Couple’s compromise lets them plan for the long term

#5 in a series of true experiences in real estate
April 1993, Hills Newspapers

Sharing home solves money predicament

Not long ago a young couple came to see us. They had found an apartment they wanted to buy. It was a partnership.

We talked about the usual things – money, loans, tax savings. We talked too about being partners, reselling later, and what else they might buy.

There didn’t seem to be a big hurry, and we all wanted the most satisfaction for the money, so for a couple of weeks we searched out different houses in different areas and discovered what was most important to these buyers. Then, because nothing we found seemed as good or better, we returned to the partnership.

When we sat down together to construct an offer, something was missing. We should have been exhilarated but all four of us were flat. We were attending to the business at hand when a most revealing thing was said: “We won’t have to live there forever, honey. Probably in three years we can move.”

“Wait,” Anet and I both said rather loudly. “No! Please don’t buy something that you’re already moving out of. It’s too hard. It’s too expensive. You need to want what you are buying.”

It must have rung true. There was no protest.

A week or two went by. We talked every day but nothing was coming to us. One morning, out of the blue, Anet started running numbers. She emerged after a time and called the buyers. They agreed to meet us that night at a certain house, bigger and more expensive than those we’d considered.

He arrived first, walked in the front door, took one look at the bay view and said, “It’s great, but what are we doing here?”

Then she came in, walked through the rooms on both floors and said, “It’s so big! But we can’t afford it.”

It was within their reach if they were willing to share the space with someone else. The floor plan of this house fell easily into two.

They ended up buying it. They bought it and rented out the lower floor. It’s an inconvenience but it makes what they got possible.

They won’t have to move in three years, maybe not in a lifetime. One day, maybe when they have children, maybe when they have their own business, they will need the downstairs area. Until then, this house provides more space, greater appreciation, and higher tax write-offs than what they had expected to buy.

Compromise is part of buying. From the start this couple had been more aware of this than most people are. What really excited them was being able to choose the compromise that was right for them.

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