About two and a half years ago, my husband and I decided to start shopping around for a possible new house. Our lovely first home had been a great place for us to begin our marriage, but our growing baby—and all of the stuff that comes with having a new baby—was quickly making us realize we needed more space.
Because we’d purchased an existing home the first time, we set our sights on finding an already-established home that wouldn’t require additional finishing (like landscaping, basements, curtains, blinds, etc.).
We searched and searched. Our realtor searched and searched. Yet we couldn’t find what we were looking for. Or, when we did find a promising prospect, we didn’t move quickly enough and another buyer snatched it up before we even had time to leave the premises.
Our spirits soared when we found a new home that matched our needs (and wants, of course). The spec home had a few issues that we were willing to overlook, but its location wasn’t ideal. It was located in a south Fargo development (so far south that I joked we were moving back to my native South Dakota) within the floodplain. That meant purchasing expensive flood insurance that didn’t actually cover much of the home’s contents.
Even after chatting with city of Fargo engineers and having conversations about a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA, which I actually knew about thanks to having worked at a local engineering firm for a few years), we weren’t convinced that house was for us. Bummer.
We quickly moved on the deal and within a few weeks we were “building” our first home. I say “building” because the foundation and walls had already been built by the time we purchased the home, but we did get to finish it by making the remaining selections ourselves. A couple months passed, and we moved into our shiny new home.
Having been through the experience of starting out with the intention to buy existing but ending up building, I wondered if other people ever ended up doing the same. That’s how this home feature story about “Build or buy?” came about—I wanted to provide a frank explanation of what each process entails to help other homebuyers who may find themselves switching gears.