Your first time

by Grace aka costofcollege

Your first time buying a house, of course!

82 Things That Every Couple Thinks When House Hunting For The First Time

I remember this:

51. For the love of God, how much paperwork do we have to sign?
52. Oh, look! More paperwork.
53. Let’s just drive by and look at our house again.

What’s your “first house” story?  Were you married or single?  How about the second, third, or later houses?  If you have not bought a house, what’s your story?

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134 thoughts on “Your first time

  1. We bought our first house about six months after moving to Atlanta and I’m still bitter about the $3K we had to pay our apartment complex to break our lease. It was a little two bedroom house and a total fixer upper. We had such dumb luck with that house. We bought it from this old lady who was going into a retirement home and only looked at it at night. So we really never looked at the yard but it turned out it was a nice flat lot (Atlanta is super hilly) on the best street in the neighborhood which really helped us sell that house in 2011 when the market was terrible. We had a great realtor who we had met at an open house and she lived in that neighborhood.

    Our second house we bought almost five years ago when I was pregnant with DS. It was the only house that we sort of liked in our price range and it had been on the market forever (we had actually gone to an open house for our house over a year before when we were just casually looking). Our realtors lived in our current neighborhood so we joke that we move into whatever neighborhood our realtor lives in.

    The first floor was awkward (previous owners had added a very nice second floor but didn’t do anything to the first floor) so it just sat on the market because of floor plan, too much stuff in it and too high of a price. Finally in 2011 it had come down in price and we were seriously looking so we put in a low ball offer and got it.

    If I had my way, we would finish this house and find a ranch in our neighborhood to add a second floor to and renovate but I think DH will tell me no. The people that renovated our house did so many silly things and you can only fix so much when there is already a second floor on the house.

  2. We bought our first house after the market tanked. It was a weird time. Very few buyers but sellers were totally in denial about how much things had changed. We made a few offers before someone accepted even though all of our offers were fair/reasonable. We recently moved from that house and are going to list it soon. I just got the listing photos. Fingers crossed that it sells quickly.

  3. First house – it was a condo. We were renting and only ended up renting for 13 months after we moved to Boston. The condo was only a couple of streets away and was the bottom half of a townhouse (brick). Very nice, VERY quiet upstairs neighbor. We stayed there for 3 years and then moved out to the suburbs. We had done over the kitchen and an office room and made a tidy profit. :) This was in 2006 so it was still a good time to sell in the city. I loved that place and didn’t want to move when we did, but in retrospect it was a great decision timing-wise.

    Our current house was a wreck when we bought it – the old lady who lived there had last redone it in 1968! It had been sitting on the market for a while and no offers – we made a super low ball offer and got it. We have now redone every room in the house.

    Cat, good luck on your sale. Ours is supposed to be listed in a week or so (eek).

  4. Very few buyers but sellers were totally in denial about how much things had changed. We made a few offers before someone accepted even though all of our offers were fair/reasonable.

    I’ve always been struck by how everything pretty much sells for what it’s worth at any given time. There really aren’t any “deals.” If you see a place that’s $100k below market for the area – there’s a reason. And, the discount is almost exactly equal to whatever the issue is.

  5. Rhett – ITA, that’s been our experience. We got about $100K discount on our house but will probably have to put that much in to fixing everything. I like to buy fixer uppers not because of the deal aspect, but because I don’t like to pay for a brand new kitchen if it’s not my taste.

  6. Our first house purchase was our only house purchase. We had moved to Westchester in the late 90’s, and decided we were finally settled enough to buy a house. We were already pretty freaked out by the costs of houses here compared to MA, and also by having seen a terrible housing bust in MA in the recession of the early 90’s, so we knew that houses can lose value fast. So we were cautious. We had lived in a rented house in MA, a really crappy house that was a rental because the owners had moved to MN in the recession and couldn’t sell the house. That house taught me all the mistakes to avoid. So we had a pretty strict checklist: no septic, town water only, no open kitchen, no carpet, nothing built after 1940, must be in a walkable neighborhood, must be walking distance to the train, as few trees as possible on the lot, level lot, small lot.

    We worked with a buyer’s agent and it took the better part of a year, because we were fussy and also didn’t want to pay too much. We had one close call – a house in Tarrytown which was perfect, but then the sellers got cold feet. There was also an issue of an illegal apartment in the basement. So that fell through. When the agent located the current house, she said we needed to move fast because it was a good deal. It was a couple that had bought the house two years earlier, thinking they would renovate because the house was a 1920’s charmer. Instead, they ended up divorcing, and were dumping the house for cheap. We saw the house, and put in an offer immediately. It was too small of a house, but was exactly the style we wanted. And it fit all our constraints.

  7. After I graduated from college, I was living in my parents’ basement and started looking to move out after a few months. My parents convinced me to buy instead of rent by helping with the down payment. They also convinced me to wait until January so that they could claim me on their taxes for one more year. So I bought a 2-BR townhouse on Jan 2,1996, where I lived for just over 2 years but made a nice profit when it sold, which became the down payment for my first house with ex-H. After that, we were kind of dumb, buying a big, expensive, brand-new house in 2006. I loved that house, though. We ended up selling it last summer for $15K less than we had paid for it, plus the realtor’s cut. We’re still hanging onto the other house (rental now) because it likely wouldn’t sell for the value placed on it in 2006 when we took cash out for the new house. At least the rental income covers the mortgage and the location is one where vacancy should never be a problem.

  8. Our first house was newer for the area. The things we had to change were cosmetic but the location that we bought in was good and it was accessible to transportation, shopping and was walkable to a middle school as well as being in a family friendly neighborhood. It was large enough to accommodate a growing family but not so large to be very expensive. We had no trouble selling it in early 2008 when we moved. Our second house is similar in location to our first house. The one difference is that it is closer to work than our first house was. All the houses in our neighborhood have sold quickly when priced fairly.

  9. “Instead, they ended up divorcing, and were dumping the house for cheap. ”

    this is the case where I have heard of people finding good deals on a house

  10. we bought our first house…a condo…shortly after DW took a new job with a big raise. Went looking on Super Bowl Sunday and found the place that day.

    9. Let’s look at listings online to get some ideas of what we want and can afford.
    — no, pre-internet

    66. Wow, 30 years is a looooong time to be in debt.
    — coming to the end of that! So it does end.

    We owned it 2 years and made 35%, so we had enough to get into our current house which we have gone from feeling “it’s so big; we have so much room” to “maybe we should look at moving to someplace just a little bit bigger” to “this is just right”. Although DS2 has already started talking about us getting a ranch so DW & I don’t have to deal with the stairs.

