Author Topic: Help me pick my house!  (Read 688 times)

Mgmny

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Help me pick my house!
« on: June 08, 2021, 12:28:27 PM »
Hello!

My wife and I built a house with what we will call a "super-value-driven" (read: cheap/frugal/stingy) mindset in 2019, and probably made a mistake. I was really focused on "will this feature impact our happiness? FIRE savings/experiences over things."

Our house floorplan is perfect - exactly what we need and no fluff. It's perfectly efficient. However, our lot, is not. We backup to a busy road and a "small" airpot (25,000 flights annually...). The airport is actually pretty fun to see the airplanes and they only takeoff in our direction (i.e. noisy) on about 5-10% of the days. The rest of the time, they are usually landing near us or going on the other perpendicular runway. The road is incredibly intrusive. It's a "county highway" that is 55 mph with 15,000 "trips per day" at our section. Semis are roaring by, and in the summer, motorcycles love to rev their engines. We had a road in our backyard at our previous house, but it was 35 mph, and was WAY WAY WAY less busy. We could sit outside and 10-20 minutes could go by without a car, here, it would be incredible if 1 minute went by without traffic. To top it all off, we just found out that we live in an old superfund site boundary. After much more research it appears as though the mitigation solutions in place should make us "safe" but really, how much can you trust these things??

Here's where we are struggling. Help me pick. Or facepunch me. or give me alternatives. My wife and I are really struggling with this decision.

BUILD SIMILAR HOUSE IN NEARBY NEIGHBORHOOD (outside of superfund, no airport/road noise)
Pros: quieter neighborhood, staying in same community that we love, community pool (pro?), functional floorplan
Cons: small bedrooms, small master bath, expensive, neighbors, projects even at high purchase price (trees, deck, garden, fence)
Cost: $675k (?)

BUILD ACROSS STATE BORDER
Pros: land, serenity, choose exactly what we want to build
Cons: unknown costs, far from major city (30 minutes), not very bike-able (grocery and shopping mall is 5 country road miles away), may come with projects even at high purchase price (ie: trees, deck, garden, unfinished basement)
Cost: $675,000 + $3-4,000 more in property taxes annually

PURCHASE EXISTING HOME IN CURRENT COMMUNITY
Pros: most economical/good value, the possibility of land/get away from road noise, stay in community that we love, possibility of mature trees/neighborhood
Cons: not brand new construction, extremely competitive market, may need to compromise on floorplan as we are not building, projects (paint, update, trees?, fence?, deck?)
Cost: $700k (?)

STAY IN CURRENT HOME
Pros: not having to move, great floor plan, somewhat bike-able, already have features such as deck/solar panels/trees/garden/irrigation, staying in community that we love, few projects left to do (finish basement, shed?), 20 year mortgage with low interest rate
Cons: road noise,  future stop lights in backyard, possible ecological issues, ďcheapĒ finishes such as trim, opportunity cost of NOT moving
Current value: $500,000
Mortgage based on original purchase price of $415,000

I know these are super high costs for a home, but unfortunately, it's the reality of living in the community that we love. Our combined income is about $240k yearly, and our savings rate is still about 40%. What should we do?

Flat9MKE

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Re: Help me pick my house!
« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2021, 01:36:10 PM »
I would look for a less expensive home in your current community.  Is it just you and your wife?  Perhaps downsize into something smaller, less expensive, but better location.

With construction prices extremely volatile right now and potential longer term inflation, I don't think building new is a great financial decision.  A guy at my work bought some land a while ago and was getting ready to build but has to delay now based on construction costs.  Anecdotal, but I work in commercial real estate development and we are seeing the same thing in the commercial construction markets.  Steel, concrete, roofing, etc. - material shortages and significant price increases.


windytrail

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Re: Help me pick my house!
« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2021, 01:43:10 PM »
Go with the house in the most bikeable/walkable neighborhood.

Fishindude

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Re: Help me pick my house!
« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2021, 01:47:38 PM »
Location is everything.   Find a general location  you like, then do what you have to do to move there.

FLBiker

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Re: Help me pick my house!
« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2021, 01:54:00 PM »
Location is everything.   Find a general location  you like, then do what you have to do to move there.

Agreed.  We recently moved, and our house backs up on a wooded ravine.  We have neighbors, but the way things are laid out we don't really see them from the backyard.  It's awesome, and these aren't things I would have prioritized before.  We spend so much time back there, and it's so pleasant.  I can't speak to building new / the advantages of new construction -- we've owned two houses, one built in the 60's in Florida and one built in the 90's in Nova Scotia.  So, for us, the one built in the 90's feels brand new. :)

I will say, personally, small bedrooms / master bath wouldn't really bother me.  In our previous house, that was the situation.  In our current house, we don't even have a master bath (there's one bathroom upstairs that we share with our daughter and a half downstairs).  We do live in an area that is bikeable / walkable -- that was a big priority for us.

