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Variables that factor into your perception of what's "too much house"?


bridgette
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My sister and her husband are to begin home construction in a few months and are in the early stage of finding a homeplan. They are professionals: he's an engineer and she's a physical therapist. She works part time and says she'd like to add two more days (making it 4) by next year. An educated guess is that he makes probably $115,000/year and she makes maybe $50,000/year (and would likely make $80000 or so if she worked the 4 days). They have 3 kids ages 5, 8 and 9 (they go to the local public school). They had heretofore been living in a home that is 2200 sq feet (they just sold it 3 months ago and are in a rental home currently); they sold it as they "ran out of room" and are now about to build. She called me tonight saying that they are likely going to aim for about 4500 sq. feet. but you could tell that she was apologetic about it. I've made NO judgmental statements on the matter and, on her own this evening (regarding the 4500sq ft plan she's considering) she said, "I was telling Mom that if you take off the 1500 sq feet upstairs and take off the downstairs gameroom, then that leaves you with 2500 sq. feet which is roughly larger than our old house." She repeated this two times as if trying to justify the space. She made several other apologetic statements as if she's not completely comfortable with this.

 

Her builder says that it'll likely cost her about $125/sq ft. thus roughly $562,000. They paid $150000 for their land/acreage. Anticipated monthly taxes and insurance: $900. They have $110,000 cash to put down on it. FWIW: this home will be built near Montgomery, Alabama. She's 40 years old and her husband is 49. They plan to do a 30 year mortgage. Perfect credit score. Doubt there's any other debt.

 

She asked me if I thought it was too much house and, before I could begin a response, she had to go abrubtly as she saw her neighbor pulling into her driveway; but told me she'd call me back tomorrow on the matter.

 

If she asks my thoughts I think I might say while I don't know enough about her financial situation (their exact income/debts/etc.) and I can't read their hearts to begin to advise her specifically, but that I can give her some questions I'd hope we'd ask ourselves as we planned our home's size/features/qualities:

 

(background: I myself am a Christian as is my sister and her family)

 

1. Can me and my husband can afford to tithe and offer money above your tithe as the Lord leads?

2. Are my motives pure (the home isn't an idol/I'm not trying to win the praise of men/etc.)

3. Is it appropriately affordable? (an appropriate amount in light of your debt/income) (I follow Dave Ramsey's advice in this area)

4. Am I going to be stressed out by it? (Will it be on my mind too much in its effects on our finances?)

5 Can my husband afford this ON HIS income (as I'm a stay-at-home mom and have no plans to return to work)? If not, am I convinced the LORD would have me

to work to pay for this?

6. Can I think of 1 person that I'd be embarrassed to have over?

7. Is it a good witness to others?

 

Now I realize that a new 10000 sq foot home for Oprah isn't the same as a 10000 sq. foot home from a person with say a $40k/year salary. So, I know that MANY variables go into determination of an appropriate size home for a family and that there are a 100 sets of rules which govern perception of ostentation. So I know that it's not a cut-and-dried equation.

 

But, with that said, I'd like to hear from you all on your thoughts of what factors go into what you perceive to be "too much house" ?

In short, I'm seeking your thoughts on this.

 

 

Thanks,

Bridgette

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If they want it and can afford it, it's not too much house, and they shouldn't feel the need to justify their decision to anyone. They should just be happy and plan on having a wonderful future in their lovely new home.

 

And FWIW, when you said, "too much house," I was thinking you meant something well over 10,000 square feet. 4,500 square feet isn't that large a home. It's big, but it's not ostentatious in size. I'll bet it will be very nice!

 

I will add, though, that I'm not sure it's wise to take on a 30 year mortgage at 40 and 49. A 15 year mortgage would be long enough!

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For me, when the house is too much to clean, it's too much house. While we were raising kids our house was perfect, but now it's too large. Fully half is unused, but still has to be cleaned.

I also want to be sure that there's a 3-6 month emergency fund before buying the house and that the mortgage isn't too burdensome. But these factors aren't about size, of course.

