My First Home Purchase by Pat Starnes

Real Estate Agent with Front Gate Real Estate Broker 11085

Step into the time machine and travel to the mid 70's. Young and in love, my boyfriend and I were engaged to be married. I'm not sure how the topic of buying a house came up; I'm not sure we even discussed it. My parents had always owned a home, so we assumed we would own a home one day, too.

My dad worked for the largest employer in town, the local factory, so he knew a lot of people. He came home from work one day and mentioned an older couple wanted to sell their home. He asked if I was interested. It was an incredible opportunity to own a 3 bedroom, one bath home for the AMAZING price of $9,500! We said YES to seeing the home, and YES to the address.

What is more incredible than purchasing a home for $9,500 is the seller offered us all their furniture for an additional $1,000. So for $10,500 we had a fully furnished home to start married life.

Brick house with snow

Because we were SO young, Dad put the house in his name until we were of legal age; once we were married he signed the house (along with the monthly payments) over to us. If I remember correctly, the mortgage payment was between $200 - $250, and we wondered how we would make it work.  

The house served its purpose of providing a roof over our heads, but it didn't take long to realize I wasn't thrilled with the location. It was outside the city limits and I preferred living closer to town. So after three years, we sold the house and doubled our money in the process. We did it again a few years later. I can honestly say it was the best investment we could have made, and it started me down the path of moving every 3-5 years.

Pat with car and snow

After those first two successful sales, I was HOOKED! I accidentally discovered the path to smart real estate investing at a very early age. Eventually I got my real estate license and the rest, as they say, is history.

I apologize for the awful photos, but that's what you got in the 1970s. You'd aim, shoot, and wait for the film to be developed. And since it was rare to get snow in Mississippi, you had to document the occasion. These are the only photos I have of the first home I ever purchased.

I truly hope you enjoyed this little walk down memory lane. Looking back, my dad did me a HUGE favor by finding this little cottage. I'm sure he wanted me to have a safe, affordable place to live as I started out on my own. It still boggles the mind that we bought a house for $9,500.

Comments (42)

Margaret Rome Baltimore 410-530-2400
HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400 - Pikesville, MD
Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome

You are a brilliant lady for listening to your smart dad and purchasing your first home. A good entry into the contest, Pat Starnes-Front Gate Realty 

Apr 14, 2023 02:01 PM
Carol Williams
Although I'm retired, I love sharing my knowledge and learning from other real estate industry professionals. - Wenatchee, WA
Retired Agent / Broker / Prop. Mgr, Wenatchee, WA

Hi Pat,
What a great stroke of luck in getting started on the road to real estate investment success. Thanks for sharing your story! 

Apr 14, 2023 06:41 PM
Pat Starnes-Front Gate Realty
Front Gate Real Estate - Brandon, MS
601-991-2900 Office; 601-278-4513 Cell

I do love being called brilliant Margaret Rome Baltimore 410-530-2400 but I think it was more along the lines of "hey, I think we can afford this!". I have no idea what rent prices would have been back then but I have to say $200-250 was cheaper than rent would have been.


Carol Williams - thanks for reading and leaving a comment. I'm certain that purchase planted the seed for my future.

Apr 16, 2023 10:20 AM
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667,, Broker/REALTOR® - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

Thank you for sharing, and yes, that was an amazing price for a first home!

Apr 20, 2023 06:03 PM
Dr. Paula McDonald
Beam & Branch Realty - Granbury, TX
Granbury, TX 936-203-0279

No apology needed for those vintage photos. They are perfect! Thanks for sharing.

Apr 22, 2023 08:19 AM
Sam Shueh
(408) 425-1601 - San Jose, CA
mba, cdpe, reopro, pe

Our first purchase was a home that was closed alreadt for two weeks. The owner had no place to go and stayed there did not want to leave. He mentioned he sold it too low. It was asking more on the market for 1+ year.  Left a bar freezer trash that he could not haul it out. 

If it happened to me today. My first order of business is call cops and start an eviction process.

Apr 22, 2023 08:51 AM
Adam Feinberg
Elegran - Manhattan, NY
NYC Condo, Co-op, and Townhouse Advisor


When I was about 5 or 6 years old (this was somewhere around 1979-1980), my dad taught me about inflation- explaining it to someone so young as the inflation monster. This caused me to have nightmares about the inflation monster- and those nightmares came back over the last year or so...but in a different context. 

Still even accounting for inflation- I am so envious. I bought my first home in a gentrifying neighborhood (which I still live in 17 years later) and paid a multiple more on my small down payment than you paid for the whole house. I still have a massive tax abatement for buying a new home in a neighborhood the city wanted to help- so my property taxes are just $3.50/month (not a typo) in Manhattan. It was a wise choice- though everyone thought I was crazy, but both Columbia University and City College were expanding their campus' nearby- so it wasn't that crazy.  

Apr 22, 2023 10:40 AM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

I think I’ll always remember my purchase, and it means something different to every person, but is equally a big deal for everyone, I feel..

