Fences & Flowers

The CB Bain Blog

From the outside peering in, it looks like a lot of fun to be a millennial. After all, as a group they grew up surrounded by electronics and have no fear finding digital solutions to just about everything, like buying groceries or eye glasses or streaming entertainment choices on demand. But when it comes to buying a house, well things are tougher for them.

I just heard from my longtime pal, Steve, who shared the news that he and his wife had just sold their beautiful houseand would be moving in three weeks. I was surprisedto hear this because theirsweet little bungalow was their empty-nester home, the smaller place they’d down-sized into after their kids had grown and gone and begun families of their own. Plus, Steve’s green thumb had turned the yard into a real standout. But things change and now, to be nearer the grandkids, a move was in order.

If you watch HGTV, you’ve seen them popping up everywhere: tiny houses, often mobile, perfectly sized for a simple and more affordable lifestyle. They’re easier to maintain and give owners the option of taking home on the road. Many current homeowners are interested in the tiny house movement. So why aren’t we seeing more of them?

If you’re thinking of selling your home (and it’s a great time to do it), you might think a sign on your lawn is all it will take for a quick and easy sale. True, you may receive offers within days. But proper staging and attention to detail can make a big difference on the bottom line.

When I decided to sell my beloved first house in late 2009 it wasn’t a particularly good time. We were a year into the Great Recession and home prices were down. Way down. Having owned the house for 14 years and substantially improved it, I still made a handsome profit on its sale. But had I waited a few years my proceeds would have been greater. On the other hand, lower home prices meant I got a smoking deal on the house I bought, which wouldn’t have happened even a year later and would be unimaginable in today’s red-hot market.

Why do homes sell? Is it because of location? Price? Architectural style? Surely these all come into play, but more than anything else, homes sell because buyers fall in love with them. And love, generally, has little to do with location, money or architecture. People buy homes with their hearts. It’s an emotional thing.

Last spring, for the first time in almost 3 decades, my folks moved. They left the 1960s split-level I grew up in, and moved into a brand new home surrounded by open spaces and friendly neighbors. I'm glad they're in a safer and happier neighborhood! But buying a new construction home was a bit different than your typical existing home real estate transaction.

I’ve been using the same tax accountant for about 15 years now and I always try to meet with her early enough to avoid the last-minute rush to April 15. This year, after we exchanged the usual pleasantries and I handed over the usual suspects – my W2s, charity receipts, car tab bill, etc. – she began the annual inquisition: “Did you buy a new car? Did you refinance? Did you do any remodeling?”

Dreaming of a new home can be fun and exciting. But when you’re ready to begin the buying process, it can be overwhelming. Where do you start? Should you move to a different state? Should you stick around? Do you want a different kind of home? Is the busy city calling your name or are you content with rural peace and quiet? How can you find the best real estate agent and lender?

Once, a Jetsons kind of life seemed like a pipe dream, the stuff of cartoons. Well, even pipe dreams come true. Though we’re not yet zipping through the sky to commute to and from work, today’s smart home technology is making many of our daily commutes more than just a way home. Example:



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