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Do they entertain much? If they often give large parties for work, pleasure, or hospitality maybe the space is necessary. Do they host church functions or host guests frequently? If not, will having a larger home let them do so? One of the best Christian women I ever knew was a retiree who lived in a home about 4000 square feet with only her husband (no kids), but her house was always open to those who needed a place to stay, exchange students, guests of the church (like visiting missionaries), and once even a baptism in the pond on the property! She hosted Christmas, Easter and Halloween functions every year, in addition to other gatherings for groups her husband was involved with.

 

It is something to consider in addition to your questions.

 

But if she doesn't bring it back up, I'd drop it. So long as they can afford it, it really is no one else's business.

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Goodness, unless you have a whole bunch of kids, 4500 square feet means you have too much stuff!

 

 

To me, if the note will put you on a bind, and if you can't keep it clean then it is too much. We live in 1800 square feet with one child and it is too much for me to keep up with. We're looking to downsize so we have no house note and less to keep up.

 

 

 

Really it is what they want that matters and if she's asking you like that then she might feel some guilt. My brother just built a five bedroom six bath house for he and his wife and says it is the contractors fault, that he changed it all up and added many more rooms than they wanted. Yeah right. He just doesn't want to admit that he purposely built a house like that so he can use it as an excuse to never visit with family. He always has to be doing something to his house...

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Goodness, unless you have a whole bunch of kids, 4500 square feet means you have too much stuff!

 

 

To me, if the note will put you on a bind, and if you can't keep it clean then it is too much. We live in 1800 square feet with one child and it is too much for me to keep up with. We're looking to downsize so we have no house note and less to keep up.

 

 

 

Really it is what they want that matters and if she's asking you like that then she might feel some guilt. My brother just built a five bedroom six bath house for he and his wife and says it is the contractors fault, that he changed it all up and added many more rooms than they wanted. Yeah right. He just doesn't want to admit that he purposely built a house like that so he can use it as an excuse to never visit with family. He always has to be doing something to his house...

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My brother just built a five bedroom six bath house for he and his wife and says it is the contractors fault, that he changed it all up and added many more rooms than they wanted. Yeah right. He just doesn't want to admit that he purposely built a house like that so he can use it as an excuse to never visit with family. He always has to be doing something to his house...

 

LOL! Tell him that next time, he should really try to come up with a better excuse than that! :D

 

Darned contractors, always adding extra rooms... ;)

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1. Can me and my husband can afford to tithe and offer money above your tithe as the Lord leads?

2. Are my motives pure (the home isn't an idol/I'm not trying to win the praise of men/etc.)

3. Is it appropriately affordable? (an appropriate amount in light of your debt/income) (I follow Dave Ramsey's advice in this area)

4. Am I going to be stressed out by it? (Will it be on my mind too much in its effects on our finances?)

5 Can my husband afford this ON HIS income (as I'm a stay-at-home mom and have no plans to return to work)? If not, am I convinced the LORD would have me

to work to pay for this?

6. Can I think of 1 person that I'd be embarrassed to have over?

7. Is it a good witness to others?

 

 

 

I have lived in 4 different homes since I've been married. I have a number of friends with a wide spectrum of incomes. My houses have all been more than some friends have and less than others have. I am no more embarrassed by having a nice home than I am in having an old, beat-up van. Which means that I am occassionally self-concious about it. I would not chose my house based on anyone else's approval.

 

My sister's last house was 5,000 square feet. It was nice. It didn't feel too big. They had 5 kids at the time. It was hilarious because they had a six bedroom house and all of the kids slept in the sitting room portion of the master bedroom. The baby was in a crib and the others were in bunk beds. The other bedrooms were upstairs and in the basement and were too far away for the kids' ages. We teased my sister about it, but it was her house, yk? She has a gift for hospitality and was a blessing to many people while they lived there. It is hard to have the church family over when you have a small living room. Anyone she knew who was passing through (she lived just off a major highway) was offered a bed and a meal(s).

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If they want it and can afford it, it's not too much house, and they shouldn't feel the need to justify their decision to anyone. They should just be happy and plan on having a wonderful future in their lovely new home.

 

And FWIW, when you said, "too much house," I was thinking you meant something well over 10,000 square feet. 4,500 square feet isn't that large a home. It's big, but it's not ostentatious in size. I'll bet it will be very nice!

