Buy Alexandria Real Estate: Your Third House is Your Dream House

Alexandria Virginia Real Estate Blog

Your Third House is Your Dream House

Here's some advice that I always give to my clients.  It usually turns out to be true.

"Your Third House is Your Dream House" 

First House


Your 1st House is the one that helps you stop renting.  Your 1st House transitions you into being a homeowner. Your 1st House helps you start building equity.  Your 1st House gets you into the market.


Second House


Your 2nd House is for when you're ready to move up.  You buy your 2nd House when your family is getting larger, you've got a job promotion, etc.  You need more room and can afford more house -- that's your 2nd House.


Third House


Your 3rd House is Your Dream House.  You've arrived.  This is the house you've always wanted.  You're gonna stay here for a while.  Maybe forever.



Some of my clients skip the 1st House and go right to the 2nd House.

I joke around with first time buyers and tell them that one day while I'm driving around the million dollar homes in McLean, I'm going to call them and say "Hey, I found your 3rd House.  Now we just have to wait 15 years until you're ready to buy it."

Are you ready to buy your 1st, 2nd, or 3rd House?  I'll be happy to help in any case.

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Comment balloon 52 commentsBrian Block • May 19 2009 06:15AM


Smart way of looking at it.  I have added a few more to my personal mix.   I had one or two make some money homes in there.

Posted by Jim Crawford, Jim Crawford Atlanta Best Listing Agents & REALTOR (RE/MAX Paramount Properties) about 9 years ago

Hi Brian,

I love the concept of the third house being the dream house.


Giving this concept a slightly different take, I always make a point to tell my buyers that if a house gets sold out from underneath them that it always seems to mean that "their" house is still waiting for them, and we need to keep looking until we find it.


This piece of advice came in really handy recently with one of my first-time buyers, who saw the house of her dreams, plotted out where she would put the Christmas tree, and then before we even had a chance to write up the offer, the house went under contract.


She was beyond bummed out, and said she felt like she'd been ditched by the "cute guy" and had to settle for a blind date.


So....just imagine how happy she was when 2 days later we found her a charming roof, new paint, GREAT backyard, and--get this--a white picket fence!


Now she truly DOES have the house of her dreams....and the perfect place picked out for her Christmas tree!


Have a great day!


Coleen :)

Posted by Coleen DeGroff, Haile Plantation Real Estate - Gainesville FL (eXp Realty) about 9 years ago

Hi Brian, great way of thinking of homes for the buyer.  Might be a problem if it's the 4th, 5th, etc.  But we can deal with that!

Posted by Gabe Sanders, Stuart Florida Real Estate (Real Estate of Florida specializing in Martin County Residential Homes, Condos and Land Sales) about 9 years ago

The third house concept is the historical perception. 

I'll be so glad when folks can again sell the second home and move up to the third house, my market.


Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley,, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) about 9 years ago

Hey - that's exactly where I'm at!  My husband and I are selling our second home and building the one we've always wanted (within a budget, of course).  Still around 2500 sq ft, but we're planning every part of the home and are very excited.  But our first home was wonderful too (at 1100 sq ft) - just the right size for a couple starting out. 

Posted by Stanton Homes, Design/Build Custom Home Builder in North Carolina (Stanton Homes - New Home Builder) about 9 years ago

Seems like I used to help the majority buy their 2nd home. Now my business today, I am helping the majority of my clients buy their first house. More money with the 2nd home. As long as I have transactions, I'm happy.

Posted by Scott Baker, Realtor Homes for Sale in Cincinnati, West Chester, Mason, OH Area ( Coldwell Banker West Shell) about 9 years ago

Good concept. .for me, the third house was my ex-wife's dream house.  . .

Posted by Fernando Herboso - Broker for Maxus Realty Group, 301-246-0001 Serving Maryland, DC and Northern VA (Maxus Realty Group - Broker 301-246-0001) about 9 years ago


While it is often true, I'm dealing with 1sts and 4ths- the latter being those who want the luxury of 3rd and size of 1st. Empty nesters are keeping me going at the moment.

Posted by Irene Kennedy Realtor® in Northwestern NJ (Weichert) about 9 years ago

Brian I absolutely agree, that's how I see my own personal home.

Posted by Ritu Desai, Virginia Realtor-Fairfax/Loudoun/PW-703-625-4949 (Samson Properties) about 9 years ago

Brian, I'm not looking forward to my last house...where I'll really be forever :) Saw your segment on Fox Business Channel last week. You hit it out of the park. Rich

Posted by Richard Iarossi, Crofton MD Real Estate, Annapolis MD Real Estate (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) about 9 years ago

Brian - A thoughtful analogy. At this time in the marketplace I am back to the First House homebuyers , but that means plenty of business in three to five years when they are ready to upgrade to the Second House

Posted by Laura Gray (RE/MAX Realty Group) about 9 years ago

Graat post! As we aim to get people in affordable homes, we also need to help some buyers realize that the first home may not be their dream home. Maybe some of our current mortgage mess is due to peopel wanting to skip the steps of home ownership.

