First Home Buying Experience
1313 Brooktree Cr. Woodside Village West Covina CA 91792
Our first home-buying experience needs a little context because of our young age. Buying a home back in 1972 was much different than it is today. My story starts out of high school in the fall of 1970, when I met my future husband in college. It was Psychology 1A. Our professor grabbed Rick on the first day of class and grabbed him on the QT. She asked him to have an outburst while she was explaining the syllabus to the class.
He stood up and stated that what she expected from us was outrageous and that he would drop this class. He then ripped up the syllabus and stormed out. Our professor asked us to describe what we had just witnessed.
Psych 1A was not easy, so a tutoring session was offered. I attended and saw Rick. Obviously, I recognized him from his performance on the first day of class. So I struck up a conversation. He thought I was the tutor, so he was extra nice to me. Back then, we called that "kissing up." A friendship was struck, and after several outings with mutual friends, he took me to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. Then in 1971, we went steady on Valentine's Day, and by June, he asked me to marry him. We were only 19 years old!
Why Was That Preface Important?
We both lived with our parents and had never been out on our own. We were laser-focused on our future together. In late 1971, we started discussing where we were going to live. We decided on West Covina. Rick had transferred to Cal State Fullerton and worked at UPS in LA on the twilight shift. I was working a part-time job at May Company in the Whittier Quad and a full-time job in the City of Industry. During Christmas (Peak) season, Rick got a temporary route near our home. He loved it.
Most of you may not know Southern California, but the traffic was not good even back in 1972! So the location was very important.
Living in West Covina was a perfect choice because of the distance Rick traveled to school and work. We also decided that we would live between the two freeways. US 60 and the I-10. We honed in on Woodside Village. There were brand new apartments there. A one-bedroom apartment was going for $165. A two-bedroom apartment was $185.
2 BD - 1 BA - Laundry Room - Courtyard - 1 Carport and One Extra Space - 764 SF - Also a Community Pool and Park
We decided to look at the brand-new Woodside Village townhouses. For $800 down and $800 in upgrades, we could get a 764 SF, two-bedroom, one-bath townhouse. It even had a laundry room! This was $16,500. The payment would be $165 a month. This was a proverbial "no-brainer." We didn't look around for homes. This was the perfect option for a newlywed couple just starting out in life.
Just One Small ProblemA woman's salary didn't count for the mortgage back then! So, we needed my dad to co-sign for us. He was on the deed also. Those of us who were around during the early 1970s might remember that the minimum wage was $1.65 an hour. When Rick started with UPS, he made $3.50 an hour with great benefits and health insurance for the whole family. It took me a while to save the $1,600 for the down and upgrades. We upgraded the entire flooring to a deluxe shag carpet and premium vinyl flooring. We were able to pick the colors because we bought this brand new.
Buying A Home Was Simple In 1972First of all, we didn't have a real estate agent. We just walked into the sales office and filled out the paperwork. The best comparison I could use would be that the process was more simple than buying a car in 2022. There was not much paperwork. Our biggest hurdle was my dad cosigning for us. We didn't want anyone consigning, but we didn't have a choice in 1972.
Why Own vs. Renting?We spent one day every two weeks together for the first year of our marriage. I worked two jobs. Rick had the weekend off, but I only got a Sunday every two weeks where we were off at the same time. We knew this was temporary and things would change. Again, when you are laser-focused, you make things work! In the 3.5 years of living in this townhome, we lived well. We made around $13,000 a year. We bought a new Datsun 240Z and a boat. Why do I mention this? Because we didn't save any money for our next home purchase. It came from the sale of the townhouse. OH, by the way, no more cosigning! We did it on our own.
How Did We Buy Our Next Home?We sold this townhouse in 1976 for $25,000. This was a gain of 52% or around 14.8% a year. We could not have saved what we needed for a down payment. This is how I learned about leveraging. What is that townhouse worth today? The current market value is $394,000 for 764 SF. Back then, in California, the further away you moved from LA, the newer the neighborhoods and the better the house price. They were building homes like mad. It wasn't one at a time. It was a whole "phase" at a time.
13427 Arvidson Rd. Chino CA 91710
3 BD - 2 BA - 1490 SF - $42,000 in 1976 ~ Value in 2023 = $713,000We moved 1/2 hour further away to a new area in Chino, CA. Our new home was a single family - 3 BD - 2 BA home with a big backyard for $42,000. We had good friends that moved there in 1975. They bought a 2-story, four-bedroom home for $38,000. Just a few months later, we paid $4,000 more for one less bedroom! We encountered another challenge when we moved. We were getting six paychecks every month. About six months into our new home, I became pregnant and quit working. Rick was promoted into management and was paid monthly. It was a real challenge going from 6 paychecks to 1 a month!
Regrets or MistakesWhen we bought the townhouse, we didn't realize our bedroom would be up against the wall of the living room in the townhouse behind us. YIKES! You can imagine what sleeping was like. We had to have a chat with the neighbors. We never made that mistake again. We also didn't realize that these townhouses would eventually become more of an investment property. We started seeing renters while we were living there. I make sure I explain any of the mistakes or regrets I have had in my 50 years of owning property to my clients if I see a concern. This is an invaluable experience that I pass down to my clients.
When We Moved The Second TimeWe could have bought the brand-new house with four bedrooms right next door for just $50 a month more on the mortgage. We felt that was more than we could spend. This was a big regret. Within six months, our earnings exceeded that $50 a month. Another regret was not knowing we could have a buyer agent represent us. We bought four brand-new homes through the seller reps. It wasn't until I became an agent that I realized we could be represented. Back then, we didn't know a lot. We were only 19-20 years old! We didn't know we could shop around for a mortgage. However, I did my own refinancing, and this is where I learned how to value or appraise a home. I actually had appraisals reversed based on my comps. That is a skill I have had for decades.
The Cost of Living in 1972New House – $27,600 Average Income – $11,859 per year New Car – $3,853 Average Rent – $165 per month Tuition to Harvard University – $2,800 Movie Ticket – $1.75 Gasoline – $.55 per gallon Postage Stamp – $.08 Bacon – $.83 per pound Eggs – $.45 per dozen Fresh Ground Hamburger – $.64 per pound Milk – $1.20 per gallon
Life was pretty simple and pretty great back in 1972. Back then, I am pretty sure I understood the value of owning your own home, but there was no one who explained it to me. I experienced it when we sold our first townhome, as well as when we sold our additional four homes before moving to Sedona.
EpilogWe purchased our current home in Sedona, Arizona, in 2003. We owned two homes for almost a decade before finally selling our last California home, pictured below. The Corona home was built for my entire family. It was the home we gathered at for almost all events. We were not sure about selling it. Should we buy a home at or near the beach? But the choice was more apparent once we realized our hearts were in Sedona. It took about five years for my family to detach. Once they did, we were able to sell it. What I found surprising is that the original listing pics that my husband took are still showing on this home! Some of the pics are from 2008. I don't think the house has sold since!
20 years in Sedona, July 30, 2023
God made the Grand Canyon ...but He lives in Sedona!