 

I will add, though, that I'm not sure it's wise to take on a 30 year mortgage at 40 and 49. A 15 year mortgage would be long enough!

 

 

I agree! I thought I would open this to find a description of a much larger home. I don't consider 4,500 to be that large of a home, and definitely not "too much home" unless they cannot easily afford it. I do agree about the mortgage though. I wouldn't want a 30 year mortgage at their ages.

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I think the questions you raised are excellent, and exactly what I would ask of a close friend or family member who wanted my input. Only she and her husband can decide the answers to those questions.

 

DH & I have discussed the concept of "too much house for us" a few times, because we just purchased our current home 3 years ago. Our home is 2500 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, and there are 4 of us. We don't think we would actively choose to buy anything bigger. We use every space - the 4th bedroom is an occasional home office for DH/guest room/storage room, and the living room area is our homeschool room. Our kids have their own bedrooms. But our home should be completely paid for by the time our kids go to college, and we will likely downsize once they are adults living on their own.

 

Some of the other questions we asked ourselves, in addition to the ones you plan to ask, when we were house hunting included:

 

-Can we sell this house quickly if needed? DH works in an industry where he *could* get transferred. We wanted a home that would appeal to other buyers, and not be so "unique" or large/small that it couldn't sell. We also wanted to make sure we put down sufficient equity so we could sell quickly, even if the market value dropped.

 

-Can I clean and maintain this house myself?

 

-Will the cost of electricity/gas/oil/water be so large that it will stress our finances?

 

-Will there be wasted space? What will each space be used for?

 

-Will this house be so large that we will want to downsize as soon as the kids have left for college? How long will that be?

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Bridgette, I just re-read your list of questions, and while I agree with most of them, I disagree with #6 and #7.

 

 

6. Can I think of 1 person that I'd be embarrassed to have over? Why would anyone be embarrassed to invite someone to their new home? If a guest is envious, it's the guest's personal issue, not the homeowner's. (I'm assuming the homeowner isn't gloating or acting like a show-off.)

 

7. Is it a good witness to others? How is your house a good witness? The people who live there are all that matters! (And again, IMO, it's all about the homeowner's attitude.)

 

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LOL! Tell him that next time, he should really try to come up with a better excuse than that! :D

Darned contractors, always adding extra rooms... ;)

 

LOL! Tell him that next time, he should really try to come up with a better excuse than that! :D

Darned contractors, always adding extra rooms... ;)

 

 

 

Yeah, the other excuses are that he had to keep up withe the neighbors, they had million dollar houses so he had to have one. Which is ridiculous because none of those houses nearby are even close to a million, maybe 125,000. The other reason is that when it's all finished he will sell it.

 

 

If he entertains I have no idea. I can see having a large living room or an extra den, but when family visits, we either have to sit in the dining room, not allowed in the living room, or we have to sit on the carport, with the dog.

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Do they entertain much? If they often give large parties for work, pleasure, or hospitality maybe the space is necessary. Do they host church functions or host guests frequently? If not, will having a larger home let them do so? One of the best Christian women I ever knew was a retiree who lived in a home about 4000 square feet with only her husband (no kids), but her house was always open to those who needed a place to stay, exchange students, guests of the church (like visiting missionaries), and once even a baptism in the pond on the property! She hosted Christmas, Easter and Halloween functions every year, in addition to other gatherings for groups her husband was involved with.

 

 

I know people who are exactly like this - retirees who constantly open their (large) home to missionaries, church functions, neighborhood parties, and guests. They are some of the most generous people I know, and their home is a platform to help and reach out to others.

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If they can afford it and maintain it, it's not too big. 4500 is not huge, saying this as someone with a 1100 st house. Just as an aside, my personal opinion, you have typed a lot of specific financial information that I would not feel comfortable having posted on a public message board by a relative. Ymmv, though.

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If they want it and can afford it, it's not too much house, and they shouldn't feel the need to justify their decision to anyone. They should just be happy and plan on having a wonderful future in their lovely new home.

 

And FWIW, when you said, "too much house," I was thinking you meant something well over 10,000 square feet. 4,500 square feet isn't that large a home. It's big, but it's not ostentatious in size. I'll bet it will be very nice!

