NOT Your Typical Teenager... An April AR Challenge

Real Estate Agent with Coldwell Banker Realty NRDS # 146013739

First Home Buying Experience

1313 Brooktree Cr Woodside Village West Covina CA

1313 Brooktree Cr.  Woodside Village West Covina CA 91792


My story starts out of high school in the fall of 1970, when I met my future husband in college.  It was Psychology 1A.  Our professor grabbed Rick on the first day of class and grabbed him on the QT. She asked him to have an outburst while she was explaining the syllabus to the class. 

He stood up and stated that what she expected out of us was outrageous and that he was going to drop this class.  He then ripped up the syllabus and stormed out.  Our professor asked us to describe what we had just witnessed. 

Psych 1A was not easy, so a tutoring session was offered.  I attended and saw Rick.  Obviously, I recognized him from his performance.  So I struck up a conversation. He thought I was the tutor, so he was extra nice to me. Back then, we called that "kissing up."  A friendship was struck, and after several outings with mutual friends, he took me to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.   Then in 1971, we went steady on Valentine's Day, and by June, he asked me to marry him. We were only 19 years old!

Sheri Rick Azusa Canyon Xmas Vacation 1971

Why Was That Preface Important?

We both lived with our parents and had never been out on our own.  We were laser-focused on our future together.  In late 1971, we started discussing where we were going to live.  We decided on West Covina.  Rick had transferred to Cal State Fullerton and worked at UPS in LA at night.   I was working a part-time job at May Company in the Whittier Quad and a full-time job in the City of Industry. 

Most of you may not know Southern California, but the traffic was not good even back in 1972!  So the location was very important.

Living in West Covina was a perfect choice because of the distance Rick traveled to school and work.  We also decided that we would live between the two freeways.  US 60 and the I-10.  We honed in on Woodside Village.  There were brand new apartments there.  A one bedroom apartment was going for $165.  A two-bedroom apartment was $185. 

2 BD - 1 BA - Laundry Room - Courtyard - 1 Carport and One Extra Space - 764 SF - Also a Community Pool and Park

We decided to look at the brand-new Woodside Village townhouses.  For $800 down and $800 in upgrades, we could get a 764 SF, two-bedroom, one-bath townhouse. It even had a laundry room!  This was $16,500.  The payment would be $165 a month.  This was a proverbial "no-brainer."    We didn't look around for homes.  This was the perfect option for a newlywed couple just starting out in life.

Just One Small Problem

A woman's salary didn't count for the mortgage back then!  So, we needed my dad to co-sign for us.  He was on the deed also.  Those of us who were around during the early 1970s might remember that the minimum wage was $1.65 an hour.  When Rick started with UPS, he was making $3.50 an hour with great benefits and health insurance for the whole family.  It took me a while to save the $1,600 for the down and upgrades.  We upgraded the entire flooring to a deluxe shag carpet and premium vinyl flooring.  We were able to pick the colors because we bought this brand new. 

Buying A Home Was Simple In 1972

First of all, we didn't have a real estate agent.  We just walked into the sales office and filled out the paperwork.  The best comparison I could use would be that the process was more simple than buying a car in 2022.  There was not much paperwork.  Our biggest hurdle was my dad cosigning for us.  We didn't want anyone consigning, but we didn't have a choice in 1972.

Why Own vs. Renting?

We spent one day every two weeks together for the first year of our marriage.  I worked two jobs.  Rick had the weekend off, but I only got a Sunday every two weeks where we were off at the same time.  We knew this was temporary and things would change.  Again, when you are laser-focused, you make things work!

In the 3.5 years we lived in this townhome, we lived well.  We made around $13,000 a year.  We bought a new Datsun 240Z and a boat.  Why do I mention this?  Because we didn't save any money for our next home purchase.  It came from the sale of the townhouse.  OH, by the way, no more cosigning! We did it on our own.

How Did We Buy Our Next Home?

We sold this townhouse in 1976 for $25,000.  This was a gain of 52% or around 14.8% a year.  We could not have saved what we needed for a down payment. This is how I learned about leveraging.  What is that townhouse worth today?  The current market value is $394,000 for 764 SF.

Back then, in California, the further away you moved from LA, the newer the neighborhoods and the better the house price. They were building homes like mad. It wasn't one at a time.  It was a whole "phase" at a time.