  11. “Instead, they ended up divorcing, and were dumping the house for cheap. ”

    I started to notice a lot more used wedding dresses for sale at yard sales in the early 1980s and on.

    Sad.

  12. We lived in a house he owned, but after baby #2 bought our first and only together. We were looking at schools, work commutes (my industry is concentrated in one part of town and his in another), housing prices, etc. We decided to stay in our neighborhood as the school district at the time was considered “better” or “equal” to all but one of the neighboring districts and the houses there generally start in the 7 figures, which was way out of our price range. The commutes were about equal and moving any direction would only make it worse, plus the housing prices were pretty steady. It also helped that many people were moving out and there were about 50 houses for sale in the few months week looked/took to buy.

    We wanted to move up in size by about 300-400 square feet, but those floor plans were awful. We ended up with about 600 square feet more, with a better floor plan. It was pretty competitive and some people were bidding asking or over, which was definitely more than they were worth. Our house came on the market, we made an offer the same day, and offered asking. The asking was about $15 K lower than most of the others with the same floor plan and the inspector only found one large/costly issue, which the seller agreed to reduce the cost of the house by and then we paid the repair.

    Every house we looked at needed some updating and/or repairs and we were looking at about $15 K across the board. We were happy because our total out of pocket after the $15 K was still less. We did a lot of work – the electrical issue the inspector found, repainted the entire inside, redid the inside of every closet to get more storage, pulled gross carpet out of the master bath and laid tile, rewall papered where we didn’t paint, except the kids bathroon, new counter tops, new tile backsplace and new appliances in the kitchen.

    It is paid off and until the kids are definitely out of the nest, we will stay here. While it is 2 story the master is on the first floor which will allow us to stay here longer. The bad part is no downstairs bathroom is accessible for a walker, without more and pretty extensive rennovation.

    Given his age (mid 60s) and we have likely 10 more years until both are out of college, I expect our next move will be a downside into a single level and accessible townhome or condo where yard work is all done for you. Or, maybe a retirement community.

  13. First house: condo right out of law school. Moved 2 yrs later when DH and I got married, rented it out; finally sold it when we moved to CO, at what turned out to be the depth of the market — it’s worth about 3-4x what I paid for it now. Now I wish I’d hung onto it, but we were losing @$100-150/month at the then-prevalent interest rates and had zero clue that interest rates would drop so much and downtown property values would rise so much.

    The one I relate to is the 30-year thing. DH insists on celebrating our anniversary in February every year, because that’s when we bought our first house together — as he says, when you go into that much debt with anyone, you’re married.

  14. I’ve always been struck by how everything pretty much sells for what it’s worth at any given time. There really aren’t any “deals.” If you see a place that’s $100k below market for the area – there’s a reason. And, the discount is almost exactly equal to whatever the issue is.

    I disagree with this. I think if that were true, then you could never come out ahead by “flipping” a house. Granted, some of that value gain is in unpaid labor. Also, staging wouldn’t make sense either, if it didn’t generate returns. People can’t see the value in a lot of poorly maintained houses.

    I’ve written about our recent real estate adventures. Bought a house a year ago, have decided the neighborhood (and school) are a terrible fit for us. The house is fine – we don’t lovelovelove it, but it suits our needs. It has a number of DIY upgrades – the poor quality of which have become apparent as we have lived there. Would have toughed it out for awhile if a good opportunity hadn’t come up in a neighborhood we love.

    We are 100k into the process (with another 100k to go). We bought a dirty house that was pretty much unlivable (recalled electrical panel, bad plumbing, knob and tube wiring), and we still have a dirty house that is unlivable (most of the walls are open right now). However, it has a roof, new siding, a furnace and a lot of other really boring improvements. I’m not managing on a day to day basis, and putting a lot of trust in the GC. I anticipate it will be worth about 250k more than we paid for it (so a gain of 50k) if the market doesn’t implode.

  15. carpet out of the master bath

    I don’t know if I could ever buy a house with a carpeted bathroom. Logically, you could just have it ripped out and tile but down before you even moved in, but I don’t think I could do it even then. The very idea is just too horrifying – it would totally put me off.

  16. Granted, some of that value gain is in unpaid labor.

    And compensation for risk – black mold, termites, dry rot, asbestos, lead paint, etc. In my estimation you’re getting fairly compensated for the risk and the hassle.

    I will give you staging though.

  17. I do think you can get deals in real estate. It isn’t a perfect market. Our last house was a deal. There were actually 2 other much higher offers on it, but they both were contingent on the sale of their current house, so they went with ours because the market was so strange. Our new house wasn’t a deal, but I walked in to it and felt like it was home. Our last house never felt like that for me. With both houses we haven’t used an agent and have been successful in getting that 3% back.

  18. @Rhett – we had carpet in the bathroom which we promptly ripped out. There was linoleum under it. No tile. We lived with the linoleum for a while. The lady spent all her money on a very nice sunroom but none on updating an 80s house.

  19. Ada – I agree with you. Here I notice that the redone developer houses sell for a premium over everything else – it’s not so much that things are a good deal but that some of them AREN’T. OTOH, most people want a livable house and not a wreck, so the wrecks tend to be a “good deal” (if no developers are bidding on them!).

  20. I could make money on a fixer in Buckhead, but would have to add square footage to do so right now because the market is high. I think it would be a negligible return here on just fixing up (after fees/taxes, etc.). There are a lot of buy a ranch for $550K to $600K, knock it down and build a 4500 square foot house (so maybe $750K for build and carrying costs), sell it for around $1.5/$1.6M. So maybe you make $125K to $150K after taxes.

  21. Cat,

    Economically speaking: How is that a deal when the other two people making offers didn’t actually have the money?

  22. After our first house and the updates we had to do, I was ready to move into a house that needed no updating. In our area where the houses are newer or redone fixer uppers sell for a steep discount. They also tend to sit on the market.

  23. When we were shopping for the house we live in now, we made a lowball offer on a large, unusual house that had its pros and cons. (For one thing, it is located right on the bank of a deep quarry pond, which has it charms and its drawbacks.) The market was starting a steep downturn, but the sellers were insulted. About two years later, after it had been rented for a while, it sold for about the price we had offered. That brought us a nice sense of satisfaction. :)

    I drive by this house almost daily, and now I’m glad we didn’t get it. Even though I still like it, it’s one of those houses different enough so that it’s probably harder to sell than most.

