Most of us have dreams of building a home around what we love. Perhaps your starter house is cramped or you're looking for property closer to the lift. Maybe you're just tired of paying rent. Usually it’s simply about creating a place that reflects yourself, your family and the stuff you love.
In some ways, buying a home for those whose lives revolve around our outdoor pursuits is just the same as any other real estate purchase, but in other ways, we're looking for totally different things than commuting to a 9-5 from a McMansion in the suburbs. Here are things to consider before buying a new house.
THE TRADE OFF:
There's something about owning a home.
It's organizing the bedroom so you wake to the sunrise instead of the TV. It's exploring solar, upcycling material for projects, composting, and planting organic veggie gardens to create a sustainable home in line with your ethos. It's arranging the garage into a clubhouse full of mountain bikes, snowboards and surfboards with a workbench and a fishing pole rack hanging from the ceiling. It's part of settling in and designing the life that you, or you and your partner want.
But you know what else is awesome? Those powder days at Whistler last year, 14 days in New Zealand or the snowmobile you have always wanted.
You have to make some decisions. You want to make sure you can still take that trip to Nica or Montana when you’re paying your mortgage.
Owning a house is going to be a big change to your lifestyle. First off, you might as well get comfortable in those "Contractor Parking" spots at Home Depot. You're going to be there every day.
You also have to think about the sacrifices. Are you going to be missing those weekends hiking out of bounds because you're working a second job? Will you not get another stamp on your passport for six years? There will be sacrifices. But you have to consider which ones are worth making.
Where do you want to live? Many of us want a beach house or a trailside chalet. We want to ride our bike out the door to our favorite single track or keep a boat tied off the back deck.
But the beaches and mountain resorts of the world are prime real estate, that's the reality. The median listing price for homes in Malibu is $3.3 million. In Vail, it's $1.65 million. So keep expectations in check.
U.S. real estate markets and the economy are getting stronger. In general, we had ten years straight where you could buy something affordable, but now buyer's and seller's markets are determined more regionally.
If you're not able to buy property with a snowy slope or beach sand at your doorstep, find somewhere that is reasonably close to the coast or the hill. Then consider the traffic and time it will take you to get there.
Proximity is great, but when you’re a little further from prime real estate, you can get a little more for your money. You can have a garage. You have a vision for how you want to set up all your stuff. I have boards and kayaks, the kids’ stuff and all the other paraphernalia. I could never fit all that stuff if I bought on the barrier island.
If you're into climbing, biking, fresh water fishing, or trail running, you might fare a bit better. Property out in the country is a good deal cheaper, so you may actually be able to score your dream house in relative proximity to your happy place. You might also score a lot more land.
There are basics for first time homebuyers.
If you randomly have a few hundred grand at your disposal, you'd be in a helicopter over Jackson Hole right now instead of reading this silly article. Let's assume you're going to need a mortgage. There are a lot of first time home owner programs and incentives worth looking into. Every month, you’ll make payment that includes your mortgage principal, interest, property taxes and homeowner’s insurance on one bill.
You will also need to pay a down payment, which is about 20 percent of the price of the property. Now, there are certain programs where you don't have to put that much down but then you will be paying mortgage insurance. So on top of this hefty nut you pay every month, you'll be paying an additional fee until you're at 20 percent.
This is where the trade-off comes in. Is this the best time to buy or would it be worth it to grind out another year and save up to 20 percent?
Also, consider the future. Are home values on the rise or falling in that neighborhood? Is the property prone to floods or wildfires? Even if you don’t have kids yet, what is the school system like? That could be a huge issue in four years.
Houseboat owners don’t pay property taxes.
Not every house has to put you into financial stress. Tiny homes, houseboats and other creative abodes let you own a home without all the overhead and property tax.
Again, think long and hard on this one. Zoning and buildable lots become complicated pretty quick. How fun is that houseboat through a cold winter? Where do you sleep in a tiny house when your partner snores like a jet?
POTENTIAL FOR INCOME:
The most obvious idea is to have a housemate. Let someone else pay the rent while you're in the Caribbean next winter.
And let's say that you are able to grab a killer spot near the coast or in some gorgeous valley. Is your home someplace others would like to stay?
Maybe you're in a happening town and folks might rent a room of your house through Airbnb. Or perhaps you can get really creative and live in a trailer, loft or garage for the season and rent out your whole house via VRBO/HomeAway. Being on this side of the sharing economy is huge for people trying to make ends meet in resort areas.
Please keep in mind, it's also a lot of work to create, maintain, market and host. You pay some bills and meet cool people. On the other side, it's less time at your favorite trail or brewery.
THE FUN PART:knowledgeable friends, you’ll find energy for redoing kitchens, landscaping and building decks to enjoy your morning coffee. Put hooks into the ceiling and hang that hammock your landlord wouldn’t allow. Every piece of art you hang, every succulent you pot and every rain barrel you build makes a house more of the home you’ve always wanted.
That may cut into your time off the grid, but you’ll start to find the adventures in your own backyard that much more enjoyable.