Real Estate Rehab: Confessions of a Houseaholic

I am ashamed to admit this but…my name is Holly…and I have a problem.  I am addicted to real estate….so much so that I lose all rationality and self-control when I see a house that I like.  Even though  we already live in a nice house, I am always finding different homes that I love from the seemingly endless supply coming on the market.  Until recently, I had been “clean” from my house shopping addiction.  However, just like a former fatty stuffing her face with Little Debbie cakes, I recently found myself caught up in old self-destructive habits.

 

Falling Off the Wagon

It started innocently enough.  My neighbor across the street recently put her house up for sale.  I thought it would be no big deal if I got online to be nosy and check out her house listing.  Afterall, I had been clean from my housing addiction for quite some time.  “Just a little look won’t hurt.”  Unfortunately, a story that is typically told at the local AA meeting quickly ensued, and I found myself looking at many, many houses.  And since it had been some time since I had “used,” there were lots of new prospects on the market to look at.  I was quickly hooked.

 

Getting My Real Estate Fix

Real Estate Addiction

I found a few that I loved.  I got high on granite countertops, jacuzzi tubs, and cozy back porches.  I hallucinated about 3 and 4 car garages and parking my car  in those huge spaces.  I stood on imaginary back porches and screamed “I’m the king of the world…”  Titanic style.    I even went as far as to email my dealer realtor and ask her a few questions about some houses.  Of course, she replied to my email at lightening speed.  She knows of my insatiable appetite for real estate and was quick to offer me the goods.  “Do you want to see it?  I can go as early as right now.”  RIGHT NOW??  Unfortunately, not everyone wants to see an addict get out of their situation.

 

The Intervention

Luckily, my husband was (as always) by my side.  He reminded me that we can be 100% debt free in about three years.  He promised me that at that time we could move and pay cash for any house that I choose.  He whispered sweet nothings of new kitchen cabinets and walk-in closets.  He always knows just what to say.

Am I really willing to throw that away just to get a newer and nicer house right now?  Do I really want to forgo our planned trips to Hawaii and Europe that we have talked about for hours at a time?  What kind of moron would I be to buy that bigger, better, nicer house and have to work another 5-10 years at my job in order to end up in the same financial position?  Is that what I really want?

Of course it isn’t…and I quickly remembered who I am and why I do what I do.  I want to be debt free.  I want to see the world.  I want to pay for my kids college.  I want to retire early.  I don’t want to be a debt slave.  I don’t want to follow the status quo.  I don’t want to work longer and harder to achieve less and less.  I don’t want to be “normal.”

 

My Recovery

As any recovering addict knows, this could happen to me at any time.  New and nice houses are everywhere and there will always be someone willing to give me a big fat loan to get what I want.  Luckily, I have my level-headed husband by my side to talk me off the ledge.  He is always there to remind me of how lucky we are for what we have.  He never lets me forget what my real dreams are.

So, here we are still in the same home we have lived in for the past four years.  As I write this, my girls are rolling across the floor wrestling and laughing.  My great room looks like some kind of toy explosion took place, and I am as happy as I have ever been.  I don’t love this house, but I do like it.  My family is what makes my house a home, and there is nowhere else I would rather be.

 
About Holly

Holly Johnson is a wife, mother of two, and frugal lifestyle enthusiast. She is the co-founder of Club Thrifty and a staff writer at Get Rich Slowly, Frugal Travel Guy, and U.S. News and World Report's "My Money Blog." Holly has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger Personal Finance, Fox Business, and Daily Finance.

Comments

  1. Haha love the article! Naturally your realtor would feed your addiction, she profits if you don’t get well. Lol!

  2. This post is great. It’s easy to get caught up in all that a house has to offer- such as granite countertops, walk in closets – but it’s really a family that makes a house a home and that’s the most important thing :)

  3. “I want to be debt free. I want to see the world. I want to pay for my kids college. I want to retire early. I don’t want to be a debt slave. I don’t want to follow the status quo. I don’t want to work longer and harder to achieve less and less. I don’t want to be ‘normal.’”