 

I will add, though, that I'm not sure it's wise to take on a 30 year mortgage at 40 and 49. A 15 year mortgage would be long enough!

 

 

Just quoting this makes it easier than just retyping it myself. :)

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562k + 15% overage = 646k + 150k into the land = very close to 800k.

 

IMHO, that is a stupendous amount to spend on a house. If you are right about what they earn, then unless they have serious money in the bank already, I'd say, yes, it's too much house.

 

I personally wouldn't choose to put that kind of money into a house unless I had my financial picture very solid -- as in college for the kids taken care of (or very close to it), no other debt, retirement funds healthy and on track for a good retirement by age 65/70. Can they pay the mortgage on one income? Is the mortgage going to be so big that they have to say 'NO' to other more important things (kid activities, homeschooling, another baby, vacations, hobbies, sports, etc.)

 

We could qualify for a loan on a house that expensive. We live in one substantially less than half that cost. Sure, I'd love a bigger, fancier house. But, it's not as important to me as so many other things. So, we live way below what we could qualify for.

 

Now, we have a safe, comfortable home in a nice area. If we had to "stretch" to get into a safe area, we would do it, and we DID do it back when dh made much less than he does now (and we lived in a VERY expensive area at that time). We then bought a home (with only a modest down payment) that was priced at about FOUR TIMES our annual income. I look back at that, and scratch my head in dismay. We lucked out, made money on the house in a boom market, and all was well. But, really, that was nuts. Crazy kids . . .

 

Anyhow, I think 'stretching' to get into a fancier/bigger house is unwise. For many reasons.

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It's too large a house if it becomes a burden. That could mean a financial burden or a housecleaning burden or a landscaping burden or whatever. I think if you have to take out a 30-year mortgage after putting down $100k+, it's too much of a financial burden at their ages. Can they pay for the house and their kids' college educations? Can they fully invest in 401k's while paying their mortgage? Can you keep the house clean on your own? For me personally, this house would be too much of a burden. We live with 5 people in 1800 square feet and our neighbor's house is about the size of the one you mention. It is huge. I think 4500 sf is about twice what I could take care of on my own. Does she really want to take on all of that cleaning as a working mom?

 

The fact that she's questioning this tells me she is not comfortable with it. Did the builder suggest the size? You don't really need that much space to live a comfortable life. All of that space isn't going to make her happy if it brings along a lot of burdens.

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The fact that she is questioning would say to me that it's too much house for them. We have 2900sq. ft house and it fits our family of three kids with room to spare. I grew up in a family of seven kids ad our home was 4500sq ft. That was a huge home even with seven kids.

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You've all posted LOTS of really great thoughts/suggestions/ideas. Several angles I hadn't considered.

 

I agree that if SHE doesn't bring it up to me and specifically ASK for my opinion, then I'm not going to mention anything to her. And, what I have to share with her are suggestions of things to think about/questions to put to herself to be 100% sure than her mind are heart and clearly AT peace with such a substantial decision. She sounded very uncertain and fearful. "I want them to own the house and NOT for it to own them" (that's a quote from somebody / not my line).

 

as for #6 question.....I meant that, for example, if you quit supporting a missionary friend whom you had been supporting for years, and then, when he or she were home on furlough and paid you a visit, then you were embarrassed to bring them over to your large home and it became clear to both parties the likely reason for the lack of financial support due to budget cuts secondary to the home. (that was the TYPE of situation I had in mind).

 

My thanks to ALL of you!

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We know several families that built houses even bigger than that. They all went way over budget. The "rule" is too assume building will cost twice as much as you expect and take twice as long.

 

One of the families thought they'd reduce their debt with the new house, but they actually greatly increased it, despite never finishing the second floor. The finished part is much larger than their old house. The furniture that looked fine (not great, but okay) in their old house looks silly in the new one. They don't have enough furniture for the space (and I'm sort-of a minimalist, so that says something) and what they do have looks very out of place.

 

Another family gutted the house the husband grew up in, added a second story (also unfinished) and then had to move halfway across the country to scrape together some work. Then he started to build them another house, right before they decided to move back (out of work again).

