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    Needs vs. Wants

    I’ve noticed a trend the past few years that is potentially hurting many buyers in their quest to purchase single family homes. Buyers coming from the so-called “luxury condo” have a hard time adjusting to the condition of many older homes and the work required on a single family home.

    Of course, ask anyone who has ever owned a single family home, and they will likely (jokingly) tell you that the work never stops. Indeed, homes always need maintenance and improvement, and for many it’s a labor of love.

    It reminds me of my parents’ house, which they purchased in 1977 and where my dad still lives. When they bought it, there was ugly green, orange & blue shag rug throughout the house. Soon after they moved in, they removed the green & orange, but the blue stayed for a few years, and it’s where I took my first steps. The ugly wood paneling in the den was removed…in 1994.

    Our housing market has focused us so intently on the guise of ‘maintenance free living’ – when in truth, every structure requires maintenance. It just may be that in a condo or shared living association you don’t see that every day unless you are directly involved in management. No matter how old a building is – 10 years or 100 years – it will require consistent maintenance and eventual upgrade. And your budget may put you in a position where the market inventory & values provide only homes that require upgrading.

    So my point is this: if you’re buying a single family home, look beyond the cosmetics and look to the bones. You are, most likely, going to have to do work over time. That may mean upgrading mechanical systems, replacing a roof, or remodeling a kitchen or bath (or two!). But, ask yourself – do you *need* an updated bath, or is it a want? Can you live with the older kitchen for a few years?

    We can live a very enjoyable life in our homes, even if they don’t have stainless steel refrigerators or marble floors. If we are lucky enough to have a roof over our heads, let’s be thankful for that. *That* is a need. The color of the new roof…*that* is a want. And hopefully one we won’t need for many years!