is our house a money pit?

Recently, we’ve been talking about our priorities and what we are thinking about our house in a long-term way. We’ve also been talking about where we want to spend our money, how tightly we want to squeeze our belts, and what sacrifices we are willing to make. It’s one thing to scrimp and save for a time, but for it to be a lifestyle – well that’s harder. We realized one thing: we don’t want to sacrifice everything for this house. It was an interesting observation, and one thing I wish we’d realized a year and a half ago. But then, we had no idea the amount of work it would take to get this house going.

I’ve talked a lot about the different house projects we have. Major projects. If someone handed me $40,000 right now, I would have it spent in no time and I wouldn’t even be touching the “fun” projects like redoing the kitchen! And that’s not even accounting all the major projects that we anticipate becoming issues in the next 5-10 years (like, needing a new roof).

The question is, where do we draw the line? When do we decide that this house needs too much work? When do we walk away, poorer but wiser?

We have no idea, but we’ve started talking about regrets. We know that all houses have issues, and that with any house there will be a never-ending list of projects and improvements. The thing is, we are struggling under the burden of our list. I was reading on a forum of some complaints by other moms who are renting their houses. The things they were complaining about were all things we are living with, and to be honest are all far down on our list of priorities. A friend came over to visit, and we were talking about the things we could do with our house. She would start with an idea, and then it would just snowball. And then she would stop and shake her head. It was almost too much.

We have to be in this house until August 31, 2012, or we will have to pay back the $8,000. So at that point, what should we do? Could we sell the house without fixing anything? We would most likely have to list it at the price we paid, and be prepared for it to be on the market for a long time. Or we could take out a loan, fix the problems, and then sell it and hopefully make enough to pay off the mortgage and the loan. A possibility, but that’s assuming the housing market is better in 2 years. And it still might take a long time to sell, and we’re stuck with mortgage + loan payments in the meantime. And, to be honest if we can fix everything I would rather stay here. Or we can just live as we have been, trying to save and just praying that nothing major happens because we definitely don’t have the budget.

We obviously won’t make any decisions about this until after we pass the three year mark. However, we have been thinking about what it would take to sell it in the condition it’s in now. There are things I’d want to do, which don’t cost any (or much) money, and would make the house more attractive. Most of them involve paint and heavy duty cleaning.

Selling sooner than later would also encourage us to pursue more projects to make the house more attractive. Expensive projects like the foundation would probably be left undone, and we will definitely be penalized for that. But perhaps if we can make the rest of the house look nice, we’ll attract a buyer.

I’m probably fooling myself into thinking we *could* sell this house. To be honest, I am not sure we would be able to without fixing the foundation which is really the chunk of change that is weighing us down. Sigh. Oh well. Let’s just hope we don’t ever *have* to move, or we will be really stuck!

4 thoughts on “is our house a money pit?

  1. Tough decisions and I hope that the right decisions for you will become apparent in the next year or so before you have to choose. Good luck!

  2. Living in a hundred-year-old house, I can understand the “money pit” feeling, especially when the projects are too complex or big to do yourself. We’ve had to just decide not to fix some things, and let the next buyers live with the same problems we do (fixing our well or our uneven foundation, for example). Other issues, like the roof or siding, will affect resale value so are more necessary.

    I warn friends considering buying a house that the cost of ownership doesn’t end with the mortgage payment! It’s a shock, for sure.

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