My Journey to Homeownership

It's been a long journey to get to where I am today. If your just stumbling upon the blog, welcome! I grew up in an unconventional environment to say things kindly and embraced independence at 18 when I could set out in the real world on my own. From there I worked, dealt with roommates, attended college without student loans and forged ahead despite circumstances that tried to nail me to the floor boards.

It's a wonder how I honestly survived it all... but I have to admit, all the crazy I went through really allowed me to grow up, get fiance savvy and really work for the things I and now my family have. 

It took No Spend Months, Recycling, opening many online savings accounts to give "every dollar a name" and working lots of overtime when my job allowed it... but I finally did it.

I wrote the biggest check of my life (at the time) and actually closed on a cute little one bedroom condo back in 2008 as a single young twenty something. My goal was to own property by the time I turned 25, and I did it when I was 23. It all started back in 2007 with $4.03 I had leftover at the end of the month and by 2009 I had $14,118.52. With the housing crash and the ability to take advantage of an FHA loan requiring only 3% down, I went hunting in one of the highest cost of living areas on the planet... Orange County.

Original House Down payment schedule
08/01/09 $14,118.52
07/01/09 $12,527.66
06/01/09 $12,486.09
05/01/09 $12,486.09
04/01/09 $11,784.50
03/01/09 $10,614.79
02/01/09 $9,403.87
01/01/09 $8,274.00
12/01/08 $7,057.41
11/01/08 $6,003.00
10/01/08 $5,018.75
09/01/08 $4,002.52
08/01/08 $3,001.59
07/01/08 $2,500.74
06/01/08 $2,126.34
05/01/08 $1,717.68
04/01/08 $1,211.08
03/01/08 $790.95
02/01/08 $628.36
01/01/08 $550.71
12/01/07 $464.92
11/01/07 $385.22
10/01/07 $229.27
09/01/07 $184.94
08/01/07 $48.85
07/01/07 $27.76
06/12/07 $4.03

After writing 26+ offers, dealing with foreclosures, short sales, and horrible people who never give you straight information, I finally closed on a place I felt I could afford and make my home. After I got the keys, I had to make the place livable. It was a rental long before it was my home and at one point dogs, cats, 5 kids, and some adults were all crammed into my little place... everything needed to go... especially the dead bugs behind the counters in the kitchen... 

A lot of wonderful people helped me, and it was their hard work & hours that allowed me to really make most of the projects DIY.  The before pictures, can be viewed here: 1 bedroom before pictures

In short, to move in and get keys, I spent $7,057.08... and $17,672.29 remodeling and fixing the place.... but I broke even.
  • In 2009 I got the First Time Home buyer's Credit giving me $8,000.00. I also got to write off some of the property tax I paid in addition to taking the standard deduction. This gave me an extra $90.10... but then I had to pay an Electrician $95.00 to fix an outlet... I also got a refund from my botched tile job that gave us another $1,265.00.
  • In 2010 I saved $1,087.00 on my federal taxes and $461.00 on my State taxes from itemizing my homeowners expenses. (This is what I received ABOVE what I would have gotten back with just the standard deduction).
  • In 2011 I spent $12.97 at home depot and $72.29 on a kitchen door. When we subtract those costs from what we saved by living in our condo instead of renting, we came out ahead $494.04 (See Mortgage Update + Condo Costs December '11 for that break down.) We also received a small $70 refund check from over paid closing costs. We didn't Itemize our taxes in 2011.
  • In 2012 we finished our Kitchen/Laundry door which cost us $103.24.. We also replaced both our glass slider doors which cost us $2,957.00... and repaired our dryer for $81.42....It ended up being $3,383.47 cheaper to OWN our condo than to rent an apartment on a monthly basis, (See Housing Costs 2012 for the break down) so even after we subtract the windows and other minor repairs, we still came out ahead $241.81 by owning our condo instead of renting...
  • In 2013 we got $52.53 back from challenging my property taxes in 2012. I also refinanced our condo, costing us $447.00 up front for our home appraisal... but we got a check back at closing for $747.20 and a check from my old escrow account for $489.74... We also got to skip a mortgage payment too! In addition, they automatically lowered my property tax value, giving us a check for $86.77.. and we saved $5,191.81 by NOT renting a place (see Housing Comps 2013)!! Additionally we ITEMIZED our taxes in 2013, saving $702.45 on a federal taxes and $503.74 on our State Taxes. (Again, this is difference we saved by itemizing our taxes, instead of taking the standard deduction -- which we could only do because we owned our condo).
  • In 2014 we did a few home repairs totaling $976.00... but even with those factored in, we still saved $3,119.04 living here instead of renting an apartment (See Housing Costs 2014 ) For 2014 we spent $14,172.96 to live in our condo, instead of $17,292 to live in an apartment. We also saved an additional $377 by itemizing and writing off our property taxes and interests.
  • In 2016 we itemized our taxes again and got to write off our interest and property tax. It was these two expenditures that put us over the threshold to make itemizing the way to go, saving us $950.00 more than if we had claimed the standard deduction. Despite playing extra on our mortgage and $581 in minor repairs and a new front door lock, we still saved $1,986.55 over renting (see our 2016 housing update for the break down).
All that math left us $3,274.84 in the green before equity. In 2017 we prepared to sell. At this point my family had grown to include my husband, our pup Roxy, and our now 2 year old son and space was becoming an issue and we were in the position where we didn't have to sell, but could if we found the right place and the right agent to do a contingency sale in a hot market.

You can view the post about the sale of our one bedroom here:  1 bedroom condo sale specs... but we walked away with a profit of $181,691.35.

We took those funds and rolled them over to the purchase of our 2 bedroom condo. We're in the middle of setting in (July 2017) and will update this page with the sale and remodel specs once more as we turn another long term rental unit into our next home.

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