Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Why we’re not moving

Didn’t know we were thinking about it? We were.

But…we’re not.

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It started last year while we were attacking our debt snowball. We looked into refinancing our current mortgage into a 15-year. To do so, we had a realtor come out to the house to give us an idea of the value.

The news was not good.

When I say not good, I mean…not. good. We were expecting it to be bad, but not that bad. And the longer I let it set in, the more it got to me.

You know our house is my hobby. It’s also now a big (HUGE. MASSIVE.) part of my business. So to learn that what we’ve done to the house didn’t really mean much, well -- it was hard for me to take.

I’ve poured my blood, sweat and tears into this house because I love it, I enjoy it and it’s my passion. But I was hoping my improvements would help the bottom line a little bit too. At least right now, they don’t.

There’s a number of reasons why – first of all, if you haven’t noticed…uhhh…the market pretty much sucks right now. Royally. We live in one of the best areas in the country (based on schools, incomes, jobs, yadda yadda), in a fantastic location, in a great neighborhood.

But the neighborhood is part of the problem. No one ever moves. Seriously. Our realtor had, like, five houses to compare us against in the past two years. That’s a good thing, in that it’s a great place to live. A bad thing because there’s so few comparables.

Another issue was that we built this house –- picked all the fixtures, upgrades, elevation, all those fun goodies. But those goodies are so inflated when installing them through a builder and rolling them into your mortgage, compared to buying them outright. A $100 light fixture is going to cost you a lot more than that, for the convenience of having it done for you.

And there’s that whole mental thing -- “What’s another $120 on a 30-year mortgage? Let’s do it!!

(We didn’t do a lot of that, but all the little things certainly added up.)

So off the bat, I’m quite sure we paid more than we should have for our house. We were also in the first, say 25 percent, of homes to be built in our neighborhood. So there were plenty more built later that were a LOT bigger for less money.

So our square footage compared to the others in the neighborhood really dinged us. We’re tiny compared to most of them, but we paid more for our house.

DANGah Gina!

DOH!

So when we got the news about the value of our house, I wallowed for a couple of days. Boo hoo’d a bit. Got really mad. Then decided we just needed to move. Pronto.

Like, rightthisverysecond.

But there was an itty bitty issue. We had no money.

We were still in major debt back then. We didn’t have a down payment. And we weren’t moving with tons of debt and no down payment.

I looked at houses online for about one day. I was freaking out people. I felt like we had to cut our losses and get out of dodge. Please remember, we had just gotten this bad news, I was emotional, and was not thinking clearly. At all.

So anyway, looking at houses didn’t help things one bit. Or maybe it did.

I didn’t find one house we would want to live in. Not one.

Cause, oh yeah…WE LOVE OUR HOUSE.

We built it, remember? We picked out every little thing. I took a second job for a bigger down payment, we saved like fools, I drove by the lot every. single. day. to check the progress. I had our superintendent on speed dial and he was my BFF for five months. We watched it go up bit by bit, falling in love a little more every day.

One day, I visited after they had finished spraying the walls with our Beechwood Grey color. I stood in the middle of the house, taking it all in and SQUEALED very loudly. Then added a fist pump and screamed “YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!”

And my BFF superintendent walked out of one of the rooms just a few feet from where I was standing. :)

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We love our house.

One day after we got the bad news about the value, I had a long, emotional conversation with my Dad, and to say he put me in check is an understatement. And after that hour on the phone, it’s like the clouds had parted and it had all clicked in my head.

We are so, so, so insanely fortunate to have this HOME. A house we love, that’s the right size (probably a bit too big, really), in a beautiful neighborhood.

We aren’t upside down on our house. We can afford the payments (our mortgage is well within our means). And if we’re intense with it, we think we can pay off our house in five years or so.

How many people do I hear call into the Dave Ramsey show every day who can’t pay for their home anymore? They are quite literally walking away from it. It breaks my heart for them. Kills me.

So basically, I told myself to BUCK UP BUTTERCUP. You know…to shut my (own) trap.

We’re not moving.

But here’s the thing – we’re still going to spend money on our home. We’re not going to live in it and not live in it. We’re going to finish the basement (which will help the value), we’re going to install new faucets, plant more trees, make it what we want it.

Is that the best idea? I don’t know. But it’s what we’re going to do.

Who knows what the economy will bring? I know for certain the value will go up again. I have no doubt in my mind. What I don’t know is if it’s ever going to be where we want it to be.

But right now, I don’t care. We don’t know if it’s our forever home, but it’s our forever home for right now.

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Just without the pumpkins and corn stalks. (I just love that picture.)  :)

Of course, please know…if you’re thinking about moving, you just moved, your getting ready to move – I am NOT talking to you. I’m just sharing what we’ve experienced with our specific situation and how we got to our decision. (I’ve heard Dave Ramsey tell plenty of people to sell and take a bit of a hit on their house, just because they can make it up so easily on a new purchase right now. It is definitely a great time to buy.)

And if you are moving I’m so freakin’ excited for you and I want you to blog about it so I can see pictures of your new house. Seriously. Moving to a new home is daunting and overwhelming, but it’s also pretty darn exciting. :)

So, I know I’m not the only one who’s gotten bad news about their biggest life investment – their house. Anyone else been through it lately? What did you decide? Stay or go? Are you happy about it? Sad? Frustrated? Excited? Do tell.

180 comments:

  1. Thank you for this post. Much like you, my house (a 1915 duplex) has been a hobby for many, many years. We were debt snowballing hard core on our 2nd mortgage up until last month, when I had a major freakout about my stress. I work full time, have two kids, and commute. As much as I love the house, something has to go. So, we're going to *try* to sell the house (which we will definitely take a loss on, but we're not upside down) in order to eliminate the commute and regain some sanity. We're finishing the last few projects and trying to save like crazy for a down payment in a more expensive area near work. However, if it doesn't sell, I can take comfort in knowing that it is a great house, and I love it and I can make it work. It's nice to know that someone else has been through this pain. Deciding to leave is killing me, but so is the stress.

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  2. Sarah, I have lived in my house for 22 years. While I didn't build it I picked out most all of the finishes. I am tired of this house, want a new floor plan and layout, something new to play with BUT it ain't happenin and I too got to be ok with that. I am sure we could sell it and make a little profit but surely not all that we have put into it. You are right we do have so much to be thankful for!

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  3. Good post. :) We own 2 houses in 2 different states right now because of the drop in value... makes me feel a bit ill, glad we have good renters in our old house... it's a tough situation. We were going to sell and take a loss until the value dropped even MORE... and now we're holding on to it for a while ;)

    I think you have a good attitude, you should enjoy your home -- living in it without making it your own and working on it is no fun... (especially when you're addicted to house stuff like we are, haha!) :)

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  4. Fantastic post! We were looking to get of our place for a while. Our issue wasn't the finances, but the bag neighborhood we were in. And even with that, and the fact that I never got the place decorated the way I like, I still struggled over whether or not to move. It's a hard decision to make for sure! Ultimately we did move, and couldn't be happier. And now I'm working (and blogging) to make it something that is perfect for our family. Good luck to you in continuing to do that with your current place!

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  5. We did move! Funny thing is that we weren't even looking to move, our house wasn't on the market. We love to look at houses though and one really awesome deal fell upon us. So we put the house on the market and a month later we closed on a new one. We couldnt sell our other house so we had 2 mortgages for a while but, we found some really great renters who love that house like it was their own. So yeah, we moved and so glad we did.

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  6. Oops! That should have said bad neighborhood. What in the world is a bag neighborhood?!

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  7. I really enjoyed reading this post. It reminded me of how much work we had put into our house over the last 4 years to make it perfect for US. We were ready to sell about a year ago (for something "newer and better") until we realized what our house was appraised for (not less than we paid, but less no match for all the work and money we put into it). I was very disappointed at the time, but now that I look back it was a blessing. We love this house. It is ours because we made it ours. So I really did enjoy your post because I could relate to it in a sense. Thank you!
    Jen

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  8. I know the feeling of getting the bad news. I was going to refinance the house but after the appraisal, I found out the bad news. I bought the house new and like you was one of the first in this part of my development. Now they are building all around me. I am OK with being on the down side. It took me a year to find my house and I love it. It has so much potential. I decided that I still love my house and won't get upset at the situation. I'll keep enjoying my house until I decide to go for the forever home.

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  9. About a year and a half ago we put up our (old) house for sale just on a whim. We were living in a small town where homes took a long time to sell - we had an almost full price offer in just two days.

    That put is in a tough place because we hadn't found another home yet and couldn't find anything we really loved. We ended up moving in with my parents and while we appreciated their hospitality, by the end of the first month we were stir crazy. (My husband, daughter and I were packed into a tiny bedroom)

    We ended up building a home that we knew we would be able to afford easily and consider it a temporary residence. Well, with the market the way it is, it is looking like this might be a more permanent home and I keep telling myself that all the little improvements we have made and continue to make might not add so much to the cash value of our home but will make it stand out (in a good way, hopefully!) from all the other homes in this price range when we do decide to sell

    It is so obvious from all the love you put into your home that it is so special to you. It seems like it would be kind of sad to have to pack up and take it elsewhere :)

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  10. Sorry to comment again, but I forgot to mention how much I LOVED the photo of the baby! It made me giggle. Perfect!
    Jen

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  11. Wonderful post! I enjoyed reading your thoughts. So many people have in the past viewed their home as investments. It is not. An investment gives you income & the home you live in does not..have you ever seen the Money Pit? LOL! We had our house up for sale for awhile because our girls are 17 & 18 & it's usually just my husband and I in this big 3 floor house. I am glad our house didn't sell because there isn't one house in our entire county that I like enough to live in. I've looked at hundreds! We're going to wait a few more years until our girls move out so we can downsize a little more than we could right now. I'm with you, We're going to live in our house until we move. We've already painted the dining room & built raised beds for our garden since taking it off the market a couple of months ago. I have many other plans for improving our home, as well. Thanks for your post.

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  12. I understand completely!! We just built a new house....it was making me crazy that I paid 4 times more than what I could get in other parts of the country...I don't know why this was driving me crazy...

    I had to let it go....

    I LOVE this house....I am so blessed to be a home owner, able to pay the mortgage and paint the walls purple if I want:-)

    Good choice staying in a house you LOVE

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  13. Great post! We just moved to a "bigger" house last month. But we were fortunate not to have to sell the other one we moved out of. We had the house appraised and we had a dose of reality too when they told us the value. You have done a wonderful job decorating your house and you are very fortunate to be able to pay it off in 5 years!! (Suze Orman is a huge proponant of no debt, too!) Anyways, congrats on the decision to stay and I think you will be happy with that choice for years to come. :)

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  14. I could write a similar post! We are essentially stuck in the itty bitty starter house that we built due to the economy. We aren't moving and I am thankful for a small cluttered house that I still love!

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  15. Can I have your dad's number...we will be having a realtor come out and give us a price this month...I am afraid of the bad news that we might get...so I might need your dad to remind me how lucky I am.

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  16. We just put our home up for sale. It's been a very hard thing to do - I love our HOME but we've simply outgrown it. We're due with our THIRD daughter in July and we need more space. Since we've ALWAYS been Dave Ramsey fanatics - we put down a nice 25% when we bought 7 years ago on a 15 year mortgage so we're in a "good spot". But man, when we got our comps for our listing price my husband and I were both just sad. But, it's worth it to move into a larger house and have room for everyone and everyone have a little space.
    But yeah - did I mention I'm pregnant with a 5 year old and 3 year old who like to PLAY lots and it's hard to keep the house spotless. And I'm due in JULY?!?! So we have a time crunch to sell or we're going to have to move big girls into the bonus room, turn the office into a huge closet, move baby into my 5 year old's room and move the office into my 3 year olds room. It's going to be alot of shuffling around.
    But I am THANKFUL that we are in the spot we're in with options. It breaks my heart to listen to DR with people in desperate situations.
    Congrats on the house!!

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  17. We are in the same boat as you. We thought we'd be in this place for 5 years, and then either sell it and move on and up, or rent it out while we bought something else. YEAH RIGHT!
    The market crashed and we're barely above water. I think. I also wanted to sell it and leave, but who'd buy it for what we paid? And what would we buy the next house with?
    I'm also determined to LIVE here. I am planting my veggie garden, my front yard flowers, planning on redoing our little one's room, redoing the bathroom this summer. It's our home for the foreseeable future and I'm going to love it and LIVE in it.

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  18. A drive-by appraisal (for a possible refi) said that our house value had increased by approximately $40,000 in the 2 years since we moved in (at the bottom of the market).

