Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Sometimes it's hard...

... to know what is the best decision (this goes back to the whole 'you can't predict the future' thing).  Our housing situation is something that we have struggled with for quite some time.  I'll give you a bit of background here.

We originally lived in the city, a housing boom started after we built our first house, and looking at what we could sell our house for relative to what we had paid, it looked like a great opportunity to sell and buy a bigger home.  Of course ALL of the houses in the city had gone up in price along with ours, so we started looking at the outlying areas where we could still snag a deal.

We ended up in a town about a half hour outside of the city limits.  We found a builder that would let us design our own floor plans and do all custom finishes for a reasonable price, and we jumped at the chance.  We thought we were super lucky to be building a completely custom home at such a young age, and were quite smug at how smart we were at real estate.

Fast forward to building, and it ended up being a nightmare.  There was mistake upon mistake, we were constantly fighting with the builder to make things right, and the cost kept rising.  We still ended up getting the house for a relative deal at the time, but it ended up being $60,000 more than we originally thought, eating into the profit we had planned on making off the sale of our old house.  The whole process was horrible and stressful. At least, we thought, we ended up with our dream home in the end.

Unfortunately, our vision for our dream neighbourhood was not to come along with our dream home.  Sales on lots boomed when they were first released, but then dwindled as prices rose.  After the recession hit, building came to a stand still and the second phase of our development is a barren wasteland of dirt and weeds.  All of the houses that are here are beautiful, but the lack of building obviously raises some red flags and the future of the development is questionable at best.  It feels like it will take a miracle for them to be able to finish the neighbourhood that we were originally sold on.

And so after much debate, we listed our house for sale this spring.  We knew our area wasn't desirable, but we listed for what we thought was low enough that we could generate some interest.  Unfortunately not.  For five months we have had it on the market, not one offer.  We have had showings, but no real interest in buying.  We have flip flopped on what to do - do we just stay here and wait for the market to pick back up and pray that the development pulls through?  Or do we bail out now while we still can?

The big issue for us is selling means walking away with nothing.  We would need to rent, and in the city we would pay the same amount in rent that we currently pay for our mortgages and taxes.  If we rent we won't live in a house as nice as what we have, we won't have the freedom to make it our own, and we would likely have a difficult time finding a landlord that is keen to rent with a family with 3 kids and 3 cats.

So where does that leave us?  All things factored in we've decided to stay put.  We don't know what the future will hold, but in the end at least we have a beautiful, clean home in a safe neighbourhood to raise our kids.  Sure it would be nice to be back in the city, closer to Nick's office and more amenities.  But we could actually be saving money out here.  There are no malls, there are very limited shopping options.  Our community provides free access to the public pool and skating rinks on Sunday afternoons.  We have a Parent Link Centre in town that is a free drop-in place to take your kids to play with toys, do crafts, and have coffee with other parents.  Our town puts on great parades twice a year and fun, free community activities.

So though it's tempting to walk away and, at least mentally, get a fresh start and a clean slate from past mistakes and bad purchases.  Maybe staying here will be a good reminder of the past and will help spur us on to not repeat our mistakes.  We have to buckle down, work hard, and we'll get through this.

I have a confession to make though - I did charge a $50 restaurant gift card to give to our realtor today.  I know she put money and effort into this sale and I feel awful that she's walking away with nothing.  I will, however, pay back the money to the card on Friday when it's pay day.

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