Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Sticker Shock: How I'm trying to psych myself up to pay way more than I want to on a home I'm not super excited about...

Our  family moved to the Seattle area last summer.  After lots of thought and prayer, we knew that we needed to make the move to Washington--you know how you just know something is right even if it doesn't make a lot of sense?  We sold my dream home (or at least one of 'em--am I the only person in the world who has more than one kind of dream home?).  This particular dream home was a 1908 beauty with a library, amazing pocket doors, 12-foot coffered ceilings and a huge family/kitchen/eating room.  Anyway, we sold it to some awesome friends of ours after only living there for about five months and they are doing an amazing job continuing to fix it up.  Sadness (for us--happiness for them!).

So now, after renting for almost a year, we are contemplating whether to buy or rent for another year.  I've gotta say, it ain't lookin' pretty on the buying front.  There just aren't that many homes on the market right now, and of the stuff that's out there, nothing is reaching out and grabbing me--at least not in a nice way.  To put it bluntly, I think what is on the market now is pretty picked over.  I'm sure most sellers who can afford to wait are hoping that they can sell in a few years when prices have recovered a little.

I know that we'll be taken care of.  Somehow my scripture studies lately keep coming back to variations of what is expressed in Matthew 6:25-34  (you know, seek ye first the kingdom of God--in other words--stop OBSESSING about where you are going to live and keep your priorities where they belong).  I am trying...I really am.  But I have to admit that I compulsively look at the real estate websites every single day fairly often and belly-ache about my findings to whoever will pretend to listen.

The comparison to Utah is what's killing me.  It's hard to go from a low-rent area to a high-rent one and feel super happy about the transition.  So I look at Washington real estate websites and feel like every house is a rip-off, like some older person who can't get over the fact that everything costs more now because "back in my day" everything was just a nickel.

It's not that I had unadulteratedly happy feelings about Utah real estate.  There are far too many cookie-cutter neighborhoods there, and builders tend to build in whatever style is trendy right this minute, which means many neighborhoods look dated in five years.  But, at least we could actually afford a reasonably nice house that fit our family.

Let me show you what I mean by comparing two houses, one in Washington and one in Utah.  Both cost $500,000--which is an insane amount of money as far as I'm concerned.

Washington House--$500k

This house is reasonably big for Washington (2,500 square feet) and looks like it's been maintained to a decent standard.  It has 4 bedrooms and doesn't list the number of baths.

It does have a peek-a-boo view of the water and the wood floors look nice (although that fireplace is crying out for paint, don't you think?

Utah House--a "bargain" at $485k
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Oh yeah.  That' s what I'm talking about.

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Cutest stairway evah!  Awesome door, too.

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Even cute from far away.

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My flow blue and tea trios would look amazing in these built-ins.

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The wainscoting, the french doors.  Sniff, Sniff...  This is such a gorgeous house.  It is about 3,600 square feet and located in a prestigious historical neighborhood in Salt Lake City. 

In all fairness, the Salt Lake City house is a short sale, so it is probably undervalued, but still--wouldn't you rather live in a red brick house with charm galore than a 60's Brady bunch house where you know you'll want to revamp every thing about it and it still won't ever be what you really want?

It's even more torturous to look around the country and see all the amazing houses you can get for $500k nationwide.  I was looking at houses online in this great St. Louis neighborhood recommended by "This Old House" magazine, and you can get beautiful 5,000 square foot turn of the century mansions for around $500k there.  Yes, I'm sure the heating bills would be another mortgage, but man are they gorgeous!

Anyway, in case you are ready to hit me over the head with my laptop, I'm ready to get back to reality now.  I need to remember a few important facts:

  • We are lucky that my husband has a great, steady job that he enjoys here.
  • We are truly lucky that be they ever so humble/time-warped, we can even contemplate buying a house right now.  
  • We are lucky that we can live in a good area, with good schools and a reasonable commute to my husband's work.
  • Put in a global perspective, having a warm, safe place to live (whether rented or owned, darling or lame), food to eat and my family all around me is a one of the most precious of life's blessings that I thoroughly take for granted in all my grousing about how real estate here is such a rip-off.
I'm sure I'll eventually become desensitized to the insanely high prices and will be willing to bite the bullet and buy at some point.  Until then, I probably need to stop torturing myself with what I could have if I only lived somewhere else.  Sigh :).  I live here, and I'm sure we'll figure out what to do in time.  Until then, please forgive my escapism and whining--I'm still experiencing a leeetle bit of sticker shock.


  1. We all need a bit of escapism from time to time. ;) I know I do!!! The SLC home has some beautiful lines. Thanks for the visit today. :)

  2. Girrrrrl, $500,000 for 2,500 sq. feet and a view of 3 of your neighbors' yards? Complain all you want! At least if you're gonna have to pay that much they should throw in some sunshine. Call me any time. But yes, we are ALL very blessed to live as well as we do here in the good old USA. Good luck with the house hunting. I'm still in mourning about what you could've done with the library in your old house. We never even got to have book group there, did we?

  3. It's so hard to move to a part of the country where cost of living is higher :(. I know that a move in our near future is probable and it most likely will mean a house that is no where NEAR as nice as our current one. I'm kind of dreading it but will take it one day at a time.

  4. I know just what you mean. House prices are crazy, aren't they? It seems insane to me the variance of prices in different areas. Even within England there's a huge discrepancy.

    I guess the thing to remember is that, even with the biggest house in the world, if there's no happiness there then it won't feel like a home. I think the trick is to find a place that feels like home to you.

    Ooooh, and I'm your new follower!!



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