A House is a House is a House?

According to Merriam Webster Collegiate Dictionary, 10th Edition (it’s old)
House (Noun): – A building that serves as living quarters for one or a few families.
Building (Noun): A roofed and walled structure built for permanent use


These are pretty basic definitions that offer no elaboration – no specific qualities or characteristics.

So what do people mean when they say they are “looking for a house”? Just three or four walls and a roof? In the past a cave would do.

These days it is a good thing to be very specific, unless the house you’re looking for is one you’ll “know when you see it”. My advice to house hunters is to be as clear and concise as possible about your needs and your wants, and within your budget (remember to qualify with a lender first!)

It seems that in the past each geographic location had its special kind of house design, based on the weather and ability to obtain building materials. Styles such as the salt box, Cape Cod, ranch, bungalow, cottage, “rambler”, Mediterranean, traditional, Santa Fe, and so forth, began to infiltrate into other places because the style was familiar, held special meaning from childhood, or was just preferred. So today across the United States most styles of houses are available, and not necessarily typical of the geographic area.

927 Mackall 1972 croppedThe house I grew up in was a small, one-story ranch style Sears floor plan. My father and his friends, not a developer, built it on an individual lot, purchased separately, not in a development. He and my mother held the American dream in building on this lot. My mother loved Early American/Colonial furniture but I prefer straight lines, modern, and eclectic furnishings.

624 N Shore Rd 2 croppedMy first house was one I had rented, and later bought – a story and a half Cape Cod style, in a cookie-cutter neighborhood. My purchase was based on affordability, and knowledge of the house – its structure and systems, and the condition it was in.

2_5822 Bighorn Dr croppedWhen I was older, with teenage children, I looked for a house that could provide enough space for the possessions, activities, and hobbies of four active family members, all adult size. One Memorial Day weekend we looked at 22 houses in a new (for us) community we were moving to 250 miles from our first house. The bottom line for the one we selected was that “it met our needs”. The price pushed our financial envelop, but we found we could afford it. It was big – we moved from 1200 square feet – two bedrooms in the half-story (attic) and 1 ½ baths to 2200 square feet, four bedrooms, three baths, and a full basement.

While the slick realty magazines show all the upscale houses for sale, and while the TV house design shows offer some interesting makeovers, with upscale materials, it’s a good idea for a home buyer to be realistic about their circumstances. If you can’t afford a stainless steel and granite kitchen, don’t look there! Some folks want and need a move-in ready home because their lifestyle requires it, and basically that’s what most homes for sale are these days.

Personally, I’ve been disappointed that today most homes on the market are “move-in ready” because I like to put my own stamp of ownership on my environment. What I suggest is to be open to a good deal that might be hidden by the wrong colors, flooring, and so forth. Be creative! Don’t be stuck on one style, one location, one price, and so forth. Be open!

That bigger house we moved into hadn’t had any improvements for the 20 years since it was built. I had the opportunity to make changes in a personal way, and to plant the trees, shrubs, and gardens that I wanted. It’s pretty rare to find something like that today. If you aren’t interested in a “do it yourself” home, that’s okay. There are plenty to look at that are ready for you!

Author: SwanneSong

I began blogging in 2008 as a kind of journal of my travels as a full-time solo RVer. Over the years it has evolved into more of a record of both my inner and outer travels and personal reflections about my experiences. With a new focus I have created SwanneSong to give my voice to things I consider important, and to provide a perspective for others to consider. In 2015 I added a new career to my adventure as a Realtor in the Tucson Metro Area. Life in 2019 has sent me in a different direction, although still related to Real Estate. I have associated myself with RHL Referrals, a referral-only brokerage in Arizona; I am ready to refer YOU to Realtors in any area you are considering moving to, whether across the street, or across the county. Whether buying a new home or selling your current one, having the right Realtor to assist you is imperative. Contact me via call or text at 520-248-6297 to let me connect you!

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