Love two houses for two different

dazzlemewithcolorOctober 3, 2010

We have been searching for a house for 5 years roughly. Several months ago, we passed on a house that had an incredible backyard, nice enough house, but I couldn't look past the popcorn ceilings and the too small dining room (we have a big family). So fast forward, we are down to two possible houses. One is new construction on a small subdivision lot. The house is pretty much move in ready. Minimum money required to make it "us".

The second house has a couple of acres which we have always talked about having for the kids, dogs and more vegetable gardening. It has a pool...I know,I know, a lot of up keep but my kids are still young enough that we would get a lot of use out of it. My only issue is that the home was custom built and I don't like their choice of trim work and the kitchen really needs updating as well as the floors. It would be a significant amount of money to do everything to make it more "us".

So, I am torn. Can someone help me way the pros and cons?

Both houses are very comparable in size and in same school district.

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I would probably go for the house on the larger lot with the pool. If the floor plan is good and the only thing that bothers you is the finishes, that is easy to work with. We bought a house with a pool when my youngest were 4 and 6 and we used it a lot. I loved having a pool, and it wasn't that much work to keep it up. Of course my DH did most of the pool upkeep, but he didn't spend a ton of time on it. After a few years we got an automatic pool cleaner, and that was well worth the money (which wasn't all that much).

    Bookmark   October 3, 2010 at 10:34PM
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What about the trim work don't you like?

    Bookmark   October 3, 2010 at 10:44PM
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I certainly wouldn't let a couple of cosmetic issues stop me from getting the house with all those good things. And you say the kitchen "needs" updating - do you mean according to all those dumb TV programs trying to get you to buy their sponsors products, or because it really doesn't have a working stove, fridge, dishwasher and clean floor? Sometimes a little perspective is needed!

    Bookmark   October 4, 2010 at 9:38AM
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I'm curious about the trim too. What is it you hate?
Personally, I'd go for the second house with more land. The pool is a lot of work, but it can be closed up if it becomes too much work. As far as remodeling the house to make it yours, it doesn't hurt kids to see that things like a nice house can made if you work at it. Not everything is instantaneous gratification.

We moved from about a quarter of an acre to an acre. It's made a huge difference to my family. My kids now have more room to go outside and play. There is less traffic so they can ride their bikes and fly kites. I grow veggies and a small orchard with about 10 trees. I've found that now that we have more room, we tend to not be couch potatoes as much. It's nice to look out our windows and not see the neighbors 10 feet away. It's more relaxing to live here.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2010 at 10:52AM
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Do you want to take care of more land? Have you ever actually tended a large vegetable garden? Are the taxes higher? Are there trees that need trimming or removal? How old is this house and its 'innards'? What's nearby? Any open land that might be rezoned for something other than SFH? Trim is cheap to add; don't know about removal. Pools can be a big drain on time and finances -- and you may suddenly have a much wider circle of friends (in summer). LOL

Price difference? How would you compare construction quality?

Is the subdivision sold out? Good builder with references? HOW small is the lot?

We deliberately chose to live where houses are on one to five acres for the greater privacy and quiet. A downside for kids is that it's not as easy to find playmates. (Quick picture: On Halloween we may have ten Trick-or-Treaters.)

Is one location more convenient to school, work, shopping?

    Bookmark   October 4, 2010 at 12:37PM
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Think location, location, location. Which is better to you. Me, I would never go for a house in a development with small lots but others could look at it differently.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2010 at 1:23PM
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There are a lot good questions in this thread that have gone unanswered:
1. Are they priced differently?
2. What's so bad about the trim?
3. How many actual dollars do you think it would cost to update the kitchen?

Personally, I think cookie-cutter development real estate is tacky, but that's just a personal prejudice.

Which one can you imagine yourself spending years and years in? Imagine your kids older, you and your spouse older, the house worn in... which home gives you that warm, passage-of-time feeling?

There's another possibility: maybe neither is "the one," and you're better off sticking with your rental lease for another few months while you keep checking out what's out there. The good news for you is that there's A LOT out there right now, so there's no rush to buy a piece of real estate that doesn't really get you excited.

Best of luck, and either way, I'm sure you'll end up happy with the decision you've made once you've committed.

Here is a link that might be useful: rental lease

    Bookmark   October 4, 2010 at 2:31PM
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Thank you for all the comments and suggestions. Regarding the trim and ALL the woodwork in the house, it is all stained honey oak and has a very country feel. I realize that my major complaints are simply cosmetic and with time can be made more us.

investorbrian, there is a 30 grand differenc in price. The house w/ acreage is higher. The trim throughout the entire house is honey oak. I realize that it is a lot more $$ than a painted white trim, but it's really not my taste.And I have been thinking about what it would take to update the appliances, new flooring and definitely new countertops and to save maybe gel staining the cabs instead of replacing.