Apr 22, 2023 06:03 PM
MaryKay Shumway
The Kellstrom Ray Agency, Inc. (Est. 1948) - Sister Bay, WI
Door County Wisconsin's Real Estate Expert

LOVE LOVE LOVE this photo and story--thank you for sharing  

Apr 23, 2023 05:47 AM
Pat Starnes-Front Gate Realty
Front Gate Real Estate - Brandon, MS
601-991-2900 Office; 601-278-4513 Cell

Sam Shueh - possession, as you know, should be negotiated up front. That seller may not have understood that when you close, it's time to go! Hopefully you weren't all living in the same space for that two-week period after closing.

Apr 23, 2023 05:43 PM
Pat Starnes-Front Gate Realty
Front Gate Real Estate - Brandon, MS
601-991-2900 Office; 601-278-4513 Cell

Adam Feinberg - I'll admit, inflation was on my side in the 70s and 80s. Did I understand you correctly that you bought a NEW house and received the tax abatement? That was a huge added bonus. And real estate is always a great investment. Convenience to universities are definitely a bonus.

Apr 23, 2023 05:46 PM
Adam Feinberg

Pat Starnes-Front Gate Realty  Yes, I bought a brand new ground up construction condo with a 25 year tax abatement. NYC was trying to stimulate development in neighborhoods that could benefit from new homes- so they offered tax abatements of various lengths and benefits. In areas that needed a little help, but not too much- i.e. the Financial District post 9/11, the city offered 7 and 10 year tax abatements. In neighborhoods like Harlem, the city was offering 15 or 25 year tax abatements for new construction and in rehabbed buildings it was up to 34 year abatements- though most of the buildings were better suited for tear down. The lot where my building is, was being used as an illegal parking lot, but I believe there were once 2 brownstones that likely collapsed prior to the land being used as a parking lot. I sadly missed the housing lottery for the 3 family house next door. It was offered for $650k in 2006 (with a minimum income requirement in this situation). The house even has a 1 car garage- so incredibly rare in Manhattan. I know there was a minimum requirement you had to use this as a primary residence, probably 15 or 20 years, but once that runs out- it's likely a $2.5m home today and the 2 rental apartments above probably paid for the mortgage and property taxes over the years. 

These abatements got killed off ironically (no politics intended) because of a Trump building. It was one of the NY Yankees (I think it was A-Rod) that bought into a Trump building in midtown that received this type of tax abatement which should not have qualified for the program- and it was either The Daily News or NY Post that published how much A-Rod saved in property taxes due to the abatement (it was a six figure #).  So, owners that got the abatement were able to keep it, but it effectively killed the program for most new buildings after the article was published. 

Apr 23, 2023 06:12 PM
Pat Starnes-Front Gate Realty
Front Gate Real Estate - Brandon, MS
601-991-2900 Office; 601-278-4513 Cell

Laura Cerrano - I agree. It's hard to forget your first house. :-)

MaryKay Shumway - thank you! I can't believe these are the only two exterior photos I could find. Due to expensive Polaroids and developing film, I guess we didn't take many photos. Thank goodness for snow days!

Apr 23, 2023 05:49 PM
John Juarez
The Medford Real Estate Team - Fremont, CA

I really enjoyed this post. I understand from family sources that my grandparents bought a home is San Jose, Ca. in what is how a highly sought after neighborhood for $4,000. I believe it had 2 bedrooms and 1 bath. And, yes, that was many years ago.

Apr 23, 2023 06:38 PM
Pat Starnes-Front Gate Realty
Front Gate Real Estate - Brandon, MS
601-991-2900 Office; 601-278-4513 Cell

I wonder what that same house is worth now? John Juarez If it even exists now.

Apr 23, 2023 07:00 PM
Carla Freund
Keller Williams Preferred Realty - Raleigh, NC
Carolina Life RealEstate & Relocation 919-602-8489

What a cool little house and a great story Pat! We still sell homes just like that one but for a lot more!

Apr 24, 2023 04:52 AM
John Winzenried
843, REALTOR - Myrtle Beach, SC

If you saved that Oldsmobile Cutlass you are cleaning the snow off of you could have another down payment on another home!


Apr 24, 2023 03:34 PM
Pat Starnes-Front Gate Realty
Front Gate Real Estate - Brandon, MS
601-991-2900 Office; 601-278-4513 Cell

John Winzenried - you are the FIRST person to comment on the make and model of my car. I am certain we traded it in on another vehicle, but they are not as memorable as my real estate purchases. :-)

Apr 24, 2023 03:56 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

Great, with your Dad's help, you started early in homeownership Pat, and how you doubled your money as you sold. We too, at young ages, knew we always wanted to own a home instead of watching our landlords get rich!

May 02, 2023 01:39 PM
Elyse Berman, PA
LoKation Real Estate - Boca Raton, FL
Boca Raton FL (561) 716-7824

Pat Starnes-Front Gate Realty The pictures are great!  Think about it.  A house for $ 9500!  Wow.  I remember those days.  And you were a fast learner.  Good for you!

May 07, 2023 10:51 AM
Charles Ross - eXp Realty LLC
eXp Realty LLC Salina Group - Salina, KS
Love To Help People

Excellent post.Thank you for sharing. Have a wonderful day and a blessed week

Sep 13, 2023 04:02 AM