    That really got the wheels turning in a Dave Ramsey sorta way and now we are looking into paying off all our consumer debts this year, taking an overseas job that pays for housing, selling our home and paying off all our student loans with the equity, and being completely debt free. The house sure looks different when you see it in the new light, doesn't it? Wether good or bad!

    I am glad you aren't moving. But, actually, I am mad you aren't moving in next door.

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  19. We have been in our home for almost 8 years, and several times I have wanted to move (my husband didn't). I would look at other homes (usually on-line), and thankfully, none of them were ever *enough better* than what I had for me to want to move! (Well, there was one time...but that didn't pan out.) So I have made my peace with staying where we are and improving where we are. I am not going to do it for market value...I will do it to make this the home of my dreams--or as close to it as it can be :-) I *choose* to be happy!

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  20. I just did a similar post recently called Nothing Compares with Contentment. We have been in our very old rancher for 20 years now, and have fixed it up quite beautifully. We will have it payed off in the next few years. By then we will be on our own and ready to downsize. It makes more sense to stay in it now rather than getting a new bigger mortgage. So - we put up with the old and the worn and think of it as 'lived in'
    It wasn't going to be our forever house, but it became the home we raised our kids in, that our grandkids love to come to. And I have decided that it takes way more than wood, brick, and nails to make a home. If you love where you are, you should put that love into your home without thought of the return - because not all returns are financial..

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  21. My dad (aren't they so helpful :) says, "People are too worried about their house as an investment. They pay 20,000 dollars for a car and only have it a few years. If you put 20,000 into your house and make it so that you love it, that is money well spent, even if you never get it back."

    Hope this helps, though it seems like you are in a good place already :)

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  22. We were planning on moving last year around this time. My husband had gotten a new job an hour and a half away and we wanted to be closer. Well I am sure you have heard about the real estate in New Jersey. :) We couldn't fathorm paying 10,000 a year or more for property tax on a house that would cost twice as much as what we currently have and still be smaller! So we stayed. Has is been easy? No. My husband is exaused daily, sick often, and everything weighs heavy on his heart. He is now looking for another job. Our house is two years from being paid for, who would want to move with so little left to pay off? I am learning to be content with what we have and thankful for the home we built, even if we have to leave it for the health of my husband and our family. A house is not a home if there are no people in it to share it with.

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  23. Nice post - it was a reality check and gave me much to think about. Knowing the value has dropped so much, I can't imagine anyone selling now. It's almost better to rent it out to help pay for the mortgage, or if you can afford it - stay put and ride out this storm. Our 'balloon' is going to burst this coming September, and because our income went from two to one, hubs has read we are unable to refinance. I can't imagine what is going to happen b/c we already are just getting by. Thanks for sharing...

    :D Lynda

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  24. Oh, we are really thinking about moving since house prices are crazy low. Our neighborhood sells so we know we would do okay. Would we make $$? Heck no. However, with the amount we have paid off of the mortgage at this point we would still sell and have enough for a significant down payment on a new one. We could wind up with our dream house with even less of a mortgage payment b/c of the rates. It is SO tempting! I need your smarty Dad to tell me what to do... tough decision! :)

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  25. I'm going thru this same struggle. I have never been in a place more than 5 years. I didn't plan on staying here forever, but here I am in my 6th year in this house. There's nothing wrong with it really, I should be happy that we are in a house that fits us pretty comfortably and we can afford.
    After talking with our mortgage guy he initially said no problem, we can rent out our house and afford something else if we want. But when push came to shove, the bank said no way.
    Maybe it's good that we stay here for another couple of years.

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  26. I'm with you on the value. I bought new construction in FL 4 years ago for 104,900. As of my last property tax appraisal it's worth 58,800. I can't sell. I can't afford to refi. And the worst part is that I don't even LIVE there. I moved to MD get married. Right now it's a rental, bringing in less than the mortgage amount.

    Christina @The Scrappy Housewife

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  27. This is a great post because I feel as homeowners we all go back and forth on decisions about our home. Did we do the right thing, can we afford to keep it?Sometimes, homeowner ship seems unfair with all the sweat and tears that's behind maintaining and paying for it. My family has outgrown our home and we are pretty much stuck here until the market turn around. As I look around and we are all happy and making the best of what we have. This is not so bad after all. Congrats on your decision to stay because you and your family are right where you suppose to be. Home is what you make it no matter what problems we may face.

    Cheers,
    Lakeesha@Connie's Purse
    New Blogger/New Follower

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  28. i'm just one of those readers who reads and only pops up once in a while in the comments to say thank you for writing. i love what you share, how you share it, and just the fact that you do share. i think you must help so many people. i enjoy every visit here. just thought i'd let you know :)

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  29. Great post :) I've been thinking about having our home appraised, just to know. We're thinking about building on to this one/buying a bigger house/building a whole new house sometime in the near-ish future. I just want to know what we're working with. But I'm scared to have it appraised because I'm scared I'll get bad news. Or too good of news and our property taxes will go up. Decisions, decisions.

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  30. It sounds like everything turned out as it should have. When it comes to realty, I often fall in to the trap of thinking "the grass is always greener" but the truth is, a house is what you make of it. If you make it a home, you will love it (small closets and all) unconditionally. And you have certainly put your blood, sweat and tears in to making your house a home. So if all you got out of this experience was a new love and appreciation for your house, than maybe all of the anger and frustration was worth it...maybe ;)

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  31. Loved reading this, it's a comfort to know we're not alone. I just wish we were "in love" with the house we are in. This is our first home and we bought it brand new 4 years ago, less than a year before the housing market took such a hit. Now there are brand new houses selling in our neighborhood for almost 1/2 of what we still owe on ours. It's slightly discouraging to say the least. I've just been reminding myself lately that God has a plan and that I should be thankful I have a home!

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  32. What a well timed post. We just got this year's tax assessment and in the 18 months we've lived here, we built our house, the value has dropped $45k. Fun. Terrific. Homeownership sucks, but I love our house. Love the floor plan and everything we've done to it. Don't much care for the lot, but it was the last one that would fit our lovely house. Don't really care for the enviro-friendly crap that the community and county are pushing on our section but not the new section, but I do love our house even if we thought we were getting a good deal at the time.

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  33. Great post. We sold our house just about eight months ago. We took a hit to do (basically sold for what we bought, even though we'd upgraded and refinished the basement.)

    But, unlike you guys, we didn't like the house or the location all that much, and it was getting too small quicker than expected. It was worth it to lose a little in the end because the house we have now just might be our "forever" home and can certainly grow with us.

    Unfortunately now there's no money for decorating! And I've got so many plans it's keeping me up at night dreaming about decorating, but knowing that it will take forever to put it all into action.

    I just have to be patient and remember to take things one step at a time, and work with what I've got.

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  34. Awesome post!

    We are trying to decide what to do right now. We live in Australia and have been doing some renovations. The housing market here is nothing like the States. We wanted to sell in a few months and would make a big profit, but would still have to buy at an inflated price as well.

    So we still don't know whether to move or not.

    I would love to sell and move to the USA, (hubby is from Hawaii), but he's not so keen.

    Thanks so much for your post. Its given me lots to think about. :)

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  35. I also want to move - to the country!!! I want chickens and a garden and freedom for my boys. I'm tired of our location, which doesn't help with the value. At all. Not sure what we're going to end up doing. For now, I'm just thankful we still have a home as well.
    I'm so happy for you & your husband and making the Dave Ramsey plan work! You're an inspiration.
    May your life be filled with even more blessings to come! God bless!

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  36. We talk about moving quite a bit.... one lesson we learned (the hard way) is to never buy a house thinking it will be "temporary". When we bought this house we had every reason to believe it would be only 3 years (job transfer/promotion) Well.... his job transfer took a different route... as in job TRANSFER.. to another company!! Now, it was really for the best.. we got to stay near family and spend more time together....and go to church and serve as a FAMILY-- but we are still in our "temporary" house. We would have to sell first and hope to find a house we want... we like our house but out grew it almost right away... which we knew we would.. but hey.. it is only "temporary" :) Right now we are working on some remodels and updates as if we are staying forever... then if we decide to sell ... we should be able to do so pretty quickly... and be ready to move easier too... since we are working on major decluttering as well! :) But this is home... because we are all here together! :) So we will enjoy and decorate and live and love here... until we decide to move... if we do.
    Philippians 4:11
    Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

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  37. We are not planning on moving for a couple of years. But when we do it'll be in the same town, just bigger house. We love our little town in PA.

    My husband's job took us to 7 states in 17 years so we are staying put for a while. Our house is small, too small for the 7 of us really but so is the payment!

    It lost the little value it gained which put us right back at the purchase price but we're cool with that.
    It's a humble place but with killer furniture, thrifty finds and one of a kinds!

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  38. We just moved 5 days ago and just put our old house on the market today (had some handyman work that needed to be done first) and the realtor wants us to lower our price already, so we are likely to take a $50k hit on the house. So, I hear ya. Like you mentioned with the Ramsey message we did get a much better house in a better neighborhood in a better town. Hopefully we don't have to pay double mortgages for too awfully long.
    -Stefanie
    2ndChanceCreations.etsy.com

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  39. We short saled our house in the middle of last year and it sold for $120K less than we bought it for. But, it was the right decision for us and we found a lot of peace by walking away. I think this was a really good post about really thinking about a big decision like this. I have seen people desert one house just to buy another one that is twice as big just cause it's cheaper. My husband and I learned a cliche in real life that a house does NOT make a home...it's who's in it. We lived in an apartment for a year and now are in a larger condo and we are so happy that we sold our house. It was very emotional and hard (and LONG...it took over a year)...but it was what was right for us and I think everyone needs to really think about what's right for them in the long term and not "right now". Good luck on staying in your house:) Being content is one of the best lessons we have learned;)

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  40. Thanks for sharing! That was actually really refreshing!

    Three and a half years ago we had our house built, picked out all the stuff too and I loved it. No actually, I. LOVED. IT.!!

    That was in 2007. We both still had our jobs and had no problem being able to afford our mortgage. Less that one year later the market when to poo and we suffered greatly. I lost my job, which was actually a blessing, because now I am able to stay home and homeschool my children. And my husband got an enormous pay cut, which meant we could no longer afford our mortgage. We had to cut ties with our house and sell. Short sale, that is. It took an entire year to go through that process and I was OK with it because in the end, the bank suffered great losses too (I know, not very nice of me). We lost more than 50% on our home when it sold...or should I say the bank lost more than 50% from what we paid for it verse the short sale price. (I'll try to refrain from getting on my soap box right now). Our house drowned it was so far under water.

    Just before putting the house on the market, we had taken Dave Ramsey's FPU, we learned a lot...like the fact that we were broke people with debt and we should have never bought that house to beging with, because "broke people don't buy houses".

    All in all, I am glad we had to go through what we went through. We are wiser to the game of buying real estate and on the plus side, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE our rental house more than I loved the drowned house! And we are able to work our snowball more effectively now that we don't have a mortgage that is sucking the life out of us. Because we walked away from our house, we will be debt free in less than 2 years. Had we chosen to stay and try to make it work, we would probably have stayed in debt for the rest of our lives.

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  41. Great post and perspective. We are looking to move. I've been actively looking with a realtor for 4 months. There are thousands of homes for sale in our large and fast-growing community, so it isn't that there aren't any homes available. It's just that I am unwilling to ever buy another house that I don't love. (I made that mistake with the house we are in, and I've spent 11 years regretting it.)

    And we are looking to get in said heartthrob house at a great price. That means there is a very small sphere of homes that fit the bill. It's a frustrating process that is heartbreaking at times. (Found THE house and the seller yanked us around twice.) But we won't settle for less than the house at the price we want.

    We are blessed to have ours almost paid off, and it's been updated and remodeled enough to probably hold its fairly modest value. If not, we will rent it until the market recovers or a commercial offer for the property comes our way. It's an interesting if not-so-fun time to be on either side of a real estate transaction. Fortunately I can use my blog as a creative outlet for all my house shopping angst!

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  42. Right there with ya. When my husband and I bought this house, he was working from home so being a little farther out, didnt really matter.. 9 months later his business virtually tanked. He had to get a real job, with a really, really bad commute. Moving closer hasn't been an option because we have lost like 50-75 Thousand in our house. Sucks, big time. Like you, we love our home, the neighborhood, schools etc. However, having the option to relocate would be nice. We kinda feel trapped. Oh well though, it could be worse. We could be trapped in a house that we dont like, in a neighborhood that sucks, with crummy schools. We try to remind ourselves of that, and it helps.

