Should You Buy a Bigger House?

Because home prices and mortgage interest rates currently are so low, if you are in a stable financial position, now might be a good time to enter the home buyers’ market or sell your current house and buy a bigger one.

Remember all of the McMansions people built and bought before the housing bubble burst?  Perhaps you are tempted to get your own larger, dream home.

The question is, should you?

If you have weathered the current recession and have the funds, those beautiful, large houses that were built just fifteen to twenty years ago may be tempting.  Even if the price on a larger house is one you can afford, think carefully before upsizing.  With an upsize comes many other upsized costs.

Consider the following if you want to buy a bigger house:

Taxes

While prices have dropped on larger homes, they have also dropped on smaller homes, making the latter much more affordable, especially when you figure in the taxes.

Typically, the larger (and nicer) the home, the more you pay in taxes.  Depending on the area of the country where you live, you could be paying several thousand more dollars per year in taxes by upsizing your home.

Utilities

A bigger home takes more energy to heat and cool, and there are more rooms to light.  Even if the price of larger homes is currently affordable, the utilities could cost several hundred dollars more per month for a big house versus a smaller one.

Maintenance

buy bigger house

Should you buy a bigger house?

Simply put, there are more expenses in a larger home because there is more space.  If you need a new roof on a 1,200 square foot home, it will be much more reasonable than a new roof on a 3,000 square foot home.

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Because most appliances and utilities are larger to accommodate a larger kitchen in a bigger home, they will cost more to replace.

Furnishings

More square footage requires more furniture to fill the home.  Even if you currently own a home, you will probably need to buy more furniture to fill the space.

Buying new, depending on the amount of furniture you need, can easily cost several thousand dollars or more.

Decorating

While some minimalists love blank white walls, most of us don’t.

Many people like to put their own touches on a home when they move in.  If you want to renovate and buy new carpets or hardwood floors or even just paint the walls, expect to spend more money to do so because it is a larger space.  There are also more windows to cover and more wall décor to buy.

Cleaning

If you are so inclined, you can choose to clean a 1,200 square foot home and get it done in a few hours.  If your home is 3,000 square feet or more, it could take you quite a bit longer to clean.

If you choose to hire a housekeeper, you are adding on yet another expense.

Limited growth potential

If you move to a large house that is the nicest one on the block, you may experience limited growth.

The housing market has been down for a few years now; no one knows when there will be a rebound or if there will be a full rebound.

One thing is sure though, if you moved into the nicest house on the block, you have limited the potential increase in your home’s value.

Finally

While it is tempting to upsize into a nice, large home that may have previously been out of financial reach, think carefully about making this purchase.

The home price is only one consideration.  There are many other expenses that come with a larger home.

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Published or updated October 23, 2012.

Comments

  1. I rated this article 5-stars. I had to do it!

    Big doesn’t always mean better. My view is simple – the quality of a home matters more than the size. Likewise, the price of money is more important than the price of the home.

    Perhaps consider purchasing a higher quality home in a better neighborhood, but I wouldn’t think for a second about buying a bigger home just because money is less expensive. The carrying costs of home ownership can be quite a strain on people who over-extend themselves thinking that the cost of a home is not important a day after closing…these costs are killers! Utility bills, property taxes, and simple maintenance all add up over time.

    Heck, I don’t want to clean any home, even a 1,000 square foot home. Why would I want to clean a McMansion? Some times the most taxing things are those which cannot be easily given a price. Cleaning is, to me, a tax. I hate cleaning, so smaller is better.

  2. Keeping your house/mortgage/utilities as a small portion of your monthly payments is key into building long-term wealth.

    Too many people are house-poor and sign up for payments that they can’t really afford (well, they can afford the payments but they can’t do anything else. i.e. save for retirement).

    The problem with buying a house now is that you also have to sell your current home. Which almost makes the trade-off a mute point. It’s a great time to buy rental properties and get a bargain though! :)

    • I think a big problem these days is people are told how much house they can afford and the people take that as an OK to buy that much house or more. Like you say, just because you can pay for something it doesn’t mean it’s wise if you can’t pay for other things.

  3. All great points. I dated a few girls whose parents owned McMansion’s. I thought it was odd that there were so many rooms that were completely furnished, yet never used. I remember asking once, “what’s that room for” and the reply, “it’s the family room”. Ironically, in the 3 years I visited on a regular basis, I never saw anyone in that room! There is no need to continuous upgrading. be happy with what you have.

  4. I have seen some pretty great deals on larger houses around my area and got myself thinking about this very topic. These are all good points to consider because I think a lot of people just get caught up in the allure of a bigger house without even thinking about these. It took us years to finally furnish all the rooms in our house when we upgraded from an apartment.

  5. If one can trully afford a larger home then it’s clearly up to them to chose it. We upgraded from a 1900 sq. ft house with four kids to a 4100 sq ft. house with only 1 teen left. Why you ask? Well because we are thinking of the future as well as the present. We will have four kids having kids. Holidays will mean lots of people and I want plenty of room to have them with us. During the normal times of the year, I will have my craft room/spare room, Real spare room, teens room and our room. Of course the kitchen and family rooms are enormous and that is awesome to me. I’ll sweep as many times as needed and clean to my hearts content. To actually have a dining room that I can slide my chair out from under the table and not hit the wall is a dream to me, to have sex without my teen hearing would be nice as well (I’m not that loud) and above all to just look around and be happy with the home I have chosen because I just simply like it. How many times do we get to do that in life? Few and far between..

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