A Tale of 3 Homes

Home ownership. homeowners

It was the rite of passage into adulthood for so many of us.

The American dream. The white picket fence. The statistical 2.5 children. The house in the suburbs.

Some stay a few years and move on. Some stay a lifetime. Some choose to rent.

Lately, we find ourselves involved in all aspects of what it means to be a home owner.

My in-laws’ home stands vacant, yet full of 6 decades of worldly possessions. It needs work, it needs to be cleaned out, it needs to be sold.

But mostly, it needs the decision to move forward with any of these processes.

Still waiting.

1380064267_american-dream-home-46-scan_pic00282Our home of nearly 20 years was supposed to be temporary. My husband’s career brought us here to his home office, while we waited to see which part of the country we would next call home.

It was timely. We were now in our home state, closer to family. Our children graduated high school and college here. It worked out for us.

Now, with retirement, I just want to leave.

We have been approached by the H.A.R.P. program for a one time refinance. The numbers made sense, reducing our interest rate by almost half. We are in the process.

No matter, I’d still rather sell.

My daughter and her husband are buying their first home. It is a process we know well.

Loan qualification, mortgage application, credit checks, bank approval.

Real Estate listings, house tours, open houses, offer, inspection, counter offer, acceptance. picket

Lease termination, contingency sale, relocation.

Property tax, school tax, insurance, mortgage fees, escrow accounts, home owners association.

Indebtedness.

It’s all pretty exhausting, but absolutely fascinating, especially when you are at an age to appreciate all incarnations of the process.

The American dream.

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66 Responses to A Tale of 3 Homes

  1. Erika Kind says:

    Having your own home is really home. I hope you find something beautiful again, Van. And all the best for your daughter!

  2. Jim says:

    I spent 19 years in Government quarters when I was a GI and always imagined what it would be like living in my own home and I could paint the walls any damn color that I wanted to paint them. I can’t imagine living any way lse now.

  3. Property ownership has always been important to me. I grew up pretty poor but my parents paid a mortgage so that we always had that stability at least and that investment. My husband I bought our first home as soon as we could, when we had our first salaried jobs at 21. One of my struggles when we moved to America, therefore, was going back to renting. I felt very insecure without owning property (though technically we still did until our Scottish house sold) and even I was amazed by how much better I felt emotionally when we bought our house here. I wish you the best of luck in all three property matters.

    • So true, and I understand the connection to security. We grew up poor, and my parents had 2 mortgages, but we kept the home for over 60 years. It was sad when he passed, and my stepmother sold it. We bought into the ethic, and bought our first in our 20’s, selling it just 10 months later due to a move. Thanks for sharing your story, Laura. ❀️

  4. Ironically, my daughter’s open house to sell her house is today. I’ve been watching the flurry of activity surrounding this move for her and her husband and son and thinking a great deal about how buying and selling homes so often closely parallels the stage of life we’re in. It’s exciting at any age but now it seems to me to be a daunting task. So, where do you want to go now? And, good luck with the handling of your in laws’ house. It’s monumental, the job of sorting out someone else’s life and treasures. Along the way you may also find some interesting pieces to the puzzle that makes up someone’s life. I foresee some interesting blog posts ahead.

    • Hi Debby, never thought of the blog connection..you may be right. ☺ The in-laws never seemed to throw anything away; it will be a gargantuan task. Location uncertainty is what has us stalling, that and the unfinished business with his parents’ house. Grandchildren are not yet an issue, but may be someday soon. Thinking of Virginia or North Carolina. Maybe ? Thanks for your comments and thoughts. Good luck to your daughter in the sale. ❀️

  5. Nurse Kelly says:

    It is a dream, and sometimes I think people can get lost in the climb towards it… always wanting something bigger and better… and losing sight of what’s really important. Looking back, I sometimes wish the culture didn’t put that pressure on us, (but I don’t believe in collective blaming) and I also think it’s part of the American way of life – working hard and striving to be the best you can be – at least that is how I was raised. Of course, there is always a choice as to whether one buys into that as well. But I do see things changing, and I hope leaving a smaller carbon footprint is part of that change as a positive (and necessary) step in our culture’s progress. Where I live, more people are downsizing all the time, at younger ages, and feeling less pressure or need to always have “bigger and better stuff.” I see that as definite progress and a healthier mindset as well. I hope to see my own kids prioritize more important things in life, other than a house, as well, which is how my husband and I have raised them – and I think that is where the change needs to take place. Great thought-provoking post, Van… at least for me it sure was! Hope you have a great day! xoxo

  6. Just Plain Ol' Vic says:

    You know, if I had to do it all over again I don’t think I would ever buy my own home (we are on house #3). I just don’t feel that the debt and commitment is worth having a piece of the “American dream.”

    • A great perspective. The logic used to be about saving on income tax, personal security, investment vs. wasted rent, independence from landlords, etc, etc. I think new generations of folks are not always buying into all this. Thanks, Vic. ☺ (We will be on house purchase # 6, and we’ve rented/leased 6 other homes. Exhausting.)

      • Just Plain Ol' Vic says:

        If I was single, I could so embrace tiny living – just being more independent from “stuff” so the focus is on living.