We just found out that there was a leak from one of the sinks in the new construction house (we noticed a small stain downstairs and sellers agent confirmed there was a leaky pipe that has since been fixed). So, that has me worried that there could be other things wrong that are hidden. We are going to look at the house w/ acreage this Friday for another look.

Thanks again everyone!

    Bookmark   October 4, 2010 at 2:42PM
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For me the 2nd house would be the choice especially if it just that it is oak and stained as I'd just have it painted before moving in. Wouldn't cost that much and would be easy to do. I'd live with the kitchen no matter what for a while to get a feel for it and how your family lives in it before doing anything. Even a brand new kitchen isn't always the best working kitchen so I would prefer one where I wouldn't feel bad about changing something later if it doesn't work well for me.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2010 at 3:56PM
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No one on here can answer your question... You need to sit down with yourself and ask yourself what is so important about having a new home, to you. When you have an answer, then ask yourself, "Why is so important to me that...(insert your previous answer). Repeat this 7 times. Answers 5, 6, and 7 are the AUTHENIC, HEARTFELT reasons why having a new place to live is important to you. Answers 1-4 are just coming from your head, and really mean nothing. I promise you, that if you do this excercise, you will have the very real reason why and what is important to you, in your next home.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2010 at 4:55PM
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Saying $30K doesn't tell us anything. What *percentage* difference are we talking about here?(And would it be a stretch for you to finance the more expensive home?)

You don't like stained trim? That's IT? Do you think it would be a sin to PAINT it? (For some people, it would!)Gee whiz! I was thinking there must be gargoyles hanging from the mouldings or something! LOL Easy fix here: Paint or try living with the stain to see if you can learn to love it.

We'll be waiting to hear about your second look Friday!

lyfia -- Good point about living with the existing kitchen before undertaking an overhaul.

ncREguy -- That's a great exercise! I've played a mind game on major purchases myself. I imagine I've already bought such-and-such, and think how I do or do not regret it! Sort of 'Buyer's Remorse in Advance'.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2010 at 6:03PM
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I'd go for the house with the land, personally. It sounds like your objections are mostly cosmetic. There is room to grow and expand over time, and kitchens and trim can be updated as well. But, as your kids are still school age, what about the school district? What about commute for the workers in your household? If those issues don't sink the deal, I'd look at the bones, not the "frillies."

    Bookmark   October 4, 2010 at 6:09PM
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Thanks for my first laugh of the day Chisue. I'll just second your post because I couldn't have said it better. Woodwork painting wouldn't be a big issue unless it was custom wood, or in an old stick-built. Appliances wear out and you replace them as they do. If the OP had two acres to upkeep, then they'd have less time to worry about granite countertops. LOL.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2010 at 8:11PM
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I know. I must sound so shallow comparing the two houses, but I can't help it. We have outlived our starter home a few years ago and I have been dreaming of all the upgrades lol. I am going to go see the house on Friday with an open mind and keep you all posted.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2010 at 8:54PM
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I don't think anyone on the internet's opinion really makes a difference on something like this.

Ultimately its what you like. Small subdivision lot means differnet things to different people. What is small in one area is large in another.

basically you're trading between property and condition. there is nothing wrong with wanting a new kitchen with granite counters.

if the kitchen is old in the country house, i'd assume the bathrooms probably are as well.

I guess what you indicated and what I'm saying, is you really do have 2 homes in differnet price brackets. 30k isn't all that much difference, but it is the house that is older that is more. To bring to the condition of new construction, if it needs a kitchen and 2 bathrooms, can cost between 50K-100K, plus painting etc.

I'm not saying don't get it, but it is really significantly more when you factor in remodeling over time.

yes it doesn't "need" a kitchen in the sense of you can't cook a meal, but in all seriousness a 20-30 year old kitchen compared to new construction, is 2 different animals.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2010 at 10:11AM
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I hate honey oak trim too, so I know the feeling.

That being said, it's a *fairly* easy thing to remedy, given time and/or adequate money. When you said you hated the trim, I thought that maybe you hated the actual shape or cut of it, which would be more difficult to remedy.

They still build houses with honey oak trim and I can't figure out why...does anyone actually like it?

    Bookmark   October 5, 2010 at 2:37PM
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I recommend the 2nd house with the land, especially since you mention that you've "always talked about having [land]for the kids, dogs and more vegetable gardening." You also are still thinking about the 'incredible backyard' from the house you passed on. It sounds like the yard space is just as important as the house, and if you go with the subdivision home, you may still continue to wish for the additional land.

You can't add land to the first house, but you can change the trim color and make the other updates to the 2nd house.

I've lived in both of your choices. Now that we're empty nesters, we moved from the 2-acres + pool to the small lot/new house. We used the yard and the pool ALOT (and pool maintenance was minimal). If you've been wishing for the land, think that family & friends will enjoy & use the pool, I'd go for it and change the house over time.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2010 at 8:35PM
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Chrisk327 brings up the financial aspect others are glossing over. The 2nd house has a large lot that the other does not, but it will be much more expensive than the additional $30,000 to bring it up to snuff with remodeling and new flooring, especially wood flooring. Only you know what you can afford, what you dearly love, and what is worth the expense to you. We don't know what section of the country you live in, the climate, etc.