    This struck me as particularly awesome. Sort of a mantra to stay on the path of financial enlightenment. I think it might need to be framed and hung up on the wall. That way if I ever lose focus, it will bring it right back. Very cool.

  4. I wouldn’t say you’re a “moron”…I’d just say that you’re like most people. :) It’s good that you have your husband to talk you off the ledge though and you have other goals that are more important than buying a nicer home.

    We’re looking at houses and it’s really hard to stay in our price range and find a home that comfortably fits in our budget. I also LOVE houses but I’ve been able to learn control my enthusiasm and concentrate on making a good decision. It’s definitely not easy but I tell myself that we’ll eventually be able to buy the home we want. Maybe 10-15 years from now.

  5. Love this post, Holly! Jeff is my level-headed man, too. Well, he does have his addictions, too, but he’s usually good at controlling his urges. He got the real estate bug last year actually, and it was me who talked him down! He thought we could move to a more expensive area even! I’m so glad I was feeling strong at that time, or we’d be in even hotter water now! Thankfully, he’s there to take over being the level-headed one when I’m having a rough time!

  6. I have had to put the breaks on myself sometimes in the past to make sure I am not getting lured into purchasing something. You have to look at the big picture and stick too what is really important to you and use that to guide your decision. Don’t get swayed by the fluff.

  7. Hahaha – this is cute. I’m jonesing for a house too. Last week I challenged myself to stay off the listings website until Monday and failed!

  8. Isn’t it funny how strong a drug it is…the “let’s get one” drug? It’s just one…everybody’s doing it….good story.

  9. Really good post Holly. I am still waiting to get my first taste of that sweet house shopping fix. I know I won’t be in a position to upgrade from that first home for a long time though. So it’ll have to be one addiction that I’ll have to force myself to go cold turkey on after that first taste.

    • Thank you!

      Have fun house shopping when you are finally able! It’s definitely fun and I am looking forward to my next house shopping adventure in the future…..when we will be paying in cash =)

  10. Loved this post Holly! I have been looking for rental houses like crazy even though I have a few more months before I should start looking. I’m glad you had someone with you to stay strong :)

    • Me, too. I swear I don’t know what comes over me sometimes. Thankfully it was fleeting and I snapped back to reality. I was keeping up with the Jones’s there for a minute!

  11. I’m guilty of always going to realtor.com and dreaming about a house that we can one day afford. AHHH!

    • Sorry, I didn’t mean to conjure up old frustrations. =)

      As you can see, I am in no position to offer advice. It’s so fun to look though!

  12. Right there with you… I even have 2 apps on my iPhone to browse the real estate market in my area. Maybe I should have been a realtor.

  13. Ha! This is timely for me, as I’m thinking of making a change.

  14. Veronica @ Pelican on Money says:

    “My family is what makes my house a home, and there is nowhere else I would rather be.” – this says it all. I have had similar fixations with a car. It took my bf to talk me out of it and only later I could see clearly how obsessed I was over something that was meaningless.

  15. I’m always hitting up Trulia or some other website…I feel your pain although I’ve never followed through.

  16. Haha, love it. Mr PoP still watches realtor.com for deals in neighborhoods we like, and I have to pull him back from the ledge. We want to have at least 2 of our 3 completely paid for before we go for it again. Like you that’s not for another 2 years or so.

  17. I stumbled upon your site for the first time today-and am so glad I did. I love your funny, casual writing style and I am WITH YOU and the real estate…House Hunters is my porn.

    Still-having the biggest nicest house isn’t everything. You can do it!

    • House Hunters is absolutely porn for me! Unfortunately, I am unable to partake as I no longer have cable. That is probably a good thing =)

      Thank you so much for stopping by!

  18. There will always be bigger and better things for us all to lust after. :-)

    My weakness is designer accessories. I just make sure to avoid Nordstrom, Saks and Neiman Marcus (and their websites) like the plague. It also helps to avoid fashion magazines and other sneaky tactics they use to reel us in.

    Good luck remembering your dreams. :-)

  19. We just recently found our first home. We close in less than two months and…I’m not gonna lie…I have had some nights where I literally could not sleep because of the excitement :0

    Through this process we learned what you could get for what budgets in what locations. We wanted a central location so we had to give up a few things (but we wanted some projects anyway so we’re happy).

