referrals.) You’ll find a broker who can help you math up those options.

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24 Holly G March 6, 2019 at 12:54 pm

I love this community since when I think of something to say someone has already said it. Knowing how expensive the DC area is and taxes seem to go up too (ours got hit with an extra $500 last year and it might go up again).

The 15 year sounds good but the 30 year does have such flexibility. We are so lucky to be able to borrow so much for such a long time.

I agree with Doug to find a broker. I have one that is great who helped us with our last refi (we refied several times since we moved in 2005 to get the payment down since the payment was so high) and this time it was a great experience. I highly recommend talking to several brokers until you feel comfortable with them. The best part in this experience it was all done online/phone and everything was done smoothly no hickups or mistakes like I had in the past. Since your paperwork I’m sure is all organized you will be ready in no time!

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25 J. Money March 6, 2019 at 2:15 pm

I hear y’all loud and clear!

And will 100% be speaking with a broker, as well as my beloved USAA in an attempt to keep everything in one concise place :)

30 years would also free up more $$ for investing/other opportunities too, but there’s still something about that 15 that makes me want to try pulling it off… especially if we still have some cash reserves in the bank that could tide us over during bad times… We shall see though.

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26 Lisa March 6, 2019 at 10:32 am

Finding a house that fits BOTH of your needs is paramount! My dear hubby told his mom we would buy her house without talking to me and I HATE IT! I’ve been here 3+ years and have resigned myself to living here but it’s in no way, shape or form what we were looking for to downsize. I don’t complain about it anymore (it took a year) but it isn’t a house or location I wanted to live in. Please, please try to find something that works for both of you.

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27 J. Money March 6, 2019 at 10:42 am

Damn, that’s hard to hear I’m sorry :( Was he attached to the memories of it or something? Or just wanted to help his mother out? That’s pretty ballsy not running it by you first – I hope you get to pick the next one ;)

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28 Kathy Kristof March 6, 2019 at 11:45 am

I promise to stop popping off after this….First, Larry’s advice is great.

BUT…buy a house that you can afford with a 15-year mortgage, but get the 30-year mortgage.
Why? You can pay it off in 15 years, if you want. But, if something goes wrong — you lose a job; have a big financial crisis that needs to be addressed, etc. — the 30 year mortgage gives you the flexibility to drop down to the cheaper payment, without jeopardizing your house.

People get enamored with the idea of saving all this money with the 15-year loan. But the interest rate on this loan is only slightly cheaper than the interest rate on the 30-year loan. And for that slight differential, you buy yourself a TON of flexibility. Again, there’s no penalty for paying off a 30-year loan in 15 (or 10 for the matter), but you don’t have to….

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29 J. Money March 6, 2019 at 2:22 pm

I hear ya! Exactly what we did the first time around but when I did a quick comparison myself this morning the difference was actually like $75,000 and change unless I did it wrong? (which is very much possible, haha…)

I do like the flexibility for sure, but i also love the *challenge* too and forcing myself to find a way to make it happen no matter what. Maybe that’s too risky, i’m not sure, but I’ll def. keep an open mind for all options until the bitter end :) so I do appreciate it!

And love that you stopped by the site today btw – can you believe it’s been 10 years since we first got to know each other??

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30 Brooklyn Money March 7, 2019 at 12:45 pm

You are not factoring in investing the difference in the payments between the 15 and 30 year. I got a 30 year and in 2013 stopped paying extra on it and invested it all in the market. I would have lost A LOT of money sinking it into my mortgage instead of investing. There are huge threads on MMM Forum on why paying off mortgages is not financially optimal.

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31 J. Money March 7, 2019 at 2:14 pm

I believe it! Same goes for renting and investing the difference too ;) I’ll probably be okay with still paying off the mortgage though just to diversify more and get the emotional win out of it since we already max out all our retirement accounts every year…

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32 Holly G March 6, 2019 at 1:29 pm

Congrats! It is hard to find the “right” house, especially when looking for something long term and for the right schools. That is the reason we bought our house which was in the family. It was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up but it was expensive. It has everything we wanted and then some. We managed it knowing it would be the best move for our family’s future. It still is expensive thanks to taxes increasing.

Since being part of the PF community it is very interesting the debate about rent vs. home ownership. In our experience, we have done pretty well with home ownership but rent does make a lot of financial sense when it comes to investing. We have put a lot into the house beside the mortgage and taxes like maintenance and upgrades. Thanks to our Emergency fund we had to replace the well when the twins were 3 months old at $3000. We have had to fix the roof more than once at $1500 here and there. Ugh! We get to paint it and have it the way we like. There is a plus there.

Speaking of other rooms in the house we use the living room as an office/work space and we use the dining room as a dining room and kid’s workspace. Our basement is available for the kids play area, entertainment and shop tools. We are DIYers so we have a lot of tools. I agree a mudroom is a great idea we have a section of our kitchen that helps. We have our laundry on the level with the bedrooms which is a huge plus since we don’t need to move laundry downstairs and upstairs.

The old saying is true about the bigger the house the more stuff you keep and you tend to automatically fill it up. We have a lot of closet space so we tend to keep things longer then we should. That’s why we Konmari regularly – donate and sell stuff at consignment sales.

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33 J. Money March 6, 2019 at 2:26 pm

One of the closets I’ve seen in pictures so far had a window in it!! A window!!! haha… And I’ll admit I’ve now compared every other master room’s closet to it as if I really needed a window there :)

But love the fact you guys bought a house in the family! I would be ALL OVER THAT too as I love sentimental/historical places! And back in the day families would pass it down through generations with the same ones owning it for 100-200 years, can you imagine?? hardly done at all these days… (and coming from a military family there’s no home to want to inherit there, haha…)

fun comment to read – thanks :) And i like the idea of turning one of the formal rooms into an office space too – we’ll very much need that as well!