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: Help me pick my house!
« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2021, 02:40:41 PM »
Damn! What a predicament. Shame that you didnít factor in the airport and road when you picked the land and decided to build there. Oh well, spilt milk. Personally, you named two things Iíd avoid with all my life: airport noise and road noise. I just canít imagine building another home. How long would that take? Youíre both young with incredible incomes. Iíd purchase in the existing community and then hold off to build something again until you get to retirement time and then find where you want to be for life and build that to suit.

gooki

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Re: Help me pick my house!
« Reply #6 on: June 08, 2021, 04:38:13 PM »
The only one I'd avoid is building across state border, unless you particularly want a rural life.

Mgmny

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Re: Help me pick my house!
« Reply #7 on: June 09, 2021, 02:06:55 PM »
I would look for a less expensive home in your current community.  Is it just you and your wife?  Perhaps downsize into something smaller, less expensive, but better location.

With construction prices extremely volatile right now and potential longer term inflation, I don't think building new is a great financial decision.  A guy at my work bought some land a while ago and was getting ready to build but has to delay now based on construction costs.  Anecdotal, but I work in commercial real estate development and we are seeing the same thing in the commercial construction markets.  Steel, concrete, roofing, etc. - material shortages and significant price increases.

My wife and 2 children - probably at least 1 more (maybe 2) in the next few years. Maybe i misunderstand, but with inflation, wouldn't now be a good time to buy/build? If I buy a house for $650k, but inflation goes crazy, now my $2000/month mortgage, which used to seem like a lot of money, is not a lot anymore, and is handled comfortably as my wages have gone up considerably.

Mgmny

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Re: Help me pick my house!
« Reply #8 on: June 09, 2021, 02:07:57 PM »
Go with the house in the most bikeable/walkable neighborhood.

I bought an ebike about 8 months ago, and i feel this. I live in MN, so it was tough to ride it, but just in the month of May i put on over 200 miles on it, so i can definitely appreciate it. It's tough, however, to find a walkable/bikable area that also offers seclusion and privacy.

Mgmny

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Re: Help me pick my house!
« Reply #9 on: June 09, 2021, 02:08:48 PM »
Location is everything.   Find a general location  you like, then do what you have to do to move there.

3 most important factors of real estate: location, location, location! 

Ha, totally agree though. We found a region we like, and it is EXPENSIVE (of course it is, it's a nice area!).

Mgmny

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Re: Help me pick my house!
« Reply #10 on: June 09, 2021, 02:11:29 PM »
Location is everything.   Find a general location  you like, then do what you have to do to move there.

Agreed.  We recently moved, and our house backs up on a wooded ravine.  We have neighbors, but the way things are laid out we don't really see them from the backyard.  It's awesome, and these aren't things I would have prioritized before.  We spend so much time back there, and it's so pleasant.  I can't speak to building new / the advantages of new construction -- we've owned two houses, one built in the 60's in Florida and one built in the 90's in Nova Scotia.  So, for us, the one built in the 90's feels brand new. :)

I will say, personally, small bedrooms / master bath wouldn't really bother me.  In our previous house, that was the situation.  In our current house, we don't even have a master bath (there's one bathroom upstairs that we share with our daughter and a half downstairs).  We do live in an area that is bikeable / walkable -- that was a big priority for us.

Our current house layout probably has us spoiled. Depending on how many kids we end up with, we may need kids sharing a room, so something bigger than 10x8 might be helpful for 2 beds, etc. Also, with that many children and bath times, the extra bathroom is helpful, lol. The house we have now has a seperate stool room in each bathroom, so someone could be brushing their teeth in the sink area, and someone else could be using the potty without any awkward moments. It's a godsend. Bikeable and walkable are definitely important, but it's so tough to find that when you also are looking for some acreage.

Mgmny

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Re: Help me pick my house!
« Reply #11 on: June 09, 2021, 02:13:07 PM »
Damn! What a predicament. Shame that you didnít factor in the airport and road when you picked the land and decided to build there. Oh well, spilt milk. Personally, you named two things Iíd avoid with all my life: airport noise and road noise. I just canít imagine building another home. How long would that take? Youíre both young with incredible incomes. Iíd purchase in the existing community and then hold off to build something again until you get to retirement time and then find where you want to be for life and build that to suit.

Ha, i know. First world problems FOR SURE. building from today would probably be like 8-10 months. I think we are trying to uproot our kids too much while they are growing up, so if we FIRE in 10ish years, our children will probably be like 13, 11, 9, 7 - tough ages to move/build somewhere, you know?

ChpBstrd

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Re: Help me pick my house!
« Reply #12 on: June 09, 2021, 02:24:16 PM »
Perhaps you're in a good position to arbitrage the materials shortages that are driving up housing prices.

