Amanda, a 29 year old marketing assistant, has been sending checks to some landlord ever since she graduated college. She was sick of throwing that money away, particularly while she still had student loans to pay, but didn’t think she could possibly afford to buy a house. When she filtered to her price range on Redfin or Zillow the options looked weird and a little gross, so she went back to daydreaming about places that even her techie friends couldn’t afford.
But one day, everything changed. Getting fed up with being unable to even paint the walls, she went to an open house at one of the “ugly ducklings” that she’d rejected before. Realizing that her mortgage payments would be only slightly higher than the rent she was currently paying, she decided to take a risk on it. Several anxious months of paperwork later, she was standing in the middle of her own house. She was terrified – had she just made a terrible decision?
The first thing that she did was buy that can of paint she’d envisioned on the walls of her old apartment. Slowly, she worked her way across the walls of her bedroom. That night, she slept more comfortably than she had in years, between the exhaustion and the knowledge that she was finally in a space that was fully hers. Over the next few years, she improved the house one step at a time. She found a reliable contractor for all of the dirty and complex parts, but her design sense allowed her to handle many of the projects. She later found out from a realtor friend that her improvements had added $50,000 to the property value. But most important, she wasn’t just living in her house – she was living in her home.
Anybody can make their house into a home
Amanda’s story is representative of what many people have achieved, even in crazy expensive markets like Boston. You can still revolutionize a space with a few simple touch ups, as long as you have a good eye:
- New coat of paint
- Comfortable, well fitting furniture
- Intelligently dividing the space to create new rooms
With these and hundreds of other design touches, you can take a house that’s well within your budget and transform it into one that your friends will marvel at. And the improvement of value is very real, and could be in the tens of thousands of dollars.
Think about it – Boston has houses that have been on the market for decades, and they have had facelifts several times over the course of their lives. Unless they still have 60s era shag carpeting, in which case you have a super easy decision about what you’ll change first!
In talking to dozens of young homebuyers, the pattern has been clear. Like the character Amanda, they started with high expectations and had to make compromises. Some of them moved far away from their work and friends. Some gave up altogether. But some took it upon themselves to turn an uninspiring spot into a place they could be proud of. Think about the people of your parent’s generation who live in nice, expensive houses. Many of them made an investment a long time ago and grew it with a combination of hard work and naturally increasing demand for a good location.
What do I do now?
The journey of 1,000 miles starts with a single step. You can, of course, step in any direction you want, but it’s often wise to understand the trail that others have walked before you. That’s why we’ve put together a step by step course for finding a house you can afford and turning it into a house that you love. If you’d like to know more about what’s offered (completely free), just enter your email address here:
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