 

If she has any doubts, they shouldn't do it. They should assume a custom built house will go way over budget. They aren't going to want to pay a mortgage in retirement. Also, what happens if he loses his job? With that kind of income, they could stay where they are or buy a used house that costs half as much and then pay off the mortgage in 5-10 years.

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I will readily admit it. It sounds like way too much house to me. But unless someone has a really large family, I simply do not understand the size of houses these days. I watch things like House Hunters sometimes where they show these enormous homes for 4 person families and I find it utterly absurd. I can't believe the amount of space - both in and outside a home that people perceive that they "need."

 

But that's just my opinion. The opinion of someone who has chosen to live in an older home in the middle of a city. So to say that I don't understand suburban living and choices is a bit of an understatement.

 

One thing that I'm not sure I saw anyone mention is whether the house is "too big" for its neighborhood. If they are building a home that is far beyond the size of the other homes around it, then it's unlikely they'll be able to resell it at its value, so that's something practical to keep in mind. If it's in line with the other homes around it, then it may make more sense.

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To me, it sounds like WAY too much mortgage. We have a similar income and our mortgage is less than half that. It's very risky to be 100% dependent on 2 incomes. We will pay off our mortgage before our oldest gets to college. And we still lead a very comfortable lifestyle.

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If they want it and can afford it, it's not too much house, and they shouldn't feel the need to justify their decision to anyone. They should just be happy and plan on having a wonderful future in their lovely new home.

 

And FWIW, when you said, "too much house," I was thinking you meant something well over 10,000 square feet. 4,500 square feet isn't that large a home. It's big, but it's not ostentatious in size. I'll bet it will be very nice!

 

I will add, though, that I'm not sure it's wise to take on a 30 year mortgage at 40 and 49. A 15 year mortgage would be long enough!

 

 

Yes, this. They are too old to take on a hefty mortgage, in my opinion, even if only 15 years. That puts the older one in his mid-sixties. (And I'm an older spouse, though my spouse is not, so I can say this). Unless they have a huge chunk of cash and the mortgage will be little more than an inexpensive rental, this is too much house. If it requires 2 full time (or close)incomes, it is too much house. If the kids want to do expensive sports (hockey is about $6,000 a year here, or co-ops, or travel (kid is taking a trip to Asia later this year), or anything like this, it is too much house.

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To me, it sounds like WAY too much mortgage. We have a similar income and our mortgage is less than half that. It's very risky to be 100% dependent on 2 incomes. We will pay off our mortgage before our oldest gets to college. And we still lead a very comfortable lifestyle.

 

 

Yes, ma'am. Sometimes I have house envy, such as when I was invited to a gorgeous home a single friend (with kids) owns on Thanksgiving. It was awesome. I wanted a kitchen like that (and I've had one before). But when we took a walk, she mentioned money stress, and there are some things that she has not been able to do for the kids because of the house.

 

Not worth it. Our mortgage is about 10% of our income or so and will be paid off in just a few years. It is just an ordinary house but this is my comfort level.

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so many thoughts, so little time....

all of this is as it applies to our family, 2 adults, 4 kids, only 2 kids left at home, 2100 sq ft house

 

a) primarily, i want a house that will "live" well. i want a home where people cannot be home at the same time and not know the other one is home. (my dear dad has 5000 square ft, and this has happened to them!). we are a family, and i want us to interact.

 

B) i will not be responsible for more than 3 bathrooms, preferably 2.

 

c) i need to be able to pay it off in 15 years. (just because someone will give me a mortgage doesn't mean i can afford it or want it)

 

d) i need to be able to afford to heat and cool our home, and not feel guilty about how much energy i use. i believe we are to be good stewards of the planet God gave us. for me, that includes being conscious of how my choices impact other people, and the planet. so for me 500sq. ft. per person is a good rule of thumb for energy usage.... but i know i am in the minority. having lived in other countries, i am still astonished by the size of what folks in the usa consider an "average" home. (its been 15 years now, and i still feel as if i live in a large house : ).

 

e) when our oldest and her husband were house hunting and asked for advice, our advice was that they should buy something they could afford on one salary. that has stood them in good stead.

