Why I Really Regret Buying a ‘Good Enough’ House

published Mar 31, 2019
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When my husband and I first started looking for a house in 2017, we had just brought our second baby home from the hospital. By the time we sat down at the settlement table, she was just a few weeks away from crawling.

Neither of us expected the process to take so long. After all, “for sale” signs were going up and coming down across the state with breakneck speed. We didn’t realize at the time that those quick moving properties were actually bad news for us as buyers.

A seller’s market

Every time we fell in love with a home, there were five other families falling for the same one. Our budget was tight, and we didn’t have any wiggle room to get into bidding wars.

After months of heartache, we became frustrated and disenchanted. We began to work out compromises on what our dream home would look like, and instead envisioned a home that we could work with. A perfect storm was building and we both knew that we would put a bid in on the very next house that seemed “good enough.”

The “meh” house

That house ended up being a four-bedroom colonial, located on a dead-end street with a large yard. Desperate to be done with the whole process, we settled.

It didn’t matter that there was only one bathroom, we figured we’d just convert one of the bedrooms into a second bath.

And sure, the house was on the smaller side, but there was so much land. With a quarter acre there was plenty of space to build an addition.

And okay, the basement was dark and unpleasant, but all we needed it for was storage and a laundry room. Neither of us would be spending enough time down there for it to matter.

The cracks begin to show

Six months after we signed the paperwork, we began to talk about moving again. The estimated costs to complete all of the upgrades we wanted just didn’t make sense. A bathroom, enclosing the carport, waterproofing and updating the basement, bumping out the dining room to make space for another bedroom (to make up for the one we would lose getting the much needed second bath) would all cost us close to six figures—about half of what our house is currently worth. It would take us years to save up that much, or cost us almost half of our monthly mortgage payment to finance it.

Moving into a larger house that already had those features seemed like the only thing that made good financial sense.

The cost of starting over

The prospect of starting over again is exhausting, but not as exhausting as the idea of all of the time and money we’ve wasted.

The small updates we’ve already made around the house, the money we spent on movers, the money we’ll have to spend on movers again, settlement costs to sell this place and purchase another… all I see are dollar signs when I think about it.

And I think about it a lot, because the reality is that I don’t know when we will actually be able to afford to move again.

Hindsight and patience

I thought settling on a house that was “good enough” really would be good enough. Instead, it’s both a financial and an emotional money pit. We assumed that we would just be able to turn almost any home into our dream home. We just didn’t realize how much more that would cost us than waiting to buy our dream home outright.

In hindsight, I wish we had taken some time away from the process to regroup and save up more money—or else that we had stuck it out and waited until the most basic of our housing needs could be met (a family of four with only one bathroom means that someone is almost waiting to get in to use the facilities), instead of impatiently making a decision.

After all, the relief we got from finally being through with our search was only temporary, while the pain of living in a too small house with too few bathrooms, may very well be forever. Let’s hope not.

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