Posted by Yonas Woldu, Yonas Woldu (Simply Vegas) about 9 years ago

Great post! Love the concept. For someone who has relocated several times I am not sure what number will be my "dream" home...the penthouse in NYC or the penthouse at the Ocean when we retire!

I will definately share this with the first timers I am helping right now.


Posted by Kim Curran (RE/MAX Unlimited of Northern Virginia) about 9 years ago

I like this view!  I had never thought of it in this manner.  I sell a lot of second/vacation homes...I guess that falls into the third group too! :o)

Posted by Jeani Codrey, If you're not learning, you're not living! (The Learning Jeani) about 9 years ago

I tell first time buyers it is all about the money. Don't worry so much about having it all, it is best to position yourself for greatest ROI, so that the second house is a real move up. In other words, don't get stuck in first gear because you will never survive on the housing highway.

Posted by Joe Pryor, REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties (The Virtual Real Estate Team) about 9 years ago

Great view point. I had a first time buyer who was wanting her 3rd house right from the beginning and skipping 1 and 2.


Posted by Bettina Settles, Your Indiana Connection about 9 years ago

All focus seems to be on the first house market at this time.  I'm hoping the rest of the market comes into play in the near future.

Posted by Mark Watterson, Utah Real Estate about 9 years ago

Hi Brian, I love this post. It is great. Although in Manhattan New York market place, it may take the buyers a while to get to their 'dream apartment', because depending on how big is their dream, that third apartment may worth over trillion dollars!

Posted by Eileen Hsu, LICENSED REAL ESTATE SALESPERSON (Douglas Elliman Real Estate) about 9 years ago

Brian, one of the couples I'm working with is working on Dream House.  I helped them buy numbers 1 and 2!  It's really cool when you have a history with your clients.

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) about 9 years ago

Brian this is the best way I've seen this presented .....ever.  I love it.  And will share with my agents this morning.  It's pefect for our topic this morning.


Posted by Anna Banana Kruchten CRB, CRS 602-380-4886, Arizona's Top Banana! (Phoenix Property Shoppe) about 9 years ago

Hi Brian,

Great idea. How about adding after the dream house, that they now may want a vacation to add to the bigger dream?

Posted by Monique Hailer, South West Florida & Southern Maryland Homes (Schooner Bay Realty., Inc. & CENTURY 21 New Millenniun) about 9 years ago

My grandma (bless her soul) used to always tell me 3 moves is as good as a fire.  HUH???  I never knew what she meant till I bought my 3rd house.  Everything I owned in my 1st house is pretty much gone.  Yep, 3 moves is as good as a fire!!  lol~ 

Great post and thanks for helping me to remember grandma and all her great wisdom! 

Posted by Brad Andersohn, ActiveBrad - 707.646.1876 (Director of Education & Industry Outreach at eXp Realty & RE Tech Campus) about 9 years ago

Brian: That is a great way to look at first time home buyers, if you stay in touch with them, each one of them has the potential for two more sales. Thanks for the insight.

Posted by Sandy Childs, Realtor - Spartanburg, SC (Keller Williams Realty) about 9 years ago

I like this approach, and I think 1st time buyers will like it as well.

Posted by Tony Donato (1st Metropolitan Mortgage) about 9 years ago

Like so many others here, this is true for my family as well.  I had never thought about it, but you did!  Great job!!  :)

Posted by Sarah Eubanks, Preferred Oregon Loan Consultant & Notary Public (Hill Valley Financial Services) about 9 years ago

I love this way of looking at it.  I have first time homebuyers who get so depressed by the lack of affordable properties in my market that meet their expectations.  Everyone has a dream house, it just takes time to get there!

Posted by Marcy Eastham (Town & Country Realty Corvallis Oregon) about 9 years ago

In this market a lot of buyers are able to skip step one and two and go straight to the dream house!

Posted by Aaron Poling, Working to get YOU the BEST Deal! (Long & Foster) about 9 years ago

I really like this message, and one that should be shared with as many Realtors as possible!

Too many folks were skipping steps with the easy loans of markets past, and have now lost them. As Realtors, we need to focus not only on the wants of our clients, but most importantly, their needs! There can be a large difference between the two.

Thank you for sharing,

- Harrison Painter

Posted by Harrison Painter, New Media Consultant (GoGladiator Media) about 9 years ago

Brian - I hadn't ever thought of it in this way before, but this is highly accurate.  Great advice!

Posted by Jason Crouch, Broker - Austin Texas Real Estate (512-796-7653) (Austin Texas Homes, LLC) about 9 years ago

Hello Brian,

Great post & point of view!  Thank you for sharing! 


Posted by Rita Minion (O'Brien Realty) about 9 years ago

Love the post today Brian....I guess it's true for some.

Patricia Aulson/Portsmouth NH Real Estate

Posted by Patricia Aulson, Realtor - Portsmouth NH Homes-Hampton NH Homes (BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY HOME SERVICES Verani Realty NH Real Estate ) about 9 years ago

Good post!

Posted by Realty Dot Com ( ( about 9 years ago

I am with Fernando - except it is my ex-husband. lol. My dream home was number 4 but probably because I was so much younger than 1st time buyers are now - I bought my first home at 22.