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34 Libby March 6, 2019 at 8:51 pm

Sunlight fades the colors on clothing. The natural light is nice, but can ruin clothes.

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35 J. Money March 7, 2019 at 6:23 am

probably right! and will think of this now every time I catch myself drooling!! haha…

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36 Michael Belk March 6, 2019 at 3:28 pm

It is funny that you are considering buying a house at the same time I am. The home buying principles make a lot of sense.

I was thinking about making the space fit my needs not consider my needs before buying. Your advice is more sound reasoning.

It could save me from settling on a mistake. My way could possible never me to be happy.

I spend most of my time in the living room so, a dedicated living room is a must.

Thanks for the common knowledge, but can be overlooked principles.

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37 J. Money March 6, 2019 at 4:05 pm

Cool timing!! I wish you happy and smooth transition! Filled with finding a bargain at the same time :)

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38 mobilehomegurl March 7, 2019 at 9:37 am

Good tips here! It’s definitely good to know what you want and do not want when searching for a home…especially if you’re going to live in it!! Good luck with your home search J. Hope you find something that fits all of your criteria. Looking forward to hearing more! :)

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39 J. Money March 7, 2019 at 2:15 pm

Thanks friend!! Though what I REALLY want is a mobile home on an epic piece of land, haha… no way the fam is going for that though unless we maybe make a *compound* of them somewhere? One home for me, one for my wife and done for each kid? With one smack in the middle for lounging/eating?! ;)

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40 Yvonne March 7, 2019 at 9:40 am

This is my first time commenting, but I’ve been following for a couple years now and love the $$$ advice! My husband and I just bought our second home last year and it’s crazy how different that list of what’s important looks like the second time around vs the first. After our first 5 years of home ownership we had a much better idea of how we would use the space and what projects we were willing to take on as home owners. All the same, I wish I’d read your friend’s letter before we bought because, like most people, we went too big and I find myself already longing to downsize…

My husband and I had the same argument about aesthetic – he wanted a newer, cookie-cutter house and I wanted a house with some character. Our compromise ended up depending on location – I realized that being in a walkable area was more important to me than my hatred of traditional colonials (and Virginia is just riddled with them, isn’t it?). We landed in Purcellville, VA – probably waaaay west of where you’re looking – but our house is right downtown and walking distance from shopping, groceries, and breweries! :D Maybe your compromise ends up being a newer home that is close to the city, or an older home in a neighborhood with better schools… but either way, try to pick apart your wants from your must-haves. To my husband, a newer home meant less maintenance – and I realized that the older homes I loved would take up a lot of our time with renovations. By buying a newer home we get something move-in ready and can spend more time playing with our toddler and enjoying the small town life.

Best of luck, I’m excited to follow along!

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41 J. Money March 7, 2019 at 2:21 pm

Ahhhh I want to come visit one day!!! That is a DREAM to be able to walk everywhere in the city!!! (And especially *small* quaint city – nothing big like DC/NY/etc).

So I am right here with you on that… quality of life > type or look of house for sure. Thanks for the reminder. (and for reading the blog! so glad you stopped by finally to say hi! :))

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42 Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life March 11, 2019 at 8:31 pm

Here’s a couple counterintuitive bits to consider: I didn’t realize that we didn’t “need” a bigger dishwasher because we rarely used the dishwasher before, and we aimed for exactly the increase in size that we would use all the time.

Turns out, we should have added maybe another 100 square feet and a bigger dishwasher. We never entertained before because we weren’t at that stage in life and we also didn’t have the space for it. By the time we moved, we were ready to have people over a lot more, and DO have people over a lot more, and it feels cramped. And we fill up that dishwasher really fast whenever we have one or two guests. And in fact, we have house guests staying over monthly, and every other week sometimes, so a bit more space would have been very well used. Whoops!

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43 J. Money March 12, 2019 at 5:49 am

Oh man, so hard to tell on some of this stuff until you’re living in it! Didn’t even know dishwashers come in different sizes, haha… Any chance you can put an addition to the house later if it becomes even more important for you? That’s what we’re looking out for in all the 3 bedrooms we see… In case a 4th babe accidentally comes out or the kids get tired of shacking up with each other, haha..

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44 Carrie March 16, 2019 at 2:30 pm

Having flexible space has been excellent for us as our family and needs have changed. Our unfinished basement was always our “flex” space. When we were young and short on cash we added a sub-floor and a carpet remnant to make a playroom when we had little children. Later it became a teenage hangout and a place to play video games. Now our children are grown it is being finished into a legal rental unit to provide extra income. We see the basement unit as one day becoming our “home base” as we travel during retirement. Then the upstairs will become our income generator.

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45 J. Money March 18, 2019 at 3:55 pm

That’s so cool how it’s morphed over time! The space that keeps on giving! :)

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46 Christine March 25, 2019 at 1:45 am

At first, my dream was to just live in a minimalist type of house but when I got married and had pets and now a baby on the way, its a great decision that we had moved to a bigger place where there’s enough room for the dogs to run around, have a yard, extra rooms and a great living area where guests can also be comfortable. I believe that thinking of what you think your life will be for the next few year will help, like if you’ll expand your family etc.

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47 J. Money March 25, 2019 at 1:51 pm

Yup – very true! And something I have to keep reminding myself of too every time I find smaller homes for a whopping $100k under budget! So tempted but prob not the best for our growing family!

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