      • We got caught up in that capital gains issue, reinvesting into higher values each time we sold..it has been ridiculous. Nobody needs all those rooms to fill. Stuff…can be smothering. Living..so right, Vic. ❀️

  7. You have a lot of work ahead of you with your in-laws’ home. I wish you great organizational skills and ease of completing what you need to do Van. ❀
    Diana xo

    • Very thoughtful of you, Diana, as always, thanks so much. ❀️ If it were my family home, I’d proceed with the purge, hire the dumpster and just go at it. Husband agrees with the strategy, his siblings do not. Emotional decisions trump logic, sometimes.

      • Yes. Let siblings take what they want, maybe and then proceed?

      • Seems like a plan. Problem is MIL..not so sure she likes her new senior apt. and will not allow the sale. Has a lot of guilt after being widowed. Her late husband expected to “live out their lifetime in the home he built”. It’s complicated. ❀️

      • And really hard for her I’m sure Van. It sucks to realize you can’t do what you used to be able to do and feel like every thing is being decided for you. I see it in my parents who hold on to their home with all they’ve got, when living away from it (big house and property to maintain) might be the best thing.

      • She has never been on her own, at 86, we knew she wouldn’t need the pressure of maintaining a 65 yr old house. We live 300 miles away. It’s been tough to manage long distance. Only 1 brother lives within an hour of the property. We are hoping to resolve some of this soon. Thanks, D.

  8. LaVagabonde says:

    Debt has always seemed like slavery to me. I refused to even take out student loans, and I only financed a car once in my life. I’ve been totally debt free for 16 years – no credit cards, even. We paid cash for our small apartment in France. But my friends and family think I’m weird.

    Best of luck with organizing things, Van. πŸ™‚

    • Wow, not so weird…you are unique, Julie, and in an enviable position. I agree on the credit cards, and we pay cash for cars, home improvements, etc. The house is the only anchor. Another reason to sell it. Both “small” and “apartment” appeal to me so much right now.πŸ’• I’m sure you sleep well at night, and I know how you are free to travel. Thanks. ☺

  9. I have always dreamed of owning my own home, it is the same for us here in the UK, the aspiration to have the house and perfect family. I kind of got the wrong idea! At least I got the great family part right though πŸ™‚

  10. My daughter has the home bug, but I don’t know if it will come to fruition, perhaps not for a long time as she and her partner just don’t have the income. I’ve been a homeowner for most of my adult life and like you, Van, want to downsize and simplify. I like the security and privacy of owning a home, but no longer require all the stuff (or maintainance)! πŸ™‚

    • They have been renting in NYC; even with only 5 % down, will still come out ahead moving out of the city. I’m with you, Diana, on the stuff, husband is a do -it-yourself guy on the maintenance; I think he’d miss his tools, and lawn tractor ! ☺

  11. George says:

    Homeownership is a fascinating process, from the search to the loan and approval to the sale and upgrade to the downsize and sale again. It can be frustrating, time consuming,rewarding and filled with memories and nostalgia. I am always torn now between downsizing and not wanting to leave all the memories of the last thirty years. Someday we’ll decide or time will decide for us, but I do like your plan…smaller home near the water..:) good luck.

    • We’ve moved so often, George, memories are not part of the equation. Waiting to see where our adult children settle. One now in upstate NY, my son…not sure where ? Thanks. ☺

  12. Home ownership is not for everyone. My oldest and her [now disabled] husband have learned that they would probably be better off in a condo or rental unit where someone else does the maintenance. They’re looking into that.

    My husband and I have been considering going into an over-55 unit somewhere because we find the neighbors’ kids so annoying. Then we thought about just getting a small ranch type house with some land around it, so we wouldn’t have steps any more. But then we put all that money into our house to repair it after the ice damage, and now I have all the colors I wanted and a house I’m not ashamed to bring visitors into. We have the neighbor and her kids under control. Now I don’t want to leave, at least not any time soon.

    • My husband wants to do maintenance, as we “mature”, I’m not sure he should. I’m so with you on the stairs, would love single story something ! We’ve been lucky with neighbors, but our property taxes are going haywire…lots of new schools/modifications. There’s talk of tax reform, but I’m not counting on it. Thanks for your very valid points, CM. β˜ΊπŸ’•

      • I think my husband would be totally bored in an apartment, for the same reason – he has to be puttering around doing something at all times. Take the maintenance away from him, and he’ll have nothing to do – except annoy the heck out of me.

      • ha….I can surely relate to that. ☺ We’ve adjusted quite a bit, I retired long before he did and was concerned about having so much “together” time. We give each other space. ☺

  13. It is all so much work! We moved my parents last summer after 40 years, it took all summer literally! It was a huge process! so good luck with the in laws home and hope everything goes well! They moved to a retirement community, wow I would like to move there some day! Everything taken care of and nice people as neighbors, looks good to me. 20 years is a long temporary! Liked this post Van!!

    • Hi Lynn, She is now in a Senior Independent Living Center in a lovely 2 BR apartment. Very nice place, friendly and accommodating, great dining facility, maid service, lots of social activities. But to her, it’s not home, at least not yet. We’ll see. Thanks. ☺

  14. Know it too well. Too soon to think of retirement, but would like to downsize and move. It’s something of an itch for me. Not a good one. Our neighbors are great. This is home.

  15. amommasview says:

    I hope you will be able to settle down (if you want to) again in a new beautiful home again soon.

  16. markbialczak says:

    Follow your dream still, Van. Always.

  17. badfish says:

    Scary stuff…this house stuff. I’ve never had the desire to own a home. I do have a motorhome that I live in when I’m not traveling.

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