Many buyers, especially young ones, focus on current lifestyle needs, and affordability rather than planning for future lifestyle needs. This mistake can be costly and make life uncomfortable.

  In 2008 a young single guy bought an 1100 square foot open loft, with 1-bedroom space and 1 bath, for $229,900.  He purchased this home, because he thought living downtown would be fun for a single guy. Later that year he got married and had a baby. The value of the loft plummeted to $125,000 after the market crash. Even though the loft was too small for their family, they couldn’t afford to move as they owed more than the loft was worth. When they called me to list their loft, their son was 11 years old, and luckily the market value had finally recovered to a point where they could afford to sell.

  In 2016 I sold a townhome with 1100 square feet, 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms to a single woman for $84,000. She called me recently and said she is getting married and needs a larger home. Her townhome is now worth about $130,000. Her decision to purchase this home was based on what she could afford at the time, and even though it is inconvenient to move, she made a wise investment and can move up to a larger home.

  I worked with another couple that sold their large home and wanted to buy a condo in St Paul for the summer, and a condo on the Florida Gulf Coast for the winter. They budgeted carefully to afford two homes and decided on a 1 bedroom, 1 bath condo with 800 square feet for $185,000. They closed in October and headed to Florida to find their winter home. After 3 weeks they returned to Minnesota as they couldn’t find anything available, that they wanted to buy. They lived in their St Paul condo through the harsh winter and felt like they were living in a shoe box. They are hopeful they will be happier when they can spend some time outside.

  Another seller contacted me that owns a 4500 square foot home worth about $530,000. They want another house in the same neighborhood with 2000 square feet, because the maintenance of the large home is too much for them and they use less than half of the house. They still want a larger lot with a nice view and a newer open floor plan, so the smaller home will cost about $450,000. After selling and buying expenses, they will practically be trading houses.

  When buying your next home, do some careful planning and try to look at least 5 years into your future. There was a time when buyers purchased 3-bedroom, 2 bath ramblers with 2000 square feet, for an affordable price, raised their kids, paid off their home in 30 years, and lived without a mortgage payment during retirement years.

  An experienced real estate agent, can give you guidance for long term home planning.

Ask the Real Estate Agent is a weekly column by Cheryl Kempenich of Coldwell Banker Burnet, who lives and offices in the Chisago Lakes Area. Submit your questions to ckempenich@cbburnet.com. All information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. For legal assistance consult an attorney.