Real Estate Related Brain Dump

Is brain dump a vulgar expression?  It sounds kind of crude to me.  But I wouldn’t know; I was homeschooled.  And anyway, a brain dump is what it is.  But with a real estate motif:

1. We are probably moving, after all.  It’s fun to be looking at houses.  We’ll stay in the same town, preferably in the same neighborhood.  It’s just time for something a little bigger and with a better layout.  And preferably a view!


2. I’m having some inner turmoil over (hopefully) moving to someplace bigger.  Our main level is 1040 sq ft, with about 750 sq ft of finished basement.  I’m guessing 90% of the people in the world would consider this a HUGE house.  Even in this country a few decades ago, this house would be average for a family our size.  . . . At least once in the recent past, Pat and I said something to the effect of “We’re never moving again.”  We were committed to staying minimal with our possessions in order to fit in our house.  But somewhere along the line it stopped working.  There’s a voice inside telling me I should just try harder to fit into the house we have.  But I tell the voice to shut up.  Plus, the layout of the house is a pain.  No door leading directly into the back yard.  No entry way, poorly-placed doorways and basement stairs.  And a tiny kitchen, which makes cooking healthily from scratch that much harder.  Anyway, that assuages my conscience a bit. . . . Right now I’m already itching to start throwing stuff out and packing because the clutter overflowing in this little house is driving me nuts.  It’s silly because I know that if we get a bigger space we’ll just fill it with more stuff.  *sigh*

IMG_0247 IMG_0246

3. We want to rent out our current home, instead of selling it right away.  Current rents are significantly higher than our mortgage payment, so it makes sense to try it out.  But being a landlord is a lot of work, I know, even if your tenants pay.  And if they don’t pay it’s a long process to evict. . . .


4. What we’re doing first is refinancing our current mortgage, and drawing out some of the equity to use as part of a down payment on the next house.  Because the new loan will be at a lower rate, our monthly payment won’t go up.

5. I cannot tell you how weird it is to be typing this, because we’ve been Dave Ramsey-ish, super debt averse for a long time.  Borrowing more money against the house, instead of paying the mortgage off as fast as possible, and then getting a second mortgage–these are all things I wouldn’t even consider 6 months ago.  I’m not going into all the reasons we’re ready to take more risks, but we think it’ll be okay.


6. We’ve been watching a lot of HGTV on Netflix (currently–Buying and Selling with the Property Brothers). (I want to play a Property Brothers drinking game sometime–one shot every time someone says “open concept.”)  The question   is–are we watching HGTV because we’re thinking about moving, or are we thinking about moving because we’re watching HGTV?  Hmmm.


7. Because of all the HGTv watching, I think of more and more things we “should” do before selling our house.  The thing is, our house is worth about half of the lowest-priced houses you’ll ever see on HGTV.  So I wonder how many repairs and improvements would make a difference?  And even if we could get buyers willing to pay more, would they be able to get enough of a mortgage?  We just got the house appraised and I was surprised at how few details the appraisal took into account.  Anyway, if we rent it out we don’t have to worry about that for a while.  We’ll just have to figure out what improvements to do before renting it out.

Anyone have any moving/buying/selling/renting-out experience to share?

Click over to Kelly’s blog for more quick take posts.  Happy weekend!


28 thoughts on “Real Estate Related Brain Dump

  1. We’re in the process of moving and buying right now. We currently rent though…so we aren’t selling.

    Your current house looks similiar (from the outside) to a house we used to live in. I’m guessing it’s one of those houses that was built in the 60’s from the exterior. In my experience from looking at TONS of houses, houses built duing that era are sorta weird as far as layout goes.

    Anyway, I don’t think you should feel guilty about wanting a bigger house. When we were looking at houses, we definitely wanted something bigger (not super huge….but at least 2200 square feet). My personal feeling is that having a bigger house isn’t totally a selfish decision. Having a larger house more easily allows one to be hospitable to others. It’s much easier to hosts overnight guests and have gatherings and parties and all that if you have a larger house.

  2. Woo-to-the-hoo! You know I gots some thoughts about about all this stuff. And our experience being landlords so far has been mostly good, but we do live in the house, so maintenance and stuff is much easier for us. We’ve had good tenants to start, we have no tenant horror stories yet. And good for your for stepping out of Dave Ramsey land a bit and talking about it here. 🙂 It’s a risk, the land lord thing, but the payoff is potentially huge. Do you know any other people who own income property in town who you could talk to? What’s the market like there?

