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Real Estate Lessons You (Unknowingly) Learned at Summer Camp

kids swimming in lake
Put those summer camp lessons to work and up your real estate game.

Ah, to be young in summer again. Days seemed to linger forever. Being allowed to stay up late was a huge deal.

But unequivocally the greatest part of summer was the glorious freedom of camp. The minute the school year ended, you were ready for a sweet summer of keeping it real on the lake and in the woods.

Well, there’s a way to recapture those summer camp feelings. It turns out, buying real estate is pretty much exactly like going to summer camp.

It’s time to put the real estate lessons you learned as a tween to work, now that you’re an adult with a down payment burning a hole in the pocket of your jeans.

1. Pick your best pal carefully

First rule of summer camp: Find an ally. This ally knows you and you know them. They won’t be weird about your taking your stuff and you both know which bunk you want. You really don’t want to end up with a bunkmate who doesn’t get it.

This applies to choosing a home. Buying a house is a huge commitment, and if you’re doing that with a partner, consider all the angles. Do you both need your own space? Grab an extra bedroom. Are kids in your future? Grab two extra bedrooms and a backyard.

Solo homebuyers can follow this lesson too. That one-room condo with the sweet view might be great right now, but is there a chance of your gaining a spouse/roommate/lover sometime in the not-so-distant future? A little planning goes a long way when it comes to best pals and living situations.

2. Romances come and go

That summer camp romance was true and burned hot. You’ll always remember it — but it didn’t last. (It never had a chance of making it past August.)

House hunting? Same deal. You’ll fall in love with a home, and just when it seems like there could not possibly be another home you connect with so deeply, that home will break up with you. (Probably over email, something about a failed inspection.)

Your heart will be shattered, but just when it seems like you’ll never love again, well, that’s when you’ll meet the home that you end up buying and spending your years happily within.

3. Summon your inner creator

If memory serves, summer camp was, like, 85% about making stuff. Making macaroni frames, making a name tag out of a woodcut, making normal T-shirts into tie-dyed T-shirts. You couldn’t go to camp and be afraid to get your hands dirty.

Consider homeownership: There’s a fine line between projects that you can realistically do on your own and others that absolutely require a professional. But you definitely cannot be afraid to get a little handy and fix some stuff yourself.

Your gutters will overflow, a pipe will burst, and some critters will make a nest in your crawl space. This is definitely going to happen (hopefully not all at the same time), and at some point it will require immediate action from you. When it does, take a long look into your macaroni-framed mirror, summon your 12-year-old self, and get after it.

You got this. If you could do it then, you can do it now.

4. Negotiation is key

Much like Burning Man, summer camp was a society free from money. (Unlike Burning Man, summer camp had no art cars.)

Instead of money, goods and services were traded — and trades were fiercely negotiated. It took work to smuggle in that sleeve of cookie contraband, and you sure as heck weren’t going to give up a single cookie for anything less than three fruit roll-ups. You knew the value in what you had and what you were getting.

As it happens, that’s a pretty important thing to know when you’re buying a home. Get a thorough home inspection and negotiate your purchase terms. The seller wants your metaphorical cookie, so make them work for it.

How do you summon the 13-year-old kid inside of you and let them loose on your realty reality? Let us know in the comments below.