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  43. We just bought a house in foreclosure and paid cash for it - it's a total remodel job and we're doing it all ourselves and I'm soo excited about it! http://taylorhousetohome.com I'm blogging about the remodeling process, a bit at a time.

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  44. Wow! we are in the same boat! We loved our house, wnet through the process of picking everything out, made it ours when we moved in...... and now its only worth about half of what we paid for it! We can affoard it and then some since my hubby has been promoted since buying the house 3 times. But to think of the price we are paying versus its worth is a tough pill to swallow some days.

    But then I am reminded as I see foreclosure signs pop up all around us that I am blessed to have a house I can live in and not work, that we can afford no matter what, its almost new(5yrs) and has no major issues to speak of. I think I should be thankful for what I have and no matter what its worth I am going to love it until it no longer loves me back then I'll move!

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  45. Hey Sarah, thanks so much for this post. I love your home, and I think about the majority of that love comes from the love YOU put in it! Your Bub has roots for now. And someday he'll drive past that house and tell his kiddoes, "That's where I grew up. I loved that house." And it's probably because you (and Mr. TDC) were in it, too. We don't own (The Hubs's company rents for us), and we've moved 4 times in the last 3 years. We ARE moving again - NEXT WEEK!! for what will (hopefully) be our last move for awhile. I've enjoyed living in new places and decorating new spaces (putting my own love into where we live to call it HOME), but I'm beyond ready to put down roots for myself and my little guys. You can check out some before and afters/follow my moving progress and "new house" decorating @ http://freestylinbeth.blogspot.com/

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  46. I don't think it's weird that you were upset about not moving. I can also see that it feels weird that it's like all your work amounted for nothing (which,btw, it did because if it hadn't been for your house this blog probably wouldn't exist am I right?) I won't lie that I covet your house. It's large and spacious. You have two living rooms AND an office! When my husband and I finally save up our down payment, our house will most likely be no bigger than our apartment. That's okay with me. It's MINE and I'll finally be able to build bookshelves on every wall. It's going to be glorious! Thank you for posting and being honest. There are a lot of little things to be thankful for. For instance, you can afford your home. :)

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  47. (I didn't read thru all of the comments, so if someone else said the same thing I'm going to say, I apologize!)

    This is just not the time to try to sell a house with the hope for profit from the sale. In fact, I wouldn't try to sell right now for any reason unless we seriously HAD to move for work or health. The thing about real estate is that it is cyclical (hmmm, sp??). It is constantly going up or going down in value. The ONLY time that the value REALLY matters is at tax time and when trying to sell.

    So what if right now, your house is "worth" a lot less than you hoped?? If you don't need to move, then the "value" today means nothing to you. There would be absolutely no advantage to selling now. There would be nothing to gain. It would result in a financial loss, force you into a lesser house that you don't have just the way you want it.

    As you said, Sit in it, laugh in it, have your life in it, at some point when you need to sell, then worry about all this. Right now, it doesn't matter. Just one other tiny little thing to remember, a house is "worth" whatever someone is willing to pay for it, no matter what the assessor says it's worth.

    Stay put, from what you describe you've got no reason to go!

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  48. Hi, Your recent post has given me some hope. Recently our basement flooded very bad. We're still not done with it. This is day 12 now. We were thinking to throw in the towel and get rid of the house. But like you the more I looked at the housing market the better looking the house we have now is. I think we'll give it a go and stay for awhile. Thank you for the on time inspiration!

    Kevin
    Kevin's Professional Product Reviews

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  49. A bit ago, when you blogged about your debt free status, I commented to you that we also became debt free, including our home. Well, that's all about to change! My hubby has accepted a job (which was too good to refuse) but it means relocating to an area where we can expect to pay twice as much for a home similar to ours. It's back to the ole mortgage payments for us! We are leaving our dream home. I was shocked and in denial at first, but have come to realize that we will create a new dream in our new home. Who knows, it may even turn out better!

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  50. Ugh I feel your disappointment! We bought our home at a not so great time and have been suuuuper frustrated to find people moving into our neigborhood, buying homes with the exact same floor plan for around 100k less than what we paid :( As much as we'd love to move out of the town we live in, the housing and job markets just don't allow for it right now.

    I've made peace with it, and have decided that since this is our home for probably 10 more years we might as well make it what we want!! Sounds like you're doing the same :)

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  51. We bought our first home seven years ago. It was supposed to be our starter home. We would love to move, but we are still upside down in our mortgage. We're thinking of taking the hit so we can buy the home we want to live in for the rest of our lives!

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  52. Your post hits home. I had a mini meltdown today after our appt with a realtor to sell our house. My husband is being transferred and we've only had this house for 18 months. The area tanked right after we bought it and it's worth 60K less than we paid...we're losing at least that right off the top with the list price...and no doubt we'll have to take much less, if anyone wants to buy it. We lost so much money that I can hardly believe it but...I told myself to buck up because we were able to finance a new house in the new town we're moving to, a much bigger home for much less money actually because it's cheaper to live there so, could be worse. I just love my house so much, so sad to sell it for a pittance. No choice though.

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  53. We have been trying to sell our house for almost a year now. We bought in '04 before kids, and while we love our house, it's not kid friendly at all. It's 3 levels, the lot is heavily sloped, and there is no yard at all--NONE. We weren't thinking at all when we bought it, but in our defense, we had no experience with kids and their needs. But now I have a 3 year old and 15 month old twins, and these stairs and no yard are killing me. Our house was on the market for 212 days last year with no offers---hardly any showings. It went back on in late January and no offers yet but showings picked up. It is currently priced at ~80K below what we paid, and we expect that if we are lucky enough to get a buyer, it will sell for about $100K less. We are hoping to upgrade and make up the loss down the road, but we can't find a buyer for this one! It's so depressing. I've been trying to avoid the real estate listings b/c I keep seeing houses smaller than ours, much lower quality materials but with a yard that are selling at or around our asking price. It is sooo very difficult to keep the house ready for a showing with a toddler and two babies and no help (other than my husband when he's not working). It's exhausting, back-breaking, and has me on edge all the time. Some days I just want to say "forget it, take it off the market--I'm over it". But once I get off the "ledge", I realize that I need to muscle through this--that's the only way we'll find a buyer. We certainly won't if it's not listed and/or not in perfect condition. So while we do have enough equity to suck up a loss, it still sucks bad because no one wants it. I feel like it's so beautiful on the inside. I've worked my tail off to make sure it stays immaculate with three kids (no small feat), and I sometimes take it personally and just cry. Like why don't they like my house? Do I have terrible taste afterall? Every day while I'm cleaning, I burn nice smelling candles. My 3 year old loves to blow them out and make a wish. She always wishes for a new back yard. :-( I feel bad for her because she misses out on so much outdoor activities. She can't go outside and ride her bike because our driveway is so steep, and our road is kind of dangerous. It's very hard to take all three kids to the park (anywhere actually) because they're too little still. At least she's in preschool twice a week now and can play with other kids there.

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  54. Our home was built in the 70's and is needing much updating. We wondered if we should update or move???!!! Weighing all the options, we've decided to continue "living" LOVE it and are staying put!
    Blessings,
    Cindy

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  55. We've always had a motto in our home, whether the one we first lived in 20+ years ago, or the one we currently live in (19 years in June). "Do it because you love it, not because you think you will make money from it." Enjoy it, make it your own, but don't expect anything back from it. Too many people sink a ton of money into homes thinking those "projects" will pay off big time in the end, when very few actually do.

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  56. same boat for us! We bought in a seller's market and now the assessment is not even near what we want to sell for. And I'm not taking that big a hit just to get out of here! haha. We manage just fine with our mortgage though I feel it's too much for this particular house and area but only recently have we realized that God must have us in this house still for a reason, and so we just feel like we should bloom where planted and stay here until something tells us to go. We've already outgrown the house and the outside parking situation but, we can make it work! Makes me wonder because the man who built this house lived in it until he sold it to us and moved to a reitrement community. He passed away about a year later. I always wonder if we will be the same - staying here until the very end. I can't imagine how our home will change over that many years!!! But I'm prepared if that's the case!:)

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  57. Your post could not have come at a better time! I, too, have recently been through this struggle. We bought our house pre-kids thinking we might have ONE child in our "starter" home, then move to something larger down the line. Well, God had other plans. The 14-week ultrasound showed TWINS. Here we are, almost 8 years later, with identical twin boys who share a room and a darling daughter in another bedroom. Our house, sadly, appraised for MUCH LESS than it's value and we are indeed upside-down (we added a Family room years ago that increased our square footage by 450 sq ft so that second mortgage is what increased what we owe).

    I was so sad - I know that my boys are going to need autonomy and separation soon for their privacy, and I have no way to offer them that in our three-bedroom home. But then I started to remember God in everything I do. What I mean by that is, when I'm grumbling about doing my 6th load of laundry in 3 days I step back and say, "Thank you for allowing me to be able to clothe my kids! Thank you for letting me have a washer and dryer that work efficiently!" When I look around our home now and begin to pine for more space, a bigger bathroom for the kids, a better-placed laundry room, I stop and say, "God, thank you for allowing us to have this roof over our heads." So many, like you mentioned, are unable to afford their mortgages anymore.

    It is uplifting to read others situations and know we are not alone in these feelings, and to also remind myself to thank God for the blessings we have.

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  58. Such a timely post! I was just posting about selling our home...or going to. For us, we are selling to change the quality of life for our little family. Sounds like you and yours have a genuinely wonderful quality of life.

    We won't lose money on the house with respect to how much we paid for ours but we will never recoup all of the major improvements we had to do (siding, trim, floors, roof, HVAC, etc, etc). At this point, we want a change so I am just willing to eat all that money. If I were upside down, I don't think I would voluntarily sell unless I had to for a job, health reasons, etc.

    Enjoy your beautiful home...the rest will work out eventually!

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  59. Great post, Sarah, and it obviously resonates with a lot of people right now. We're fortunate that when we refinanced a couple of years ago, our appraisal came out way above what we expected. It may be that our house was a total dump when we bought it and now it's not. I would still be a little scared to have it appraised now, though, given the current crap market. I hope to move in a few years... I love house hunting!

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  60. We just sold our house in November. The amount we ended up getting was a really hard thing to stomach! We built our house 9 years ago and were also in a great neighborhood but unfortunately in not such a great town. It was wonderful for us for probably the first 6 years when my boys were babies, but the town is pretty remote and when they got older and I had to start driving them all over for activities, it got old! Plus the schools were not the best, so we decided to just go for it. We knew we wouldn't get what we should, we had done A LOT to our house over the 9 years we were there: addition, finished basement, lots of upgrades, installed central air, etc, and most of that stuff ended up being a wash. It was worth it for us though because while we rent right now, we'll be hopefully purchasing our dream home in a great town with so much to offer our kids VERY SOON! And, I'm excited about it. The money is what it is, we ended up getting very little, but in the end, our happiness and quality of life for my kids are way more important.

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  61. Oh, do I hear ya! We have our house on the market for(gulp)much less than we paid for it and it was UGLY when we paid what we paid for it. I've put 5 years of labor and ohsomuchmoney into it. We're basically just giving that all away from free. Yipee! Hubby took a new job in another state so what are you gonna do? We'll see what happens.

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  62. Great post! It hits home because my husband and I were just shopping for homes a couple weeks ago and FINALLY bought one....and I guess we chose I good time to shop, but we felt SO bad for the all of the people who chose to walk away from their home because they realized it wasn't worth much anymore. We're heading to Arizona, if that says much of anything....40,000 homes for sale and most are foreclosures. I really, REALLY admire you for sticking with your home and not moving. It is the right thing to do! Especially if you love it! If you'd like to, check out my new home: http://kristine-low.blogspot.com/, it was a foreclosure! I'm excited to decorate it with all of your fabulous tips!

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  63. I love your honesty, Sarah! You're never afraid to share your heart and your experiences and be REAL. :)

    We bought our house literally a month or two before the market skyrocketed and no one could afford anything anymore. It's definitely a starter home, and not one I want to stay in forever...but we can afford it, and it's a roof over our heads. :) After working in Real Estate (I managed an office) for 5 years, I learned what does and does not equal a good resell. It's surprising!

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  64. I think patience and being frugal go hand in hand. So many people today are addicted to instant gratification and dependent on quick fixes, and that is a sure-fire way to spend way more than necessary. A lot of the things people think they "need," they don't, and if they would just give a really strong desire time to settle, they'd probably find they didn't really want what they thought they "needed" in the first place.

