Friday, December 23, 2011


A young farmer posed a good question on the Cafe.

" We have been planning to "eventually" build a new house. We're actually three year past our ten year plan to replace our small, inadequate farmhouse (It's fifteen minutes from our main farm facilities as well}. Figure we need to get it done before the economy turns around. However, we can't seem to get excited about it. After months of telling ourselves we need to get with it the thought occurs to us.... Why not buy a very nice house in town? An older home would cost less per square foot and have so much more character and charm for the money invested. We also have some very
nice wooded neighborhoods to choose from. It's 15-20 minutes to the farm base fom town.
So we started wondering... Will a used quarter million dollar home be a good investment when CD's, stocks and bonds are so-so??? How does appreciation/depreciation of new homes compare to used? I could ask a realtor but they may be a bit biased. I know there's good and bad points to the choice of rural and city living. I just never considered that I could possibly "make" money buying an expensive home. Any hard earned experience or a life-time of learning to share??
Thanks. Dan"

This is how I responded:

"That is a very personal question. We can't read your happiness from any decision or failing to act on it from afar.

I am in the 4th house I have owned in a lifetime. I never looked at any of them as just a financial investment. Where I lived affected who I met, dollar and time cost to work, how I felt, how I slept, the whole shebang.

First one was a nice brick ranch on 2 acres at the edge of town, lived there ten years. It was an easy drive to dad's farm or work or Cincinnati. I made it cheap to heat and cool. All my kids were born there and we were happy there. It had a blacktop drive on a hill that was a bear in winter and dangerous. Good windbreak all around it. Cost 31,500, was worth 60,000 in ten years. Rented it out to a nice couple for ten years and got all my money back and then some.

Second one was an old Sear's and Roebuck house on 50 acres "in the sticks" 10 miles northeast. Bought it because it was in the school district we wanted our first child to attend school at. It was flat land, higher wind and storm area but best garden spot I ever had except maybe this one. It had poor well water and was hard to heat and cool. I never could buy land around it so we only lived there 4 years.

Third one I lived at was at the edge of Blanchester and lived there 17 years. It was archectect designed for a wealthy retirement couple and super designed for that purpose, not a young family but we made do. It was also cheap to heat and cool but flat and windy. Easy drive to north Cincinnati, Dayton and Columbus. Paid 96,000 for it and sold seven years ago for 162,500. We had all the graduation parties there and it was the last home most our children lived in.

Then we bought this home and farm for a huge price. I doubt it would sell for what we have in it. It is really windy here and we have had one tornado and Hurricane Ike about destroy the place. We have it affordable to heat and cool but it's taken seven years, not bad for an 1880 house though.

They have all been home to me but I never liked the second one and liked the first and third one better. This one grows on you but in my later years it's getting harder for us to keep it up. I have been guilty of calling it a money pit but it is a very desirable place to live in a good location. Location sure is important.

I have seen the markets soar and crash but home is home. Buy it for all the esthetic reasons unless you just want a place to sleep and resell. Your job and partner are the keys to your happiness but your home is probably number 3 for me.

Good Luck,

Ed Winkle

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