People Buy Houses for Weird Reasons

People Buy Houses for Weird Reasons

On Christmas vacation we watched a lot of HGTV. My mother-in-law is particularly fond of shows like House Hunters, where couples are presented with three houses that suit their purchasing desires and choose which they want to buy. Presumably they look at more houses off camera, but that’s the scope of the show. Personally, I like to see the houses. I like to see how people utilize space. And of course it’s fun to ‘window shop.’ I would love to live in that house! Ew, no, I’d never take that one!

I’ve only ever purchased two houses in my lifetime. Both experiences were vastly different. Our first house was badly water damaged during our first month of ownership. We were never fully able to utilize the space the way we wanted to, but we were able to make modifications to the house that allowed us to sell it for a profit, despite the cost of repairs.

In both cases, our goal was to find a house that would fit our lives and allow us to grow. We wanted space for an office, since I write full-time, that wouldn’t involve cramming our computer desks into the same room as our TV. If one of us wanted to work and the other to play video games, we wanted to be able to create a quiet space for the person working. We also wanted room to expand our family.

Our second house has less room than the first, but a beautiful loft space to accommodate our office. Living in England for a year taught us we need a lot less living space than we thought we did. Technically, size wise, our new house is a downgrade, but we love it because it fits us perfectly. Both times we bought our houses we considered resale value, knowing we were likely to upgrade when our family got large enough or, in the case of our first house, that we might not be in the area long-term.

Every time we viewed a house, I would walk through it imagining our furniture inside. Which is trickier than you think when your furniture has been in storage for a year. If we could see ourselves living comfortably in the space, with minimal changes, we considered it for purchase. We weren’t interested in houses that needed a lot of work, especially after our first experience. We didn’t want to pull up carpet or tear down walls, though we like the idea of future projects like upgrading a kitchen. We never considered paint colors when we toured a house. Because paint is so easy to change.

When we watch House Hunters, everyone complains about colors. They don’t want a house with green walls so they spend more money on something else. When it would have been so simple, so cheap, to slap a new coat of paint on the walls. Our primary consideration has always been functionality. You can give a house character when you decorate it, by the things you bring into it and the way you utilize the space. Yet constantly we watched people spend more money on less space because they wanted ‘traditional’ houses, houses with ‘character,’ even if the features which gave it character were difficult to work or decorate around.

Now, I’m sure this show is staged. And I’m sure the participants are told to critique each house they’re shown no matter how much they like it. But the fact remains that people constantly go over-budget buying houses for reasons that make no sense to me.

It just goes to show you that everyone emphasizes different values. What’s important to me might seem pointless to someone else. And a house is a big investment; you want to be happy with the result. I can’t imagine cramming my life into a tiny house, but I admire people who make it work for them. I may never understand another person’s thought process, but so long as their choices make them happy, who am I to judge?

What features do you consider most important for your living space?

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