Get rid of most of your stuff, sell your existing house for an outrageous price, and then rent for a year or two. Ask $700k and see what happens. Your housing costs will probably plummet for that year or two, and then you buy back in when the materials shortages are over and/or the housing mania has collapsed. Or, if housing doesn't go down, you plow those savings back into something you like better.

Or maybe by then you are FIRE and can buy a $200k house in 90% of the U.S. With a $240k annual income, I would hope that you are well on the way. $1M in investments and a paid-off house yields a pretty good lifestyle in a lot of interesting locations.

If you choose to stay, would it be possible to build a wall or an outbuilding, or use vegetation to block some of the road noise?

Mgmny

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Re: Help me pick my house!
« Reply #13 on: June 09, 2021, 02:43:55 PM »
Perhaps you're in a good position to arbitrage the materials shortages that are driving up housing prices.

Get rid of most of your stuff, sell your existing house for an outrageous price, and then rent for a year or two. Ask $700k and see what happens. Your housing costs will probably plummet for that year or two, and then you buy back in when the materials shortages are over and/or the housing mania has collapsed. Or, if housing doesn't go down, you plow those savings back into something you like better.

Or maybe by then you are FIRE and can buy a $200k house in 90% of the U.S. With a $240k annual income, I would hope that you are well on the way. $1M in investments and a paid-off house yields a pretty good lifestyle in a lot of interesting locations.

If you choose to stay, would it be possible to build a wall or an outbuilding, or use vegetation to block some of the road noise?

With 2 little ones and another on the way, there is exactly a 0% chance i could convince my wife to let us sell our house and rent/become homeless for 2 years. I think it sounds like a fun adventure, but i promise you that she will not.

No real chance of a wall or outbuilding, unfortunately. My lot right now is only .22 acres.

elaine amj

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Re: Help me pick my house!
« Reply #14 on: June 09, 2021, 02:48:36 PM »
So it looks like you will save $175k to $200k by staying. What about spending some money on noise mitigation?

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.thisoldhouse.com/platform/amp/carlisle-house/21015370/yard-noise-reduction

I do understand though. I prize tranquility. Currently, my house is on a quiet street in a quiet subdivision. Half a block away is an expressway that is a major artery in my city. But it is far enough away that while it is a low hum, my front yard and backyard still feels tranquil.

I don't know how effective noise mitigation will work on your property given its placement though.

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Mgmny

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Re: Help me pick my house!
« Reply #15 on: June 09, 2021, 02:51:50 PM »
So it looks like you will save $175k to $200k by staying. What about spending some money on noise mitigation?

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.thisoldhouse.com/platform/amp/carlisle-house/21015370/yard-noise-reduction

I do understand though. I prize tranquility. Currently, my house is on a quiet street in a quiet subdivision. Half a block away is an expressway that is a major artery in my city. But it is far enough away that while it is a low hum, my front yard and backyard still feels tranquil.

I don't know how effective noise mitigation will work on your property given its placement though.

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I have read that article before! A stone wall isn't really feasible/practical given the distance to the road - it's across a small pont from my house, so id on't think the stone wall would do much. I could add a fountain, but that doesn't really help when i'm inside, or at night when i want to sleep with a window open, you know?

elaine amj

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Re: Help me pick my house!
« Reply #16 on: June 09, 2021, 04:43:31 PM »
A fountain outside your window? Other white noise in your room? I am sleeping way better eith the small hum of an air purifier now lol.

But yeah - if you can't hack a solution, your issues may need you to move. Quality of life definitely matters.

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joe189man

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Re: Help me pick my house!
« Reply #17 on: June 09, 2021, 05:00:59 PM »
So it looks like you will save $175k to $200k by staying. What about spending some money on noise mitigation?

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.thisoldhouse.com/platform/amp/carlisle-house/21015370/yard-noise-reduction

I do understand though. I prize tranquility. Currently, my house is on a quiet street in a quiet subdivision. Half a block away is an expressway that is a major artery in my city. But it is far enough away that while it is a low hum, my front yard and backyard still feels tranquil.

I don't know how effective noise mitigation will work on your property given its placement though.

Sent from my VCE-AL00 using Tapatalk

I have read that article before! A stone wall isn't really feasible/practical given the distance to the road - it's across a small pont from my house, so id on't think the stone wall would do much. I could add a fountain, but that doesn't really help when i'm inside, or at night when i want to sleep with a window open, you know?

we used to life at the entrance to our old neighborhood and a local road, it was loud, we moved, i looked at all kinds of options to reduce noise, but at the end of the day we were still on the busy noisey corner.

sounds like the location is big pain point, is it $800-1000 a month painful? because thats approximately what $200k will cost you in mortgage payments.