  24. I think our house was a bit of a fixer upper when the couple bought it. Before them, it was owned for 30 years by one family. The lady, who had raised her family there, finally passed away and then it went on the market. The place where she penciled in her kids height on the door down to the basement was still there – and we kept it there. I like seeing those penciled in height marks.

    I had always fantasized about owning a real Sears house (from the era when people mail ordered houses from the Sears catalog), and it turned out our house is a Sears house, though I didn’t know it when we bought it. We found it in a facsimile of a 20’s era Sears catalog a few months after we moved in.

  25. Loved our first home – that really was exciting buying our first place together. So teeny tiny, but perfect for what we needed then.

    I think there are deals to be had if you watch the market and have your $$ available. For our beach place I’d been watching the market forever, had made a couple offers, and had a pretty good idea of what things were going for. When our place went on the market we made a quick but low offer, and were able to offer a very short closing time. Turns out it was owned by someone a few states over that was having health problems and wanted out of the house as quickly as possible. They could have gotten more for the place if they’d been willing to hold out a few months.

    Last month another place (at the beach) went on the market down the street. Slightly bigger than ours and on a great lot. It went on the market on Tuesday, and I got a Zillow alert. We made an appointment to see it on Friday, because I knew it was a great price. Got a call on Thursday it was under contract. We went to see it anyway on Friday and chatted with the owner – they knew it was a below-market price, but needed to sell quickly because they had an offer on another house. I was sad, we would have made an offer (but in turn, would have had to sell ours). So I think the deals are there, you just have to have the flexibility to jump on them.

    RMS – congrats on your place! Very exciting.

  26. Mooshi, I’m glad I was not alone in my “no house built after 1945” clause.

    After our neighbors moved in, we were chatting and I learned they thought their house was built in 1900. Apparently that is what the listing said, because the realtor auto-selected the lowest standard date.

    It’s actually an 1830s farmhouse, and has all the structural quirks one would expect.

  27. but the sellers were insulted

    I so wish that people would deal with house sales as business transactions.

  28. When we bought the house, the couple had already done a bunch of important things – in particular, they had completely replaced the electrical panel and the boiler. They had also ripped out all the carpet, exposing gorgeous dark wood floors. Stupidly, they painted the trim white. In a 20’s era craftsman house, the trim should have matched the floors. It would be a real undertaking to strip the woodwork so we never have done it. The couple also had weird taste in paint – the master bedroom had four walls, all of which were a different color. And the radiator was painted dark hunter green. We redid the paint before we even moved in.

    When we bought the house, we knew it needed a new roof, so that factored into the price. The kitchen floor was this nasty vinyl. About a year after purchase, DH did some spelunking and discovered that under 5 layers of vinyl, the same gorgeous wood as in the rest of the house was at the bottom. So we ripped up the kitchen floor to expose the wood.

    Seven years after purchase, we did the big expansion, which meant we gained a bathroom, real closets, and a usably big kitchen.

  29. We were 25 and 28 and renting an apartment in the city I grew up in. We both had student loans to pay off, had to buy functioning vehicles after college/grad school, work clothes, etc, so had minimal savings but still wanted to buy a house. We stumbled across a HUD house in the “starter” section of a nice neighborhood, and put in an offer on a whim. So for $500 down, we got a 1600 sq ft 3BR/2BA/2 car garage house on a 1/2 acre lot with a huge pecan tree and some fruit trees, and a green space out back. I believe the price was around $89k. We knew nothing! We got a 7% ARM, because fixed rates were around 8.5-9%, and the rate dropped at every reset. Despite the prevalence of mauve paint and butcher block Formica, it was a great house for us.

  30. Our first house was built in 1942 and that house was so solid with beautiful molding. Our current house was built in 1952 with an addition in 2007 and you can tell the construction wasn’t as solid (uneven floors that were there even before the 2nd story, uneven walls, etc.) We’ve had to add in nicer baseboards and crown molding on the first floor.

  31. That’s kind of the point. It isn’t a perfect market. In our case, the sellers had moved out of state, the market had tanked and the availability of credit made the pool of buyers small and most people weren’t in a position to buy. I am pleased because our agent has advised listing about 40% above what we paid for it. The overall market where we live hasn’t appreciated nearly that much in that time (although we have put some money in to it, but less than the delta between appreciation in the overall market and what the agent thinks our house is now worth).

  32. Mooshi – although I appreciate wood trim, I hate it aesthetically – it makes everything so DARK. I also have a “no new houses” clause. :)

  33. I don’t think it would be dark in our house because our walls are all painted off white, and we have big bay windows both downstairs and upstairs that let in a lot of light

  34. Our first house was a condo that is now sliding into the adjacent river. The condo association is paying someone to slow the erosion problem and jack up our old unit. The people who own the unit have been living in hotels for a year. Glad we missed all of that. RMS, congrats on the second home.

  35. I will buy all the new houses y’all are turning up your noses at. (No, the one in Santa Cruz isn’t new). We bought this one new in 2004 and I love it. Everything works. Everything is up to code. It’s well-insulated. The windows are fancy double-paned ones that insulate well. It’s 1000 sq. ft. larger than our first house but our utility bills are nevertheless lower.

  36. Has anyone got into heated bidding wars, written letters to the sellers etc. ? Both our house purchases and one house sale were strictly business transactions, though the seller of our first house said she wanted to make sure we would take care of her home (we did but ripped up the carpet first thing)

  37. I bought my first and only piece of real estate with DH just prior to our marriage, 20+ years ago. The attorney we used for the closing insisted that we be listed as tenants in common instead of joint tenants “just in case”. I was so naïve, I didn’t even know how much property came with the house until after the closing. We have just under an acre but a lot of it is wooded. I was always a city girl, so this was a major life style change for me. We did a major renovation/addition in 2000. I like the lot – it’s very much a neighborhood in the front but the back view is all woods with some lawn. I love eating breakfast on the weekends, gazing out the window and barely seeing neighboring houses through the trees.

    When first moved in, there was a lot of dated wallpaper, shag carpets, and some stucco walls. DH and I noticed that everything is starting to look very dated because nothing much as been done since the reno in 2000. We’ve recently replaced the carpets and curtains. We also need to paint and refinish the wood floors.

