Searching for a home for me was riddled with many challenges. I backed my credit into the darkest deepest cave and it hadn’t see the light of day in years. I was self employed, keeping my income as close to my out going as possible. At the time I had 3 children, who I was supporting on cleaning houses and serving tables. Along came my Never Husband and about 2 years into our relationship we are having our first (my 4th) baby living in a 3 bedroom 1000 sqft, town house, that was in geared to income housing….cue Elvis, The Ghetto….don’t tear up, this story gets good. We were already starting the process, we had some money, and we had some RRSP’s we knew that we would have to move and the pregnancy just propelled the idea forward.
We went to my bank….cue looming doom music………my Never Husband looks great on paper, steady job, sparkly credit, never on the radar, soooo polished, he’s a good man. There was noooooo way they were looking at me! Scarlet Lettered with the Banks! I went on and on about this in a past blog about Credit, (if this sounds anything like you, call we will chat, and go read that blog), so I will move on!
Fast Forward three more years, and 1 MORE BABY!! (if you are keeping count we are up to 5 and holding now), and now I am a Realtor. Lots of changes! Shopping for a house was still 2 years in my future, but if the right one came along, we would make a move. I wasn’t really looking for a house, then I showed my house to clients (who told me to buy it) …..Cue the Song Dream Weaver…….I love my house, it is the most perfect house for a family of 7, and the price was right. I knew it was perfect for me because I did the research and made lists of what we would be looking for. There was no real hope on finding a house that would be about, taxes in 2000 a month (what our rent was close to), for so many bodies, that didn’t leave us living on top of each other or living on a busy street, so we knew we had to know what we were looking for, and where and we had to be patient. We had options, we could try Fergus, or Cambridge, but moving my boys away from their Dad was not an option, and I was not going to move away from them…. Guelph it was!
What were we looking for……1400 – 2000 sqft, 5-6-bedroom, generous family area (maybe 2), PRIVACY!! and I am not sharing a bathroom with my teen boys any more!! I deserve it!!! All on a less than 400k potential budget for 7 people to live in….was not holding my breath. Mature area, quiet street, big yard, and kid friendly area all would have been a bonus. We had to be creative, and careful…..so here was my list of creative thoughts……
- How long will we be staying? Depending on what the house holds for space, lot & placement. Getting into the market is key, and if we have to we will just get our foot in the door.
- Side split of back split would be ideal – they hide a lot of house sometimes twice the house, and they usually have generous lots
- Can a den or a dining room be converted to an extra bedroom? Ikea helps with closets but if the dynamic worked a 3 or 4 bedroom could become a 5 or 6 while we are trying to farm the teens out to college…..
- Are the “Majors” done or in good shape? Roof, furnace, foundation, windows, bathrooms….we are handy, but budget is always tight, and taking on any major malfunction is not going to be ideal or worth moving the nest
- Storage!!! So many things!! Places to put things is great, but extra storage can be taken out to create extra living space.
- Can I hide from my children in my room? I have been a parent of young children for 19 years, this is very, very important to me, safely done, but important.
- Is there potential to add the things that we want down the road? Buying them at the time, not an option. We can work toward a garage, a pool, a Nana suite, a dog bath ect.
- Property taxes, utilities, and land transfer taxes – all things we had to think about. Property taxes were key. Buying in certain neighbourhoods can save $200 – $400 a month…. tight budget….this is groceries or maybe allow you to keep saving.….seriously consider this one.
- Could we love it – purchasing a home, getting in the market, all sanitary businessy, but can you love it? Can you see yourself living there? Sharing meals, having guests, being a family there comfortably?
I often say we were “pretty lucky” or “I was in the right place at the right time”, but now I know that isn’t so. We knew what we wanted, we were patient, and when the right place came along we knew what we were looking at, and made our move. It was work, we have been creative. Our son left for college….cue Blackbird by Paul McCartney and a misty Sandy….our 17 year old is moving out of the den (which we converted into his first solo bedroom) and into his brothers old room. Now the den will be Art Studio/Office/Video Game Lounge. Our 2 daughters share the smallest bedroom in the house, no room for two beds, (or too many toys, that was the plan), and this isn’t The Hunger Games they are not sharing a bed, so an old storage cubby was cut out and they have cool captain beds up in the wall…. happiest ladies in town. Our yard is generous, we can add a garage in the future, and we don’t have AC…yet…. some of the windows leak air, and it is a 70’s house so it is a little drafty….we are working on that. I have my own bathroom, and I can hide away on my own floor of the house where there are no kids demanding my time. The house is growing with us, we will be here for quite a while.
Moral of the story, make a list of wants and needs, go to open houses and get creative, hire an agent that can get creative with you, and is patient about the process…. Cough, cough, nudge, nudge…lol…get in there and get educated about the process. You really don’t know what a house holds till you get in it.
See you out there!