    Here is where I can relate…we already know what kind of house we want for our NEXT house :0 We have some upgraded criteria in mind…walk-in closet, bigger/open kitchen, master bath, etc. I don’t think it’s bad to look, it’s important to know what you want and what you are working towards.

    • Very true….and as long as at least one of us has the self control to put the brakes on, I guess that it’s ok=)

      Good luck on your new house!

  20. Persistence and patience are two most valuable virtues you can have. I am glad that your husband has both. :)

  21. Holly – what a great post – you have a very funny writing style. I understand -we live in a very nice apartment and yet I am always thinking … what else?

  22. BAHAHAH. Awesome.

    I’m a renter with no hope of buying anytime soon but I like to look at houses (both for rent and sale) in my spare time. Sigh.

  23. Am I really willing to throw that away just to get a newer and nicer house right now? Do I really want to forgo our planned trips to Hawaii and Europe that we have talked about for hours at a time? What kind of moron would I be to buy that bigger, better, nicer house and have to work another 5-10 years at my job in order to end up in the same financial position? Is that what I really want?

  24. Hey there, You’ve done a tremendous occupation. Let me surely reddit it as well as my own part advocate to help my pals. Almost certainly they are benefited from this fabulous website.

  25. I can totally relate. If you read my blog you will know what I am talking about. I have spent countless hours perusing house listings, looking up loan options, figuring out additional costs involved in buying a house, figuring out a home budget, and debating what we want for our first house. I have been looking at houses off and on for over a year and unfortunately it looks like another year until we can buy do to military (figure out if we will be moving or not). I went so far to get a soft estimate to add an addition for a house I like but that was too small. I have been watching house hunters since I was like 16 and its porn for me too… oh and not trying to make you fall off the wagon but I’m frugal and avoid paying for cable too, you can watch some of the episodes of house hunters, property virgins, etc free at hgtv.com
    nayeli recently posted..House Hunting, Obsessed with home ownershipMy Profile

  26. Holly Holly Holly,
    I enjoyed your writing ability as much as your story. I too am in Love with finding, writing deals to purchase property all the way to rehabbing and retailing that property. Getting down and dirty with my crews as well as, bring the beer to a finished job.

    Thank you for making me feel that I am not the only one out here that feels this way. For a moment I thought I might be nuts.

    Cash for houses Dallas/Fort Worth
    robert@cash4housesrh.com

Trackbacks

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  9. [...] few weeks ago, Holly wrote about how we are “houseaholics“. When you combine this with the fact that we aren’t very happy with some aspects of [...]

  10. [...] few months ago, we were seriously considering moving.  Frustrated by a few of the shortcomings of our current residence, we started looking for a way [...]

  11. [...] you should be able to make at least 30K a year selling real estate, right?”  the salesman assured me.  Well, sure!  If a salesperson makes that statement, [...]

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  13. [...] I’m hooked.  I’ve been juicing vegetables at least once per day…and sometimes twice per day!  My [...]

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  15. [...] instinct in their body. They just love to spend. It feels so good to them. Some of them even report getting a sort of high off of it. However, that is not to say that there is no hope for those born spenders to become [...]

  16. [...] and used it successfully to our advantage.  Without credit, we would have never been able to buy the house that we live in.  Although we couldn’t afford them at the time, we never would have been [...]

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  19. [...] the golden handcuffs.  Being debt free means having more options in the future.  Not having a house payment will free up thousands of dollars per month that could be spent any number of ways.  I like the [...]

  20. [...] is another great way to make money off of your money. Being a landlord myself, I love using real estate investing as a passive income stream. It certainly is not risk-free, but finding the right tenants can make [...]

  21. [...] 20, 2013 By Guest When it comes to buying a house, there’s usually a ton of research and preparation that needs to be done.  It makes sense too [...]

  22. […] wait to find something that we love!  As I’ve written about many times, I’m absolutely obsessed with real estate and I think that house shopping is so much fun.  I will definitely be updating everyone as the […]

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  24. […] used to love to shop for houses.  Hell, I used to love moving.  But, now that we have kids, the stakes are much higher.  I […]

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