    On a side note, I’ve lived in two zip codes my entire life. People at work are amazed by this.

  38. I will buy all the new houses y’all are turning up your noses at

    It seems strange to have a cutoff date as the issue seems more about build quality. You could have a solidly built new house or a old house full of shoddy DIY updates. I totally understand not wanting one of those sawdust and chinese drywall new homes. But, they do make high quality new homes as well.

  39. Our first house is our current house. We refinanced about 5 years in, so effectively the 15 year mortgage became a 20 year mortgage (which will be paid off just as my oldest graduates high school). When we were looking, we made an offer on a waterfront place on Kaneohe Bay that had been sitting on the market for a while with only one offer from an obvious bottom-fisher — this was at the low point of the long 90s downturn in our market — and we were tentatively accepted, but the next day the seller’s realtor showed it to someone else using our offer to push them to a decision, and they offered asking price and the place was under contract before we even heard about it. Our realtor was ticked. But then we found our place, which really is a better fit and a better neighborhood for raising a family (other place was a small bunch of houses bounded by the water on one side and a major fast-moving road on the other, so no walking to school or the store or friends’ houses). It still had 70s era mirrored tile speckled with harvest gold in the tv room and similarly unappealing paint etc. which masked its basically good layout and livability, and the previous owners’ estate was eager to sell, so our slightly-below-asking offer was good enough.

  40. Ginger – is your title still as TIC? If so I would move it into joint tenants – otherwise if the first spouse dies, his/her TIC interest passes to the estate absent any provision in the will, and if it passes through the will, you usually still have to do a new deed to get it into the surviving spouse’s sole name.

  41. Bought my first place, condo, when I was moving from London back to New York. Flew in Thursday or Friday, saw 25 or so places Sat/Sun with a broker. Saw one more place Monday, put in a bid, accepted Tuesday morning, flew back that afternoon.

    Really nice layout for 1 person or a couple, not so much for us with twins. Had a circular layout – large entry way, into living room, breakfast nook (later nursery) next to a galley kitchen which led to our bedroom and bathroom. A hallway connected back to the entryway. Tons of storage. Built in the 20s, art deco. It was on an interior court yard so was a bit dark but had original dark cherrywood floors and original bath/tiling. (I lost hearing in that bathroom bathing the babies. All tile.) The shower had a body jet (original). I’m still sad we had to sell that place. Sold in late 2008/early 2009. Not the best timing to buy, but luckily our buyer stuck to our deal and paid all cash.

  42. I strongly prefer new houses. Our old house is old and our new house is new. The new house is so much better for us.

  43. nothing much as been done since the reno in 2000

    We finished up our various projects with a kitchen remodel when my oldest was a crawling baby, and that was pretty much it for the next 15 years. When the kids start going off to college maybe we’ll get ambitious again, at least insofar as we can afford to.

  44. Only new houses for me too. My current home was previously owned by someone else, but built just 1 year after my last house, by the same builder, so I knew what I was getting.

    Ginger – I have lived my entire life in only 3 zip codes, and one of those was only 2 of my 42 years.

  45. I have only ever bought one house — the one that DH and I currently live in. And we have no desire to move, ever (except maybe to the Old Folks Home someday). We bought in early 2004, at pretty much the height of the market. The real estate scene was just crazy back then. Houses in this area were being snapped up within days of going on the market, there were bidding wars, buyers were waiving inspections, etc. We made an offer immediately after the open house, our offer was $2,500 over the asking price, and on the advice of our realtor, we wrote a letter to the owners about how much we loved the house and how we would love to raise our family there. We were thrilled to get the property, as I was in my third trimester of pregnancy, and I desperately wanted to be in a house before we had the baby.

    It has worked out well. Even in the recession, properties in our town held their value, and in the past few years there has been quite a bit of appreciation. We’ve had to put a fair amount of work into our old (built in 1889) house, but DH is handy, and he has done a good amount of it himself. Most of all, we just really love living here — great house, great neighborhood, great town.

  46. I was naive and felt pressured to buy my first house because all the people around me were doing it. It was supposed to be a good investment, but it turned out to be horrible. However, it was nicer than living in an apartment. It was new construction, with lots of choices to be made. One poor choice I made was combining two bedrooms, modifying it from a 3-bedroom to a 2-bedroom. I remember being listed as “an unmarried woman” on the title. I wonder if that’s still done.

  47. Mooshi– ever think of making a print of the catalog page featuring your house, and framing it and hanging it on your wall somewhere?

  48. I think it’s 10 zip codes for me, assuming you don’t count places I only lived for a summer and assuming that overseas addresses have a “zip code” for the purpose of this count.

  49. I don’t know if I could ever buy a house with a carpeted bathroom. Logically, you could just have it ripped out and tile but down before you even moved in, but I don’t think I could do it even then. The very idea is just too horrifying – it would totally put me off.

    Our house had all the bathrooms carpeted when we bought it. Who does that? We had them all tiled, but half the subfloor was totally rotted out in one of them.

  50. Rocky, I’ll join you with buying new houses. Ours is 1970 but we refuse to live anywhere with an HOA, so that eliminates pretty much any neighborhood developed after about 1990 in the Denver area.

  51. Rhett – We were lucky in that our plan was to rent the house we were living in prior to buying the new one. So, we did almost all the work before we moved in.

    I forgot about pulling the panelling off the wall that the prior owner had painted! Carpet in the bathroom was a late 60s through late 70s thing in our area.

    The living, dining and entry are wood laminate, while the kitchen is WHITE tile. The back door leaked, prior to us and early on until we could find the leak and did damage to the wood there. Also, the area just past the rug inside the front door the finish is wearing off. We are considering redoing all of it in the tile that looks like wood. It would be more durable and pretty hard to tell the difference. We will keep the upstairs carpeted…its loud enough with out any hard surfaces, except the bathroom!

  52. I totally agree with you guys about avoiding houses with crappy DIY renovations – and boy did we see a lot of those while house hunting. My problem with new houses is that they rapidly turn into old houses, but with none of the solidity of houses that have withstood the test of time. They are merely “oldish” rather than truly old.
    I have mentioned many times that our rental house in MA was the very model of everything we were trying to avoid in a house. That was a pretty new house – I think it was around 10 years old when we first moved in. It was the paragon of “oldish”. Everything was starting to fall apart. And it had all the design flaws of a house of its era.

  53. L, we need to change the deed. Thanks for the reminder and the professional insight. We also need to update our wills.

