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Plan for Now, Plan for Later

January 9, 2018

If you have HGTV in your cable line-up, you’re probably familiar with the show Love It or List It. If not, the formula is simple: a client who is ambivalent about their home is given a budget to make some improvements on the one hand while at the same time they search for a better property that’s on the market. At the end of the episode, they have to decide whether to stay with their renovated home or try for something new.

Fairly often, people do decide to “love it’ and stay put. But why did they get to the point of being ready to sell before they would make the improvements?


My experience is that, just like on the show, people generally do wait too long to work on their homes. Then they decide they just can’t live like that anymore and rush through a bunch of projects right before they put it on the market, so they never get the most out of the property while they still live there. It’s true that funds play a big part in this, but if you’re going to spend the money anyway, why not make changes strategically now—and enjoy them!


A good transition plan can help you prepare to do work now, adapt to life changes in the midterm, and sell later. When I work with clients in this way, we discuss how long they plan to stay, what kind of budget they have in both the short and the long term, and whether the projects will go in phases. We also evaluate the major systems (heating, electrical panel, roof, etc.) and review any water intrusion problems.


But the main lesson of transition planning on the “love it now, list it later” model is to envision multiple uses and possible income streams. Let me tell you two personal stories that will illustrate this.


Over the past ten years, my husband Bob and I have made several housing transitions. The most recent was our current live-work townhouse in Woodstock. When we built this place, we planned for the future by setting up capacity for a living space over the garage and established our office in the basement. Eventually we finished the “Tungalow” over the garage and lived there for a while in order to economize.


Fast forward a bit, and we are living in the main townhouse, but decided to give up the office (we’re hardly ever in it!) and rent out that space to a full-time tenant. This one structure has had multiple formulations, as our life, work, economic situation, and market conditions have evolved over time.


Looking ahead, we have just purchased a property in Milwaukie. It has an existing 880 SF house on a lot that can be divided off in the future. The house needs every kind of helpall the good things that HOMEmakers can do!


As we develop a transition plan for this property, in addition to the immediate improvements, we are considering adding an Accessory Dwelling Unit next to the main house for an eventual income stream.



So you can see what I mean when I say plan for now and plan for later. With property values so high in Portland, I encourage you to make the most of the land under your feet!


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© 2017 by Mary T. Tongue