13437 Arvidson Rd Chino CA 91710

13427 Arvidson Rd. Chino CA 91710

3 BD - 2 BA - 1490 SF - $42,000 in 1976 ~ Value in 2023 = $713,000

We moved 1/2 hour further away to a new area in Chino, CA.  Our new home was a single family - 3 BD - 2 BA home with a big backyard for $42,000.  We had good friends that moved there in 1975.  They bought a 2-story, four-bedroom home for $38,000.  Just a few months later, we paid $4,000 more for one less bedroom! 

We encountered another challenge when we moved. We were getting six paychecks every month.  About six months into our new home, I became pregnant and quit working.  Rick was promoted into management and was paid monthly.  It was a real challenge going from 6 paychecks to 1 a month!

Regrets or Mistakes

When we bought the townhouse, we didn't realize our bedroom would be up against the wall of the living room in the townhouse behind us. YIKES!  You can imagine what sleeping was like.  We had to have a chat with the neighbors.  We never made that mistake again. 

We also didn't realize that these townhouses would eventually become more of an investment property.  We started seeing renters while we were living there.

I make sure I explain any of the mistakes or regrets I have had in my 50 years of owning property to my clients if I see a concern.  This is an invaluable experience that I pass down to my clients.

When We Moved The Second Time

We could have bought the brand-new house with four bedrooms right next door for just $50 a month more on the mortgage. We felt that was more than we could spend.  This was a big regret.  Within six months, our earnings exceeded that $50 a month. 

Another regret was not knowing we could have a buyer agent represent us.  We bought four brand-new homes through the seller reps.  It wasn't until I became an agent that I realized we could be represented.

Back then, we didn't know a lot.   We were only 19-20 years old!  We didn't know we could shop around for a mortgage.  However, I did my own refinancing, and this is where I learned how to value or appraise a home.  I actually had appraisals reversed based on my comps.  That is a skill I have had for decades. 

The Cost of Living in 1972

New House – $27,600

Average Income – $11,859 per year

New Car – $3,853

Average Rent – $165 per month

Tuition to Harvard University – $2,800

Movie Ticket – $1.75

Gasoline – $.55 per gallon

Postage Stamp – $.08

Bacon – $.83 per pound

Eggs – $.45 per dozen

Fresh Ground Hamburger – $.64 per pound

Milk – $1.20 per gallon

In Conclusion

Life was pretty simple and pretty great back in 1972.  Back then, I am pretty sure I understood the value of owning your own home, but there was no one who explained it to me.  I experienced it when we sold our first townhome, as well as when we sold our additional four homes before moving to Sedona.


We purchased our current home in Sedona, Arizona, in 2003.  We owned two homes for almost a decade before finally selling our last California home, pictured below.  The Corona home was built for my entire family. It was the home we gathered at for almost all events.  We were not sure about selling it.  Should we buy a home at or near the beach?  But once we realized our hearts were in Sedona, the choice was clearer.  It took about five years for my family to detach. Once they did, we were able to sell it. 

What I found surprising is that the original listing pics that my husband took are still showing on this home!  Some of the pics are from 2008.  I don't think the house has sold since!

1280 Tesoro Way Corona

1280 Tesoro Way Corona CA 92879 listing pics from 2008

BTW, we were 4th in line on the above home to purchase this lot and have the home built.  We got a call on Father's Day and went down to sign the papers.

So, I constantly tell my buyers to submit a backup offer.  You never know what will happen.  You might get that home you really love. 

20 years in Sedona, July 30, 2023

Cottages At Coffeepot - Call Sheri Sperry for more info 928-274-7355

God made the Grand Canyon ...but He lives in Sedona!


This is my entry into the April ActiveRain Challenge -Tell Us About YOUR First Home Buying Experience. Hosted By Kathy Streib and Carol Williams 

Fab Lentz created the FREE graphic "Go up and never stop."


Comments (45)

Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Realty - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

Hi Roy,

I am so glad I could evoke some wonderful memories of the past.

Apr 05, 2023 07:09 PM
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Realty - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

Hi Wayne,

I appreciate you stopping by to check out the blog!  There are many good things to look back upon, especially when you are young with hopeful dreams.

Apr 05, 2023 07:11 PM
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Realty - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

Hi Hannah Williams - I look back with a hazy recollection.  But I am pretty sure we expected the townhouse to appreciate and it was a great stepping stone for our first single family home.

Apr 05, 2023 07:14 PM
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Realty - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

Hi Jan Green - Scottsdale, AZ 

My photo albums are in storage so what I did was google maps to get a current pic of the townhouse.  Nothing changed except there is a block wall around the patio instead of the grapestake we had! 