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  65. Same type of thing happened to my family. We decided it was time to sell to get into a 'more comfortable' payment. We homeschool, and live off one income.
    The realtor showed up and snarled her way through our house. We knew it wasn't gorgeous, but seriously, was it THAT bad? The look on her face was like she smelled a skunk throughout the house.
    It was only worth what we PAID for it 5 years ago. (thankfully I guess) We would have to take fees out of that cost too! Needless to say, we didn't sell. We are updating a small amount. Maybe we will sell in the future.
    Good post.

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  66. We bought our house four years ago right before the market and economy tanked. We payed way below what the owners were originally asking for the house (like $65,000 below) so we felt like we got a pretty good deal! However, house values were so inflated that the current value of our house is now below what we paid and invested in the house! Fortunately for us, we live in one of the smaller houses in our neighborhood and I agree that house values will come back. I am still going to change everything in the house (still working on that part) so it will be exactly what I want. I don't care that I may not ever recoup the money. It makes me happy to live in a house that is the way I want it. If we decide to sell, than I will deal with that then and change what I need to. In the mean time, I will continue to make changes that suit me. Thanks for your post! I love reading it and seeing your projects come together on a budget!

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  67. Sara,

    We went through the exact same thing last year. We tried to sell, and because of the market, it just wouldn't. So we took a big leap of faith and rented our house out. We moved in with my parents and then found an absolutely amazing home for cheaper than our other home.Due to the market, there were so many houses out there for great prices. We were very nervous about becoming landlords but we were also very picky about our tenant. In the end, I am so much happier in our new home. (It even inspired me to start my own blog!!)It all worked out for the best and we are so thankful we got this opportunity. You have been an inspiration to me as well! Thanks for sharing!

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  68. Like Anna above, we also have 2 houses because we haven't been able to sell our old house in another state. It's been rented out now for 3.5 years and we've put it on the market 5 times now with no luck.

    But our new house-well newer! We bought in the summer of 2008 and literally over night we were upside down. Within the first few months of buying it, the market here plummeted and values sank. We lost about 20% of value. We're still in over our heads but we were able to do one of those FHA streamline things where they just lower your interest rate without any more closing costs and we lowered our interest rate by an entire point. So now I can pay a little extra every month and continue to work on gaining value by making our home beautiful (and finishing our attic into a cool family room and office space!). But like you, we LOVE our HOME. It's smaller than the new houses being built for much less, but we've put our heart and soul into it and I can't imagine ever leaving it!

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  69. I loved reading your perspective on this! Hubs and I bought our home 5 years ago and it is now "worth" LESS THAN HALF of what we paid/are currently paying. It hurts so much to think about that--but then we remember that we love our home, we love our neighborhood, and we are able to afford our home, too. Who could ask for more?

    Actually, the bad market may be a blessing in disguise, because we're really focused on paying our house off early since we don't want to be "upside-down". We're focused and motivated--and we're making things happen.

    P.S. I love your home, too!

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  70. We have been in our house for a bit over years. Really haven't done any upgrades although it's due for updates in the kitchen.. Maybe next year. It's a nice house. Not perfect, but nice and we will most likely stay here a few more years.... I read that home sales here in our area are down by 30%... good time to just stay put.

    Di

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  71. Last year, my hubby had to take a new job in another state or we would be "living in a van down by the river" right now. Thank God for a VA loan or we might be living in a hotel instead of our "new to us" very modest rural 1980's style house in the new state. So, yes, we are paying two mortgages plus all of the insurance, etc,, on one income right now.
    We considered putting the old house in the rental pool with a management company, but our realtor and some other knowledgeable friends advised us that due to the overwhelming inventory of foreclosures in FL that we would have to be landlords for 6-7 years before we could possibly try and sell the house and break even. And there was no guarantee that we could charge enough rent to coming close to our mortgage, much less find good renters, and keeping up the maintenance costs on it from 6 states away.. So after a lot of prayer, we listed it at almost HALF of what my hubby had it built for, as a shortsale, just so we could get rid of it.
    After an entire year of being on the market, we have a shortsale offer on the old house but the bank keeps having one crazy issue after another (once it was just because our agent was transferred to another dept), and every time that happens they have to start the paperwork all over again. ugh..

    After this last month, we have decided that we have made our last payment on the old house. We've always been very frugal and financially responsible (hubby is a finance major)and I can't believe this is happening. Our realtor supported our decision on this, saying at this point we are just giving away money to the bank that we won't see one dime of it in return, kind of like throwing cash at a casino's door.

    We were able to get a really good deal on where we're living now. Although it's very dated and a little awkward floorplan, it is a solidly built house and within our means. We are living on 6 acres (most of that is mountainous scenery) and have fabulous down to earth neighbors. My kids love living in the country where they can feed our neighbors' horses and goats and chase fireflies at night in the summer...
    And a BIG THANKS to you and other DIY decor bloggers out there, I are learning how to remodel it very cheaply and make it our own, so maybe years down the road if we should ever HAVE to move, we'll be in a much better situation.

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  72. We're in a slightly different situation. We were in a condo that was too small for us, and were looking to move to a house. We sold our condo at a sizeable loss, however, since we'd been putting extra money towards the principle we still walked away with a good size check. We moved 1,500 miles away (to be closer to family) and started the house search. I wanted to close on a place quickly and start to get settled. In our research, however, we found that if we wanted to buy a newer home (my husband is not all that handy, so repairs would be up to me) it was going to cost a whole heck of a lot more than building. The market crashed, and people were overvaluing their homes that were 3-5 years old.

    We made the decision to build. Not only was it a significantly lower cost than buying an inventory house, but it meets all the newest energy standards and has a warranty. The big thing for us was making sure we went with a builder that was financially stable. Another added perk was that since they were trying to keep all their contractors working (so they want to continue to work for them when the economy finally turns) we were able to negotiate upgrades more than we would have been able to in a boom.

    My advice. If you are in a position to buy - check into new construction. You may find it's a better option than you originally thought.

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  73. I try to look for photos of African villages when I'm feeling really discontented with my perfectly-adequate 2 bedroom 1949 rancher. It's kind of a reality check. I find that the more I peruse blogs the unhappier I am with my ridiculous kitchen, tiny bathroom (ONE bathroom), and lack of closet space. But we looked for a decade before being able to buy this house without financially stressing ourselves, and we consider that God provided what we needed all these years. We've managed to raise two daughters in a tiny bedroom (they say it was good dorm-room training). The peace of mind that comes from not being over our heads financially outweighs my frustration over the lack of room (most of the time, truthfully). My suggestion as an old married lady to you is to try to be thankful for what you've got and try not to compare your house or financial situation with anyone else's. And if you are going to do some comparing, compare yourself to kids on the streets of Guadalupe living in a cardboard box, or some woman doing dishes in a plastic bucket in Ethiopia, or somebody who lives in an apartment in Texas with their twelve immigrant relatives. :)

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  74. Thank you for posting this. My husband and I will be listing our home tonight for sale. While we're completely torn about the issue we keep reassuring ourselves it is the right decision. Our home is "plenty big enough" but isn't on a lot we love. 0.05 of an acre & two dogs just don't mix. The yard was the one thing I compromised on when I made the purchase almost 3 years ago, and it's the one thing I really wish I hadn't given up. As you said, if you can stand to take a small hit on your home- you'll more than make up for it on the purchase of a new one. Say a prayer for us, we're gonna need it!

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  75. We were in a house that had the value tank (as in, we paid $185, and it's worth $90). Thing is--we hated the location, the school system was poor, and we didn't love the house. We bought when we were two incomes, close to my job (!), and we didn't know how we would live as a family (i.e I hated my two stories).

    My dh's career is in building materials, and his salary started declining along with our value. And suddenly our affordable mortgage was a stretch. But, we couldn't sell, because of the market. And our bank wouldn't approve a short sell.

    We made the decision to walk away. We are renting a smaller house that lives so much bigger than our old house, it's old and charming and wonderful, and the location is beyond fabulous for us. I still have to pinch myself when I drive home. It feels like a wonderful dream to live in such a great house, free of the old house. Even with a foreclosure on the books. I feel incredibly blessed and lucky to have made this move.

    And you better bet, the next house will have a HUGE downpayment, well within our means, and it will be our forever house.

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  76. Here in Chicago, the market isn't as bad as let's say, Vegas or Florida, but, if we sold, we'd barely break even.

    So, we are staying.

    This was the "starter" home we intended on flipping, but now it's just our home.

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  77. Welll, We are moving, in fact my husband has promised we will move next weekend! For the past year we have built our new house, we actually did most of the building. But this house has been in the works since we got married and finished renovating the house we live in now.

    We hired contractors to pour the footers and basement and to complete the exterior shell of the house. Then my husband and his handy father have finished the interior.

    I truly believe, if you have the know-how, this is the best way to build your house. For the past two years we've gone into every Lowe's and Home Depot looking for light fixtures, faucets, cabinet pulls, light switches and buying as much as we could out of pocket.

    We just got our appraisal and our house is valued at 240k but our mortgage will only be 120k. I’ve blogged about the whole experience and raising my three kids on my blog.
    http://karagreathouse.blogspot.com/
    PS. We started building the house when my twins were 2 weeks old! And our marriage has actually survived! Lol.

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  78. Love this post. I think you make a VERY important point. You need to make the house you are living in the house you want it to be even if it doesn't make total economic sense. How many people tell themselves that they are not going to do any upgrades because they would never get it back when they sell? Guess what? No matter if you upgrade or not the new owners are going to change things to make the house theirs anyway so you need to make your house yours while you live in it. I think that you continuing to work on your house is such a wise idea. It's where all of us spend the majority of our time. Why not make it what you want? I am a big believer in not going into debt thought to do it - and I'm pretty sure you have my back on that one.
    Can't wait to see all you do!

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  79. Going to get a little philosophical on you... but I'm glad you're staying in your home. I think the problem with most people these days is that everything seems disposable. If something isn't perfect - based on whatever measurements that person has - then they toss it aside and get something different. This applies to marriages too, in my observation.

    I bought my house in 2001. I am a single woman with two adult daughters - one of whom has a lot of health issues. At the peak of the market, I'd made a good $150K on my home. But now? Nada. There are months that the debt overcomes me but I'm still grateful that somehow I manage to make ends meet and keep my home. Sure, I could sell off the house and pay both my first and second on the house, but why? To live in an apartment? This house is perfect for me. There's a reason God provided it for me. Had I not had it, my disabled daughter and her daughter, my other daughter and her family wouldn't have had a place to live when they needed to. Sure, I could get bigger better newer, but why? It costs more money to move. Just the fact of moving adds debt. I don't want to still be paying on this mortgage when I'm 72. I plan on staying in my home until I can no longer live alone.

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  80. I think loving your home is more important than any monetary value someone may put on it. You live in a great area in a home you love.

    THAT

    IS

    MOST

    IMPORTANT!

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  81. Sara ... I'm from Canada and we don't have the same real estate meltdown that the US has ... I could sell and get more for my house ... but I think that when you own a house, you do the upgrades and decoration for yourself. A lot of the time buyer's tastes are going to be different than yours ... I know when I look at houses I am constantly saying ... that has to change .... You are lucky you can stay in your home and that you love it. Keep decorating .. it feeds your soul while you are there.

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  82. Wow - this is quite the hot button topic! We downsized last summer....it was really, really hard, I'll be honest, because the house we were in was my husband's dream home. But now we are SO happy we did it - even in a down market! We sold crazy low, but also bought our next house low. Thank God we did it and got out of being house-poor. We can actually put money away for our retirement and our children's future, AND pay our bills on time - a huge weight has been lifted off our shoulders!!

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  83. Seriously buying a house is fun, exciting and totally turns you into a grownup over night. Wassup with dat? We moved from TN to Chicago about 18 months ago and 2 days before closing on our house in Chicago we found out about the property tax up here...Holy Moly!!! Let me just say that the monthly property tax here equals our monthly mortgage in TN...yeah. We cried, we screamed, we could do nothing since we didn't have time to look for another house in chicago since our moving van was literally on its way to our new house. So we thought about moving to a much smaller house so we could afford the property tax...oh and it goes up every year...like $100/a month. But we prayed about it and we know that this isn't our forever home and we know that my husband's company can move him really at anytime. Therefore, we are staying put for now and just doing what we can to get by. So that is why I started redoing furniture to sell...to pay for property tax...how sad is that? One day I will get a cute outfit for all the hard work I put into my furniture.

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  84. Posts like this make me (once again) realize how ridiculously lucky we are and I need to shut my trap on the complaining about logistics.

    We're closing on the sale of our house in less than a month..a sale that's coming on waaaay too close because we listed early thinking there was no stinkin' way our house would sell quickly. We were wrong...six hours after it hit MLS the first people walked through and offered us 26K over list. Problem is we're committed (jobs, schools, etc) to staying in our current town through the end of June. As of now we don't have a place to live (looking at an apt. this afternoon...keep your fingers crossed for me) and I've been a bit depressed on the whole thing, but the reality is that we sold it...and we made money.

