Updated on 05.18.17

Seven Reasons to Love the House You Have

Spring's open houses can make homeowners yearn to trade up. But there's a lot to be said for staying put.

With spring in full swing and summer on its way, people are busy sprucing up their home’s outdoor areas. Perhaps you’ve cleaned out your garage, laid down some mulch, or attempted to repair winter damage to your lawn. Whatever hard work you’ve done, you’ll soon be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor – that is, if you can ignore what your neighbors are up to.

According to Housingwire Magazine, 40% of all U.S. home sales take place during May, June, July, and August. That means, all around the country, people are fixing up their homes for an entirely different reason altogether – to sell. And if you’re not careful, it’s easy to let the siren song of a newer, bigger, or fancier home lure you in.

Seven Reasons to Fall Back in Love With the Home You Have

While there are no hard and fast rules to dictate when you should move or upgrade and when you stay put, it’s important to think long and hard before you buy, sell, or move. The financial implications of moving are too great to take the decision lightly.

Plus, you want to make sure you’re moving for the right reasons. There are many scenarios where moving can make a lot of sense — to shorten your commute, to take a better job, to downsize, to be closer to family — but your dream house adding a beautiful, two-tier stone retaining wall and slapping a for-sale sign in the yard isn’t one of them.

If open house season has stirred up a bit of homeowner wanderlust inside you, maybe, just maybe, it’s possible to fall back in love with the home you already have. You bought it for a reason, right? Here are seven reasons your dream home might be the one you’re already living in:

#1: Home equity is sexy.

While your home may not excite you like it once did, you might want to break out your mortgage statement and take another look. If you’ve lived in your home for a decade or more – or if your home has gone up considerably in value over the past few years – you might have some serious home equity built up.

Figure out how much you owe on your home, then compare it to the estimated value offered on a site like Zillow. Do you owe a lot less than your house is worth? If the answer is “yes,” then you’ve got some home equity appeal.

While your cracking driveway, dated bathroom, or tiny kitchen may not give you something to squeal about, building real wealth is pretty darn exciting. And, that’s exactly what home equity is – real wealth that adds to your net worth.

#2: Selling a house is expensive.

Speaking of equity, selling your house is one of the fastest ways to watch it disappear. One of the biggest expenses you’ll pay to upgrade comes when you actually sell your home. Average Realtor fees are 6%, typically paid entirely by the seller, meaning you’ll fork over $12,000 to sell a $200,000 home, or $18,000 to sell a $300,000 home.

Nobody’s saying Realtors aren’t worth their weight in gold – in a major transaction like this, you need an expert on your side. What we are saying is that, if you don’t want to see a big chunk of your home equity go up in smoke, you should skip selling and avoid the expense.

#3: Moving is more expensive than you think.

While it’s easy to get tempted into upgrading your digs, let’s not forget just how expensive moving is. Not only do you have to cover the costs of buying and selling a home, but you may have to hire movers, complete repairs and upgrades to either or both homes, plus pay for new home furnishings, paint, or décor. All of these costs can add up in a big way, which makes staying put in your old home pretty attractive in a financial sense.

Fortunately, moving costs are easy to avoid if you’re selling your home on a whim. The process is simple: Stop what you’re doing, take the sign out of your yard, and relish in the savings.

#4: Less work = more fun.

While summer may be the ideal time to move, it’s also the perfect season to spend time with your family and relax. If you wind up moving for some reason, you could easily spend your summer house hunting, applying for a mortgage, painting, organizing, and cleaning instead of running around with your kids.

The bottom line: Moving is hard work, but you can avoid some of the struggle by just not doing it. And personally, I’d rather spend my summer drinking cocktails in the sun. How about you?

#5: Embrace ‘the devil you know.’

You know how they say the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence? This saying is particularly true when it comes to real estate. Why? Because every home has problems, even if you don’t find out about them until you move.

Maybe your current home isn’t quite big enough. Maybe it has an ugly kitchen. Perhaps you’re sick and tired of not having enough windows, or you hate your neighbors. Whatever your issue is, always remember that it could be worse, and that bigger, remodeled house will have its own set of problems you don’t even know about.

Your “dream home” will have its own issues, even if it takes you a while to discover them. By staying in your current home, you can continue dealing with the problems you know about instead of jumping into new ones.

#6: The memories you’ve made are priceless.

Newer, bigger, and higher-priced homes may have fancy upgrades, modern interiors, and upgraded curb appeal, but there’s one thing they don’t have – memories. No matter how hard you try, it’s impossible to replace the memories you’ve made if you brought a child home from the hospital, raised a family, or started a marriage or important relationship in a home.

You can replace your home, but you can’t replace the memories you’ve made. And by staying put, you can keep on building on the lifelong memories you have.

#7: A new home might not make you any happier.

Just as the grass is always greener, it’s easy to imagine that a new house will magically make your life better – especially if it addresses something you don’t like about your current house. But there’s some pretty compelling evidence that a new home has little impact on your overall life satisfaction.

A 16-year study tracked more than 3,600 people in Germany who moved to a new home specifically because there was something about their existing home that they didn’t like. And while those home buyers reported higher satisfaction with their homes after moving, they didn’t feel any better about their lives overall.

“We conclude that moving or living in a better home is unrelated to life-satisfaction judgments for two reasons,” wrote the study’s authors. “First, housing makes a small contribution to life-satisfaction judgments. Second, positive effects of better housing are undermined by the greater costs of living in a better home.”

The reasons a new home might make you happier have nothing to do with whether it’s nicer or more expensive, and everything to do with how you’ll spend your time. If a new home brings you closer to friends and family, or simplifies your commute, or has a backyard that lends itself to playing soccer with your kids, then, fair enough — it can make a lasting impact on your happiness.

But the boost you get from the new stone countertops or high-end appliances in your dream house is likely to be short-lived, due to the concept of hedonic adaptation. “Like any possession, its impact on happiness diminishes over time,” Yale psychology professor Ravi Dhar told the New York Times. “Things give us more joy when they are first acquired than over time, as we adapt to them.”

Elizabeth Dunn, psychology professor and co-author of “Happy Money: The Science of Happier Spending,” told the Times, “What matters for our happiness… is what we do in the minutes and hours of our day.” When shopping for a home, she said, ask yourself: “How will this purchase change the way I spend my time next Tuesday?”

The Bottom Line

While it’s easy to fall out of love with a home, there are plenty of reasons to be grateful for what you have. If your house is clean, maintained, and affordable, for example, you’re easily one of the luckiest people on Earth!

And, if your goal is getting ahead financially, steering clear of lifestyle inflation is one of the best moves you can make. While a big, fancy house might seem like a dream come true, the best house for your family is the one you can actually afford.

Holly Johnson is an award-winning personal finance writer and the author of Zero Down Your Debt. Johnson shares her obsession with frugality, budgeting, and travel at ClubThrifty.com.

Related:

Are you moving this summer? What are some reasons you’re still in love with the home you have?

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