ON THE FENCE ABOUT BUYING A HOUSE?
Now is a great time to make the move!
Considering a move soon? Maybe you just purchased your first house. Maybe you’re currently renting but are thinking about home ownership. Wherever you are in your journey we all have this in common:
Choosing what to buy and where to live.
Home buying is most often the biggest financial/investment decision in your life. Home buying – whether upgrading, downsizing or flipping – has seen many twists and turns since the early 1990s. According to area real estate trends now is a good time to buy.
According to Nathan Brown, a team member at Keller Williams in Chattanooga: “Right now with interest rates staying really low and the economy improving, you are having more people able to purchase higher-priced homes than what we saw in the past.”
But should we all take the plunge into the highest price house for which we qualify?
Let me take you on the housing journey my husband and I have been on for the past 26 years! In the 1990s we were a crazy young couple living in Cleveland, TN who decided to take advantage of a crazy high-profit house building era. Before we had our first child we built two houses (and lived overseas twice). Two babies later we were building again. Real estate was booming and building to sell was an easy way to make a lot of money fairly quickly. After baby #2 I was able to leave my teaching career to be a stay-at-home mom. In 1997 we moved to Atlanta for three years, had another baby and sold a home we purchased easily, again for a high profit!
A job change for my husband brought us back to Cleveland, TN in 2000. This time we chose a larger, older house in an established neighborhood. We decided we were going to add an addition, remodel and list the house for a profit once again. By the way, we stayed in this house for five years-our record!
While still living here we started building the biggest house we’ve ever lived in. The house had 3500 square feet with another 1,000 square feet in the basement, which was a full walk-out/day-light level. We put a full kitchen and bathroom in this lower level putting this house at 4,500 square feet, six bedroom, 4.5 bath and a living room with 20 feet soaring ceilings. We also had one of the best, sought after mountain, valley views in the city!
Oh, and we added baby #4 to the family while living here!
Fast forward to spare you the crazy details of our housing adventures, which were seen by most of our family and friends as absolutely CRAZY! (Well, we were kind of addicted to the “hunt,” the build and the sense of adventure!) But summing it up from here, we built three more houses, moved to Alabama for two years and Michigan for four years, and then back to the Chattanooga area four years. In this time we built once, rented five times and have finally landed in a fantastic 1932 bungalow in downtown Cleveland and downsized to 1600 squre feet! Smallest house since our first house!
Moving back to this area was like moving back home. Three of our daughters were born here and we spent 16 years of our marriage here. Two rentals and two years after moving back, we made the decision to downsize. Maybe it’s because we’re 50ish or maybe because we only have two daughters left at home. Whatever the reason, we decided to move into a 1,600 square foot house in downtown Cleveland. I know some of you don’t consider 1,600 square feet small, but compared to our average 3,500+ square foot homes, this has been an enormous change.
A change we are absolutely loving!
Let me give you a list of what we have LESS of due to this decision:
- LESS debt (who doesn’t want that?)
- LESS stuff (believe me, stuff can weigh you down and add to daily stress!)
- LESS cleaning (woohoo!)
- LESS spending on the STUFF that you don’t need to FILL the SPACE YOU DON’T NEED
- LESS money spent on utilities and home maintenance in general
Now, let me tell you what we have MORE of:
- MORE money for SAVING $$$
- MORE time for everything (since you’re not cleaning all the time)
- MORE family togetherness (you can’t get away from one another in a small house)
- MORE flexibility with budget for fun, travel and hobbies
- MORE peace of mind regarding monthly budgets
The extreme on this would be living in a tiny house which is growing in popularity here in Chattanooga! Check out these listings in Chattanooga’s Tiny House Community.
Our experiences of building, buying, selling, remodeling and moving a gazillion times all in the ups and downs of the housing market may be extreme, but I know they brought us to where we are today. I have talked with several younger friends (in their 30s) who are already re-evaluating their home choices–wanting LESS HOUSE, LESS STUFF and MORE financial stability and freedom. I wish we had started our pursuit of LESS IS MORE sooner. Nonetheless, I have such a sense of satisfaction and peace with our decision. I’ve lost count of how many homes we’ve built/lived in/rented and owned, but I’m certain we’re where we are today and completely content due to our experiences!