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July 30, 1983 - Thirty Years Ago Today
Old 07-30-2013, 12:27 PM   #1
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July 30, 1983 - Thirty Years Ago Today

Today is the 30th anniversary of our move into our first home. I know many here have bought and sold many homes, may have a 2nd home or may have rental properties. This was our first and only home purchase, we are still here and plan to stay.

In the spring of 1983 my DH was still in graduate school, graduating in May, 1983. I had surgery (gallbladder removal) in February and was off of work for 6 weeks. We had a solid down payment saved and as soon as I was able to do stairs we would spend our Sundays checking out Open Houses in areas that we were interested in.

DH did not have a job yet so we had no pressure to make a commitment to buy, we were truly "just shopping". This gave a us a chance to get to know what neighborhoods we liked, what type of house we liked and what price range we could afford. We were always honest with the Real Estate Agents about our situation.

Both of us had grown up in 2 story colonials so we gravitated to that style at first. We saw a few ranches but many were only 2 bedrooms and 1 bath. We toured some 1.5 story Cape Cod styles. I liked the idea of a 1.5 story but so many were just an open area upstairs, sometimes without a bathroom, some unfinshed or even worse, poorly finished. We found some that stated 2 bedrooms upstairs but you had to walk through one bedroom to get to the other bedroom. We learned a lot about what to look for and what to avoid. And we had a great time!

DH graduated in late May and a few weeks later found a good job in a nearby city. I think he was making $16,000! I was earning $18,500 in my 5th year as a staff accountant at a local company. Even though we both had income we planned to get a house that we could afford on just DH's salary, I wanted to be home with kids.

We found a house we really liked in a neighborhood that we loved. Four bedrooms, 2 full baths in a 1.5 story Cape Cod style built in 1955. Two bedrooms and a bath on each floor, fenced in yard, full basement, breakfast room in the kitchen. Asking price was $68,500 and our initial bid was $55,000. Finally negotiated to $60,000. Mortgage rates in 1983 were 12.375% (OMG!!!). We made a down payment of $15,000 and got a 30 year loan for $45,000.

On closing day I remember signing, initialing, more signing. We had a rough estimate of closing costs and I was surprised by all the things we had to pay for. Instead of including closing costs into the loan we kept our loan at $45,000 and I wrote a check for the closing costs. Ouch! We had enough, but I realized I had cut it closer than I wanted to.

A few years later mortgage rates went down and when they got to 9% we refinanced. A few years after that they dropped to 7% and we refinanced again. In the early 2000's the rates dropped so low that we wanted to refinance again but our mortgage company said they didn't do mortgages that small (I think we owed less than $20,000 by that time) so instead we got a HELOC at 3% and paid off the mortgage. After a few years with the HELOC the variable rate was back up to close to 7%. By that time we owed only about $14,000. I got a Capital One credit card offer for a no cost balance transfer at 2.99% for the first year and then dropping to 1.99% for the remaining time period, so we transferred the balance of our HELOC to Capital One. Yes, we paid off our house with a credit card! That Capital One card was paid off as quickly as possible, we had kids in college by then but I think we were done by 2008.

A couple of thoughts....

Best advice from my Dad - Get a 2 car garage. We did better than that, the house has a 2 car attached garage and the area above the garage is a large full height storage area with easy access from the upstairs hallway.

Best advice from DH's Dad - When we built a deck off the back he recommended that we build it at the height of the house, avoiding steps on the deck itself. That's what he had on his house and the steps took up space and were always a problem. He was right. We built a 14'x20' deck with a landing and 6 steps down to the lawn.

We ended up having 2 sons, in 1984 and 1987. As babies they were in the smaller downstairs bedroom then later moved to their own rooms upstairs. This worked out great because they each had their own rooms and shared the upstairs bathroom. If they set up toys or games or stuffed animals their things could stay that way without it being a hassle for us parents. It was a great kids zone.

Best feature I never expected to love - The clothes chute! The bathrooms are one above the other and there is a clothes chute in the wall that drops past both bathrooms and ends up in the laundry room in the basement.

Strangest feature we never used - All 4 bedrooms, the kitchen and the living room had a large built-in speaker in the wall. We suspect there was a music feed or intercom system included when the house was built, but we never found a place where this was controlled or accessed. As we redecorated each room, we removed the speaker and patched the hole.

Wish we would have #1 - Replaced the windows sooner! The original windows were single pane aluminum casements. Winters were awful, summers awful in the other direction. We did the large living room picture window first, later the dining room picture window but didn't complete the rest of the house until 2010 when DH retired.

