It might be love at first sight, but make sure your new house can go the distance:

I’ve often said that buying a house is like getting married: you fall in love when you step in the door.  You learn as much as you can during the home inspection.  You don’t really know the house until you’ve lived there a few years. After 5 years you have your list of what you’ll do differently the next time.  Fortunately, the “next time” is more pleasant and easier when buying a house than trading in a spouse!


My goal as a Buyer’s agent is that you live happily ever after.  I know that the longer you stay in a home the better the investment.  So, how do you know on Day #1 what you will need in Year 7? While every Buyer and family is different there are common reasons people sell a home. Many of these “reasons to sell” can be avoided, or at least the time frame in your home extended with a little forethought in your purchase.


From my 24-year experience selling thousands of homes, here are the top reasons people sell, not necessarily in this order:


  • School System. What works when you’re a couple changes when you have a kindergartner.  Think ahead.  Do you plan to use public schools and, if so, what school system is your preference? How important is it that your child be able to walk to the school?  Is bus transportation available or are you willing to make the drive sometimes 3-4 times a day depending on the number and ages of your children?  Private or Parochial School?  Are there geographic boundaries for attendance? Is there bus transportation? I once had a client who purchased a home specifically because it backed to her child’s private school. Upon calling me to sell it she said it was the best decision she ever made.  “It saved me hours on the road” she said, “and sick days, snow days and early closures were never a problem.”


  • Room to do what you love: Do you love to cook? A small kitchen will force an earlier move. Do you entertain quite often? Look for large spaces and open rooms.   Lots of sleepovers? A basement playroom is a priority.  Work at home? The dining room table won’t cut it over the years, look for space to create an office. Overall, make sure square footage is adequate for your needs and possible growth through life change: marriage, children, adding a roommate.  Right now, my team is marketing an adorable downtown condo.  It’s under 900 square feet and owned by an equally adorable single woman.  Single woman met single man and, well, 900 square feet isn’t enough for two adorable people.


  • Storage. This is a big one.  People move because they have too much stuff. This is especially true when you don’t have a basement.  Homes without a basement cost about $15-$20,000 less than homes that have below-ground storage or living areas.  It sounds like a “money saving” move to forego the basement.  But look at it this way:  It costs 8.5% of the value of a home to sell it.  On a $250,000 home that’s $21,250.00.  If you sell 3-5 years earlier because you need storage — you have given away over $20,000 in equity. Look at closets, under the steps, garage, and sheds — make sure the home you’re purchasing has the room you need and can grow into with your “stuff.”


  • Number of garages. When you buy your first home, you’re thrilled to get a yard.  After a few years of scraping ice off of your windshield a garage becomes a priority.  You have a home with a one-car garage, and you tire of the “car dance” to get your car and your partner’s vehicle around each other on a daily basis.  Then you have kids and (see #4) the garage becomes a storage locker.  Finally, your kids become teenagers and your two-car household becomes a 3-car household and it’s time to sell.  Think ahead.  Do your best to budget for a least a garage that can give you 8-10 years in a home.


  • Number of Bathrooms. Many younger Buyers are coming from apartments that have two full bathrooms.  They are willing to sacrifice a bath to buy a home until they have kids.  Just a few years later and that bath-sharing thing gets old.  This is often why first-time home buyers stay in their homes less than six years.  Stretch to get that 2nd bathroom if at all possible.


  • Steps. This is a particular reason to move for the over-50 home buyer.   Steps are essential to space and private living when you’re in your 30’s and 40’s.  Even age 50-60 is often still in the range of health that most of us can tackle a second floor.  If you are buying a new home at age 50-60 and steps are your daily exercise, you still need to think about life at 70+ or you will be moving again.


  • Taxes. You are paying for that great school system whether or not you are using it.  Those taxes are subject to go up further by the vote of families using the schools — long after you are not.  Take a hard look at your monthly tax expense.  Even if you don’t hold a mortgage on your home — the State Treasury does.  It’s called taxes and you are subject to the inevitable rise for the length of time you own the home.


Your goal should be to be in a home a minimum of 8-10 years.  If you cut out just one home sale over the life of your years of homeownership, you will save $20,000 or more in equity.



This Blog is written by Kathy Chiero, Lead Agent for The Kathy Chiero Group.  Thinking of Buying?  Get a copy of my free book “Ten Ways to Win in a Challenging Market” Visit us a  Ready to sell? Contact us for a no-obligation analysis of the value of your home.