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Cash Clash

Sell your home or stay put? Add to ...

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Catherine, 40, and Ben, 50, Victoria On their fourth home in their six years together, these West Coasters practically have their moving company on speed-dial. With the nest finally empty - Ben has two daughters from a previous marriage, but they have moved out - she wants to downsize to a condo and live the carefree life they've always wanted. He wants to stop playing real estate musical chairs. To sell or not to sell?


We bought our current house about two years ago. It's about 1,600 square feet, with three bedrooms. At the time, my 18-year-old stepdaughter was still living with us every other week. Only a month after we moved in, she unexpectedly decided to postpone university and move to Australia. So we're stuck in a house that's too big for us. We were originally planning to stay five years, until the end of our mortgage term. But I've just noticed a new condo development going up nearby, to be completed in the next two years. It seems perfect for us - the property has a huge amount of parkland around it, and we're very outdoorsy and active. We both coach sports in our spare time. We'd really like to travel, too, and the idea of being able to just lock the door and go appeals to us. We like living in a house, not sharing walls with anyone else, and having space for our dog, but we're not big on yard work and maintenance. I really want to move, but Ben wants to stay until the five years are up. I agree that we should reduce our debt - we just renegotiated our mortgage so we can pay it off faster - but the longer we stay in the house, the more chance we'll have of being hit with repair costs.


I know it looks bad that we've moved so many times. We're both very smart people, but circumstances just got out of hand. Our first home together only lasted a year - it was next to a busy daycare centre. I'm a police officer and I do shift work, and I just couldn't sleep. Nos. 2 and 3 were in a condo development that we really liked, but we got fed up with the lack of security after our cars were broken into repeatedly. Since I plan to retire from police work in the next five years, I'd like to go back to the condo lifestyle - I really like the plans for the new development - but right now I'm not sure I can stomach moving again. We never lost money on a property sale, but we built up about $47,000 in debt from various legal fees, mortgage fees and property transfer taxes. I think we can eliminate that debt within 4 1/2 years (not including the mortgage), as long as we don't get hit with any more big expenses. I'd just like to stick to our original plan, build more equity and not have to haul out the moving boxes again for a while.

As told to Anna-Kaisa Walker. These interviews have been condensed and edited.


I vote that you should lean toward staying put, but consider the other factors. Catherine and Ben, you both have been busy indeed, but you need to crunch a few numbers.

Ben, will your daughter potentially come back home? Since that predicated a move (or it sounds like moving to the larger home was a result of her being at home), you should determine whether she's coming back in the near future. If she unexpectedly decided to move across the planet, might she also unpredictably return?

Catherine, a condo move may make sense, but tread lightly. Is the structure soundproof enough for Ben and concrete built? What about the condo and parking fees? Does the project have a solid condo fund? Repairs are possible with any property - house or condo.

Lastly, I'm concerned about your statement about not losing money on your moves thus far: You're stuck paying $47,000 in fees - ouch!

Also, think about the emotional, mental and physical exertion of yet another move. I vote to stay, maybe take a few overtime shifts at work (since you're not exhausted packing boxes and moving) and pay off the debt as Ben stated. Reconvene in a few years to reassess - and hopefully your daughter's housing needs will be more solid then as well.

Kelley Keehn is the author of The Money Book for Everyone Else. ( kelleykeehn.com)

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