 

some of those things are hard to say to someone though......

 

good luck.

ann

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For me, I could not imagine taking on that amount of debt with that income. The square footage is irrelevant. If you can comfortably afford 4,500sqft, by all means go for it. The cost, to me, means perhaps they are biting off a little more than they can chew.

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We moved from a 1400 sq foot house to a 3700 sq foot rental. It's nice and huge but it was cheaper than smaller houses in the area we wanted to live, and walking distance to dh's work so e figured we would try it for a year or so. It's way too much house for me. I'm spending 2-4 hours a day cleaning and we don't even use 1.5 of the floors. I am also refusing to allow us to fill it because we will only be here a bit. But I think this is a highly personal issue because I personally couldn't handle a house that size, I know some of our friends and family were horrified by our "small" house. I think 2000-2200 sq feet is perfect for us if the layout is good. I like two separate living areas. The unfortunate thing is I want a HUGE kitchen and master bath, but they don't put those in smaller houses.

 

Also, debt of that size would make me sick every night, and not being able to stay home if I chose to would upset me as well. Again, that's why I think this is too personal an issue.

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well - there is a well planned 4500 sq ft, where you get a good flow and lots of bang for the square footage, and a poorly planned 4500 sq ft - where it doesn't flow and it still doesn't work.

 

it's not all about square footage, but how well it works.

 

eta: as for the price - I don't know what average prices are where they're building. here, that's a *slightly* above average middle class house. even in today's market when houses have dropped a couple hundred K.

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At that age, I would not take on a mortgage of that size, particularly for 30 years. People can plan for the very best, but sometimes the unforeseen happens - job losses, illnesses, etc. Having a huge chunk of one's money tied up in a house can be pretty precarious position. If I could not swing a 15 year mortgage and only need to work two days a week to do it, I would not feel comfortable doing it. The rest of your questions are really very personal judgments that only the couple involved should consider for themselves, not be presented by a family member, IMO.

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I haven't read all the replies, but a couple of thoughts off the top of my head --

 

I don't know what kind of engineer he is, but his salary sounds low to me. My brother is a 52 yo mechanical engineer and makes a LOT more than that.

 

I wouldn't have a house that large at that age. IMO it's getting too close to the time of life when one might be wanting to downsize. But again depending on income they may have more than enough to pay off the mortgage in much less than 30 years and also pay people to do the house and yard work.

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I don't think that is a scandously large house. Maybe my perception of it is skewed. We are planning to upgrade to a 6,000 sq foot one within a year or two, and consider that just right. I wouldn't go around making a deal about it either way - and I certainly wouldn't go around apologetic about it. It's just what we have saved for and what we want. Someone else might want a boat or fancy cars. OR weekly mani pedis, expensive clothes and shoes or fabulous vacations. They should buy whatever legal thing they want with their hard-earned money and be happy with it. I have a relative with a house that is over 10,000 sq feet and on 80 acreas. To me, that is LARGE. ;) But not TOO LARGE. It's what they have earned - they paid cash for it.

 

I think she needs to justify nothing, and hearing her do that would embarass me greatly.

 

To answer the question, "too much house" is one a person can't maintain or afford. That's it.

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I haven't read all the replies, but a couple of thoughts off the top of my head --

 

I don't know what kind of engineer he is, but his salary sounds low to me. My brother is a 52 yo mechanical engineer and makes a LOT more than that.

 

 

What part of the country is your brother in? The OP's BIL salary sounds about right (or even a little high) for the South. My DH (also a Mechanical Engineer) was once offered a job in the Northeast with about a 50% salary increase, but the cost of living was so much higher there that it would have equaled a pay cut for him.

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My concern is not the size of the house, but the money.

 

Their kids are 5, 8, and 9. So, starting about 9 years from now, they will have, in college, 1, 2, 2, 2, 2, 1, 1, 1 kids. So 8 years of college payments, 4 of them double. They need to seriously consider this when taking on new debt. Personally, I would look to see what they can swing with a 10 year mortgage, so that they are done with it before having 2 in at once. People with that salary are NOT going to get need-based financial aid, nor should they IMHO.

