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Buy for Today and Tomorrow.

Young, growing families often find themselves looking for far more home than they need and it can lead to confusion, stress and discouragement when they don’t find it within their budget.

I recently worked with a young family (husband, wife and new baby) who were excited to find their first home.  They planned on having more kids but couldn't say when.  Both were in upwardly mobile jobs and planned on being in Atlanta indefinitely.  At first, they were adamant about finding a large 4 bedroom home with a basement and large backyard fit for the large family they dreamed of having.  Sounds right.  

The problem was their budget.  They simply couldn’t find the home they wanted except in neighborhoods that weren’t a fit.  Despite my best counsel, discouragement soon set in.  Like many young families, they assumed that this was there one shot to find the perfect home to raise their family.  But here’s the catch, although they had a plentiful budget, the home they wanted was just out of reach unless they sacrificed significantly on the community and location.

Here are few things to consider.  First, experience shows that folks move for a variety of reasons all of which fit into one of 3 categories.

  1. Moving out of town.  This could be for a new job, change in family needs or simple desire.  Either way, selling your home and moving to a new one is inevitable.
  2. Trading up or down based on size needs.  The need for more space due to a growing family or need for less due a shrinking family are common reasons to trade up or down
  3. Trading up or down based on financial ability.  The ability and desire to afford a nicer or larger home or the need to downsize financially lead to owners selling their homes as well.

Americans are the most mobile people on the planet.  A 2012 study showed that nearly 15% of the U.S. population moved at least once between 2011 and 2012.  Taking it a step farther, the average home owner in this country moves on average once every 5-8 years- likely for one of the reason above.  This has been my experience too so why would a young family stress about finding a home to retire in when the chances are they won’t be there that long?  I ask my clients this question everyday.

It would be unfair to say that everyone will move so often.  After all, moving sucks.  Who want to do that every year?  Despite this methodology, there are some folks who buy a home and stay put-  you’ll ultimately decide for yourself.   But if you are like most, contemporary Americans there is a good chance that you’ll be moving out of your new home before the kids are off to college.  

Here are a few other things to take into account.

  • Bigger houses cost more to keep up. Lawn care, paint, and energy costs.
  • You pay for good schools upfront and each month in higher taxes.  Good schools are important to have… if you need them.
  • Resale.  Make your money when you buy and during ownership.  Not when you sell.
  • Community is important.  Avoid the pitfall of choosing size and amenities over location. You’ll likely be disappointed you did. 

Americans are the most mobile people on the planet.  A 2012 study showed that
nearly 15% of the U.S. population moved at least once between 2011 and 2012.

Sure, no one has a crystal ball or the ability to see the future but still, I share with most families that choosing a “10 year" home is a safe bet.  For many, this relieves the stress around budgeting for that 5th bedroom that won’t be needed for another decade.  Or saves on the higher tax rates in the better school district that won’t be used for at least 8 years.  It also allows a young family to choose a home, within budget that meets all their current and near future needs.  

Back to the family I recently helped… after an exhaustive search and much counsel on this topic, they finally settled on a beautiful 4 bedroom home on a crawl space with plenty of play space on a level lot. The neighborhood was perfect, exactly what they wanted.    They are happy and we joke today about them having that larger home on a basement.  “Oh my gosh, it'd just more to clean!” she exclaims.  “We love this house and it’s a good fit for our family.”

Buy for today and tomorrow… not for 2 decades from now.  Mark my words, you’ll be delighted that you did.  After all, when your priorities are clear, you choices are easy.

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