Wish we would have #2 - Added Air Conditioning sooner! We didn't add this until 1993. The years with just fans were LOUD and uncomfortable. With casement windows we couldn't use regular window A/C units. In 1992 we went to a family reunion in Florida and stayed in a air conditioned condo for a week. After that I knew AC was a necessity that we deserved. We had it added on to our existing (original from 1955) forced air furnace. All that was replaced with high efficiency equipment in 2012.

Hard to believe it's been 30 years, in some ways it has just flown by. Many happy memories here, no regrets. Except maybe the wallpaper that I was so sure I would love forever and now I don't. This was a wonderful house for raising a family. Our area is fairly low cost of living and putting a 25% down payment meant that we could afford a mortgage on one income.

Life here has been very good.
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Old 07-30-2013, 12:49 PM   #2
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Congratulations on your house-aversary! Your story made me smile, especially the interest rate when you bought and then later putting the balance on a credit card.
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Old 07-30-2013, 01:11 PM   #3
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Congrats! Great story and great advice
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Old 07-30-2013, 02:15 PM   #4
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Great story ! Thank you for sharing. Congratulations on 30 wonderful years.
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Old 07-30-2013, 02:44 PM   #5
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I love this post.
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Old 07-30-2013, 02:57 PM   #6
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I think I read this somewhere on this forum.

If you want to RE (or wealthy), have just 1 house, 1 marriage, 1 job, etc.

You have at least 2 of the above.
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Old 07-30-2013, 03:16 PM   #7
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How nice that you live in a home with such memories. Congratulations.
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Old 07-30-2013, 04:35 PM   #8
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I think I read this somewhere on this forum.

If you want to RE (or wealthy), have just 1 house, 1 marriage, 1 job, etc.

You have at least 2 of the above.
DH had that first post-graduate job for about 4.5 years. Then he moved to a job with a county social service agency. He stayed with that one 21.5 years until 2010 when he retired. He had another 5 years with another county agency from before graduate school so he had over 26 years of public service. Three jobs over his entire career. Hard to do that nowadays.
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Old 07-30-2013, 05:05 PM   #9
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Great story..reminded me of our first mortgage in 1981 for 16.5% ..we thought it was a STEAL at the time...had a 30,000 mortgage on a 60,000 home.

So much water/change under my bridge...

Nice story..
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Old 07-30-2013, 06:59 PM   #10
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We also just celebrated 30 years in the same house, at the end of June. I was going through old files shredding papers and found our original loan papers, which reminded me.

Like SueJ, we also paid some whopping interest on our 2nd mortgage, although for the 1st we were able to assume an existing FHA. And we refinanced downward over the years. I don't even think we understood what we were doing most of the time.

We came north because DH had a job transfer up to the Bay Area. We left our house down in north San Diego County, which we'd purchased for $71k 3 years earlier, lived up here for a year, and then purchased this one for $113k. What a difference -- for an older fixer upper! But here we still are, and we're still fixing it up.

When we moved in, we were in our mid-20s, with an 'older' couple next door. Now WE are the older couple next door.
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Old 07-30-2013, 08:49 PM   #11
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I love this post.
I do, too.
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Old 07-30-2013, 09:40 PM   #12
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Great story. My DW had her house for over 30 years. Her and her 1st DH bought it right out of high school.{1972} It was already paid for when I came along, but I saw the payment schedule. It was less than $200 per month.

I had the house I was raised in, but we lived in her house for 13 years before we built out here on my farm. We were lucky to build before all the bad hurricanes push construction prices higher. And a few years later we were lucky to sell the house in town before the bubble burst.
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Old 07-30-2013, 09:52 PM   #13
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Great stories. I don't know how everyone can remember so much of their past. I probably have our papers somewhere, but can only remember the year that we bought our third house, which is where we are living.
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Old 07-30-2013, 10:18 PM   #14
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We found a house we really liked in a neighborhood that we loved. Four bedrooms, 2 full baths in a 1.5 story Cape Cod style built in 1955. Two bedrooms and a bath on each floor, fenced in yard, full basement, breakfast room in the kitchen. Asking price was $68,500 and our initial bid was $55,000. Finally negotiated to $60,000. Mortgage rates in 1983 were 12.375% (OMG!!!). We made a down payment of $15,000 and got a 30 year loan for $45,000...
We bought our 1st home in 1980, only 4 months after getting married. It was a newly built single-story, 1850 sq.ft, 4 BR, 2 Ba. Price was $64K, interest rate 14%. We could only scrounge up a few thousand dollars, and did borrow money from my parents and a friend for a down payment. Can't remember how much we put down, but the family loan was something we saved hard to pay off first thing, before we even bought anything. So, for the 1st year, we really had nothing other than the bedroom furniture.

