You may or may not have read in previous articles that I’m doing a little house hunting of late. It’s not that we’ve outgrown our home, but we feel it’s a good time to invest in the real estate market and trade up to some digs that are big enough to house babci someday, and maybe some chickens as well. After figuring out how much we can safely borrow, I have taken the plunge and started looking at homes that are a couple of notches up from where we are at today. After my first couple of rounds, I am now focused on places that have a bit of land. Space. It’s such a beautiful thing. I am not in love with big houses, but homes with a bunch of land do tickle my fancy.
Anyway, I have an awesome realtor. I really want to have her babies, she’s so good. One of the things she does aside from being super responsive is she has a TON of information about the sellers of a property before we even step foot in a place. She’s got a good memory and has lived in this area her whole life, so she seems to know everything about everybody. “This couple is getting divorced. They are motivated sellers. They own 5 other properties across the Northeast, the husband does this profession, and it goes on and on.” It’s awesome information to have as you go into negotiations.
What struck me most as she is rattling off these professions, is that the nicest homes at the top of my price range are all trades people. Think about it. They all have great do it yourself skills. They barter with each other on home improvements, they get paid really well, they didn’t have to take out $100,000 in student loans to learn a skill, and many of them started working full time years before we did. After about the 5th gorgeous house owned by an electrician, plumber or a glass cutter and listed at 3x of what my current house is worth, I asked my realtor: “Tell me, why again did I go to college?” The photos in this post are all from the same property owned by a tradesman. And you know what..this place is priced way above what I want to spend. Although it would be nice to have goshen stone walkways, a gorgeous pool, fire pit and an htgv-esque outdoor kitchen, and about 20 other things, it’s too rich for my blood.
Well it seems like 101 Centavos was reading my mind because just the other day he was talking about labor shortages and the lack of skilled tradesman around. Well, from my little microcosm of house hunting experience, I can concur that there is plenty of money to be made in those professions because a good number of the trades people in my neighborhood are living large.
The second thing I learned from all this is that it’s really hard to get rich by working for someone else. Those cost of living raises just don’t move the needle like having a good year as a self employed person. Most of the really high priced places I looked at are all business owners and not necessarily doctor’s either. In fact, my primary care physician lives one street over from me in a very modest sized cape cod home and raised 3 children in it. Being good at selling yourself and your personal skills is invaluable. Great lessons are coming out of these house hunting sessions. Now if I only did something with this information. I guess the best I can do is keep my eyes open for an opportunity to invest in a side gig. Eventually, an idea will present itself I’m sure.
Did you think the 1% was Joe the plumber? I certainly did not. Lesson learned indeed.