After spending the past two weeks writing about the concept of “forever homes” and whether or not they actually exist, I realized that I hadn’t really done my due diligence on the topic. I wrote from the heart, explaining that while I completely and totally understand why clients say they want to buy their “forever home,” I don’t truly believe that such a thing exists. But, to be sure, I googled “forever home” and guess what? Someone clearly disagrees with me because they wrote an entire book on the subject. For the low, low price of $29.23, the Amazon robots will deliver it to your door. I ordered one. Of course, I ordered one and then I bought the e-version, too, because patience isn’t my strong suit. The book is loaded with gorgeous photos of pristine kitchens and luxurious bathrooms and I pretty much wanted to move into every single home featured. But there was a catch… there’s always a catch. These homes were brand new constructions. This book was all about building your dream home and adding features that would brand it your forever home. And as much as I appreciated the eye candy, the book left me surer than ever that while the notion of a forever home is delightful, promoting that such a thing exists isn’t in the best interest of my clients.
This week, I’ve been thinking about forever homes in the context of second or third time homebuyers… clients whose lives (and offspring!) are expanding to such a degree that their first home feels less like a dream and more like a nightmare. Cramped living quarters, shared bathrooms, and teeny tiny backyards. What once appealed to the twenty-something couple just starting to spread their wings now feels like a constricting cage. Plus, these clients with their growing families have experienced the joys — and let’s face it – sometimes the challenges of homeownership.
When they say “We want to buy our forever home,” often they’re saying “We REALLY do not want to move again.” I get it. Moving is one of the most stressful things we’ll encounter in this lovely lifetime. No bones about it. It stinks. And, while I can’t promise to help these clients find a forever home, I can certainly recommend a few things that will help them stay put in a really fantastic home for a good, long while.
Often, at this stage in their lives and careers, clients have a little more disposable income. And, if we’ve done a great job with their starter home, they should also have a nice chunk of equity to reinvest in their new, larger and better-for-them home. Most often, this extra capital translates to extra space, but before I start scheduling tours for 5,000 square feet manses, I really recommend that my clients take a close look at how they live. Do they love the idea of mom and dad making dinner while the kiddos lounge in the great room just a few feet away? Or do they prefer a little less togetherness with perhaps a basement rec room for their large and rowdy crew? Are the kids old enough to sleep on a separate level from parents or do mom and dad still feel more comfortable being a few steps away from their children? Are the kiddos sporty? Do they need a big yard to whack balls around or just enough room for a swing set and play house? Large yards are wonderfully enticing, but they require a great deal of upkeep.
Sometimes, what I discover when talking to my second or third time home-buying clients is that they don’t actually need (or want) a huge home, but they’ve come to appreciate a little bit of luxury and would love to invest in elegant upgrades. The Davidson and Williamson County markets are ripe with homes that are reasonably sized, but loaded with upgrades and amenities that will keep you within shouting distance of your loved ones, but allow you to enjoy the finer things in life.
Wine cellars, fancy mud rooms, gorgeous patios with fire pits or outdoor kitchens… Detailed millwork, top-of-the line appliances, a well-designed bonus room or a theatre space. Spa-like bathrooms and large bedrooms… A private home office and large eat-in kitchen. These are just some of the things that my clients find they enjoy in their new “just-right” homes. Often, those amenities are also the things that allow them to remain in their “middle” home for quite a few years. Bonus rooms can be converted to guest suites as kids grow older and move out (and then come back home)! Formal dining rooms do actually see action when you play host to large family holiday gatherings. And main level master suites ensure a bit of privacy and quietude away from rowdy teens. Sometimes the just right home for my clients with expanding families are full of “just right” details that will grow with them and their lives. These details provide a flexibility for changing lifestyles and – let’s face it – if there is one guarantee in life, it’s that change will always happen. That’s why a forever home might be a fairy tale, but a “just-right” home is absolutely attainable.