Have you ever gone back to your hometown or neighborhood to see your old childhood home that your family moved out of after you grew up? While a few people are lucky enough to keep the same family homestead for decades, many families have life circumstances that forced them to sell a home, or just to positively move up in the world. Most everyone has at least one former home in their family past they likely have numerous positive memories of during their formative years. Of those people, you have to wonder how many of them drive by those former homes at least once in their life just to see how much it’s changed.
I’ve gone through the same experience with three former homes belonging to various members of my family. One home was sold out of necessity and the other two were simply due to wanting more space or avoiding property taxes. And while I spent most of my childhood in all those homes, I’ve had the dream of wanting to buy them back and have them restored. While that hasn’t happened so far, I’ve made the effort to drive by those houses periodically to see what changes are being made.
If you’ve ever gone through this experience, it can be a surreal and emotional experience, especially if the owners are doing things to the home that you would have never done. But it also brings the question of what you’d really do if you could bring the reality of buying those homes. Would you be able to reconcile what you remember while making it workable for your life today?
The Process of Making an Offer to Current Owners
A common new trend in real estate recently has been the process of approaching owners of a home, even if the home isn’t initially for sale. While this comes with some slight risk, telling the owners you were lived there once and giving a generous offer might get things moving in the right direction. On the other hand, those home owners may think you’re a bit strange and tell you flat out they don’t want to sell.
In these scenarios, you may want to use a real estate agent initially to approach the people. Approaching them from their homes might be considered offensive and almost on the level of a door-to-door salesman. Especially when you immediately broach the conversation of them selling, it can open the floodgates to problems.
The best thing is to just leave your business card with the owners and tell them that you’d like to be first on their list for an offer if they ever want to sell. Or, if you have a lot of money at your disposal, you can give them an offer for the house that’s worth more than it actually is. It all depends on how much you really want your childhood home back.
If you succeed, you’ll want to give the family living there the time they need to find a new home. You might want to even rent the house out to them for a number of months until they do.
Afterward, you’ll be facing the more emotional aspects and whether it was really the right choice.
Can You Come to Grips with the Emotion?
Since the other family living in your home won’t give you any chance to see what it’s like to live in the house on your own time, you’ll have to take the risk that the purchase was a smart choice. For those with very emotional memories in their childhood home, going back to live in it after some of your family has passed could hit you with more emotion than you initially wanted. Once the familiar parts of your home are experienced in your first night living there, you’ll be gaining the true test in how you’ll be feeling living there with perhaps your own family.
One thing you’ll likely experience is that everything looks smaller than you remembered it to be. This seems to be the experience of anyone revisiting a place where they spent their childhood. You may also experience the problem of new things built in the home by the prior family that don’t look familiar, hence tainting the memory you had. Those can generally be amended if you have more money available to remodel. Conversely, it can get quite expensive if it means having to tear something down and completely rebuild or re-landscape. That’s especially true if someone built a house extension or oversized garage in a backyard area you grew up playing in as a child.
Then you have to face the reality of combining your current life with your past in a way that helps give you an emotional balance.
Balancing Your Current Life with Your Past
A situation like this is only going to be made successfully based on how much you want your home to look the same on the interior. For those fortunate enough to have some of the same furniture that was there previously, you might be able to recreate parts of the original design to give some familiarity. Other parts can be modernized with new furniture and other aspects to fit the needs of your current life and family.
Some people just enjoy remembering the general ambiance of their childhood home and don’t worry about using the same furniture or designs from years earlier. It might look offbeat anyway to have outdated designs in your childhood home, even if retro designs have all made comebacks.
These are all things to think about in your daydreams of moving back to your childhood home. Because daydreams can frequently become reality faster than we think, thinking in advance can help you prepare emotionally for the realities of doing this brave new move. Other people are starting to do this as means of removing the old stigma that you can’t go home again while still living their current life without disruption.