    And I hear you about the wanting a bigger place guilt. We’re still okay in our house, but my kids are little. The layout in our place sounds a bit better than yours BUT we only have one bathroom and it’s downstairs. It’s not undoable, but it’s a pain in the butt. It would be nice to have a bathroom on the same floor as the bedrooms, and to have more than one. One day…

    • We have one bathroom on the main level, with a later-added bathroom is the basement. The latter has a whirlpool tub but no shower! It’s nice to have b/c Pat has his office down there, and when guests come and stay in the (finished!) basement, they have a bathroom to use down there. But for all of our getting ready in the morning and at night, it’s basically like having one bathroom. A master bath is quickly inching up from my nice-to-have list to my must-have list.

      I’m so glad to hear being landlords is working for you. We know several people who own rental properties and it works for great for them. I can think of at least two others, though, who have had headaches with renters not paying or breaking their leases.

      It’s a good market to be a landlord in our town now. Rent for a place like ours is running about 60% more than our current mortgage payment. So the potential income is to good not to at least try.

      • Oh, master bathrooms are the stuff of our dreams! Honestly, it’s the pinnacle of what Dave and I aspire to (materially). I mean, I got my dishwasher, really the only other thing a girl needs is her own bathroom.

        60% more than your mortgage payment?!? That’s great! Real estate is so much more expensive here… Our mortgage is pretty steep, but not unaffordable for us (obviously, otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to buy it) so we pay it in full every month and the rental money we keep separate and just put it back into the house. It’s still pretty great though. We would have paid as much as we did for this house for a single family small starter home in our town, and we wouldn’t have the extra income to make improvements to the house and build equity. We’re hoping to refinance very soon here too to drop our pmi and then the next big project is the roof. Ultimately we hope to save enough money to buy a bigger family home and hang on to this place and rent out our side and then the house will make money for us. Ideally this house will help us with school and college tuition and retirement. Not to count our chickens or anything, but income properties can go a long way if you’re lucky and you manage it well.

  3. Heehee, one shot for open concept. Any night any of those Canadian shows are on HGTV, sometimes two or three in a row, we would all be drunk. 🙂

    Your house looks a lot like our first home. I love it, and I especially love the carport. Carports are undervalued, we purposely sought homes with carports we love them that much!

    • Yes, we are so glad to have a carport! It did factor into the appraisal somewhat, but probably not enough. . . . And my alcohol tolerance is so low these days, I’d probably only last one episode! 🙂

  4. Oh man, Laura, do I wish we could just chat this all out over coffee! We were renting the home my husband grew up in, but basically 900 ish sq ft just became so difficult for us in spite of all my minimalist efforts. And like you mention, how the sq footage is laid out makes such a Huge difference in daily family life. We also just became landlords (sounds so feudal) with our new home purchase, bc of an attached in laws quarters with tenants already living there. We have a lot to talk about!

    • Yes, I’d love to hear all about it! I was thinking about you as I wrote this, because I had just seen that you moved. . . . 900 sq ft and you had four kids! You deserve a medal!

  5. From all of your writing about both of you being introverted and easy-going, I think you should just sell it and be done with it. Those Property Brothers have way too much energy. 🙂 I have been thinking about rentals lately and have come to the conclusion that real estate investing is for insensitive (renters DESTROY houses), outgoing, overly-energized people. Or, people who can afford a property manager and don’t care what their previous neighbors will endure. As an INTJ, I am going to stick with Vanguard and just dream about other business ventures.

    • Okay, these were my thoughts almost verbatim until a few months ago. Somehow Pat and I developed a sudden optimistic streak. . . . Possibly in a year I’ll be crying, “Kaaaaa-rennnnn! I should have listened to youuuuuuu!” 😉

  6. I talked to a gardener who told me always keep your watering can right next to your plants because otherwise you’re not going to water them. Luke and I have thought if we had a garage, we could do a lot more carpentry projects together, and that’s fun, and it’s good for us to do that sort of thing together. So by extension it is good for our marriage to have a garage. I think you can take that too far in a “rationalizing all the stuff we want” sort of way, but I think a lot of times it’s a serious consideration.

    I’m not in your exact situation but I can sympathize to a degree — I feel like I have this constant tension between “I shouldn’t have THINGS!” (minimalism/probably a warped understanding of holy detachment) and “but it takes a lot of mental energy to DECIDE which things to get rid of” (taking care of myself, not holding myself to ridiculous standards, getting rid of unnecessary stress). And, to live a life in the 21st century actually does require having a lot of things that our ancestors didn’t need — like, it’s actually not socially acceptable anymore to only own one dress. But then how many dresses (and this applies to a lot of things) is too many? Oh, and then trying to balance that with the humility of “You know, I just can’t do a minimalist life right now. I have to prioritize other things in my life.” And not falling into a defeated “giving up” mentality.

    • Yeah, if minimizing isn’t actually making your life simpler, what’s the point? . . . And lately it’s helped me to think that God puts us all in a particular point in history, in a particular culture for a reason. We don’t *have* to live super-simply just b/c people did at some other point in the past. We have to reject sin but we don’t have to reject *everything* that’s less-than-perfect about our culture. I mean, if you can manage to live a lot more simply than most, all the better. But for those of us who are anxiety-prone it’s best not to focus on that too much. And yes, it’s humility, I think: I can’t live my life in the best possible way in every respect. In some areas I have to settle for good enough.

