The BEST Investment I Ever Made
Why I love real estate and what it can turn into…
I decided when I was 22 that it was time to have a place of my own. Not a rental, because I didn’t want to make someone else equity, but my own that I bought. I had been selling real estate as an agent for 2 years and had rented for a while in another life (my singing days with my sister in Nashville), and realized during that short interim that I didn’t like spending money on rent and having nothing to show for it, making someone else rich.
I also had been exposed early on to those that invested in real estate early and often, that were very well off, not having to live paycheck to paycheck, and those that didn’t. My family never had any real estate investments, just the homes that they had lived in.
I saw the lifestyles, wealth and freedom that came with owning real estate, whether it be single family homes, commercial buildings, or vacation rentals and knew that I wanted to be like those folks. The ones that were able to take their kids on vacation and had money in the bank and didn’t have to kill themselves till they were old and had no life left to live.
So, I started searching and found my first house. It was a 2200 sqft fixer upper Victorian in Wellsboro on Pearl St. The asking price was $79,000 and when I walked in, I was giddy and scared, but could feel it speak to me. It smelled like old cigarettes and cat-pee-saturated carpets and had old windows, doors, and crooked floors. I didn’t know if I could afford it, but I knew that I was willing to put in the work to try. Out of respect, I asked my dad to go through it on a second showing with me. I was hoping for his blessing, but instead got – “You are an idiot if you buy this place. It’s a dump! You aren’t handy and are crazy if you do it.” I was extremely disappointed but decided that for the first time in my adult life that I was going to grow a pair and do it anyway! So I did…..
I ended up paying $68,500 for it. I had to put 3.5% down for a 5-year fixed loan. I was only 22 and made good money selling real estate but was still limited on what kind of loans I could get because of my age and basically being self-employed as a realtor. I picked 3/17/08 (St Patrick’s Day) for my closing date and was so excited that I totally forgot to buy pillows or be at-all prepared for staying there my first night. It did come with a loveseat and a couple used old beds, so that’s where I slept…happy as I could be, feeling free! I bought myself a bottle of wine, listened to Irish music and took a bath in my very own claw foot tub. LIFE WAS PERFECT!
Sounds great right!? Fast forward to the following winter, when my gas bills were more expensive than my mortgage and the furnace and radiators didn’t work very well. I kept it 58-degrees in there because I couldn’t afford to have it warmer…it was so cold in there, that I didn’t even have mice! There were many bumps along the way and there were days that I regretted buying it, but my gut told me that eventually it would be worth it.
I was in my early 20’s, working my tail off selling real estate 7 days a week, waitressing a few nights a week, and putting every extra penny that I had into that house. I ripped out the gross old carpet and did the hardwood floors, fixed the driveway, had the doors and windows replaced, redid the kitchen and laundry areas and so much more. My peers were still in college, racking up debt and partying, while I was working and building equity. Like I say in my book Vacation Rentals: The Ultimate Guide – “Short-term sacrifices lead to long-term rewards.”
I learned that ripping and tearing in an old house was very therapeutic for a single young woman, trying to find herself. My house made me happy and angry and gave me projects to take aggression out on when I had guy problems and lean into when I was sad and lonely. It was my safe haven. It was the best investment I have ever made, even though I had no support system to do it – just myself and my work ethic.
Let’s fast forward to me selling it for a better home in the country. I owned my Pearl St house for 3 years and sold it for $119,000. I had roughly $42,000 left over from my equity after closing costs and rolled it directly into my new house. The purchase price for that home was $165,000, so I went into that with instant equity, from my own blood, sweat, risk taking and tears. I had literally gained over $50,000 in equity in just 3 years, as a young 20 something woman!!! The one who went against her dad’s negative reasoning and figured it out anyway.
Let’s fast forward again…I met Jeremy, our relationship went fast (very fast), and we got married and I decided to keep my newest home as a rental. It was a possible backup plan, that I thankfully didn’t have to use. My equity grew and grew and all I had to do was manage it and keep a tenant in it. We kept this home for several years and had a couple reach out about buying it.
By then we had $60,000 in equity and decided to do a 1031 exchange (so we didn’t have to pay capital gains) and use it as two – $30,000 down payments on two rentals back in town. (So as a quick recap – first down payment was around $3000, which then became $42,000 in equity, which then grew to $60,000 in equity as other people paid my mortgage down. And that original $3000 down payment had turned into not just one, but two homes with other people paying for them).
That equity has since grown into hundreds of thousands of dollars – all from time, consistency, taking risks and a little elbow grease.
So why not you? What short-term sacrifices can you make that will turn into long-term rewards and abundance? Are you new to the real estate world? Or who can you inspire or educate, who’s entire trajectory of life could change?
Please save this post and share with that person! I hope that this has inspired you to take chances, invest in real estate and take the time to educate yourself a little more to bring more abundance to your life. These stories are a small glimpse into our real estate world and portfolio, and I have faith that you can do it too! You just need to start! My book is a great place to start, or my course. It will give you all those tools and then some.
P.S. Make sure that you sign up below for future blog posts and to stay up to date on all things happening at Vacation Rental Academy. Would love to connect with you on social too! Facebook MsChristinaVanDergrift and Instagram christinavandergrift
Author: Christina VanDergrift
CHPC | Author | RE Broker | Serial Entrepreneur
Share this post
Welcome to my Blog!
For those that don’t know me, I am a wife, mama of 3 boys, Certified High Performance Coach, Author, RE Broker, Serial Entrepreneur and am obsessed with all things real estate and business.
Sunrise Ridge – It’s LIVE and ready for you to stay there!
Remember my FIRST EVER Vacation Rental – Villa Bella Mermaid? By keeping a close eye on the Real Estate Market, utilizing Creative Financing, and having faith that things happen for a reason, we are still reaping the benefits of that investment! Like I mentioned in a previous blog post (Just In the Nick of Time) […]
Just In the Nick of Time
As much as we would like to force things sometimes, the universe has other plans!
Going away guilt and anxiety for entrepreneurs and most everyone else…
“You have to make it happen. No one’s going to do it for you. No one is going to show up to work one day and say, ‘Hey, I got you. I got you covered. You don’t have to work. You go away and you enjoy yourself. It just doesn’t happen.”
This takes a ton of courage to do and try, but you are worth it. So many studies show that those who take time to recharge are more creative, more motivated and do better quality work!