Friday, March 10, 2006

Dwelling With Confidence

Q: Would you please write a entry on picking a house that is priced below comparable houses in the neighborhood? I am looking but feel my search is not as effective as it could be.

Connie, I'm sorry it's taken me so long to touch upon your question. I'm trying to compose a more direct answer, but for now, here's a copy of a newsletter article I wrote about my homebuying criteria. Hope this helps a little!

You won’t find anyone who appreciates the emotional nuances of home more than
homemakers, which is why my answer might surprise you. I’m all about the

No house, however charming, is worth risking your family’s financial future. Because I am committed to staying at home, we choose homes that have both budget flexibility and money-making potential.

Even if this is your “forever home,” life happens! Buying with an eye toward resale can’t hurt. We want to search for places mentioned in Ezekiel 28:26: And they shall dwell safely therein, and shall build houses, and plant vineyards; yea, they shall dwell with confidence.

Since every market varies, I thought I would share my family’s criteria for house hunting. Naturally, yours will differ; however, the simple act of clarifying your bottom line may save you from a costly emotional decision.

1. The home must be in a rapidly appreciating neighborhood AND/OR be so far under value that the neighborhood doesn’t matter. It takes good research on your part, a calculator, and/or a smart agent to figure this out. You may look at 100 homes and make 10 offers before you find a winning combination.

2. The home should be “entry level” for its neighborhood—not the biggest or most expensive. There will always be a need for first-time buyer homes in every market.

3. The home should need cosmetic repair only or be within our repair abilities. Future profits dissolve when you must hire outside help. The major systems should be in working order for the next five years. We budget ONE major repair, just in case. Take advantage of free estimates from professionals before you buy the home.

4. Hardwood floors are permanent flooring, relatively cheap to clean and refinish. They add perceived value to your home upon resale.

5. The home’s major living areas should face south, making rooms look brighter. You can’t buy sunlight for a dark house.

6. Kitchen cabinets should be quality materials, if unattractive. Even the cheapest pressboard cabinets cost money and time for installation. Refinish or paint existing cabinets and add new knobs from Ebay.

This simple list has steered us away from money pits and model homes alike.

House hunting with my head instead of my heart has freed me from perfectionism. I don’t have to worry about living with a decorating mistake or rotten neighbors forever.

I can keep my mind focused on another, forever home: For we know that if our earthly house of [this] tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 Corinthians 5:1.


Mom2fur said...

Another thing you might want to consider is NOT living at the bottom of a hill! Our house is on a corner where two hills meet. We've had trouble with flooding over the years. Another problem with hills is that it is hard to maneuver your car in the ice and snow. You can bet 'no hill' is going to be a criteria when we move someday. :)Mom2fur

Anonymous said...

I can't tell you how much this post encouraged me, especially because of the scripture that you added. It is just what I needed today. We are in the process of trying to finish up our house so that we can put it on the market after living here for almost 15 years. Your posts about the things you are doing to get your house ready to sell have been a great motivator to me, and have given me lots to think about as we decide just how much we will do before selling it.
Your comment on staying focused on our eternal home truly encouraged me. I have never liked the house that we are in, (that's not really an accurate comment- it's more like I have hated it, and I am not proud to say that. I know that, for this season at least, this is the home that God has had for us, but I have really struggled with it) and just thinking about your comments helps me take some of the "I hate this place!" emotion out of my mind, and replaces it with more thankful, more grownup, more Christ-like thinking. I'm probably not making any sense, but just know that I really, really appreciate you and your blog!!
God bless you, Meredith!
Susan in Illinois

Anonymous said...

Hi Meredith,
I thought I sent you a thank you, but guess I messed up somehow. Anyhoo, thank you for the great advice. I shall keep in all in mind as I look.

Anonymous said...

If you live somewhere where it is the summer rather than the winter that is the uncomfortable season, be careful with those south-facing windows. You will want lots of shade in front of them, either trees or awnings or a lattice garden wall or something.

When I was house hunting (and poor) I looked for only 4 things: 1) affordable to me, 2) convenient to my work, 3) solid foundation, and 4) a big living room.