How Does a School Bus Relate to Buying a House?

When my kids were younger they had dreams about riding the “big yellow school bus.” Every day they would run to the window to see the “big yellow school bus” drop of the neighborhood kids.

Soon the older siblings would get off the bus with a cool look on their faces as the younger siblings would gawk in their honor…The school bus was a big transition each of my kids looked forward to. A transition from being a little kid at home to being a big at a big school. Amazingly enough my eldest, now 13, no longer looks at riding the school bus as a “cool” thing. He is now dreaming of driving my little commuter car. I’ve caught him sitting in the front seat of the car, daydreaming of his chance to drive. It is amazing how little he takes into account how small that commuter car is. My dream, a convertible. Amazing how times shift values.

I’ll go back to my example using vehicles. In the stage of life my kids were, the school bus was important, the value was getting to school independently with a bunch of other kids. The bus worked just fine. Simple construction, enough wheels, bright in color, plenty of kids to go with. The bus was a match made in heaven. At age 13, the school bus has lost some of it’s value and my commuter car has increased.

The coolness and beastliness factor grows with having personal wheels. Doesn’t matter if the car is small and has little motor, what matters is personal wheels, driving with my friends to the places I want to go. Still 3 years away for him, but a dream nonetheless….In my stage of life, I want a convertible. I deeply love my kids, but I need my self image back that somehow was misplaced (lost) with my commuter car. I have ground to make up and the coolness needs to make it’s 52 country world tour, come back (my 13 year old seems to think I lost it all).

If you are looking for sleek, luxurious image builder, square footage is only a small part of the image you are seeking. Your convertible would be a disaster without cool gadgets and luxury. Cool gadgets and features reign in convertibles. Better suspension, more than AM radio, hard top with a push button activator, leather seats and a few more details, I’m sure you get the idea. The car still gets from A to B, but in style. If you looking just to get from A to B any vehicle will do, why not a school bus. One sacrifices a little in comfort (bouncing side by side in the heat and cold), acoustics (wow is it loud) and personal space, but it does the Job.

Most of this story is true when talking about purchasing a home. When I see a non-savvy buyer or real estate agent, their interest and conversation is solely about price per square foot. It seems to me, just like in my story above, that in each stage of life there are different needs and square footage is one detail of many. Square footage is important, but only a small portion of that equation.

If you are seeking a home, there are many things that are not visible in price per square foot.

  • Architecture or Construction design
  • Flow of design
  • Method of Construction (best practices vs. just code compliance)
  • Quality of Craftsmanship
  • Warranty needs after closing, reputation
  • Materials used in construction
  • Materials used in finishes
  • All the extra furniture needed to fill the space

It is easy to compare price per square foot. The shine on the lure of price per square foot is similar to the magical lure of the of the school bus. And just like the school bus, will soon be outgrown after a few short years of living with the ride. Just as magically, I don’t seem to see a line up of people my age wanting to drive school buses around.