    We had bought a tiny crappy two bedroom cape in a good area (suburb of NYC) did a *super* smart addition several years ago and somehow that 650K investment has parlayed into selling our home for just shy of a million. The really awesome thing is that we're moving down south where homes are significantly less expensive and we're going to be able to...drumroll please...buy a house with cash.

    The whole homeless no-plan thing does make me want to crawl into a hole and eat a bag of pretzel M&Ms, but thinking of bringing a casheirs check and owning a home outright makes me downright giddy. For the first time in our adult lives we will have ABSOLUTELY no debt (well, one car payment, but that has 0% financing so keeping it is a no brainer.).

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  85. Great post! We are looking at moving and the realtor is coming out next week to tell us the "bad" news about our house. I'm scared to know because we found a perfect house we want to buy. However I'm not willing to give this house away for nothing. I'd rather stay like you said. We will see....

    Thank you for sharing!

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  86. What a great reminder to us all! I have to say that I'm jealous that you can pay your house off in 5 years. We're still on baby step 3 but hope to have our emergency fund fully funded by the end of summer. Congrats on staying in the house that you love AND paying it off in the not so far future. Thanks for sharing with us!

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  87. Less than a year after buying our house, we found out that my husband's company would like to give him a promotion that would transfer us back to our home state. We thought that we got a pretty good deal on our house but unfortunately the market continued to decline after we bought it and now we are seriously upside down on our mortgage. We also have a large amount of debt that we are working to pay off.

    So we are stuck here for *at least* two years while we pay off debt, save up a large amount of money in case we have to sell while our mortgage is still upside-down, and pray that the real estate market bounces back. Luckily my husband won't miss out on the promotion because of it but we would really like to get back home so being stuck here for a couple more years isn't fun. We are trying to make the best of it though. Finishing some inexpensive improvements on the house that will hopefully make it sell better and making some changes to the decor that will make our remaining time here a little more bearable.

    Even though it isn't an ideal situation, we are thankful that my husband has a good job and we can easily pay the mortgage. We should even be out of debt in less than a year!

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  88. great post. i am a REALTOR and you are not the only people lately to receive this news. however i really enjoyed reading about how it is important to not over buy. that is a conversation i have with a lot of my clients. some listen and some don't. i love your house and all of your ideas. hang in there your value will slowly come back and you are paying down your mortgage with every payment. ps. congrats on paying down your debt what an accomplishment!

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  89. Unfortunately, 3 years ago we had to give our house back to the bank. Both my (ex) husband and I had both just been laid off, but he had been spending more than our mortgage on gambling each month. I felt the same about that house as you feel about yours. It was a 1930s barn (fieldstone) that had been converted into the most gorgeous (albeit small) house. I LOVED IT. We moved into it about a week before we had our second child. It was only 1100 sq ft, but it was just so RIGHT. EVERY time I walked into the house, up the driveway, I would almost cry because it was this perfect house on a perfect acre, rural. It always made me estatically happy.
    When I found out we were losing the house, it was when a sherrif showed up at the door to evict us (while my husband was away for "work search" aka gambling). There I was with 2 kids under 5, in December, standing in the driveway while they closed up the house. I have never been more devastated in my LIFE.
    I have moved a lot since then chasing work, which sucks. I have never since walked into a house and fallen in love. Just head over heels in love. And it hasn't happened.
    The plan is now to buy a plot of land and sit on it for a while, until friends and I can build a small house for the kids and I. I have so many plans and ideas now, that I'm excited about that thought. As a single mom living in a rental now, its all about debt repayment (I have been paying as much toward debt as I can, so my credit isn't atrocious thanks to the split and house repo).
    LEsson learned? I should have had my name on the mortgage, so I would have been privy to what was going ON with it. My ex hid every detail of the reposession from me until it was too late to do anything. I still miss that house. I had a huge poster sized framed print of a local artist painting of the house, but it's in the basement, because I can't even look at it, 3 years later, without crying.
    Funny how houses can break your heart... I miss that house more than I miss my ex most of the time!

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  90. Boy, I guess we are all learning from this post...to be thankful for what we've got...and I have to say, I am TOTALLY thankful to still be in our home. We bought it 4 years ago, at the "peak" of the real estate market.(read: "high price") We had to move back to Southern California, from Utah, for family reasons. (mostly to be near our first granddaughter and help with her care)Since then, the value of our house has dropped $165,000! (welcome to So. Cal!),and my husband lost his job 17 months ago and still hasn't been able to find a new job. We almost lost our home, but we were one of the lucky few who have been approved for a loan modification. What a relief that was! Otherwise we would have had to short sell or walk away. I am grateful everday for the home that we have....and loved this post! It made me want to do more work on the house and the backyard (that was never finished), even though there is little money for that these days.
    Thanks for your constant inspiration, Sarah!

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  91. should also add- we lost 32 thousand on the house, ONLY on the mortgage insurance we had (we have to pay the TOTAL of what insurance we would have paid over our 25 yr mortgage, because "we" defaulted). 32 THOUSAND. And then since we had only been in the house for 16 months, we lost every penny we had put into the house (we built a garage, deck, redid the driveway, etc). So I figure we lost about 48 thousand dollars on it. Ouch. And since my ex won't pay a penny of it and I desperately want my credit normal (i wasnt on the mortgage but was on the insurance for the mortgage), I have been plugging away at it for a few years- the govt takes 100% of my tax return (about 5 grand a year), plus I toss money toward it when I have extra cash. UGH. What a nightmare.

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  92. We had those same issues, but weighed the options and decided to get out of dodge. We loved our old house but it didn't fit our growing family the way our new house would. We ended up PAYING $23 to sell our house. It STUNK (and our realtor was an idiot and had convinced us that we would walk away from our house with about $1,000, not PAYING), but it was worth it because of the great deal we got on our new (to us) home.

    I'm glad you made a decision you have peace with. Enjoy your home! That's what it's all about! :)

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  93. Your home is your "haven" . Its important to balance the value with the value of making it your home... your haven. It is an investment but more importantly it is a place to express yourself and surround yourself with things that make you smile. I love that you have made peace with your little piece of paradise !

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  94. We've been out of state (even cross-country) home buyers twice. Last time we had 5 days to find a house. Wait. Make that 4. Got stuck in a snow storm on the way there. We were used to looking at 60 houses in 3 days. I would cruise through the main level and my husband would run to the basement. We'd meet each other on the stairs going to the 2nd level. And we'd be sitting in the car long before the realtor could lock up the house.

    I hated the house we have now the second we moved in. Builder, builder, builder. AND, we purchased during the time of low inventory and bidding wars.

    We've added around $12K of improvements and upgrades. (And could get $10K less than what we paid.) Meanwhile, I have looked for a different house for 5.5 years. Nothing. The prices here are outrageous for the "blahness" of what you get.

    Now we're thinking of ripping the place up (entry way, kitchen, etc.) because we live on a quiet circle, we're close to everything, we have all southern exposure. AND, as I've learned....no place is 100% perfect.

    Enjoy your wonderful home that you've made your own.

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  95. We just started taking the Dave Ramsey classes, funny you should mention him. I truly appreciate this post! It's good to know there are others out there going through similar life crises'.

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  96. Thanks Sarah, for letting us know how much you appreciate the things that you DO have, and not what you do NOT. I think about this often. About the housing market...for 70 years home prices went UP and there was no reason to think that they would go down. Lucky us.

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  97. We had something similar happen to us. My husband bought our condo back in 2007, and you remember how the market was then. We've lived there since, and about 7 months ago, we decided to try to sell so we could get a great deal on a house.

    It was a good idea in theory, except that our condo is worth less than what we owe. We're talking thousands and thousands of dollars. We're still current on our mortgage and able to pay our bills, but we aren't able to move unless we bring all of our savings to closing... and that would mean we wouldn't have any money left for a down payment.

    Experts want you to "take a hit," but you can't do that if the hit is ALL of your money.

    So I feel your pain.

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  98. We are in the process of doing a lease to own on a GORGEOUS! 4 bedroom home, literally across the street. This is my first time purchasing a home and I am scared to death. All I can worry about it what if we get in a scrape and have troubles paying the mortage? Although we are financially stable, but not out of debt, I am still panicking. I'm just glad we finally have our own home for me to do whatever I please after years of renting. This is certainly be our home for a very long time. Or if not, I will have to kill my husband!

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  99. We are in the postition of needing to move. We are in a 1400 sqf 3 bedroom townhouse and baby 4 is on the way. I don't have anywhere to even put a crib in this house. AS it is my 3 girls don't even have enough space in their current rooms without adding another little body to the mix.
    Because we live in one of the worst markets in the country (phoenix az) we can't sell without short-selling. It's not worth if for us to do that. The killer is that we bought this house 9 years ago before it all really skyrocketed, but because it crashed so hard here things are selling for less than we paid 9 years ago. Like, way less. (2 doors down from us a slightly smaller unit sold to an investment group for $40K cash. Disgusting.) So we can't sell without hurting ourselves. So we will keep it as a rental and see what we can qualify for as far as buying another. The laws now are that you have to qualify for both mortgages. My husband is self-employed which presents it's own challenges as far as mortgage qualifications go. Luckily we have very good credit and the only debt we currently have is our mortgage so we're in a good position, but we HAVE to move. I really think I will have a break-down if I have to bring another baby home to this house.
    I wish I could even say I love this current tiny place. I really really don't. We have fixed it up and made it nice, but my heart is not in it because I always knew we wouldn't stay here for long. The neighborhood is not a good one for a growing family, and the house does not have at all what we need. I long for a house I can really make a home. I love all the decor blogs out there and I could scream because I so want to do this or that to my home, but this is just not my home. It's a holding place until we can get our home. I'm just really tired of the holding pattern.

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  100. We've been fixing up a house we bought as a foreclosure in 2008. Thought we were getting in at the bottom (HA!) and our improvements would bring big bucks later.

    Not so much. The value of our house is about equal to how much we paid + how much we've invested, but all that sweat equity is LOST.

    We just try to keep it in perspective: it doesn't really matter the DOLLAR value, because as long as you're reinvesting it into another house, all that matters is the value of your home COMPARATIVELY... if that makes sense.

    Anyway, that's what I tell myself to feel better. :)

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  101. My husband and I are two of the luckiest unlucky people ever. We had kicked around the idea of selling our house back when we got married in 2008. With us both being in the construction industry though our jobs became extremely unstable and major layoffs occurred at both of our employer. Luckily we were both spared, but our dream of a new home was put on hold.

    Fast forward to 2010, both of our jobs were much more stable and we kicked around the idea of selling. We decided though that we would stay put. Until the day I came home to find that we had been robbed for the second time in three years.

    Our house was on the market in less than a month. We had two showings and two offers in two months and closed in November and bought a new house in wonderful neighborhood.

    We sold for what we wanted to and got a great deal on our new home. There are still five houses in our old neighborhood that are still on the market eight months later. I just think our new house is because we were robbed.......

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  102. Great, great post!!! My husband and I moved into our current home last May because we just did not feel like the old house was our "home." We randomly, without much thought, purchased an OLLDDDDD (ancient) farm house that needed tons and tons of work!! We have literally put our blood, sweat, and tears into this house, and spent more money than Dave Ramsey would approve of! :) But-in less than a year, this house already feels like home. It's just a feeling you get in your bones. If you have that feeling, and can afford your payments, then I don't think you're ever "upside down" in your house!! I'm so glad you are staying put! I LOVE your home!!!
    You can read about our farm house adventures here:
    http://wilsonfarmlove.blogspot.com/

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  103. I found your blog through my sisters blog, who has started to follow you. I had looked through some of your before and after pictures but never really read a post...until today.
    Funny how sometimes you happen to read the right thing at the right time.
    I had a major freak out about our debt the other day and we decided we had to move. We got the same bad news you got from the realtor.
    But the thing is we love our house, our yard, our neighborhood. We are not upside down and we can afford the payments.

    But man...wouldn't it be nice to just have a little extra money each month rather than putting it towards the mortgage?

    I guess I should probably just buck up as well!

