My wife and I are getting ready to close on the sale of our former house. When we bought it in 2003, it was our dream home.
The house in Herriman had everything the old place in Utah County didn’t — lots of bedrooms, family room, three bathrooms, big garage, huge kitchen and a backyard that required binoculars to completely survey.
We spent 15 years of blissful mess in the Herriman place before it became something more akin to a nightmare.
I blame age. My wife grew weary of taking care of a house that was too big for the two of us, the constant recycling of children in the basement apartment, and pets. Meanwhile, I don’t have the knees to mow Nebraska.
So we downsized considerably. The backyard of the new place is just the right size for a couple of lawn chairs and a bird feeder. On the inside, we have a kitchen, a bathroom, a TV room, a laundry room and 1½ bedrooms.
In terms of size, it’s a lot like our first home, which we bought in 1977 in a part of Salt Lake Valley that I shall refer to here as “Home Invasion City” or “Drivebyville.” It cost $29,000.
Fast-forward to today and the house we are about to sell is valued at well over a quarter of a million dollars, which is drastically under market value because we’re selling it ourselves.
We’re selling it to our daughter and son-in-law. They were living with us at the time we decided to bail, so it made sense not to spend a lot of money fixing it up. What could have been easier? Or, for that matter, more expensive?
In 1976, when we were first trying to buy a house, I earned $6,000 a year as a carpenter. Today, I earn, well, enough money in a year to pay cash for what our first home cost.
Makes me wonder what young people do when it comes to affording a home today. How can they pay for school loans, a mortgage and raising kids in a house that costs about the same as the state Capitol?
Short answer is that they don’t. Housing costs are exploding. According to some experts, the market for homes soon will price itself right out of customers.
In the end, I wasn’t having my last grandchild raised in high-density housing. I wanted her to have a safe yard, a dog, outside chores and trees to climb when fleeing parental displeasure — just like I did when I was a kid.
But was it worth $60,000? That’s roughly the amount we had to come down in price for them to qualify for a mortgage. I could have paid cash for two starter homes back when I was their age.
Yeah, it was worth it. My son-in-law has a good job; he’s a hard worker and a committed husband and father. My daughter puts her heart into taking care of my granddaughter. It was therefore an easy decision to make.
It was an investment in my own future. I desperately wanted to avoid the 10-year fight it took to convince my own parents that it was time to downsize.
By then, they were living in a home with stairs they no longer could climb, a yard they couldn’t tend, and a garage filled with stuff that now belonged, in essence, to Deseret Industries.
Every time I visit them in their independent living apartment in South Jordan, which is about the size of my front room now, they talk about it being the best decision they ever made — as if the past 10 years of arguing with them to downsize never happened.
I’m not waiting for that to happen. I’m happy with the space we have — or I was until my wife decided that we needed to add on another bedroom to our downsized place.
A whole %&#@! other bedroom. With today’s market, I figure it should cost about what we paid for our first home.