Raised our first born there, then we had to move because I changed job. So, we bought a larger home 7 years later. Looking back, I do not think I would have stayed in the same place. The current home is large enough that I have stayed for 26 years, and most likely will die here. When I bought this home, I had the largest home among my relatives and everyone I knew. Now, they all have McMansions that dwarf mine. Of course I do not care, as this home is now even too big for empty nesters.

When it comes to home ownership, the less one moves, the more one can save for retirement. Quite often, for young people, buying a bit larger home than one's current need will result in savings later, as it keeps you from having to move up, or at least not too soon.
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Old 07-31-2013, 09:08 AM   #15
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Thanks for the story. We are coming up on our 10 year anniversary in our current house. We bought it while we were both still in law school so it was what we thought would be a starter home. Even after 3 kids, we are pretty sure it is our permanent home. DW pointed out yesterday that we still haven't remodeled the original 41 year old kitchen (that I apparently promised we could remodel ).

We bought it in an auction from the city when I was interning for their City Attorney's office, so I had an inside scoop into the history of the property (there were some unique considerations from an engineering and legal perspective). Luckily my colleague at the time also happened to know the former owners of the house so I got the back story. Shortly after acquiring the house, the city spent $2 million to rehabilitate the lake that the house sits on, and now we are lakefront with incredible views not too far from downtown (which is why it is hard to move).

Fast forward to today, and I have since bumped into the former owner of my house in professional circles. He's a very politically connected and prominent attorney/lobbyist, and we sit together on an advisory board for our children's school system. Back when this guy owned our house, the neighborhood still had a decent amount of prestige, but was headed down hill (over the next decade). It was interesting talking to the former owner (who is a friend of an old colleague).
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Old 07-31-2013, 10:30 AM   #16
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Congratulations ! I love the story of your house !
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Old 07-31-2013, 11:03 AM   #17
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I love this story too... Wow, y'all have a lot of sweet memories.

Our first house was a Cape Cod (a bit smaller than yours)...built in the 50's. We purchased it for around $50k in 1984. ...and yes, the interest rate was 12 percent. It was white with black shutters and had a fenced in backyard. It had wonderful curb appeal, but improvements were needed.

We didn't live there very long as DH took a job elsewhere. Since then we've bought two more houses.

The Cape Cod was and I believe always will be our favorite house.
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Old 07-31-2013, 05:32 PM   #18
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Great post!

We've moved 4 times in the 27 years we've been married, but one of my friends who has been in the same house for about 30 years is spending the summer doing major decluttering - since they haven't moved, things have just continued to accumulate and she finally started working on it. She is NOT having a fun summer! That's one advantage to moving at least every 10 years or so.
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Old 08-01-2013, 05:37 AM   #19
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Great post!

We've moved 4 times in the 27 years we've been married, but one of my friends who has been in the same house for about 30 years is spending the summer doing major decluttering - since they haven't moved, things have just continued to accumulate and she finally started working on it. She is NOT having a fun summer! That's one advantage to moving at least every 10 years or so.
+1 - I have been in the same home since 1989, just retired, and trying to clean out the accumulation of the past 24 years...it's going to take me more than this summer. Doing a little at a time. At one point we moved four times in 2 years. By the fourth move, we were really lean!
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Old 08-01-2013, 06:32 AM   #20
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Congrats!

September 1 will be the 30 year anniversary of the first home we bought. DW and I had gotten married earlier in the year and with a slow house market at the time, a condo complex where several friends lived had several for sale. We were both working at the time but since we planned to have kids we decided to only buy what my salary alone could afford (which our first realtor questioned us about that so much that we found another realtor).

We really liked that condo, it was a corner unit in the back of the complex, three levels, large rooms, 2 decks. The backyard bordered on woods which had a few trails and a stocked pond, all party of the complex property.

Our timing was fortunate. In three years, with one kid born and another on the way there was a housing boom and our condo that we bought for $50K (with a 12.5% mortage rate) sold for $90K and allowed us to buy a house with more room. We stayed there for a few years until Megacorp moved us and we bought our current home, which we have lived in for 20+ years (resisting a couple of Megacorp moves and "trading up", it is plenty of house for use).
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