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  104. We sold our old house about 7 months ago and it took 6 months to sell which I thought was a lifetime but when I've gone back to the old neighborhood I see every single house that was for sale at the time ours was is still for sale and I can't help but feel incredibly blessed that ours sold, but it took alot of hard work to get it sold and lets just say it is a buyers market and even though we walked away with money in our pockets at closing I'm sure it's not the amount we put into it but I will say this I don't regret it for a second, I loved that house and everything we did to it. I agree with you that you should do what you want to your house to make it your home and we all should stop worrying so much about what a future buyer might think of it. Sometimes its about the joy it brings to you more then the money it puts back into your pocket book. As much as it stinks to hear the news your house price is lower then you thought I truly believe it will go back to the price it needs to be, I think things happen for a reason and with this economy perhaps will all learn a little more about being patient and not everything can be right this second.

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  105. We built our house too, though I was fortunate to be able to find many of the items we needed as upgrade quality fixtures at a salvage place- toilets, vanities, cabinets, counters, light fixtures, etc.
    Our heart attack came when the appraisal was done on our house, and the appraiser got it ALL. Wrong.
    She had the house finished with carpet and vinyl floors- WRONG, we have hardwoods, tile, 2 bedrooms of upgrade quality carpets, and the kitchen has lovely vinyl that looks like hardwood. There were other mistakes she made that we could not get fixed, which effected our mortgage, of course. It drove us nuts. But in the end we plan to be here quite a while and hope that when we are ready to sell/move, the market will have changed a bit.

    You can see some of the salvage items we used at my blog:
    http://solongfarm.blogspot.com/2010/09/pssst-i-have-secret-to-share.html

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  106. Great post. Just remember, if you're living it --make the improvements that will make YOU happy. Improving the value only matters if you're selling it!

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  107. Such a great post.

    Thanks to you, my husband and I have started following Dave. We're only on Step 2, and I think we're probably right about where you were. I know we can do it, though, especially when my three kids are in school....cuz right now they are ALL in daycare. Yikes.

    Your home is gorgeous, and the market will rebound eventually. Who knows, maybe you'll stay put. But in a few years, I think you'll be able to make the decision without the bad news!

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  108. We recently sold a home for a HUGE loss. It sat on the market for a year and then we had a land contract offer we took. This was a nightmare (sidenote: never sell on LC!) Anyway, after court and tears, we got a cash offer from an Amish family out of the blue. It was low, but a full-out offer. We took it and the loss. Now, we are about to put our other property (bought at a huge 'sheriff's sale' auction) on the market due to job transfers to a new state. I am hoping it sells, but until it does we will rent. I never, ever want multiple homes again.

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  109. We are in the process of trying to buy a home. The problem is there is absolutely NO INVENTORY in our area. It's frustrating for us - only from a different perspective!

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  110. I am very lucky!! My home is extremely affordable, and I could sell it pretty quickly if I needed to.

    Will I get out of it everything I put into it? I have no idea! Most of what I did to this house I did because I wanted to...not for resell....because I don't plan to sell.

    I think people need to stop looking at their houses as investments. There is no guarantee on return or what will happen in the future.

    LIVE in your home, love your home and any improvements you make will be worth it. :)

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  111. We just moved into our new house!! I have blogged about it a couple times and have lots of pictures up!!

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  112. Our house is currently for sale and I am so excited to sell it. It is a little starter home that I am so grateful that we have but I cannot wait for it to sell!!! You can see the pictures of the old house at oremhomeforsale.blogspot.com When we buy our new house I will be sure to post/send pictures. My blog is private but I am happy to add you.

    Thank you for all of your awesome ideas. I absolutly love love LOVE your blog!!!

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  113. Love your blog...loved today's post. I experienced similar anger when they appraised the value of our home a couple of years ago...I have put so much into that home and was shocked that it wasn't worth a million dollars! I think that just goes to say, stay where you are and reap the blessings of what you have done. I felt the EXACT same way - disgruntled and then grateful that we even had a house that had VALUE. I think the important thing here is that it holds value for you...more than what the market says it is worth. And really, that is all that matters. I, too, look at other houses - some a bit bigger, maybe in the country club area - but they never stand up against my home - they don't have a beautiful backyard like mine, they don't have granite countertops, a double oven, etc...so I'm staying where I am at!

    Have a great day - and enjoy where you are right now.

    ~alicia
    proof-of-love.blogspot.com

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  114. We have been doing the "Dave Ramsey" thing too! It has been so wonderful!

    We also have been looking into refi-ing our house. It looks like it might not happen though. Not because of bad credit, but we have kids in college and are helping them.

    But a higher interest rate can also inspire us to pay it off even faster! That's how I choose to look at it!

    As of next month we will be celebrating because we will have paid off one of our biggest debts. I can hardly wait!

    BTW, I loved your phrase "Buck up Buttercup!" I think I'll have to save that one for myself when I need a pep talk.

    God bless and GOOD JOB!

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  115. We purchased out house 1.5 years ago. I was soo stinkin' thrilled to have MY OWN HOUSE. It was nothing like I'd imagine. I brought a ranch,. wanted an old farmhouse. Wanted charm, it had none. Wanted bling,. you guessed it - none.
    BUT....
    It was below our budget, it had things that were best for our family, handicapped accessible for my FIL, it has an AMAZING view, and most importantly, IT FELT LIKE HOME.
    I'm just about tearing my hair out working on it to make it mine but I LOVE it. And am SOO glad it's ours.

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  116. So, We are not in jeopardy of losing our house at the moment and we haven't lived in our house for 20 years. What we are in the middle of is slightly different. In our state each city can zone sections off and have special tax assessments(parks, schools, bonds, etc).We are first time home buyers and when we put an offer on our house we were told we would have an impound account set up to pay our property taxes so we wouldn't have to worry about paying them twice a year. We liked the idea that we wouldn't have to worry about paying taxes and that a portion of our mortgage every month would cover them.

    So we closed escrow, signed our docs and moved in. We have lived in our house for 9 months. About two months ago we received a letter form the bank saying our impound account did not have sufficient funds and that we owed the bank $1400 dollars to bring it current. They also dropped the ball and informed us that our taxes had been miscalculated and our mortgage payments were going to go up $500.00 a month to cover them. This meant that they had miscalculated our taxes by over $4000.00 a year! When we bought our house we were at the upper end of our budget. We could afford the house, pay all our expenses and still put money in savings. Now, with our daughter just starting daycare (an extra $640.00 a month) and the raised mortgage my husband and I were at a loss on where we were going to come up with the extra money. I went a alittle crazy at first thinking we were going to lose our house. Then I got mad. This was not our fault. We hire title companies and realtors to handle all of this for us. So I started to do some research and met with an attorney. The title Company knew what our taxes were when they drew up our docs and the lending Company had miscalculated the taxes on our settlement agreement. Why should we be responsible for the $ 105,000 extra over the course of the loan? My husband met with the bank (not the original lendor, our loan was sold shortly after the close of escrow) and the bank agreed to take away all the fees for the imound account and forgave the $1400.00. They did everything they could but it still left our mortgage $250.00 more than it was originally supposed to be. We are currently in the process of working with the original lending Company to see if there is something they can do to bring us down to where we were before. We are prepaired to sue if it comes to that but are hoping we can settle things without attorneys.

    Our house has decreased in value since we purchased the home and we don't have any equity but we understand that we just moved in and we are planning to be here for awhile. I hope the market stabalizes and my heart goes out to those that are forced with walking away from their homes.

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  117. Congratulations on attacking your debt snowball. My husband and I did this a few years ago and there is such a great feeling being debt free (except for the mortgage). Keep up the good work!

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  118. Thank you for your post. We are currently tacking our debt and are in Dave Ramsey's FPU. Our house is a big expense and we are not upside down in it, but the payment is a huge part of our budget. I have thought about selling, but we would loose once we paid the realator fees, so we are staying put. I really appreciated reading your post; it echoed my thoughts. Keep them coming! -Heather

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  119. Great post. It makes you think twice about moving and whether it is the best decision.

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  120. We're kinda in the same boat - we bought our current house right at the end of the high a few years ago - we felt it was a bargain compared to some others that we looked at. It was well built and had a nice view of the bay, something we thought we'd never be able to afford. But then the market went down and wow! Our house is now worth almost $100,000 less than what we paid! And I still look at real estate listings in our town and I moan and groan about 'what coulda been' But then I had to shake myself and realize our house IS well built, the roof doesn't leak, it has hardwood floors, a newer kitchen, a nice yard, tons of storage, etc.

    I'm sure the market will eventually go up again. It has to. Maybe we'll sell the house then and move into something else or maybe we'll just stay here!

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  121. We moved from the SF Bay Area to Nevada 5 years ago. We made the move to give our kids a better place to grow-up. My husband took a cut in pay to make this move - which sounds bad - but it allowed me to quit working and be a stay at home mom and to buy a house. Both were impossible in California.

    When we bought our house we did it not as an investment, but as a home. Dang good thing we had that attitude. Prices in our neighborhood have dropped so far that we are now underwater in our loan. We can't even refinance.

    Oh well - as I said we have a home. We are able to make our payments every month and for that we are truly BLESSED!

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  122. Your story hits very close to home for me. I don't think I've ever commented before but I follow your blog religiously.

    My husband and I have been on the Dave Ramsey train for about 6 yrs now, wow he has helped our household TREMENDOUSLY! Once we started following his advice we sold both our vehicles, we haven't had a car payment in 5 years! Like your household, we have zero debt, except the house of course.

    We have been in our house for a little over 4 yrs, had a 30 yr loan, refinanced for 15 yr loan just this last year and working towards paying that off early as well. When we refinanced we had the house appraised, it valued $10,000 under what we purchased the house for and we even remodeled our master bath and put up a 10' board on board fence ALL BY OURSELVES! Like you we put our blood, sweat and tears into those renovations and I was needless to say, BUMMED about the current value of our house. We will continue to stay there til our house is paid off at least.

    I'm with you, who knows what the future holds but you should LIVE and LOVE your house while you are currently in it : )

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  123. I feel your pain! We put our house for sale last year after I found a new job that left me with a daily commute of a bit over 2 hours. Our situation was not much better. We owed more than it was worth. Houses were not selling in our area. They had to go one town over, and back at least 6 months to find comparables. In the end we wrote a big fat check just to be out. And the house? Many updates! Like $30,000 worth of updates in the last 5 years. And still, it didn't make up for any of it. Heartbreaking, and shocking, but we did what we thought best. We knew we'd lose money, so we saved like crazy to write that check.

    After the sale? We decided to build. We sucked it up, and moved in with mom and dad. We are very blessed that they let us stay with them rent free while we built. Be delayed building for a few weeks, and were able to split our downpayment over a few months. In the end, we are getting a beautiful house that is big enough for us to grow and raise a family in. So it sucks, but it turned out okay in the end. And really, that's all that matters, right?

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  124. I know the housing market is not good for all who wants to sell their home, and it makes everyone upset that their house is going down in value. BUT, if you pay off your house faster than a 30 year loan, You are saving TONS in interest, and the 10,000-50,000 price drop of your house, is not going to be as bad. YOu are saving yourself, TONS in interest, so you are making up for buying your house when it was overpriced.
    When you buy a house at 200,000 you really are paying $499,011.57 over 30 years. OUCH!!! The same home with a 15 year loan is $340,935.71. If you pay it off in 15 years you saved yourself 158,075.86. That is a lot of money. Most houses have not dropped 158,000 dollars in value. So try to pay off your house early and not worry so much about the house value dropping.

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  125. We bought our house a little over 6 years ago. Since then our priorities have changed and we would love to have something more affordable to live in. Unfortunately, we are stuck. Paying off your house in 5 years sounds lovely! What a blessing that will be six years from now! Thank you for encouraging us all to be thrify!

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  126. Sarah - I'm hardly in your situation; still renting a place and dreaming about what our "first home" will be like in a few years. So I can't really empathize, but I did want you to know that I think your home is absolutely beautiful - you are blessed to be living in such an amazing place!

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  127. Hi! Great blog and super comments. Reading your blog in the last year or so brings me to the feeling that you and your DH are getting the wisdom that comes with experience. Bad things happen. Bad news arrives. What makes the experience good or bad is your reaction and the actions you then take. Dear Sarah, not only are you blogging about your loved and adored home, you are bestowing the wisdom with which you are being blessed with how many people? What a gift for you and DH. To know that you bring enjoyment, knowledge and such a blessed gift to us all. Thanks you so much for being authentic and sharing.

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  128. My husband bought our house at the end of 2006, as a bachelor. Our mortgage is for $210,000 (approx.). Last week we got the appraisal from the county for property taxes and it was such a sad sad day. Our house is appraised at $60,000. That is even about $13,000 less than last year. We're lucky enough we're able to make our payments, but it's so disheartening to know that we will never ever be able to sell this house.

    And living in a neighborhood where it seems asif every other house if for sale or a foreclosure, it is hard to be optimistic about the housing market.