  54. We bought our home place from six siblings and their mother. It took a little over two years because not all seven of the sellers were always on board with selling at the same time. We renovated the house. Basically we gutted it abd put in wiring, insulation, double paned windows. The remodel was supposed to get finished before a child was born, but we missed that deadline.

    I think there are some deals out there, but they are few and far between and it often a matter of being in the right place at the right time with the right mindset to take advantage of the opportunity. I am not sure that being willing to take on the risk, expense, labor and time costs of a fixer upper make it a deal. However, once, DH and I and I got a deal. We had been shopping for years. I contacted a realtor about a property he had listed. The owners needed to sell and their existing deal had fallen tHrough. They had a to get their property sold in a hurry to complete their 1031 exchange. I talked to the realtor, he told me what they wanted. We went and looked at the property. We had been looking for quite some time and hadn’t been able to put any deals together. DH and I basically figured, why not make an offer. Offered a little less than what the realtor had said. Made the offer on Friday,had it in escrow on Monday.

  55. Mooshi,

    Wasn’t the main issue with the MA house poor build quality? It was just a cheaply built house?

  56. Denver Dad, we have a very basic HOA here in Stapleton. About $40 per month, for which we receive absolutely nothing, as far as I can tell. In 12 years here no one’s ever said a word about changes to the yards, house colors, etc.

  57. RMS, so you have a best-case scenario – paying almost $500 a year for nothing, but nobody bothers you. All it takes is for one idiot to start complaining about something or get on the HOA board and being a pain in the ass, and it becomes a nightmare for everyone.

  58. I’ve never owned a house in a development with an how, but it seems like it would be a good protection when you have so many people living so close together.

  59. I bought my first house at the age of 56. DH and I had been married for a year and half, living in my rental apt with his condo used for piano studio and storage. He was away for the weekend. I went out solo (no realtor) looking in our neighborhood. I selected three properties to show him from the car the following week, we both went into two of them, and he said, take this one. I thought it was too generic and bland, but it was large, reasonably well built, had a good space for the piano and the seller was motivated. We paid a fair price in 2007 and it has appreciated by 55% since then. The appreciation exceeds measurably the cost of two new overpriced bathrooms, refreshed mid price kitchen, new appliances, new front door and the recent emergency priced HVAC. However, builder grade repairs would have resulted in 45% appreciation, but quality of life considerations are “priceless”.

  60. We bought our first house a few months before our wedding, 0 down in 2004. I was 21 years old. It was in a cookie cutter neighborhood. We did look at many houses before deciding on our budget and location. I think we met our realtor at an open house. We stayed there a few years , then moved to the country to have acreage.

  61. I’ve seen tile floor bathrooms with wall-to-wall rugs that can be picked up and laundered. Those seemed to be popular a few decades ago.

  62. I’ve never owned a house in a development with an how, but it seems like it would be a good protection when you have so many people living so close together.

    In theory yes, in reality, it can easily become a tool for people to harass neighbors they don’t like. At a previous home, my aunt-in-law and her partner installed new windows in the back of their house. One of their neighbors, who had to to into their backyard at some point to see the windows because they weren’t visible from the front, complained to the HOA that they weren’t one of the allowed styles. The HOA told them they had to replace the windows or would face significant fines. They lucked out because there was a recall on the windows so they got them replaced for free, but they were facing a significant expense just because one of their neighbors didn’t like them.

    I have plenty of other stories from people I know who have had problems with HOAs.

  63. I’ve seen tile floor bathrooms with wall-to-wall rugs that can be picked up and laundered. Those seemed to be popular a few decades ago.

    My mother loved those.

  64. Rhett,

    Why do you assume he is older ;) ?

    He is 3 years older.

    I had graduated college the previous summer on the 3 year plan.

    We both had our first “real” jobs just before buying the house.

  65. We still live in our first home, but that wasn’t the plan when we bought this place. We tried to buy in a competitive market in ’02. We would look at houses in 3 different neighborhoods every weekend, and then we would usually have to submit a sealed bid by Monday. I think we lost over ten houses because there were usually so many people bidding against us for each house. The neighborhood that we really wanted was further north, and I am so glad that we lost all of those houses. We bid on one home there that I still remember, and it had 16 other offers! I still love that town, but it would have been too long of a commute. I didn’t realize what door to door really meant until I moved to the burbs and I had to drive to train, and then take a subway.

    We originally lost this home in a multiple bid situation, but the original buyer backed out. The location is very easy for us to the city, and that was a main priority at the time. Also, good schools and train parking with no multi year wait list.

    We like it here, but we tried to buy a larger home in a nearby (better) school district in ’06. We lost two houses that we loved in sealed bids. I am so glad that we didn’t get those homes because the market imploded a year later, and our jobs were not stable. We decided to stay where we live now because we like the schools and our friends. It is affordable for us because it was our starter home. It is not perfect, and the layout for entertaining isn’t great. I do finally have some nice bathrooms for our guests. I would definitely be working full time in some kind of crazy job if we had “won” one of the homes we tried to buy in ’06. This will never be our dream home, but it checks off a lot of boxes for us for what we need.

    This is the only home that I’ve ever lived in that is multi story with garage etc, except for a college townhouse. I lived in apartments for most of my life until we purchased this home.

  66. We live in the first house I/we bought. I like the views, half acre lot among neighbors with much larger lots, and great room windows. I need light in the Pacific Northwest! There are things we don’t like about it and we are planning some remodeling. The housing market here lurches along, with homes over ~$400k remaining on the market for years, sometimes. It would be nice to have a larger house with our family right now, but given our job instability, I don’t want to take that risk, because the time we would need to sell our house would be the SAME time that lots of other high end homes are on the market. If Mr WCE were a tenured professor, I might have a different view.

    Even if we move, this house will be emotionally important to me because it’s where my kids spent their little years.

  67. We both had our first “real” jobs just before buying the house.

    Then I guess you were fairly certain your career path wasn’t going to necessitate a move in the short to medium term?

  68. Winemama, how did you have the savings for a downpayment at that point? Or were you in a market where a significant downpayment was not standard?

  69. Rhett – Where winemama is from, and in much of the US, early twenties college grad married couples (a rare species in the decadent Northeastern corridor) who are both working buy starter homes or townhouses rather than rent, and plan to trade up several times.