 

They will NOT want to tell their kids they can't afford college, and have their kids look around at the house and realize they've put their money into stuff instead of their own kids.

 

They should also consider the resale value of the house, the stability of the local market, and so on.

One option would be to consider a modular building plan, where they build the house in two stages. Build the first, pay it off, then if you need or want the second stage, you can go from there.

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I see it two ways. The first is that the phrase 'too much house' implies too much debt. If I can afford a $200K house and instead buy a $300K house, I have too much house because it will be a struggle to pay for it. The second way is if the actual physical space is simply too large for the number of people. My last house was too much house in that respect. We had a huge daylight basement that we never used. The main level had two large rooms, one as a family room and the other designed as a formal living room. We didn't need both of those rooms, though i find myself missing that one room where we live now.

 

We purchased our homes based on DH's income only because we didn't know if I would keep a job. We also only use 15% of his income for mortgage. I think a standard is no more than 30% of your income for a mortgage/rent. We didn't want to be anywhere near that number just in case something happened. We feel very safe and secure in this purchase.

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What part of the country is your brother in? The OP's BIL salary sounds about right (or even a little high) for the South. My DH (also a Mechanical Engineer) was once offered a job in the Northeast with about a 50% salary increase, but the cost of living was so much higher there that it would have equaled a pay cut for him.

 

North Carolina.

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They will NOT want to tell their kids they can't afford college, and have their kids look around at the house and realize they've put their money into stuff instead of their own kids.

 

But this is a different topic. There are some people like me that don't believe it's a parent's responsibility to fund college. It's not a matter of what we can afford. But that's been shown to be controversial on this board. :)

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It sounds like your sister already knows it is too much house. I agree with the others that the mortgage sounds risky.

 

I personally think that 4,500 sq ft for that size family is wasteful, but I also think that it's none of my business. I would look at how efficient the home is, how much it will cost to heat/cool, etc. I don't understand wasting the energy and money for more than you will use, or filling up extra space with stuff. But again, that's how I think, not the majority.

 

I have a nearly 3,500 sq ft home and I think it's way too much. I'd love to have a smaller home, but we bought this one for the farm, not the house, and it's paid for. So we're not likely to go anywhere soon. FWIW, we are a family of 3-about-to-be-4 and my mother lives here, too. So we are using most of the space, but we could do with less--honestly, any extra space gets filled with useless crap, but that's a whole 'nother story. :glare:

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But this is a different topic. There are some people like me that don't believe it's a parent's responsibility to fund college. It's not a matter of what we can afford. But that's been shown to be controversial on this board. :)

 

We feel the same way. I plan on helping my kids, but not paying for it all. Some disagree, but my personal experience leads me to believe that if they work for it, they appreciate it more.

 

On the flip side, we are very against our kids going into major debt for an undergraduate degree. If the kids don't scholarship into a school, they will take CC classes for 2 years to get the basics out of the way. Last year we bought a 2-bedroom condo near our large State U, and they can live there for free to help with college costs. That way, they're only paying for tuition, and not room and board. I feel that is a good contribution on our side, and if only one of the kids live there, the other bedroom can be rented out to another student, with that money going towards helping with the tuition.

 

So, we're helping, just not in the traditional way, I suppose.

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But this is a different topic. There are some people like me that don't believe it's a parent's responsibility to fund college. It's not a matter of what we can afford. But that's been shown to be controversial on this board. :)

I'll do my best to help how I can, but I do lean towards feeling similarly. And that's mostly because I'm currently still paying for my own college. I feel like I've sacrificed a lot for my kids and asking me to pay for my college AND theirs is asking too much.

 

Yes, but they are making $165K a year between them, and considering spending $800K on a house. They're not struggling, presumably, and paying for college - at least a decent contribution - is within their grasp. The colleges will expect them to make a substantial contribution to college costs whether they actually do or not; in other words their kids will not qualify for need-based aid, regardless of whether their parents are willing to actually contribute to their tuition or not. That's the way the system works. Their kids will be worse off with wealthy parents than they would be had their parents been poor - at least then they would get the need-based aid.

