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You Never Forget Your First Time: Has The Romance Gone Out of Being a First Time Buyer?

Reblogger Jessica Bigger
Services for Real Estate Pros with Bigger Communications

Sometimes I think the most inspiring thing about buying your first home is reading about other people's experiences.  So I thought I would share Janet's story about her first time home buying experience.

Original content by Janet Guilbault NMLS #238304

I was a brand new real estate agent, and must have looked pretty ridiculous in my miniskirt, long blond ponytail, driving an over-sized and totally inappropriate white Chevrolet Impala (which was dubbed the "tuna boat" by my husband).

But hey, it was the seventies, the real estate market was rotten, and I was more than a little clueless. It is truly amazing what enthusiasm can overcome when you are a complete green pea.

The very last thing on my mind that balmy Sunday afternoon was BUYING a house. My entire focus was on SELLING a house (to some of my first clients).

When the little red cottage came into view, it was absolute love at first sight. 

Not for my clients. For me. Completely and utterly head over heels, madly, can't think straight, crazy in love. You know what I mean if you have ever felt this way.

The red cottage was invisible from the street, in an older area near downtown that had been all but forgotten. The rage then was all those brand new suburban homes being built much further out, treeless, near "good schools" with avocado green dishwashers, and beige stucco siding.

The cottage had been built in the 1930's, most probably as someone's summer home. It was surrounded by ancient trees. A winding path lined on each side with bright yellow daffodils led right to the front door.  

In an era of gold shag carpeting and rustic brick fireplaces, it stood in stark contrast with wide plank polished hardwood floors, simple white wool berber carpets cut to fit each room, and a flagstone fireplace.

In an era of narrow walk though kitchens, it had a big square country kitchen, attached to a genuine old fashioned dining room. Not just the dining "L" that was popular in that era. 

And in the backyard, was a Japanese style fish pond, with pink waterlilies floating on top of the water.  Huge gold and black spotted koi begged to be fed. The resident bullfrog provided the background music for this scene, and a tiny little dock hung out over the water among the reeds. 

Weeping cherry trees hung over the pond. All this, and it was long before the word "ZEN" came into being.

Completely enchanted, I couldn't get rid of my clients fast enough.

You do crazy things when you are crazy in love, and within a day, and without any idea how to come up with a 10% down payment or closing costs, I bought the little red cottage.

I didn't know much, but I knew how to write a contract. Even with my parents and my husband in the background begging me to "calm down" and "think it over".

We were too proud to ask our parents for any help. So we sold our car, emptied every bank account we owned, and got my real estate company to apply the entire 3% commission to the down payment.

We were certain we would never be able to buy groceries again, certain we would never be able to afford the payment, certain we were destined to be poor for the rest of our lives.

But heart overruled head, as it often does when you are young and madly in love. We succumbed to the romance of the red cottage. The early years of our married life were spent gazing at the fish, falling asleep to the chorus of frogs in the pond, and hosting some parties that (to this day) remain legends among our friends. 

The payments? A little bit of a struggle. The experience? Priceless.

 We have these memories to cherish forever.

This many years later, you would never know the red cottage existed. As the downtown gentrified, the cottages disappeared, and one by one, they morphed into McMansion style homes more befitting of their prestigious addresses.

As I watch my first time buyers struggle with financing issues, sometimes overcome with the stress of making 15 offers before they win a foreclosed house in a multiple offer situation, I wonder if something very special has disappeared.

Along with the red cottage.



What was your first home buying experience like? Care to share?


Written by Janet Guilbault, Mortgage Lending Specialist Based Out of the San Francisco Bay Area



Jessica Bigger
Bigger Communications - Reston, VA
Freelance Real Estate Business Writer

Here's my first time homebuying experience I would like to share with all of you:

Dave and I probably spent a good year just getting a feel for the market.  We rode our bicycles all over Eureka and drove around Cutten - we knew we couldn't afford a home just north in Arcata.  Just way out of our price range over there. 

So, when we finally made the decision to buy I was working as a promotions director in Radio and was refered to an agent that one of my co-worker's raved about.  She was good, showed us around.  We weren't impressed with the houses we saw. 

So based on our budget we sat down and did some soul searching - we wrote out areas we wanted to live in - out in the country or closer to town and the types of homes we wanted - based on what was available in our price range.  We knew we couldn't look too far above list price($20,000 over our max was ok, but no more than that) because we didn't want to fall in love with something that was more than we could afford or comfortably afford I should say. 

In the end we ruled out living in the country because we enjoyed walking around the neighborhoods looking at cool old houses and being close enough to walk or bike down to Old Town Eureka to shop for groceries or just tool around.  And we quickly realized that we really wanted an old house with charm - preferably a Victorian, craftsman or CA Bungalow.  Dave had been eyeing a particular Victorian which was on the market for 2 months only a few blocks away from our apartment (which was an original Victorian Duplex).  So we checked it out and Dave was sold.  It was in good shape, despite the hump in the dining room floor (we had that checked - it was due to the the house settling) needed a bit of work and the rest is history.  Dave told me a couple years later that within 5 minutes of walking in the house he knew in his heart this house was "The One".  It didn't have everything we wanted, but no house ever does unless you have unlimited amounts of cash floating around that is.  I wasn't sold on the back yard, but it has grown on me and 4 years later I'm glad we took the plunge.

Apr 09, 2009 08:29 AM
Robert Vegas Bob Swetz
Las Vegas, NV

Jessica - A great story and very interesting, thanks for sharing it with us and I hope to see you soon in God's Country.

Apr 09, 2009 10:08 AM
Debi Ernst
St. Charles County, Missouri - Prudential Alliance Realtors - O'Fallon, MO
GRI, e-PRO, Broker/Sales Associate

Jessica - What a touching story!  My husband had our first home before I met him, so I kind of missed out on that.  However, I was so glad that he was thinking ahead as a bachelor...  :)

Apr 09, 2009 01:10 PM
Jessica Bigger
Bigger Communications - Reston, VA
Freelance Real Estate Business Writer

Me too Robert!  Email me when you have the dates down.  I will be out of town a couple of days during May - hope it's not at the same time your here.

Debi - You have a keeper that's for sure.  Dave was the same way - smart man, was a serious saver and the timing was right.  We weren't married yet, heck he hadn't even proposed, and my parents weren't thrilled with the idea of  Dave buying a house until we were married.  I wasn't even on the title at the time, because radio really doesn't pay very well.  But we both knew the timing was right.  If we hadn't taken the plunge we would still be renting today and probably looking for a house right now to buy.  And I have to say - I haven't seen anything better than my house come on the market in the last 4 years in the price range we could afford.

Apr 10, 2009 03:41 AM