Buying our first home at 23 had made us a bit of an anomaly among our peers. Yes, I certainly know that there are people who get their first mortgage at a younger age than that but, realistically, we were only a couple years out of college and it was pretty strange to most people that we would pursue home ownership.
This was back before the ill-fated combination of “predatory lending” and uninformed consumer collided to create disaster. It wasn’t quite so easy to get a loan and, though CD rates easily soared over 5%, mortgage rates were pretty ugly. They were even uglier if you didn’t have a substantial downpayment. Luckily for us, we had more than 25% to put down, which was pretty surprising for our situation.
How did we do that? Well, honestly, we worked for a bank with a “first time home buyer” incentive. The company offered a one-time gift, if you will, of ten thousand toward your first home. Since there were two of us? Twenty grand. We knew we’d be kind of silly not to take advantage of that.
Anyway, so we’d purchased our first home at the tender age of 23, but, by 25, we were ready to unload it. That might be even crazier.
To add to the joy that is selling a home, we had also crept into the summer months at this point. Now, in many parts of the country, this is not a big deal. In fact, Spring and Summer can be prime real estate selling times! In South Florida, however, the hot season isn’t exactly the best time to show off your property. Nonetheless, that’s what it was and we were still trying to meet this somewhat arbitrary “end of September” deadline we had set for ourselves.
We lived in a condo in what amounted to a “semi-retirement” community. While they did not have a set-in-stone guideline that you be 65+ to live there, rare indeed were younger residents. We had to go through an interview process before getting in to their homeowners’ association, in fact. Once we were in, however, we were well-liked. Our neighbors liked to tell us that we had lots of surrogate grandparents around.
Despite the opinions of some of those “surrogate grandparents,” we hired a man named Cy to be our realtor. He was old, slick, and lived in the community. Honestly, that last reason is why we picked him. We figured he’d be well-qualified to sing its praises.
He met us in our dining room and shot straight: no, we didn’t need to paint or redecorate– the buyer would likely gut the place anyhow; yes, we should put some stuff in storage– buyers like open spaces; yes, we’d get back our investment– in fact, he was pretty sure we’d make an additional twenty thousand or so.
When I look back at it now, I laugh at myself. I can remember thinking it was SO stressful to have our home on the market. Realistically, we were both at work all day long and we had no children. I had no idea what “stressful” was when it cam to selling a house! At the time, though, I was constantly overwhelmed with anxiety when I learned there would be a showing. I fretted over silly things.
I started wondering just how long it was going to take to sell this place. How long was I going to have to put up with the nerves and stress? Were we going to find ourselves up a creek? Early August seemed like an insane time to try to sell in South Florida.
We waited to see if we’d ever get that “we have an offer” call…
The rest of this story can be found here:
Part 1: Itchy Feet
Part 2: Looking Northward
Part 3: Picking a Town
Part 4: The Job “Search”