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  129. Dave is amazing isn't he?
    Congrats on falling BACK in LOVE with your house!

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  130. Thanks for sharing your story! In my case, we had to move. The company I worked for went out of business and I work in a specialized field. I felt lucky to find work at all, even if it meant leaving our awesome house. Because of the market and what we owe, we could't sell it. And it took a year to find a renter! Sometimes all you can do is focus on the positives and look at life as an adventure. I'm working, I'm with the love of my life and we have a new city to expore. Not too shabby, all things considered!

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  131. I'm a Realtor and I see this sort of thing on a daily basis. We also bought a brand new home as the market was still high. I say the same thing to myself and I don't worry about it. We've done several upgrades since moving that we paid cash for. As far as I'm concerned we're not leaving here for a VERY long time. But if we needed to move, I wouldn't care about the value lost because the memories we've shared here already and the memories we have yet to make here will have been worth the cost.
    Our homes are meant to be LIVED in!

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  132. We had our house on the market last year for six months... that was our deal with God. He wants us to move, he had six months. Well, we didn't get an offer that made sense, so we decided to stay. We're closing on our refinance tomorrow. I'm thankful that we're staying, because this house just fits us and our lifestyle. The Lord has continued to bless us as we've made Him our priority.

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  133. We just sold our home of 10 years and bought a house that is twice the size. We bought our first home at such a great time, put a lot of money down on it, made all the right upgrades and thankfully our home sold for a hefty profit on the first day it was on the market to the first people who looked at it ABOVE asking price. Which was amazing in this market.

    We bought a short sale property. A home that we had an offer on for five months. A home that our new neighbors won't let us forget how much they all paid for their houses just three short years ago. We got a great deal. Everything is done, there are no projects to do (sort of sad for this home decorating/crafty blogger), and the house quickly became ours after we moved in around Christmas.

    Sounds like you made a great financial decision to stay, and that there is no reason to move. Remain happy where you are, until the time is right.

    All the best,
    Rachel

    ps- you can see our new house and more about our move at my blog: http://www.holy-craft.blogspot.com

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  134. I also thought that all we did to our last home would raise the value and it did nothing! Thanks to all of the short sales in the area we are now having to do the same. We are fortunate to be in a new home now and I keep thinking to he.. with resale this time I am just doing it my way!

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  135. Thanks for sharing your story. We tried to move last year, put our (brand new) house on the market and watched painfully as low ball offer after low ball offer trickled in. It was one of the worst experiences. For a whole year we tried to break even, with no avail. When our contract expired, we took it off the market. I began doing work on the house (like yours, it's new so no gut jobs, but just finishing/updating here and there). Doing that inspired me to start writing about it, which has now turned into a passion. I can now say that I'm SO GLAD no one bought our house.

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  136. I love your blog! I found it a few months back, and I love to check in and see what cute thing you have created. The wainscoting up your stairs caught my eye at Halloween and I was hooked.
    We recently moved because we outgrew our house. 7 kids in a small house does NOT work for too long=). We were lucky we didn't leave empty handed, but well below what we would have wanted to have for a better down payment at the new house. We ended up 18 months in waiting to save up the difference.
    I have kind of a weird question. We are building a house and in the process of picking every detail like you were. I just love the pumpkin picture of the front of your house. Do you happen to remember what your brick and mortar were called? I know it's a long shot, but we are going crazy trying to find a brick we love-and then I see your picture..you get the idea. I'm not sure what part of the country you live in, we are in the south, so I'm not sure your brick would even be available-just a try.
    Thanks for the great blog, and have fun enjoying being in a place you love!

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  137. Hey- this is the first time I've written a comment! My husband and I are expecting our 2nd child at the end of June and we currently live in a town home. Small, but it's been a great home for 5 years. Well, we've run out of room and w/ the new baby, we HAVE to move... So, we are in the process of buying a foreclosure (CHEAP! but needs a TON of work). So, I've been perusing your blog for ideas! LOVE your home! Anyway, we can't sell our house b/c we would take a MAJOR hit on it- the improvements we've done on it don't help one bit... GRRRRR! So, we are renting it out (thankfully to a friend of my husband). But, since I am a stay at home mom and our house took such a hit, getting a mortgage is TOUGH!! We're getting through this mess (thankfully w/ the help of my hubby's parents co-signing) and will be moved in HOPEFULLY b4 the baby comes! I won't see my husband for about 2 months while he (yes, he's a do-it- your-self-er) fixes things up (it needs new doors, windows, floors, kitchen, bathrooms, paint, moldings, etc.) so it's NOT going to be fun (oh, and we have to move in w/ his parents while the work gets done). Anyway, thanks for the wonderful blog and I LOVE getting ideas from you!!! Best of luck!

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  138. There is a certain free-ing of worry that comes when you are no longer renovating/fixing up for "resale value" and simply doing it for yourself. Enjoy it. You never know what the future will bring!

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  139. Yes, we are one of the unfortunates who can no longer afford our home and are upside down.

    We bought two years ago when the market was down. We have since had issues with our son and I had to leave my career. I could have never predicted that in a million years. Right as my career was coming to an end my husband got laid off. A lot of families in our county have lost jobs (we have over 11% unemployment) and short sold their homes. Shockingly our home lost 15% of its value in the 2 years since we bought it. We are now facing some very tough decisions as we have blown through our savings in an attempt to keep our home. We were optimistic that my husband would find a job, but he hasn't.

    All I can say is yes its very emotional. I stopped blogging because I don't have the heart to do anymore projects on a home I will probably lose.

    I can't wait for the economy to turn around.

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  140. Thank you so much for posting this! We JUST went through the same thing. I live in Vegas where the foreclosure rate is like uh the biggest in the country? We bought our house (brand new!) four years ago, and right now it is worth 1/3 of what we paid. Since buying our teeny tiny cute little house our family has grown from one kid to three kids (well, one is still cooking)!

    We went and politely asked the bank if we could keep this house (and rent it out) and also buy a nice big new one. haha! they said maybe later... So in my panicky pregnant lady voice I told the hubs we are letting this house go ("just like everyone else!"). He was on board for like.. oh.. a day.

    So, by the voice of reason (hubs) we are staying in our very nice, very affordable, munchkin house while we PAY OFF EVERYTHING, and will reevaluate next year.

    In the meantime... i'm getting hardwood floors downstairs next week. WHEW.

    Your post was like a big high-five, "you can do it!"- thanks and enjoy your house!

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  141. We put our house on the market last year. When I bought this house, yes I as in singular, I was a single mother and 1300 square feet were plenty for me and my then toddler. But then i met my husband, he moved in with me since he had a condo. We had a baby. So we are squeezed in this house. We put both this house on the market and his condo. Neither sold. Grrr. No one is buying in our town right now. So frustrating. Houses that were selling were selling for WAYYYY lower than what they were really worth. So sad. So we are appreciating our home the best we can and like you said really LIVING in it. Doing what we want to do rather than thinking about a new house that we may want to put our money into. Gotta do what you gotta do.

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  142. We looked this past spring because, while when we moved into our house (1900 square feet, no basement) with one child and one on the way, now nine years later and 3 more children (yes, that's 5 kids total), it was feeling cramped. But we couldn't find something we loved and we didn't want to overextend. And then I was diagnosed with breast cancer, so it was way better to not be moving in the midst of that. So we are here for now. And I'm purging and rearranging rooms and repurposing space. And I am definitely doing stuff to this house. Because I want it to be our home, not just our house.

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  143. Our house went on the market today!! My surprise was losing my job while pregnant with twins (I totally should've sued the company). Now going back to work and paying child care doesn't make sense. We hope to be able to walk away from this house and downsize. Good move on your part. If we could afford this mortgage on one salary it might be smarter to stay, but I'd rather dip into my savings to continue with my powerful pay off debt plan than to pay my mortgage. Thanks for posting, puts thing in perspective.

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  144. Such a good post! It's interesting because I'm kind of a Zillow-holic. Even though I know it's not completely accurate, I look at all the work we've been doing to our house and then just see our home value falling, falling, falling. But we're still remodeling our bathroom, fixing up the house, and making it work for us while we're here. We know we'll be here longer than we intended, so as long as that's still true, it's all about living in it and loving it!

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  145. Thank you for this post. We have been living in our house but not "living" in our house because we didn't think it was our forever house. Recently had my eyes opened to this and trying to start really living and loving our home. Thanks again!!

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  146. I love your blog! Such great ideas. Great photos. I'm so glad you listened to your dad! You love your home. The "value" of it (by definition) is merely a person's opinion of the value based on recent sales. I've been in the real estate business for 25 years. I've seen 17% interest rates. I've seen prices inflate overnight and deflate overnight. I've seen this kind of market twice now. The value of your home will come back over time. How long? I don't know for sure. But I can promise you that over the years the "value" based on market conditions will fluctuate. The only time you want to pay serious attention to it is if you need or want to sell. You are sitting in a perfect situation. You are not upside down so if you HAD to sell you could without bringing money to the table. Don't worry- live in your home. Finish your basement. Sorry to be so word!

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  147. I love your post. We are currently working on our own debt snowball. Just about $8000 to go and we have never bought a home. We got into to much financial trouble. But one day in the future we will be debt free and own a home. I have friends who are just leaving their homes to move into something else with a non challant attitude of who cares. I'll keep doing our Dave Ramsey plan and maybe one day they will listen to me. Cheers.

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  148. I know you are a Dave Ramsey die hard (and yes, he does have some great advice) but my husband is and has been a financial planner (one not trying to sell books) and 1. Your house should never be your biggest investment. Ever. 2. Refinancing your home to pay it off quickly- one of the worst mistakes you can make. Paying your home off ASAP is something that doesn't make sense in a lot of financial planning ;) So don't stress!! Enjoy your beautiful home!!

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  149. Congratulations on making the right decision for yourself! If you love your house and can get it paid off what more could you ask for...

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  150. Wow.....it looks like alot of us have hard-time home stories to tell, Sarah. With these economic times, it didn't surprise me at all.

    Hubby and I bought our farmhouse 4 years ago, took out a bridge loan to do it, and unfortunately STILL have our lake house that we're trying to sell. Making 2 house payments as well as keeping up 2 homes was a huge burden for us. We were going under. We buckled and decided to rent it out yearly - which has worked ok for us even though we cringed while doing it. Our renters are good and pay on time, but I don't look forward to next year when they want to move south and we're stuck trying to sell our lake house again. We love our farmhouse and are truly glad that we bought it. We just continue to pray for a better economy by next year....

    xoxo laurie

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  151. I am not exactly in that boat, but in a similar place. My husband is in the Navy and we bought a house back in 2006 (before the recession) in Florida as an investment and to live in. Fast forward to now and we've lived overseas and in California and it's been tenant occupied ever since. Luckily the tenants pay the mortgage, but it's frustrating. I'd love to sell it, but the house has lost almost $80k in value and if we sold it now we'd lose $40K on our mortgage. But, we're in a place that we may move back and I really want to move back into that house and make it my "home" that I can paint and hang a million pictures and rip out carpet and a million other fun things. Yeah, it probably won't change the market value, but it will make me happy. Plus, we'll be able to refinance since it's our primary residence. We can't under Florida law now and we're missing out on cutting our mortgage by anywhere from $200-$400 a month. So, that's my story. I can empathize!

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  152. This is a tough one because I love our house, but we have to move. Not because we can't afford it (I'm so glad that's not the reason) but because of the schools. We moved out-of-state to a new area almost 5 years ago and didn't realize how BAD the schools were going to be. Not "bad" like gangs and such, but "bad" as in not learning. Education doesn't seem to be a priority. And with children in 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 6th grade, this is unacceptable at this time in our life. The area we live is so small there really isn't much choice. . .in January I finally just took the kids out of school for the rest of the year. We put the house on the market. But it's a small area with little movement. So, we'll see. It's hard having a house you love on the market, no idea really where we're going (but trusting God on this one) and wanting to continue to improve. Put that window in the dining room. Install some crown molding. Re-do the 1/2 bath. Sigh. I love how much you love your house and how much you invest. Tomorrow we have a guy coming to put new siding on one side of the house where recent wind storms tore it off. $780 for a house we're trying to sell. . .and will probably be lucky to get what we paid for it, when we bought it in the inflated market 5 years ago. Sigh. But I keep coming back to you for inspiration, hoping beyond reason that I find another house to fall in love with and make our "forever" home. Thanks for sharing.