      • P.S. It’s nice to have someone who can relate to something as mundane as house square footage dredging up all these deep spiritual, philosophical quandaries! Ei yi yi.

  7. We’re renting our old house out and it’s been going really well. We have a property manager who is also a realtor. She manages some of her own properties and a couple of her tenants have been renting from her for 10+ years now! She said the most important thing is to screen for a really good tenant.
    She found us a great tenant. We haven’t had any issues (we really never hear from her!) she always pays on time and just signed a second year! We’d love to keep her living there long term.
    I recommend getting a property manager if possible. It would be awesome if you could get a family or older couple renting from you, because unlike teens/young adults renting a house together, a family or a couple have more potential to be long term tenants and usually have more job stability.
    Best of luck and looking forward to hearing about it all!!

  8. Snuck over from quick takes – we rent our old house. It will be 2 years this July and honestly it has been the best experience. We had actually refinanced our old house down to a 15 year mortgage, so our renters don’t actually cover that mortgage, but they do exactly cover our mortgage on the house we live in. They are a sweet family, always pay on time, and in 2 years have come to us with only one problem! Love them. Plus they are paying down our mortgage – that is the awesome part people sometimes don’t think about. 🙂 That house will be paid off in 10 years, and we aren’t doing the paying off part. Anyway, way too much info from a stranger, but I just wanted to encourage you because so many people are anti-renting.

    • Hey Holly, Thanks for stopping by. It’s great hearing about your good experience. We’re hoping that the rent we get from this place will cover the mortgage payment on our new place (wherever that ends up being). . . . It does seem to be all about what tenants you get. We’re hoping to rent out to someone in our parish or a friend-of-a-friend type person. I think most of the bad renter stories I”ve heard were from when people advertised on Craigslist.

      • We have a few rental properties and our best tenants have not been people who we know. In these Catholic circles, sometimes people think that they dont have to pay because they are uber Catholic. . . We only accept renters with great credit. This is a side business for our family. . . everyone chips in to clean and do light renovations (hire out the rest). Our kids are older but even the 10 year old is a good ditch digger! I think knowing that you are a lawyer will work well for you! I think you are in a great location for a rental! I am happy to chat with you about this anytime!

  9. It always feels so grown up to talk about mortgages, and second mortgages. It feels so intimidating but also, it’s just a fact of life. I really hope it all goes smoothly for you, it sounds exciting!

    And HGTV drinking games=getting drunk real fast! (I’m addicted to them too. Have you watched Income Property at all? It’s also Canadian, and it’s all about renoing rental properties. It’s mucho addicting!)

      • Ummm, Income Property is awesome, and I think it is on Netflix now. Scott McGillivray is my favorite Canadian, next to Christy of course. 😉

  10. I think you will be so happy you are moving. I tried being a minimalist too in a smaller house, no yard, hardly any garage storage & bad laundry room — and now that we finally moved it has made such a difference! I have such different ideas of what matters… now as a mother of 3 vs. being a newlywed 6 years ago pre-kids. Our new house is twice as big, looks cleaner all the time, and I mainly just focus on laundry and dishes daily so I don’t fall behind. I still took a load to Goodwill despite the extra space because I don’t want to spend my life cleaning and organizing “things” and plan to keep the toys and clothes down to a reasonable level. But wow, it is SO nice having the right house for our family. We decided to sell our old house rather than rent. It was pretty painless because I had been in fix it up mode this past year (had the backyard landscaped, painted the bathroom, had the whole house deep cleaned for my Christmas present in Dec), and we accepted a cash offer (a tiny bit lower) after 2 showings. I got rid of 1/3 of our stuff (to storage, or donate) before we started showings and kept ALL horizontal surfaces totally clean (no blended, toaster, paper towel rack — hide it all). We had 2 open houses which helped too. Good luck!!!!!

  11. lol! I always laugh at the budgets on Property Brothers .I can’t even fathom that much money haha. As for purging, you should at least check out the free master checklist on my blog 😉

  12. HAHA “I wouldn’t know I was homeschooled.” That is brilliant. I don’t think it’s crass, but I wasn’t homeschooled and cuss a lot, offline anyway, so I’m probably a bad judge.

    • Seriously, I was at this legal symposium during law school and one of the speakers made a naughty play on words ( discussing the philosopher Kant…)and everyone was tittering about it at cocktail hour later. I just had this noncommittal half grin on my face because * I had never heard that word* 😁. Didn’t get the pun until years later.

  13. Pingback: Friday Quick Takes: Lots of New Additions! | This Felicitous Life

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