  70. RMS – We’ll have to do some house swapping so that you can visit your DSS and I can visit my actor DS.

  71. We are living in our first house. And, while we have shortish term (3-8 years) plans to leave, those plans are dependent on (a) if I can get pregnant again (b) the number of babies in that pregnancy and (c) if a singleton, the sex of the baby. Currently, the house is perfectly suited for us. It’s 3 bed 2 bath ~1400 sq ft. I’d like a 4 bed 2.5+ bath, and ~2000 sq ft.

    We purchased in 2008, right before the market tanked (it was already dropping, but the bottom hit a few months after we bought). If I sold today, I could probably get near what I spent 8 years ago. By the time we leave, it will probably be worth what we paid, or even more.

    In that time we haven’t done much reno (no cash flow thanks to grad school). The flood helped us out, and once we pay off the remainder of the reno, we will face lift the kitchen (new counters, sink, backsplash, and reface the cabinets) and update the upstairs bath (expand the shower, re-do the linen closet, new fixtures, etc.). My goal is to bring the entire house into the 21st century before we make our decision to love it or list it. Loving it may include a massive addition to get us the extra bed, bath, and 600 sq ft. But, it may just be cheaper to list it.

    I remember thinking WTF over and over again at the beginning. Now I’m just thrilled to love my house. We basically re-did the downstairs after the flood and it looks so fresh and new. This spring I plan on painting the remainder of the trim, restoring some original details, and giving the dining room a coat of paint.

  72. What Meme said, and a 30 year mortgage for the house we bought was (slightly) less than both of apartments rent combined before, so a cost savings

  73. RMS – We’ll have to do some house swapping so that you can visit your DSS and I can visit my actor DS.

    You’re on! But I suspect DH and I would get the better of that deal, at least until we do some of the desperately needed cosmetic updates.

  74. Wine,

    I’m just thinking back to my first job and first apartment. I signed the lease with a friend from college as the complex was a few miles from my job. Before I even started, I got a call that my department was being merged and my new office would be 1.5 hours away.

  75. Rhett, back in the 80’s and 90’s, many of my friends were relocated multiple times with the same company. In each place, they bought a house or a condo or both. Selling the primary residence was usually not a problem – the company had some sort of arrangement with a relocation firm – and most of the time, my friends came out way ahead financially on the deal. The condos are now held for investment purposes or sold to generate college funds. Did we do this? No, but in hindsight, maybe we should have taken the offer in the 1993 to relocate to the Bay area. Shoulda coulda woulda . .

  76. HM – I’m with you. I had to come up with about the same, on my own, after paying off law school debt. I can be very frugal. =)

    I remember at the time the bank wanted me to borrow more money and I told them no. This was in 2003.

  77. Ginger,

    That helps explain the financial crisis. People were making decision based on what had always worked in the past and were caught out when trends resorted back to historical norms.

  78. My first purchase was a condo on public transit because the mortgage was less then what I would have paid in rent for less space as the Boston renatl market was booming. I renovated it and sold it in 2004 for a significant profit which I used as a down payment for a home. DH and I tried to sell in 2008 right before the bubble burst and didn’t get any offers even when we just tried to breakeven.

    In 2012 we sold it for a loss because we needed to relocate for DH’s job. Thankfully the package included paying the realtor commission and a “loss” payment so in the end given those two benefits and the years I/we lived there the overall the loss was minimal. Having been in both positions of buying low/selling high and buying high/selling low, it made us very aware of resale value and we bought our new house in an area that has held its own through the most recent housing bubbles.

  79. We made the final year’s payments on the townhouse all at once last week – the same week as the furnace went. Hence the momentary cash scramble. The mortgage service that bought our small remaining loan on Jan 1 has multiple negative ratings, so I decided not to drag it out all year. If I were Finn or Milo, I would probably institute an investment plan out of pension income for dynastic purposes. But I’m not and I plan to enjoy life with a low monthly nut.

  80. We bought our house 2 months after graduating at 22 and 24. I think no down payment as well. We were able to refinance the next year and get rid of PMI. We’re still there.

    I think staying in our house is probably our smartest move. We love old houses but have no skills to fix them. Also we’ve kept our taxes and maintenance costs low.

  81. We bought in 2007 with 0% down. I think we brought a few thousand to closing, for utilities and taxes, etc. We could have purchased in 2004 with 0% down, but we got a much better rate with 10% down, and the house was less than 100k, so it made sense.

  82. Actually, having just written that, it probably didn’t make sense. We saved a few dollars a month in interest and gave up 8k in cash.

    This is always the thing about house buying. I feel like I am pretty financially savvy compared to the average home buyer. Yet, with every transaction, there has always been something that came up -needed more cash, etc. People who don’t know what they are doing must get screwed all the time.

  83. In 2004 we put 5% down but didn’t have to per the bank. We just felt like we should put something down. Then in 2011 we had to put 20% down, so we had to sell the old house to come up with about half of that.

    My BIL/SIL around 2006 had terrible credit when they bought, in fact my SIL wasn’t even allowed to be on the mortgage, but they were still allowed to not put any downpayment down. They had a terrible interest rate (like 10%) but they didn’t care. That house ended up being worth half of what they paid by the time she wanted to move on so they just walked away and bought a new house in her name since my BIL was the only one on the old mortgage. His credit is ruined for 7 years or whatever it is but they were able to perfectly game the system. And the kicker is, they got an FHA loan for the next house and only had to put down 3%!

  84. ” I got a call that my department was being merged and my new office would be 1.5 hours away.”

    Did you have to fly in each day or just stay at the Ritz during the week?

  85. We put less than 20% down and had PMI in 2002. DH was just paying off the loan on an apartment in the home country at the time. The bank checked all our documents and we got a 30 yr fixed rate loan. DH didn’t want any mortgage where the rate reset after a few years. At the time of the crisis, I wondered about all the mortgage practices but I guess those must have become common after we got our loan. By the time we bought our second home we had sold the home country apartment and were able to put down close to half the cost of our house in cash. DH hated the mortgage payment and would grumble about it every month.

  86. “If I were Finn or Milo, I would probably institute an investment plan out of pension income for dynastic purposes. But I’m not and I plan to enjoy life with a low monthly nut.”

    ??

    We recently made our last mortgage payment. Like HM, we had a 15 year term, and timed it to be paid off shortly before the first kid would be going off to college.