Where I live, kids use a family pool when they are under 13. By 14, they want to go to the beach and the pool is forgotten. We have yardwork year round because of our climate, and as a result, large lots lose their luster when the riding mower has to be out on the property with frequency. The mini ranchitos by us sold within 2 years consistently because of owner remorse. It really all depends on what YOU want and can afford.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2010 at 9:36PM
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2 acres would not need much upkeep at all if it is wooded/natural. However, if it has a large lawn, then more upkeep.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2010 at 10:42PM
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Personally, I'd always go for more property. If your kids are young, you'll love the pool. We had a pool (sold our house this year) and my husband misses it terribly. Kids used it all the time as did their friends. But my husband always loved coming home from work and taking a swim. We lived in NE where the pool was closed for 1/2 a year. It was still worth it.

Property is privacy and quiet. You can do what you want and don't have to worry about the neighbors. I would go for the second house, but you have to know you could live and afford the updates you want.

You can do things slowly, over the years. We did, and by the time we got everything finished, we sold the house! Seriously, you can start painting the trim white (we did) and move on to doors, floors, etc. You don't have to do everything at one time. If the kitchen is the pits, start there and do the other stuff in a few years.

Good luck,

    Bookmark   October 6, 2010 at 12:01AM
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Thank you so much! I really appreciate the comments. I know no one can make up our minds and that is not what I am asking...but to help realize what really matters and I think everyone is right. We really do want a house that has more outdoor space.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2010 at 11:54AM
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Dazzlemewithcolor, What is so important about having more outdoor space, to you?

    Bookmark   October 6, 2010 at 9:18PM
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ncreal, it's so important because we have always wanted to get out of the tight subdivision that we live in now. Not have neighbors that you can see up close when we are out in our backyard. Also, I want my kids to have room to build forts and have some woods to explore in. I have a small garden now, but would have a lot more room to do more which I can't presently because that wouldn't leave much room for the kids.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2010 at 10:26PM
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For a richer looks, use a gel stain or colored polyurethane to darken the "honey" color to a deep brown.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2010 at 3:19PM
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Thanks for responding as to what is important to you about this home purchase.
You mention you would like your kids to have more outdoor space so they can build forts and explore. Please ask yourself why this is so important to you. And when you answer this question, ask yourself why that answer is so important to you. You will then realize what the true purpose of this next home should be. Remember, the first 3 or 4 responses to this question are coming just from the head; answers 5,6 and 7 are the really meaningful, purposeful reasons that you are seeking a new home. I have a feeling once you do this exercise, you will not again be conflicted between two totally different homes.
Good luck.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2010 at 8:13PM
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ncreal, this is an interesting exercise and my first few reasons vary from the last three but I feel that they are somewhat all related or connected. Maybe this is hard because I have always trained my self to prioritize my lists with what is important and ending with what's not so important.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2010 at 10:55AM
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Now I'm hearing that having a large lot is of great importance to you. Well then, is this house the BEST house available with the land you want?

If you know you don't want another 'subdivision', perhaps you want to focus only on homes on at least one acre -- or homes bordering a forest preserve or conservancy. That sort of location was paramount in our choice of home.

Although we own just one fenced acre, there's a creek to our east and a conservancy to our south; we enjoy at least 10 acres! Our neighbor across the street is about 500 feet away. Only our neighbor to the west is 'close' -- 50 feet. Happily, all this is only three minutes from town and RR.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2010 at 11:13AM
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Family memories aren't made of white trim and magazine kitchens.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2010 at 10:28AM
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marys, you are absolutely correct! I think the new house on the small lot was just so beautiful that I lost sight of what was really important and what we had been looking for.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2010 at 11:07PM
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Dazzle, this is an excellent forum, the people here are very, very helpful.
We are in a similar predicament, with nearly 5 years of looking. This length of time was due to us being too picky, too restrictive...
The "dream home" does not exist, even close does not exist...We found some rather nice ones, but these were quickly taken, I was too cautious and very bad!
Take the place that puts a smile on your face..
Children need space, a compact development place is less expensive for a good reason!..
Funny thing for us, the place with room, out in the country is less expensive than the compact property in a development.
I've recommended that my wife read this thread and this forum...its a revelation...
As to the trim, please do NOT paint - this will ruin it!
Honey oak is timeless

    Bookmark   October 10, 2010 at 10:59AM
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Big yard is big maintenance unless you just let parts of it go. The pool is a toss up. It is nice that you can keep an eye on your kids, but be ready to pay a little extra for it. We moved to a development that has 3 pools so that problem was put to rest.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2010 at 5:51PM
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Honey oak is timeless

That's debatable. I think that white painted trim is timeless.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2010 at 11:56AM
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