Posted by Jo Olson, HOMEFRONT Realty @ LAKE Roosevelt - Stevens County (HOMEFRONT Realty) about 9 years ago

I'm on my third 2nd house then.  But when the kids finish college I'm going to be in the market for that dream.

Posted by Tammy Lankford,, Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville (Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668) about 9 years ago

Hi Brian...After you find them their third house and they have had time to enjoy it they might be ready for their "Other Home", the one at the lake where they can come to relax.

Good feature.


Posted by Kate Elim, Realtor 540-226-1964, Selling Homes & Land a (Dockside Realty) about 9 years ago

Very good post - & comments!  I think many of us have had those first time buyers who really struggle with the concept of not being able to afford their dream house right away & this helps put it in a great perspective for them.  I always suggest they ask their parents how many homes did they own before getting to the one the "kids" know now & are wanting to equal or better - almost everyone starts modestly, but the great thing about owning real estate is that you CAN make those steps forward to your dream.

Posted by Nancy Conner, Olympia/Thurston County WA (Managing Broker - City Realty Inc) about 9 years ago


Good speak, to the point.

Posted by Rebecca Levinson, Real Estate Marketing and Online Advertising Consultant (Real Skillz-Clear Marketing for Your Real Estate Vision) about 9 years ago

Good post.  You said we could 're-blog' so how about re-blah?  I'm going to use this when talking with first time home buyers!  "Remember what I tell you now, so when you're at the 3rd property, you'll be prepared." 

What is with the Panama thing?  The next Miami?!? 

* I bought my first home at 19, sorry Jo.  It was a VA with my then-husband, who, coincidentally, was from . . . Panama! :-)

Posted by Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED (RETIRED / State License is Inactive) about 9 years ago

Very thought provoking.  I too am helping a lot of folks with their 1st house.  Great news for the future, that they have another 2 to go.  I like to think that number 3 is the dream home.  I love the one I'm in, but gotta have something to look forward to, right?

Posted by Karen Crowson, Your Agent for Change (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) about 9 years ago

This is a really great post! I love the thought process. Should help people try to buy within their means!

Posted by Christianne O'Malley, Exceptional Service - Delivering Results in Reno! (RE/MAX Realty Affiliates) about 9 years ago

Great post! Thanks for sharing.

Posted by Alice & Jim Hayes (Loveless Realty) about 9 years ago

Brian - I really like the no nonsense approach to explaining the "Long Haul" to new buyers,  Think I'll borrow your system!

Posted by Lisa Wetzel, CDPE, SFR (RE/MAX Realty Affiliates) about 9 years ago

This is right!  How about the buyers that want the dream house with the first house.

Posted by Chuck Carstensen, Minnesota Real Estate Expert (RE/MAX Results) about 9 years ago

Hmmm... I'm in my 2nd house for 6 years now. Dream home is next!

Posted by Erica Ramus, MRE, Schuylkill County PA Real Estate (Erica Ramus - Ramus Realty Group - Pottsville, PA ) about 9 years ago

Hey Brian,

I wish we'd had you as our Realtor to let us in on that little secret when we bought our first house... We stayed in it 10 years!  Now we're finally moving into house #2.  The best to you in your business.

Bernice Dubon in Calgary, Alberta with Royal Lepage Solutions


Posted by Bernice Dubon, Calgary Alberta Realtor (RE/MAX First 403-607-9117) about 9 years ago

Hi Brian -- Great post, and it definitely fits for many people.  I used to live in NoVa and worked in McLean back in the mid 1980s -- what an expensive zip code these days.

Posted by Chris Olsen, Broker Owner Cleveland Ohio Real Estate (Olsen Ziegler Realty) about 9 years ago

Great post and interesting way of thinking.

Posted by FN LN about 9 years ago

Your post is right on the money. Good way of getting a first timer to settle for less.

Posted by Norma Brandsberg (Marks Realty Co. Inc., Lynchburg, VA, 540-586-9496) about 9 years ago

Hi Brian,

Great list of homes to share with a todays market I see a 4th..the empty nesters home. So many are getting rid of their dream home to find a practical solution to meet their housing needs so they still have money for the travel and fun they want!

Posted by Dorie Dillard, Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate (Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.346.1799) about 9 years ago

I think this is a great, simple explanation of the process of moving up in your homes.

Posted by Christine Donovan, Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M (Donovan Blatt Realty) about 9 years ago

I have been in my dream home for 19 years.

You know the rest of the story is #4 Downsizing home and #5 is retirement home.

I am in the downsizing mode right now.

This is great way to understand the life-styles of our clients change as we go through all the life changes.

Posted by Missy Caulk, Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate (Missy Caulk TEAM) about 9 years ago

I'm in my first house because I was a terminal renter all my life. I don't move around much. I would agree that the third house would probably be a dream home.

Posted by Lizette Fitzpatrick, Lizette Realty,Lexington KY MLS - Kentucky Homes - (Lizette Realty - Lexington KY - Richmond KY) about 9 years ago