Our First Home. A Labor of Love!

Real Estate Agent with eXp Realty of California, Inc. (lic. #01878277) DRE# 00949880

Ray and Mary Margaret Henson, Oct. 6th 1990 We had just married when we started looking for our first home.  The market was on fire in the Sacramento area in 1990 and people were literally sleeping in tents.  It was a very tough time to purchase a home, so we ended up looking at homes that no one else wanted.  Homes that needed a lot of work.

We found a house that was a real project!  It had been a rental for decades and the last tenants raised chickens in the backyard.  It was perfect for me.  I was a painting contractor and had helped renovate plenty of homes.  Mary Margaret was reluctant, but I assured her that we could do the work quickly.

The house needed all new windows, new exterior doors, new flooring, a new bathroom, new landscaping and a new roof.  Oh, and the kitchen had the ugliest cabinets that I had ever seen.  Someone thought it would be a good idea to attach wood roof shingles to all of the cabinet doors, then paint them white.  Yuck!  I gutted the kitchen the day we took ownership.

About two months into the renovation, I am thinking to myself that it is all going better than I had hoped.  Mary Margaret, on the other hand, came to me and said, "I thought you said this could all be done quickly."  Ha!  I had just learned my first life lesson about marriage.  Men and women think differently! 

I will admit, it was tougher than I thought it would be.  We each had jobs, so we had to work all of our evenings and on the weekends.  It did turn out well.  We loved the house.  The above picture does not show them, but when we first purchased the home, we had a beautiful Modesto Ash Tree in the front yard and an even more beautiful Maple Tree in the backyard.  We absolutely loved our neighbors.  Some had moved into the neighborhood when the homes were first built in the 50's.  They loved telling me that they bought their houses for about $35,000, then they would follow up with, "How much did you pay for your house, Ray?"  Of course, they all knew, but they loved to hear me say, "$108,000."

I truly loved that house.  It was in the kind of neighborhood that everyone lived inChristmas at our Lippi Parkway house circa 1990 the front yard sharing laughs, an occasional adult beverage or two and we had wonderful neighborhood parties at Christmastime  and on the Fourth of July. 

We also adopted both of our boys during this time.  We had truly turned our house into a cozy, well loved home.  I was never going to leave.  Mary Margaret had other plans and convinced me that it was time to move in 2,000.  It was the right thing to do, but I still miss our home.  There really is nothing like your first home. 

Well, maybe one thing is better. We will be celebrating our 33rd anniversary in October.  How do you make a house a home?  With the right partner.  We have done it three times now. 

Mary Margaret Henson 1990

Thank you to Carol Williams and Kathy Streib for creating and facilitating this month's challenge.  It really did bring back a lot of great memories.

Posted by

             eXp Realty of California, Inc

Raymond Henson, SRES, GRI, e-Pro

Past Client Testimonials   

3412 Babson Drive

Elk Grove, CA 95758




Ray Henson
eXp Realty of California, Inc. (lic. #01878277) - Elk Grove, CA

It does sound so inexpensive now, Carol Williams.  I had a chance to purchase a home or two in the neighborhood that were listed for just about $60,000 during the Great Recession.  I did not do it and wonder what I was thinking.  Buying when the market is down sounds so easy, but it is nerve racking, too.

Apr 24, 2023 06:24 AM
Ray Henson
eXp Realty of California, Inc. (lic. #01878277) - Elk Grove, CA

I am blessed, George Souto.  I really do not want to do anything like that again, but it was a good experience when we were young and had the energy to do it.  Real estate investing changed our life.

Apr 24, 2023 06:26 AM
Diana Zaccaro Broker Associate
ZOOM Realty Group - Cocoa Beach, FL
"The Accidental Blogger" Cocoa Beach, Florida

Your story is somewhat similar to mine as far as buying a fixer upper starter home. It is a lot of work but also a lot of fun. My husband was all too happy to leave the detail work to me (selecting paint, carpet, window treatments, etc.) and his idea of quick and mine were pretty far apart also!


Apr 24, 2023 08:56 PM
Edward Gilmartin
CRE - Boston, MA

I recall California in 1990 and 1991 was in a real estate depression with tech companies laying off workers. It was a good time to buy

Apr 25, 2023 07:06 AM
Ray Henson
eXp Realty of California, Inc. (lic. #01878277) - Elk Grove, CA

Good morning, Diana Zaccaro Broker Associate.  There is a real sense of accomplishment, too.  I have to admit, MM gets to make most of the decisions, but there is generally a debate period.  😉

Apr 25, 2023 07:07 AM
Ray Henson
eXp Realty of California, Inc. (lic. #01878277) - Elk Grove, CA

Good morning, Edward Gilmartin.  The fall started just after we purchased our home.  We bought our home at the peak of the Sacramento market.  It was a real learning experience for us.  The good think was that the monthly payment was less than what we were renting our apartments for and that we were able to pay the loan off in less than 15 years.  It turned into a very good rental.  You can purchase at a bad time and still have everything turn out well.   Thank you for dropping by!

