My parents bought a house in 1989 in the state of Maryland for 130k. This house was 2 years old at the time, had 1900 sqft, 3 good sized bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, formal dining room, eat in kitchen and a spacious living room. There was also a nice sized backyard and a garage. This was sold to them as a starter home. It became so much more. It was the house I came home to from the hospital and was the same house I left at the age of 19 when I moved cross country. My parents took our cookie cutter starter home and transformed it through out a 20 year period into a one of a kind house that ultimately sold for twice what they paid for it. Fast forward to this past weekend in the year 2017.
We are trying to get our feet wet in the housing market because like most families (I think) we would like to buy a house. Its a little slice of the American dream. I want to be able to tell my boys to go outside when they are driving me nuts and have that outside be a yard. Not an apartment parking lot. I want to paint my walls yellow and hang up a towel rack or knock out a wall if I feel like it. And yes. I want to cut the grass and rake leaves. However what my parents got and what I can get are not even in the same universe. At least not in this town.
We saw 3 houses over this past weekend. It was depressing. Our budget is 125,000. (slightly less then my parents. So ok just 1 bathroom would be fine… Please?) In this 40,000 people midwest town, 125k gets you a 200 year old house with little to know updates, bedrooms with no closets, lead paint, dysfunctional kitchens, the original 1850s windows, second floors that don’t have electricity, stairs that are nonfunctional and wiring so outdated that random ground wires are running from big appliances like your washing machine to small screws in the out dated wall sockets. (yes that was the greatest run on sentence ever) Oh and there is charm and the original beautiful hardwood floors. I guess that supposed to sell me.
I am not exaggerating… The 3 houses I saw had all or most of these problems (along with the charm).
Now before anyone reads this and thinks I’m a spoiled millennial that wants an hgtv home for 5 dollars just because my parents worked hard and had a nice house… No. Don’t even. That’s not a thing. (but for real?! Have you seen these young families on HGTV where their budget for a house is 750,000 ?!?! What the heck?! I obviously went into the wrong profession). Here is what I want.
I want to have the opportunity to be a home owner. I want to be able to move in and live life. I don’t care if its dated, the appliance aren’t new, the paint is ugly, its small and there is only one bathroom. I’m happy to spend 125,000 dollars on a decent structure that I could live in and slowly update it and turn it into my home as extra money arrives. I am not happy to spend that much on a house and then have to throw 100k more at it just to be comfortable. And by comfortable I mean having a counter top in the kitchen. Not a granite counter top. Just a counter top. More then a small shelf that comes out from the sink. I would even happily pay 40k for a house that I had to gut and fix up. But I refuse to live in this weird in between of a fixerupper/gut the house being sold at functional house price. Just no. So to answer the questions of why this millennial rents? There you go.
I don’t know why the housing market is like this in my town. I don’t know if its different in other towns or cities across America. But I wish it wasn’t. I don’t want a free hgtv home hand out. I just want a mortgage… and food. I guess I have a couple more years of savings to go….