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  153. Thank you thank you for this post. My husband and I bought our 1st house 2 years ago and I was laid off 2 days after we moved in. We live in Orange County which is so very expensive. With the loss of my job I realized that we could have afforded a house, not a condo closer to family. Thankfully we were able to pay off all of our debt with my severance and our house payments are manageable. Every now and then I get a little bitter and think about selling, but I remind myself what a great city I live in and that I am so lucky to own a home, if we hadn't bought when we did who knows if we would have been able to qualify for a home. Your post made me realize that every day I need to be thankful for what I have!

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  154. I just happened upon your blog from another link and your comment from Dave Ramsey about taking a hit on your current house to get into a good deal made me feel so much better! We have just purchased a foreclosure condo that is near my inlaws and will be very convenient to help care for them as they get older. It appraised at 180,000 and we are paying 120,000! In the meantime, may have to barely break even on our home that we've put about $40,000 into in payments over the last 3 years. I was feeling a little bitter, but it seems everyone is in the same boat around here, and you gotta pay to live somewhere, right ?:) I'll be following your posts as decorate and furnish
    this new little place of mine :)

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  155. I have had my home for almost 20 years. It is a giant mess of unfinished projects. But it is ours and one day it will be how we want it!!

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  156. We made a huge overhaul last year. We lived in a house that we loved in a neighborhood we loved. But the house was huge, we had rooms that our family of five didn't even use. And my husband was in a job he hated just to pay for the house we loved. So we switched jobs, sold the house and moved to a house that is 15 minutes away for his work- versus his old 90 minute commute each way! It was hard to do but our family time has multiplied and we are so much happier. The hardest part was that I put my sweat and tears on every inch of that house and then sold it to someone who didn't "love" it- they bought it because their brother lived next door, probably would have paid for it without even seeing the inside. But I do hope they end up being very happy there. As for us, I love that quote that a house is built with boards and beams and a home is built with love and dreams, and we will be a happy little family no matter where we live and over time I will turn this new home into what I want it to be.

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  157. This is a very timely post, for me and from the looks of all the comments for many others. Although my husband and I have very little consumer debt we will have massive student loans, and although my line of work will all but guarantee me a good paying job I know that we should be able to manage the 100K+ that we will be faced with. We plan on living off one income and throwing the larger income at the student loans and into retirement. There are definitely holes in our plan (what if one of us or god forbid both of us aren't able to find work after school?) It makes me nervous...I am even hesitant to buy a home, but I know we will always have to live somewhere so we might as well buy modest and pay our own mortgage instead of someone else. Thanks for sharing. It is nice to know that other people are going through the same things, and it is encouraging to see that others are tackling their debt and unburdening themselves.

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  158. Great timing on this post since we're actually in discussions about moving out of state and checking out the housing market. We bought our house about 6 years ago and based on what is out there right now, I think we will have to end up selling at about what we paid for it, if not less. I'm happy to hear Dave Ramsey say that sometimes it's OK because of what you save on the new place. That was my thinking and I'm glad to hear that a financial guru is backing that up. Thanks for the post!

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  159. My dream: To remodel a classic home of my own someday. My reality, making the most our of a little rental home until then! It is a blessing to do what you love. Don't be dissappointed at the news, be excited that you're doing exactly what you've wanted,, with no risk of losing it! Sorry however, to hear of the impact this economy has had on value. It's understood, I worked construction with a local contractor several years, these things are stressful.

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  160. Hi Sarah, Good decision to not move. We moved last year and had a disaster closing - it didn't happen! So here we are trying again to sell our previous house. Yes, we already moved and are in double mortgage territory - handling it, but hub is working overtime like a dog. We bought that house in 2006 at the HEIGHT of the market and trying to sell at the low. We will lose money, but at this point I just want it sold so we can move forward. No regrets, I LOVE where we are and are in our forever house. Have a great weekend!

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  161. I love you and I love your attitude.

    But most of all, I love that you say "Daaaannng Gina!" :)

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  162. This is timely. We've been meeting with our realtor and are hoping to put our house on the market at the end of the month. It all started with not being able to refinance (I have excellent credit, same job for years, paid off some things and still couldn't qualify). Because of the drop in the market and the new regulations, we couldn't refinance. Even under one of the Obama plans. Lame.

    We then had our son, and everything changed. I began hating that we were tied to this house. It's a cute old house but I realized I was tired of putting money into fixing it. I was tired of the street noise. I worried about being close to a main street when my little guy started walking. And just like that, I realized I wanted out.

    I wanted a few hundred extra bucks a month that we'd have from renting vs. selling for right now to be able to go places and do things. I wanted the time back it took to do projects. I guess I know this isn't our dream house so it was like putting money into an old rickety car to keep it running when really buying a newer one would save you money in the long run. Anyhoo I feel for you. It's a difficult decision, for sure.

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  163. My husband and I (and our 1 year old) bought our first house almost 6 years ago. The market was HOT! He's in construction, so we bought an older home and did some major remodeling, with the plans of selling in two years (and making some major $$$$). About 6 months later, the market tanked. We were pregnant with our 2nd daughter and were fine to stay put. We love our house...it's ours.

    Fast forward 4 years (and another daughter later)...we are ready to move. The house is in a great location and not small by any means. But, it's time to move. So, we have saved and saved our little hearts out. Now, we have a for sale sign in the yard, $15K to bring our price way down (plus leftover $ for a down payment on the new home), and hope that someone will love our house.

    It's frustrating though. All the upgrades we made are basically lost $ on top of the $10-15K we are going to have to pay to buy our way out. We have gone back and forth on it a LOT and it's really just time for us to move.

    We are planning on building our forever home (forever until all the girls are in college), so for now, we hold on to the house plans and patiently wait for our prayers to be answered. (I use the term patient loosely...I am about to lose my mind and throw my hands up weekly in despair!)

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  164. I was in your same shoes last year. We refinanced hope to pay off within 10 years if not 7 - so I have to be happy. I agree, I want to be debt free. I have recently found your blog - I LOVE IT!. Instead of finishing off your basement for thousands of dollars as "TODAYS" world say, do like earlier generations, PAINT, PAINT, PAINT!! I hated also that our basement was cluttered and drab gray! For under $100 we painted wall warm beige and floor brown with flecks and decluttered. YOU WOULD NOT BELIEVE THE DIFFERENCE! It is not drab. We closed off a Toy Room and Craft Room with cheap drop clothes hung on Conduit and Hooks. IT IS AMAZING. Decorate like any other room you would never know it is concrete. Warm rugs, Pictures, Bookcases, Furniture. I know you could make it every bit as amazing as the rest of your house without spending so much money! Good Luck!

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  165. We saved for 3 years and paid all our debt down)except for a $6k balance on our van) before we just bought in Sept 2010. We only kept one vehicle. ONE vehicle for 3 years. We have 4 kids. It was hard. It was VERY hard. I am a SAHM. The market is great for buyers. We bought a house in a GREAT area and when the market does kick back up, we will be in a VERY good spot. We were told we had equity of $20k in the house when we bought, which the bank said was something since the market was so bad. I HOPE this is our forever home. I want it to be. Our life is so much better because we sucked it up for 3 years. SO much better. I can sleep at night now without worrying about bill collectors, etc. It feels great.
    Claudia @ http://faithfamilyhopeandlove.blogspot.com/

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  166. Hubs and I were just talking last night about the possibility of moving. It actually made me sad. I love my home and my neighborhood. There are plenty of things I would change in another house (bigger kitchen, bathroom on main floor, etc) but truth is, I love where we are at. It's the first home we've had that we've been able to "make our own". We can afford our home and mortgage and I feel blessed for that.

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  167. I hear you loud and clear. We live near by and built our house 5 years ago. We were one of the first seven houses. I know our house isn't worth as much as we would like, that we all of our projects will never be given the value I give them, and so many around me bought more sq ft for less! Yet I am also right there with you in that this house is our home and we will continue to make it just how we want it. (amanda@fancylittlethings.com)

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  168. We actually just opened escrow on our first home and we're super excited! I've already started decorating in my head (though it will be a long process to get it to where I want it to be...not going into debt for house decor!). I just can't wait to close escrow so we can paint the walls and move!

    Thanks for all the fun inspiration you've shared on your blog!

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  169. I feel your pain sista! We bought our home 4 years with the thoughts of staying here 5 years give or take. We had in appraised last August and the appraisal came back 26K under what we bought for. This is not considering the $20k in upgrades we made (thankfully all paid in cash). At this point we have to stay in our house simply becuase we don't have the equity to get out plus a enough for a down payment on a new home. We are committed to re-financing this year. It will mean more money down but we want to go to a 10 or 15 year vs. the 30 year we're in now. Looks like a lot of us are in the same boat. Helps to know we're not alone.

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  170. This post really hit home for me. Not too long ago I had an itch to move to a bigger and "better" house in a new neighborhood with sidewalks, a pool, playground, etc. (we live in an older neighborhood without those amenities). But after realizing we would have to pay more for a smaller house and a smaller yard I quickly realized that we have it pretty good.So we decided to refinance and our loan went down 2 percent and we took off 7 years on our loan. AND our payment only went up $100 a month! Hollah!!!
    Now I'm fixing up our home and making it fabulous for US.

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  171. You get so many comments so I doubt you will ever read this one, but I just wanted to say that I LOVE when you talk about Dave Ramsey. We are in the beginning stages of following his plan. For the first time in a long time I feel hope. And even more when I read your posts! So Thanks!

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  172. A house is somewhere you enjoy living, any investment is incidental.

    Also the absolute value is not important, its the value compared with where you will want to live in the future.
    If the economy is down the house you will be moving too will be cheaper too.

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  173. We are moving out of a house that we ADORE because it was more than we could afford without me working more and making our already crazy life crazier. We decided keeping a house wasn't worth the overly stressed lifestyle. So after losing all our pennies to our house, we are starting over by renting for a couple years to save up a down payment to buy a house we can afford on one salary. I would LOVE to be in a place where I only had 5 more years until I owned the house I loved. Girl, you are blessed! Stay in your house, make it yours, live in it and enjoy it every day.

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  174. I am in a similar situation and am torn, sad, hopeful. I blogged about it today and I quoted you (hope that's okay - gave you credit, of course: http://agoodlifewelllived.blogspot.com/2011/03/choices.html). I've lost my primary source of income so big choices need to be made. Right now my heart begs me to stay, upside down mortgage and all, but I think reason may take over. Time will tell. Thanks for sharing your feelings. I don't feel so alone anymore.

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  175. this is SO hard. We also bought at the PEAK of the market...we were afraid NOT to; the house prices were going up LITERALLY every. 3. weeks.!! it was insane!

    We love our house, and don't want to move...thank goodness we don't have to at the moment, either. However, we are close to being "upside down." ughhhh. If we sold, after realtor fees, and bringing down the price (inevitably), we'd be in the negative. It's depressing!!

    Its just too expensive and depressing to try and move right now. We love our house...the market will come back up, it always does!!!

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  176. We are getting ready to close on our first house March 30th. I am so excited and overwhelmed at the same time. There are so many decisions to make.

    I hope this house is going to be a forever home for us and I wont ever have to weigh the pro's and con's of moving for the reasons you have.

    I really enjoy reading your blog and truely believe that everything happens for a reason. Maybe there is a reason things are happening this way.

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  177. I'm a realtor (not a trophy wife). If you are within of 5 years of owning your home and your home is also tied to your profession, you could always consider a small fix and flip home or buying a 2nd home for rental income. With minimum down payments raised to 20% for most buyers, more buyers are on the fence (and renting) until they have saved that amount.

    I think it is awesome that you are so close to no mortgage and you are in a beautiful home that allows you to leave the dream. Yeah for you guys!

    laura@imnotatrophywife.com

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  178. I love this post. We thought about selling our house because my husband's income was cut in half. It has been a struggle to keep our home. We decided not to sell when we found out that rent was as much as our house payment and the rentals were no where near as nice as our house. Also what we could rent that would be less than our house payment wouldn't fit our family. So we are staying and improving as we can and only when we have the cash to do it. Thanks for sharing and I'd love for you to hop over to my blog to see what we've been doing.

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  179. Once again you have done a great job being so transparent that others find inspiration in your honesty and situation.
    We are big fans of Dave Ramsey and have paid off all of our debt-- we have 6 months of an emergency fund and now are working on college for our kids. One is 16 other is almost 10. So we have alot of saving to do. In the process we did the same and are in the process of moving from a 30 year fixed to a 15 year fixed. (So we are praying our value is where we need it to be),=.
    It is a catch 22. We love our house, our neighborhood but, if we would've stayed in our littler house it would be paid for by now. Wow...live and learn.
    WE were so much in debt three years ago that we were wondering if we would survive.
    Follow Dave's plan it works!
    Love the post....I need to share my story on my blog...thanks for the inspiration.

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