 

I'm all for kids making a substantial contribution to college costs, and of course some parents don't have a penny to spare, but if nothing else these folks should go into it eyes wide open as to how their substantial income will affect their children's access to state and federal need-based scholarships, and how being fairly thinly spread, financially, despite their income, might force them - parents and children - into decisions that they may not have made had they thought ahead. Staying more within their means, maybe even with a 10 year mortgage, will give them the flexibility they may turn out to need in the college years.

 

Help for college might mean paying the tuition, or as a PP mentioned investing in property near the school that provides living space and perhaps potential income, or other ways of paying part of what can be a substantial bill. It might mean the difference between a good school vs. an excellent school, or a not-so-great school vs. a decent one. (If you're needing substantial merit aid (not need-based aid), it's not unlikely you'll have to take a less-well-ranked school to get it - that's why they're offering you the aid, to tempt you to their school when you also can get in at a more selective one). Or it might just mean helping with incidental expenses, like being able to commute back and forth to see the child, bring them home for holidays, stock their apartment with cleaning supplies or breakfast cereal, etc. More money, and less debt, means more choices, and this will be particularly true if the child is not eligible for need-based aid.

 

Of course there are lots of variables here to consider - whether the kids even want to go to college, for example - but I've seen too many parents build the big $150K addition onto their home then be utterly surprised when their child gets "only" ten or fifteen thousand dollars a year in merit scholarships and no need-based aid - I'm just saying the family should be well aware of how their choices may play out down the road, whether or not they actually plan to pay the college bills.

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We have just been house shopping. We currently live in an old house with poorly laid out rooms and no closets. It wouldn't be too small if the flow worked better. That being said we really really wanted more room.

 

We looked at a couple rambling old Victorians that were well within our price range but the upkeep and thought of another drafty quirky old house, especially one that more than double in size to our current home was just too overwhelming. We also considered the amount of existing landscaping that would need gardening work, which we both dislike, the age of appliances and plumbing/electrical work, and the amount of insulation and things like double pane windows.

 

We ended up with a large lot, but with no large flowerbeds, an almost new house with rigid thick insulation, low maintenance finishes, and nearly brand new appliances. We also are thinking of doing a home warranty with $ 60 service calls just in case.

 

So despite the larger size, we anticipate spending less money on bills and upkeep, less time cleaning, and less money not always having to always travel to others homes for visits, holidays, or even play dates with DS, we always wanted an open house with friends and family welcome anytime, but have never had the space or set up to do so.

 

That all being said, a huge mortgage at their age would really worry me. And construction costs always seem to be much higher than expected!

 

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I'll do my best to help how I can, but I do lean towards feeling similarly. And that's mostly because I'm currently still paying for my own college. I feel like I've sacrificed a lot for my kids and asking me to pay for my college AND theirs is asking too much.

 

I think it's one thing to be into debt paying for your own college and not feel like you can contribute to your child's college education, and work from there. It's another to get the largest possible mortgage you can assuming your kids thrive at PS and both of you are able to work for the next 30 years, and you'll cut your kids off at 18. Unfortunately, the number of loans a kid can get for college is tied into their parent's income. I don't think every kid should be college bound either. But we are definitely prepping for it with my kids to the best of our ability.

 

I'm not talking about the OP's SIL anymore. Only her and her husband know their true situation. But I think banks giving out too large mortgages to people at ridiculously low interest rates who readily accepted too much debt definitely helped lead to the housing crash. My sibling has made some huge mistakes in this area with his spouse and his mortgage. My parents have had to save them financially more than once. SO many houses were forclosed on in their McMansion neighborhood.

 

Anyway - obviously everyone needs to make their own decision and evaluate their own situations. I just hope people tread more carefully in the future.

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If the income is $165k, I would at maximum want my total housing price (land + home) to be ~$495k. So yeah, I'd say that is "too much house".

 

Just because some bank is willing to approve a mortgage of a certain size does not mean that the potential borrower can actually afford to take on that much debt.

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Just because some bank is willing to approve a mortgage of a certain size does not mean that the potential borrower can actually afford to take on that much debt.

 

 

:iagree:

 

Sometimes, common sense needs to prevail. Just because you can borrow the money, doesn't mean that you should.

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