  87. Aaarrrgghh.

    I just took a quick look at something on the street of the first house I bought, a few years after starting my first job out of college, for $140k (20% down). It was a starter home, about 900 sf, although on a 5000 sf lot that left a lot of room for expansion, 1 car garage, 3br/1ba. I lived there several years, then when DW and I got married, we bought a new house together (yes, a brand new house that I could watch going up– I still have photos of it under construction that I took so I’d know where the utilities were inside the walls), and turned the first house into a rental.

    When we were about to move back home, we sold both houses. I made a small profit on the first home, selling it for about $180k.

    The house I saw on trulia was one block over, and looks like pretty much the same design, but with an addition that took the square footage up to 1200. Estimated value: $906k.

  88. Rhode, the first house DW and I bought together sounds about like what you want. 4br, 2.5ba, ~1850 sf, 2-story, attached 2-car garage, ~3500 sf lot. Walking distance to 2 grocery stores, Target, Home Depot, JITB, Burger King, Round Table, and a bunch of other businesses including some banks/S&Ls and two donut shops.

    I really liked the layout of that house. It felt big for its size, and made very good use of space. The master had a walk-in closet and double vanities separate from the toilet/tub/shower, which were also located right above the water heater, which meant almost instant hot water.

    We bought that house new, which came with a bunch of expenses that often don’t come with older homes. We had to landscape it, and spent a bunch on window coverings. The one shortcoming of that home was a lack of storage space, so I also built some custom furniture and cabinets

  89. Finn – sounds about right. Except for the lot size. I don’t think I can have anything smaller than 8000 sq ft. I’m spoiled now. We live on 10,000 sq ft. That’s why if we want to stay we have plenty of room to do a two story addition.

  90. Did you have to fly in each day or just stay at the Ritz during the week?

    I can do 11 hours a week on a plane cruising along at 550mph no problem. 15 hours a week bumper to bumper? NFW! We moved as soon as the lease was up.

  91. Rhett, you’re a better man than I am. I would’ve broken the lease and moved right away.

  92. @Rhode – here in older neighborhoods the lot sizes are big, so you can do additions quite easily and still have a decent sized yard left over. That isn’t the case for newer developments – the house is bigger to start with but the there isn’t that much room between neighbors. In one house we saw, one wall had glass bricks to let in light because it was too close to the neighbors to have windows in the wall.

  93. Have you ever been tempted or actually knocked on the door of a house you once lived in? A son of the original owner of our house did that a few years ago. We showed him around and it was a hoot for us to learn some of the history of our home, built in 1925.

    Well, I just checked online and i can take a virtual tour of my first house. The photos are from the last time it was on the market a few years ago. The owners have made some changes, including pulling up all the carpet and installing tiles. It looks in pretty good shape, although I question the taste of the owners based on flashy bedspreads and such. It brought back memories.

    Interesting to see how down payment amounts vary. I think requiring a 20% down payment is generally a good thing in sorting out people who probably should not buy, but I’m afraid that view is probably not PC.

  94. My mother moved back to the apartment building where we lived when I grew up so I am able to go back in time. Of course, everything seems much smaller than I remember.

    I was in NYC yesterday and I couldn’t believe how much of the snow was already gone, but the mountains of garbage and recycling were gross. I realized how spoiled I am by our local DPW because the roads were clear by Sunday and we had full garbage pickup all week. I don’t think the city will pick up garbage for a week!!

  95. “I think requiring a 20% down payment is generally a good thing”

    I agree after the housing problems around 2006-2009 that some down payment should be required so people aren’t just walking away from these homes they can’t afford or are underwater on

  96. Louise – exactly! I could never live that close to my neighbors! I need at least a driveway or two between us. If I wanted that much closeness, I’d move back to an apartment building or into the city.

    CoC – a few years ago, on Halloween, a former owner’s daughter knocked on the door with her kid. DH showed her the main level of the house and she was amazed. Her father knocked down the wall between the living room and a bedroom, creating our front to back living room. We put in a door leading outside, and she was happy to see that. I wish she would come back now after the reno.

  97. “down payment should be required”

    For those of you who purchased with zero down… did you have to make a small good faith deposit? We were asked to do that to show our seriousness.

  98. Still living in the first house we ever bought-2000 sf. For a few years it has felt too small, but next year with DS gone it will be too big. Will pay off the mortgage in 2 more years
    Back in 2004 we nearly bought “the big house”–4000 sf. So glad we didn’t–we’d maybe just be breaking even now.

  99. We are in an older neighborhood so we don’t have a formal HOA. We have one person who volunreers to collects $25/yr voluntary for social events and upkeep of a sign and lamps to the entrance of our neighborhood. The responsibility for both the social events and treasurer position have been passed down. In newer developments they mainly need the dues to maintain the pool, clubhouse and playground. I don’t think anyone would care to inspect the renovations you make if they don’t stick out like a sore thumb.

  100. We don’t have a HOA, but we have village and town planning/zoning boards that will scrutinize every detail of your renovation if it needs a variance, and most do. I’ve seen them argue endlessly about window placement and style, for example. Homeowners have to bring their architects to the meetings to defend their plans. These volunteer boards have a lot of power. The time and money costs are high for homeowners.

  101. “My problem with new houses is that they rapidly turn into old houses, but with none of the solidity of houses that have withstood the test of time.”

    This. There are poorly-built and well-built homes of every generation (our current house included everything from hand-planed 13″-wide boards to one wall with no stick of lumber over 3′ long). But the benefit to houses that are 75+ years old is that the poorly-built ones have already succumbed, or the problems are obvious. Not true with younger homes.

    It’s funny, because I always wanted an old house (defined as “no later than 1920s”), but all of our homes were new until this one. We always lived in areas where “old” meant ’60s and ’70s, which is the generation of homes that I cannot stand, and the few gorgeous older homes around were above our price range at the time. At least with new we got a blank slate and large spaces, instead of having to pull up shag carpet/redo kitchens/knock down walls and still end up with a house I didn’t really love (and I’d still trade all other homes for our CO home we built ourselves).

    It was really a relief to come back here and have so many more old houses available and in our price range, with half-acre+ lots. Here it’s the new options that were out of our price range (well, I was spoiled by the lot sizes in the west, so the new homes in our price range felt asses-to-elbows, and we couldn’t afford the nice new development with the larger lots that IIRC started at $800K+).

  102. Coc – the volunteer boards yielding so much power would be a deal breaker for us. Here our neighbors get city permits, the workmen show up directed by a contractor, put a dumpster in the driveway, potty outdoors and commence renovations.