Apr 25, 2023 07:59 AM
Wanda Kubat-Nerdin - Wanda Can!
Red Rock Real Estate (435) 632-9374 - St. George, UT
The best agent in Southern Utah!

That Can Do attitude helped you both purchase that first home and turn it into something special, Ray. Congrats on that and your upcoming 33rd Wedding Anniversary as well!

Apr 25, 2023 05:54 PM
Carla Freund
Keller Williams Preferred Realty - Raleigh, NC
NC Real Estate Transition & Relocation 919-602-848

Great way to start your lives! I'm sure that first home paid off. I can't imagine the kitchen cabinets with glued on wood shingles. 

Apr 26, 2023 06:33 AM
Ray Henson
eXp Realty of California, Inc. (lic. #01878277) - Elk Grove, CA

Thank you very much, Wanda Kubat-Nerdin - Wanda Can! It is hard to believe we are at #33.  😃

Apr 26, 2023 07:56 AM
Ray Henson
eXp Realty of California, Inc. (lic. #01878277) - Elk Grove, CA

Interestingly, we put all of those cabinets curbside for the annual garbage pickup and by the next morning all of the cabinets had been picked up by people that were going to use them.  I imagine they were going to make an appearance in their garages, Carla Freund.

It took quite some time, but the house purchase did payoff.  First as a very good rental, then when we sold it as the price finally had appreciated to a profitable level.  It thought me to look at the rent potential for any house that I buy.  If things go poorly, is there enough cash flow to get me through the tough periods.  If so, we can sell when we want to, not when we have to.  Hard work, patience and luck all worked to make our first home a solid endeavor. 

And that does not even count the tax benefits and the joy of owning our own house. 

Apr 26, 2023 08:02 AM
Carla Freund

Yes, this is something I discuss with people when they're buying in a high market. Should you need to move and can't sell for a profit, can you rent it?

Apr 27, 2023 05:53 AM
Bob "RealMan" Timm
Ward County Notary Services - Minot, ND
Owner of Ward Co Notary Services retired RE Broker

That is a beautiful story Ray Henson . Men and women think different... really? Thanks for the heads-up on that. Congrats on the 33 years of marriage. Carol and I just hit 25 and I can't believe she actually still likes me.

Apr 26, 2023 12:20 PM
John Juarez
The Medford Real Estate Team - Fremont, CA

Great story, Ray. I wish that you had included photos of the way the house looked before you transformed it. Those would have been a sight to see!

Apr 26, 2023 05:21 PM
Ray Henson
eXp Realty of California, Inc. (lic. #01878277) - Elk Grove, CA

Congratulations, Bob "RealMan" Timm.  What's better is that I am thinking she like you even more today!  We are both lucky!

Apr 26, 2023 06:08 PM
Ray Henson
eXp Realty of California, Inc. (lic. #01878277) - Elk Grove, CA

There is a chance we have some of those pictures, John Juarez, but I think they are buried in our storage locker.  You would not believe how much we were able to get in that room.  It will be a real job to find those pictures.  The next time we head over there, I will have to look. 

Apr 26, 2023 06:11 PM
Sam Shueh
(408) 425-1601 - San Jose, CA
mba, cdpe, reopro, pe

I just saw one similar home the other day. Near defunct Westinghouse submarine engine plant, a former blue collar neighborhood. With Nvidia putting up a $1 billion to construct a 1.25 m sf building the home would easily asking 1.6M today. 

Apr 27, 2023 07:45 AM
Ray Henson
eXp Realty of California, Inc. (lic. #01878277) - Elk Grove, CA

That is quite a change, Sam Shueh.  Thank you for sharing the story.

Apr 27, 2023 09:22 AM
Diana Dahlberg
1 Month Realty - Pleasant Prairie, WI
Real Estate in Kenosha, WI since 1994 262-308-3563

What a great story Ray Henson -- truly a House of Love -- labor and marriage.  Glad you were able to do this three times!

Apr 30, 2023 07:58 PM
Kieran Jackson
Keller Williams Hollywood Hills - Los Angeles, CA
Realtor®, SFR, U.S. Army Veteran

Great story Ray! Thank you for sharing. I enjoy working on homes as well. Its very satisfying making repairs and getting everything just right. I'd love to see some photos of how ugly those kitchen cabinets were when you took ownership, if you have any of those photos. Just asking about the photos right now reminds me that this was a time before cell phones.

All the best!

May 03, 2023 12:02 PM
Ray Henson
eXp Realty of California, Inc. (lic. #01878277) - Elk Grove, CA

Good morning, Diana Dahlberg.  I just keep wondering if we will be doing it again.  😃

May 09, 2023 09:07 AM
Diana Dahlberg

I believe you will!  

May 09, 2023 10:08 AM
Ray Henson
eXp Realty of California, Inc. (lic. #01878277) - Elk Grove, CA

Hi, Kieran Jackson.  I just am not sure if I have any photos of those cabinets.  We took them out so quickly and, if there are photos, they are in storage somewhere.  If I do find pictures, I will post them. 

May 09, 2023 09:13 AM