Today I was walking through my living room and family room and realized they are two rooms we really do not use much at all. Our living room currently houses a giant Harry Potter Castle my kids have been creating on and off for what seems like forever. The Dining Room is used for ‘dining’ about 5 times a year. The rest of the time it is used for doing homework and collecting dishes that need to go up on shelves I am too short to reach. (Why get out a chair or step stool when a giant table is conveniently located so close?)
Those underused rooms got me thinking about how many people become financially strapped because they end up buying a larger house than necessary, and many times for the wrong reasons. (Image/prestige being my number one wrong reason for buying any particular house.) It is especially tempting right now to upgrade and get a much larger home since there are so many perceived deals available. However, there are good deals in every price range of the housing market. However, before you leap into either that first purchase, or maybe that upgrade, really think about how you use your current space, and what your future needs really will be. If your kids are older and heading to college soon, it may not be the smartest idea to go out and buy that giant house, even though it seems like a great deal. Given the current job market, it may also be wise to consider buying a home based on one income, just in case.
Overall, You need to decide what you can truly afford before you even look at that first house. Do not let some inflated pre-approved mortgage amount determine what you can buy. One thing I will say though, is the more bathrooms the better. I used to laugh at those house ads that said 3 bedrooms and 4 baths. (Who needs more bathrooms than bedrooms???) However, now that my kids are all getting older, I totally get it now!