Okay. I’ve gone back and forth on this for close to a year now and I’ve finally made a decision. I’ve decided that I have to decide one way or the other.
I’ve tried to apply logic, then emotion, then allowed fate to make the decision for me. No luck. Neither logic nor emotion arrived at a satisfactory conclusion and fate was evidently too busy to get involved. And so, I find myself turning to the only logical option available to me: a blog reader vote.
So what do you level-headed types think? Should I sell the house or not?
Wait! Don’t answer yet! Let me lay out the arguments for both sides before you weigh in…
SELL THE HOUSE
As much as I love my home, there’s no denying the fact that I only make active use of maybe a third of the living space. Three of the four upstairs bedrooms go unused, as do the main floor office and sitting room. And, as much as I love the downstairs theater room, the only time I’m ever really in there is when the guys are over for Football Sundays. Realistically, I use the master bedroom, the kitchen and adjoining sitting area, and the downstairs workout room. The rest is either dead space or gorgeous storage area.
Akemi has been dying to move to the downtown area for quite some time. The house, while beautiful, is a little out of the way, meaning she either takes the bus or relies on me to drive her wherever she needs to go. A more central location would allow her more freedom. It would also, as we learned in Toronto, open up more social opportunities as we’d get to know many more neighbors.
Vancouver has been ranked as North America’s priciest city (Vancouver ranked North America’s priciest city), beating out both Los Angeles and New York! While the local condo market has done nicely, home prices have fared even better and my house, which I purchased for what I thought was a ridiculous sum many years ago, is worth considerably more now. If I were ever thinking of selling, now would be the time as the local real estate market is finally showing signs of softening. I sell the house, downsize to a comfy, modestly-priced condo, clear all existing debts and bank the rest.
KEEP THE HOUSE
Given my European background, the ultimate goal of owning a home is as engrained in me as my love of pasta and fancy ties. Where I am now, I don’t have to worry about noisy neighbors or parking or strata regulations. In the summer, I can sit out in my back yard and let the dogs run loose, something I couldn’t do in a condo. If the dogs need to go out, I don’t have to ride down an elevator to a green area. All I can have to do is open the back door and let them out. I can work out as early or as late as I like, while watching whatever I like, without having to wait for equipment or having to share with sweaty others. I can host Football Sunday on the big screen. And, most importantly, I don’t have to move and/or find storage space for all the (valuable) crap I’m amassed over the years!
So that’s what it comes down to. Basically. Either I keep the house or move into a condo. And, no, there is no compromise solution in which I happen to find a beautiful albeit smaller house that also happens to be centrally located.
I we do decide to sell the house, then this gives rise to another question: rent or buy?
BUY A CONDO
When I told a friend’s wife that I was weighing whether to buy or rent, she looked at me as if I was crazy. ”If you cash out,”she told me, “you’ll never be able to buy back in.” Maybe and, then again, maybe not, but it’s certain that had I sold my house at any point in time between when I bought it and early last year, I certainly wouldn’t have been able to buy it back for a ballpark price. There’s simply no way to outguess the market. My writing partner, Paul, admonished me for even considering it. In his mind, you sell to buy – that way, you remain on even footing. Yes, ideally, it would be great if you sold at a point when the market was softening, banked the cash from the sale, then waited a few years to buy back in when the market was down. But what if the market doesn’t go down? What if the market actually goes up? Maybe Paul is right. Don’t try to outguess the market. And, for what it’s worth, in my experience, real estate has proven itself the safest of investments.
RENT A CONDO
Are you kidding? The local real estate market has softened for the first time in a decade and signs are pointing to a continuing downward trend. As I already mentioned, while home sales are feeling the pinch, condos are feeling it even more as construction continues unabated.
So, what’s it going to be? Let’s wrap this up. I’ve got a bunch more life-altering issues to sort out!