I Drive By My First Home Whenever I Am In Town

Real Estate Agent with HomeSmart SA541769000

The year was 1978. Actually, it was the summer of 1977, when we contracted for our first home. It took over a year to build as the subdivision was all new and the builder sold the houses faster than they could construct them. It was the last phase of an already established development, so we knew the builder, the location, and the quality of the project. We didn’t have an agent, we worked directly with the builder, signing anything they put in front of us.

My wife and I were newly married. We both had good jobs and a bright future ahead. Buying a house wasn’t a necessity but a good financial strategy. We would not have to rent any longer, we would be homeowners.

What we didn’t know was in those early years change was coming fast. We were able to lock in a good price for a cute 3-bedroom raised ranch with a 2-car garage and a nice yard. There was only 1 bathroom, but we paid to have the plumbing roughed in for a second bath in the unfinished downstairs. We even opted to have a fireplace installed in the soon-to-be family room which I planned to finish myself in my leisure hours.

While we waited for our house to be built, we watched as things began to change. Interest rates were on the rise, and building costs were also rising but we were locked into a good deal. In January 1978 my wife informed me there would now be 3 people living in our new house.

In September 1978 my son was born, but still no house. Fortunately, he was small so he could sleep comfortably in a bassinet in our 1-bedroom apartment for a little while longer.

We closed on our first house in October 1978 after waiting a year and four months. The lease on our apartment was up at the end of October so we took possession of the house with temporary railings on the front stairs and a temporary kitchen stove which allowed us to get an occupancy permit.

I think the mortgage interest rate was somewhere near 9.5%, probably 2 points higher than the day we contracted for the build.

That is when the real work began. Like many young homeowners, we chose the “do it yourself” route when it came to upgrades. We did a lot of painting, decorating, window treatments, and landscaping. I even installed our central air conditioning system.

It took a few years, but we upgraded the house with a finished lower level, 2 decks in the yard, and a large bay window in the living room.

We stayed there about 9 years before we decided on a larger more luxurious home a few miles away. Just in time for my second son to be born.

We made a lot of memories in that first house. Whenever we return to Illinois for a visit, we try to drive by and see how the house looks today. The current owners are doing a good job of keeping it up and as expected have made some of their own changes.

It is still a cute house, but I am glad I don’t have to climb the stairs or mow the big yard any longer. That is something for the younger crowd.

Here's a newer picture from 2012.

Joe Domino is a Realtor® serving the Phoenix/Scottsdale area. Need more information? Or to Search for your next home, visit www.Scottsdale-AZHomes.com

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Comments (12)

Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Hi Joseph- I love this!!!  Your first house reminds me of our good friend's first house in KS.  Things really have changed over the years, haven't they?  That was very industrious of you to take on many of those projects on your own. 

Apr 29, 2023 04:08 PM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hello Joseph - growing families often mean changes in residence including a first-time home purchase.  Moving from being a renter to a homeowner remains a significant step in life.  

Apr 29, 2023 04:51 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 Joesph,
It's always interesting to drive by ex-homes. Usually, it's disappointing to see they aren't as well kept as we did.

Apr 29, 2023 08:11 PM
Ann Hayden 636-399-7544
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties-St. Louis Missouri - Des Peres, MO

Joseph Domino 480-390-6011 ,

I drive by my old house when I am in town too.  It brings back fond memories.


Apr 29, 2023 08:13 PM
Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP
Selling Homes Changing Lives

Joseph Domino 480-390-6011 - I can understand why your first home holds so many special memories. I'm sure you're about right in reference to you interest rate. My first house was purchased and closed on the last day of July 1979. The interest rate was 10 1/2%. On Monday morning the rate went up and kept climbing.

Yours was a beautiful home! You made the right decision and reaped many rewards.

Yes, whenever I had an opportunity to do a drive by my first home, I drive by too and the memories come flooding back.

Apr 30, 2023 02:56 AM
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667, kat@thehousekat.com, Broker/REALTOR® - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

What a wonderful story! You were obviously very happy there, and it's great you were able to do a lot of the upgrades yourself. Thank you for sharing.

Apr 30, 2023 05:11 AM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

Loved your first home story, Joseph. And I love that you can still go by your first home and remember those early good years.

Apr 30, 2023 06:29 AM
Myrl Jeffcoat
Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Realtor - Retired

There is something very special about first homes that never leaves us.  

Apr 30, 2023 08:42 AM
Myrl Jeffcoat
Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Realtor - Retired

CONGRATULATIONS Joseph on having this blog FEATURED in the Old Farts Club group!  

Apr 30, 2023 08:44 AM
Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

Joseph, you did find a great-looking home, and I agree with you, no more stairs, and let someone else do the mowing.

Apr 30, 2023 11:33 AM
Doug Dawes
Keller Williams Evolution - 447 Boston Street Topsfield, MA - Georgetown, MA
Your Personal Realtor®

Hello Joseph Domino 480-390-6011 

I hear ya when you say owning a home meant you didn't have to pay rent. Your sons are in the same age grouping as ours.

May 02, 2023 08:15 AM
Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573
Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker

Great important story to share Joseph Domino 480-390-6011 and why not put it to video... slides of the 1978 home sweet 1st home and then emotions of excited, scared, what your experience was? Your  buyers, sellers see the real transparent professional and human being you can trust.. that is real.

May 06, 2023 04:11 AM