Apr 05, 2023 07:17 PM
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Sheri Sperry - MCNE®  funny part is while I was living it up in Europe my father paid off my college loan from EMU where I spent two semesters it was not much but still .... and then he paid  car parts and shipped to me when I was in Europe. So with that said I was potentially a bad investor to co sign with:)))))Endre

Apr 05, 2023 08:39 PM
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®

Too funny!

Apr 06, 2023 03:53 PM
Lawrence "Larry" & Sheila Agranoff. Cell: 631-805-4400
The Top Team @ Charles Rutenberg Realty 255 Executive Dr, Plainview NY 11803 - Plainview, NY
Long Island Condo and Home Specialists

Really enjoyed reading your story Sheri, Being so young and knowing what to do in each phase is not realized by many. No wonder you're so successful in your career!

Apr 06, 2023 03:17 AM
Carol Tunis
Florida Homes Realty & Mortgage - Saint Augustine, FL
Carol Tunis...a "HouseSold" name!

Wish the majority of today’s youth had the determination of yesteryear.  I find it so refreshing when I see industrious young men and women earnestly working toward their goal! 

Apr 06, 2023 04:31 AM
Anne Corbin
Long and Foster - Lake Anna - Spotsylvania, VA
Serving Lake Anna & Central Virginia

We are actually kicking around the idea of moving out West to be closer to my son-in-law's California family. Trying to find a place that has green grass, little to no snow and a fishing lake will be our focus. Would Arizona be a possibility? Thoughts?

Apr 06, 2023 07:57 AM
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Realty - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

Hi Lawrence "Larry" & Sheila Agranoff. Cell: 631-805-4400 -  I wouldn't say we had a long range plan.  It was like you stated, each phase meant a new plan needed to be created.

Apr 06, 2023 03:57 PM
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Realty - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

Hi Carol Tunis - I agree!  It is so inspiring to see young focused individuals in today's world.

Apr 06, 2023 03:58 PM
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Realty - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

Hi Anne Corbin - When we first came to AZ.  I didn't realize how much water was really here.  I thought it was all desert.  It isn't.   Green Valley Lakes in Payson AZ stocks rainbow trout from May through October and has greenery.  I have grass in my backyard in Sedona. Our community has grass throughout.   There is fishing in Oak Creek and the Verde River.  One of AZs largest fish hatcheries is close by in Page Springs.  Here is a link for Fishing in AZ -

Apr 06, 2023 04:19 PM
Anne Corbin

Thanks for the insight. We'll keep that in mind. My husband likes bigger lakes with bass fishing. He does like to trout fish occasionally. 

Apr 07, 2023 06:06 AM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Apr 08, 2023 06:59 PM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi Sheri:

That's a great story from a personal perspective, and some very valuable lessons that no doubt serve you well today in counseling buyers about their home purchase.

Thank you for such an enjoyable glimpse into the past, and for sharing a wonderful entry for the April Challenge.


Apr 08, 2023 08:25 PM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

I think the youngest generation or the 25 and under generation is really on top of things in so many ways.

Apr 09, 2023 11:14 PM
Nick Vandekar, 610-203-4543
Long & Foster Real Estate Inc 610-225-7400 - Devon, PA
Selling the Main Line & Chester County

What a wonderful story, love the transitions as you aged and had more knowledge.

Apr 10, 2023 08:21 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

I love this story and thank you for sharing. It's interesting to look back to the  70's and remember things like the prices - and a woman's income not counting. I remember not being able to get my own credit card.

Just think, today a "cheap" car costs more than a modest house did then.

Apr 10, 2023 11:46 AM
Dr. Paula McDonald
Beam & Branch Realty - Granbury, TX
Granbury, TX 936-203-0279

Oh, if we had only known how simple things really were back then. I love this post.

Apr 10, 2023 07:08 PM
faye schubert
Retired - Branson, MO
Living the Branson Lake Life

What a fantastic story! The seventies were such a time of change and I remember most females in college were more interested in getting a MRS. degree. I had a difficult time even getting a credit card when I started working after college.

Glad you have all the information of those times!

Apr 11, 2023 06:16 AM
Erik Hiss
Keller Williams Capital Partners Realty - Worthington, OH
You can trust me for all your real estate needs!

very cute and loving story. Thank you for sharing

Apr 12, 2023 06:19 AM
Lise Howe
Keller Williams Capital Properties - Washington, DC
Assoc. Broker in DC, MD, VA and attorney in DC

Sheri. I love this story. The leverage you can get from your first home is invaluable

Apr 15, 2023 05:15 AM