How We Got Our Start
Updated: Jun 3, 2022
Do you ever get an itch to do something bold? That's where it all started for us! We had been married for about 8 months and I had gotten a promotion at work - a promotion that, if we were smart, would allow us to buy a modest house! This thought kept me up at night dreaming - that's when you know you're on to something good!
We knew we had a minimum of 2 years left in our small college town of Rexburg, ID. allowing my husband time to finish his BA. 2 years was enough time to justify the investment, right? Looking back, it was the most important investment we will have ever made. That Rexburg home is what has and will continue to snowball our investments in real estate.
Tyson was in school and I was working my first "big kid" job post-graduation. We had sold our second car (RIP Tyson's Subaru WRX STI) so we could have a more comfortable savings and continued to save our surplus income. It wasn't much but it was enough for a potential trip to Ireland for our 1st anniversary! What a dream! But as I was approaching a promotion at work, the idea of buying a home instead began to seem more attractive. When the promotion became more solidified, we began to formally entertain the idea. The house hunting began!
The problem we struggled with was that Rexburg, Idaho is its a college town and it felt like there were only 2 kinds of homes for sale:
1) Lower end of our budget (150K range), with 3 beds and 2 baths, but you wouldn't want to take your shoes off or use the shower for that matter! I didn't mind some renovations - that didn't scare us - but we weren't looking for a complete dump!
2) Higher end of our budget (300K range) with 5 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms, but we would probably be house broke and we did NOT need all that space! Also, I wasn't very attracted to the lack of autonomy of the newer, finished homes.
After about a month of Zillow scrolling, my mom sent me a link to a house near campus. I looked through it and was impressed by some things and unimpressed by others. However, it had the 3 bedrooms 2 baths we were looking for and it was in our price range (rare find!), so we decided to take a look. It was selling for $190K and was for sale by owner (whatever that meant - we didn't know anything more than how to use the mortgage calculator on Zillow about buying a home!). As we walked through the house, we noticed it felt MUCH different than the rest. It felt like home. The natural light, vaulted ceilings, and open floor plan on the main level had me swooned! And the master bedroom was HUGE - what a bonus! The back yard was darling and the neighborhood was unbeatable; the closest neighborhood to campus yet still miraculously tucked away from the busy student life we were anxious to escape. Was this the one? We were almost shy to admit it was, but we knew there was something special about that home!
We mulled it over and went back 2 days later with our best friends to take one more look at it before we put in an offer! In the meantime, we snatched up a realtor and told him we think we found the house! Looking back, we did this all out of order haha! ***Note for first-time homebuyers: learn from our mistake and get your mortgage broker and realtor all lined up well before you look at houses!*** Our friends loved the house and gave us some advice on our renovation plans from a construction standpoint which was very helpful. After they left, Tyson talked to the husband and learn they had a lot in common. While they chatted, I stood in the dining room gazing into the living room where one of their children laid out on the couch. I remember this wave of emotion, surety, and profound confirmation came over me and I knew this is where I would raise my family!
We had an offer in that night! The offer was accepted, we got the keys 1 month later, and closed at 5k less than the asking price! The week we closed was the week of Spring Break for Tyson (lucky for him, he did all the moving), and the week after I officially started my new Management role. It was crazy to say the least, but everything was surprisingly very smooth thanks to our thorough Realtor, Mason Winder, and our incredible Mortgage Broker, Jesse Stroup.
So, what's so incredible about this house? Not only did we have some of the most special moments in this home, like bringing home our first child, but we also saw a glimpse of a future that seemed very attractive: Real Estate. Trying to piece together furniture layouts, paint colors, backsplash, and the perfect wall art literally kept me up at night! I was addicted to renovating my home! It's all I wanted to think about; it gave me a design high when I found the perfect rug for our living room - I was literally almost in tears! That's a whole blog post for another time!
The age-old question was, "How long are you guys staying in Rexburg?" We knew it was a minimum of 2 years before Tyson graduated. I had a good job, we loved our house, the neighborhood was better than we imagined, why leave? Unless Tyson found a job that would take us elsewhere (ha!), there was no reason to leave. However, deep down, we knew all our renovations should be thought of as investments rather than making this OUR perfect home and allowing our personal bias to shine through too much. At first, buying a house seemed like a smarter idea than dumping $850 to rent each month that we'd never see a penny of again. But with every renovation we did, we started to realize buying our home was more than just a smart financial decision, it was an investment! The more we renovated the more we saw the potential profit we could turn when we sold the house.
In order to explain how we leveraged this property to our financial benefit, I'll need to transparently break this down for you:
We had 10K in savings to put down on the house. It wasn't much, but it was enough!
We borrowed about 4K to help with closing costs that we repaid within 2 months post-close.
After all the renovations were done and accounted for, we netted about 30K and walked away with 40K cash from the sale of our Rexburg home.
That 40K was then reinvested as the downpayment on our second home in Arizona. (Spoil alert - Tyson got a job that would, in fact, take us elsewhere upon graduation.)
A 10K down payment on our first home to a 40K down payment on our second home all within 2 years with only me working full time, Tyson working part-time and going to school full time, paying for the last 2 years his college and 6 months of my Masters (with no debt or student loans), a baby born, 3 months of unpaid maternity leave, hefty medical bills, daycare, etc.
We are currently sitting in our Arizona home (The Mild Mild West), grateful for the literal blood, sweat, and tears we put into our Rexburg home (The Mid-Century-Modest). At the time, we were unknowingly setting ourselves up for where we are today.
And that is how we got our start.