  103. My mom was looking at the house her grandfather lived in up on Roble Ridge in Palo Alto, and the owner was in the yard and invited her in to look around. Now Mom was in her 70s and very benign and harmless-looking, so not much risk for the owner. The owner was very nice and they chatted quite awhile. It was a gorgeous house with all kinds of lovely 19th-century hardwood finishes and stuff. The mind boggles at what it probably costs now. If I could find the exact address I’d look it up on Trulia.

  104. Trulia think $5M for it, but that seems low. But maybe since it’s “historic” you can’t ever fix it up.

  105. Yeah, but Zillow always estimates crazy-high. Apparently it drives real estate agents crazy because the owners see the “Zestimate” and want to list at that price instead of the actual market price.

  106. No zoning at all here, so HOA serve a purpose. They can be annoying, but in general no big deal to us. There are people who simply cannot tolerate the HOS in our neighborhood, and vent relentlessly on our Facebook page. Seems like such a waste of energy to me. How many days can you stay indignant that you can’t have that fifth outdoor planter in the yard? You signed the paperwork when you moved in.

    I haven’t been back to a prior home, but did find my grandparents’ house online. Like the poster above, I was amazed at how small it seemed. I spent a ton of time there at a young age, and in my memory it was much more grand.

  107. @RMS – our elderly neighbors always listed crazy high, much higher than Zillow. Then the house would sit on the market and after two price drops it would be at a fair enough price. Then the house sold at once.

  108. “but Zillow always estimates crazy-high. ”

    That’s not the case around here, so it’s probably a regional thing. If anything, Zillow fails to grab basic, pertinent details when estimating values. Then, it really falls down on grabbing more subtle details that contribute to home values.

  109. “I haven’t been back to a prior home, but did find my grandparents’ house online. Like the poster above, I was amazed at how small it seemed. I spent a ton of time there at a young age, and in my memory it was much more grand.”

    +1. I drove by my grandma’s house in Louisville after a business trip, for the first time since she moved out @35 years ago. SO much smaller than I remembered — especially the back yard, which had always been this giant, open expanse, and now was ringed by fences the neighbors had put up. Still had the same lamppost, however.

    Wish I had had time to knock on the door — I wonder how small the rooms would seem now. Although The Maps of Google says they put an addition on the back, so maybe not.

  110. Rhett – When we bought there were a lot of options – $0 down with a first time homebuyer’s program, down payment options of 5%-19% but you had to pay pmi and escrow with 15 to 30 year fixed, down payment of 20% or more and avoid pmi and option to avoid escrow with 15 to 30 year fixed, or a whole range of adjustable rates and loan stacking options some with balloon payments. All options have varying interest rates.

    We took the 20% down, no pmi, no escrow, 15 year fixed at 4.6% interest. Then we paid it off early. Of course, the mortgage company told us we could afford 2.5 times the house price that we purchased. We had a price range we really thought we could cover and found a house, even after the additional $15 K we put into initial repairs/remodeling, came out within our range.

  111. DH and I went to crown heights once to see his old apt building. The block is primarily west Indian now. One of the residents let us into the building to see the tiny lobby, now devoid of furniture but well lit, but we didn’t knock on his apt door. He lived on the first floor adjacent to the lobby and found it too vast dark and scary to play in.
    Since he slept in the hall, his grandmother in the living room and his parents in the bedroom, I am sure his mother was not pleased that he wouldn’t leave the apt to play.

  112. We bought a house for 0% down that lost 50% of its value in two years. Glad we hadn’t put 20% down. Even if we had, we would have still walked away. Surprisingly, the bank refused to forclose – there is no way to force them. Now the house is worth about 60% what we paid, 8 years later.

  113. “That’s not the case around here, so it’s probably a regional thing. If anything, Zillow fails to grab basic, pertinent details when estimating values. Then, it really falls down on grabbing more subtle details that contribute to home values.”

    Totally regional. Zillow is ~30% lower than Trulia for my home. Trulia’s value is closer to what my real estate agent told me he could sell my house for (if I wanted to).

    But, I do the same looksie at my mom’s former house in NJ. Zillow’s estimate is ~10% higher than Trulia’s. I’d call that comparable.

  114. One weekend afternoon DH noticed a car stopped and people staring at our house. I opened the door and shouted across the street if I could help them. They said they grew up in the house – brother and sister. They were back in town for a family reunion. They were about out age. We let them in and showed them around. I really enjoyed that. Our house was built in 1925 (very old for our metro area). We are the longest owners at 15 years.

    I think we paid, in 2001, either $1k or $3k in earnest money and borrowed money from my sister for closing costs. I’m 99% sure we did a 0 down mortgage. We probably had a higher interest rate because of that. I think it was around 7% and we had PMI. But our mortgage wasn’t too much more than our current rent. We refinanced less than a year later and had 20% equity (bought in 2001) and got rid of PMI and had a rate around 6%. Refinanced another year later to a 20 year loan at 5%.

    Then we decided to finish our basement rather than move and took out all our equity the winter of 2007/2008. We had to do a lot of structural stuff (HVAC, plumbing, gas lines). We were underwater for awhile. Refinanced again in 2012 to 3.8% and 20 year mortgage.

    We bought our house for $200K probably have put another $200K into it. We wouldn’t make any money back if we sold now but the house works for us. Our friends have moved to bigger houses in the area and they are spending around $600K. So I figure we are still coming out ahead.

    We’ll stay into this house until we need to go to assisted living probably – so hopefully another 40 to 50 years.

  115. well, I was spoiled by the lot sizes in the west,

    Where was that? The lost sizes in Denver metro are tiny unless you move way out. Even in places like Parker and Castle Rock that are well out of town, all the new developments are houses piled on top of each other.

  116. @DD — the Springs. We were looking at some in the Black Forest area, which were awesome and could have gotten us 2-5 acre lots, but ended up down closer to Norad on a flag lot with over half an acre and no one behind us. But we were also in the $350-400K price range, which meant that we weren’t limited to the developments with the smaller lots. The lot sizes in the development where we built were comparable to the lot sizes here with the $800-900K homes on them.

  117. “well, I was spoiled by the lot sizes in the west,”

    Rhode liked the house I had in SV, except for the small lot.

  118. Lfb, I have no idea if you’ll see a reply at this point :) But that’s my point about needing to go way out to get a big lot. The house next door to us sold this summer for $515k. 2900 sqft including the finished basement on a 1/5th acre lot. It was renovated in a flip.

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