Buy or Build? The year-long journey we took before taking the plunge
Updated: Dec 22, 2019
Many people planned for years before building a dream home. We are on the contrary accidental home owners. Early spring of 2018, we went to an open house our builder hosted and found out about the opportunity to build a custom home on new lots that were just made available near where we live. This is a rare find because there are rarely any empty lots in our city and this happened to be developed from a large wooded land that a couple owned for many years.
At the time, we were intrigued but felt the price was higher than what we would like to spend on an upgraded home. After the open house, for several months, we searched for existing homes that were for sale. There were few newer homes (less than 20 years old) on the market, the ones in our price range were either too outdated or had a strange layout. In this process, we had considered buying a fixer-upper, waiting for the next downturn of housing market to get a good deal, or moving to a more affordable neighborhood...but we dreaded living with major renovations, having too long of a house hunting process, or the long commute...eventually we put an offer on a 30-year-old 5 bed 3 bath home in a perfect location well over half a million dollars, but was outbid by an ALL CASH offer. Our hearts were broken. Who would have thought someone with that amount of money was also interested in the same house we liked.
Then winter came, the MLS was basically silent.
It was during these long winter months that we started to ponder over the idea of building. Because there was so few inventory on the market, we increased our budget and started to look at houses that were in the next price bracket, which was close to the price point of new builds. Another important consideration was we are both in prime earning years. If we spend wisely and save aggressively, we can afford a nicer house that is slightly pricier than our comfort level without sacrificing our financial future. After doing the math on the new mortgage and extra expenses, we came to the conclusion that building was doable.
So we took the plunge. We luckily got the last lot in that small community. DH happily drove to the builder‘s office next day to drop off the $10,000 deposit as if it is a ticket to our one-of-a-kind dream home.
There are a lot of things to consider when deciding to build a new house, and how big of a house one can afford. As a millennial who entered the workforce around the time when the Great Recession hit, I am always fearful of the unknown and taking financial risks. But I know we will be able to build lots of great memories in this house. And it will be a fun experience.