"The price of buying a home is what you pay. The value is what you get."
My foray into homeownership started with a ringing phone and a tricycle, neither of which were mine.
When I first moved to Wenatchee, a cousin's wife offered to let me live with their family until I could get a job and afford a place of my own. I didn't move out as soon as I got a job, but I did start paying them a modest amount for room and board. Within a year, a friend and I decided to rent an apartment together. We found a nice 3-bedroom apartment that we could afford which gave us each a bedroom and a room for visitors.
Although the apartment was nice, it had thin walls, and I could hear the neighbors phone whenever it rang. Also, there was no place for the children in the complex to play. Their playground was in the driveway. My apartment happened to be in the back of the complex, and I felt like getting to the apartment was like driving through a minefield (of children). One day it just hit me... it was time to go home shopping. At that time, it was purely an emotional decision, not financial. I had no concept of the long term financial benefits. I just knew I wanted to get out of the apartment. That was in 1973. I was 21 years old.
My softball coach was a licensed REALTOR® in his Dad's office, so we started looking for homes. One of the things I told him I wanted was a fireplace. I had never lived in a home with a fireplace until I moved in with my cousin, and I wanted one in my home. My agent and I looked at a few homes and then one day he showed me a home without a fireplace. The home was perfect except it didn't have a fireplace.
The agent said he already had the home structurally inspected and the living room wall was the perfect place for my beloved fireplace. I did buy that house and quickly made arrangements to have a fireplace installed. The cool thing was I got to design the fireplace and have it built to my specifications. I can't say the brick mason was thrilled when I told him I wanted an arched opening, but he did what I asked. It was perfect.
I enjoyed having a home of my own. I loved being able to paint the walls any color I wanted and make other changes to fit my style. When I decided to sell it 6 years later to buy a larger home on a bigger piece of property, the financial benefit hit me square in the face. The equity built over the 6 years was 3 times more than the the principal, interest, taxes, and insurance payments I had made during that time. Plus, I had been enjoying the tax benefits of paying a mortgage instead of rent.
I had, unknowingly, been living for free AND making money to boot. I had a considerable downpayment on the next house. After one more rollover, by 1995, my husband and I had enough equity to buy our next house for all cash, never to make another mortgage payment.
I know there are arguments to be made for not paying off your mortgage and using that money for other investments, but that's a whole 'nother subject. I have enjoyed NOT having a mortgage payment for over 20 years now. As a widow, living off investments and retirement income, not having a mortgage gives a wonderful peace of mind.
The decision to buy a home started out based on an emotional desire. Each home we have bought was a result of our changing phases of life. I started with a "starter" home and then purchased a larger home with more land and a view. After my husband and I got married, we sold that house to buy a house on the river that would accommodate visits from kids and grandkids. We downsized due to my husband's health. Our final move was to accommodate a live-in caregiver to help me take care of my husband in his final years. This is where I will probably live the rest of my life. It's been an emotional journey of evolving lifestyles, and the financial benefits have tagged along.
Little did I know in 1973 that a ringing phone and a tricycle would set me up for a mortgage-free retirement.
* This is my entry into Debe Maxwell, CRS June Homeownership Challenge.
Rebecca Gaujot, Realtor®
Jeff Dowler, CRS
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Debe Maxwell, CRS
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