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Getting Lucky with Real Estate
When I tell people that I got lucky with real estate, they tend to roll their eyes. They really do think I lucked into buying a home when the market was low, and selling it at a peak.
I know that it wasn’t entirely luck though. It was a lot of research, paying attention to the market, and making my moves at the right times. But did luck play a role?
Was it Luck?
Buying My Home
I bought my condo in Los Angeles in 2011, when the housing market was still struggling and properties were relatively cheap (for Los Angeles, they were still crazy expensive!). There was no way I was going to afford a single-family home, even then the best single-family homes I could afford either needed a whole lot of work or were in the middle of extremely questionable neighborhoods. I was limited to condos and town-homes, but those are great starter homes!
I decided to buy a nice two-bedroom town-home in a safe, gated community. The town-home was brand new when I bought it, which was a big plus! It had solar panels, an electronic water heater, and a bunch of other energy efficient upgrades, and the community had a pool, basketball court, and park. It was a great first home!
Time to Move on
I loved my town-home, and I loved my life in Los Angeles. I had amazing friends, a great job, and a beautiful town-home. But sometime in 2016, I realized that I was working to basically pay for my house. The mortgage payment and HOA fees ate up more than half of my monthly income! I also realized that the housing market had made a pretty amazing recovery. The homes in my area were selling like hotcakes, at prices 40% higher than what I had paid. It was time to move.
Hard Work Helps you get Lucky
Getting the house ready for sale was a huge project. I got rid of all my extra stuff (yay for downsizing!), replaced the carpet, re-painted, and power cleaned everything! I paid for the carpeting and the painting, because I wanted the house to look absolutely amazing, and it did. The house was immaculate, it looked like a model home! My real estate agent (REMCO) was super impressed with all of my work (I say my, but I did have the help of my boyfriend at the time. We are no longer together). I put the house on the market for 50% more than I paid for it, and within in 5 days had a full value offer. Score!
Hard work and Luck!
I do think luck played a part. It was very fortunate that I was able to buy a home when I did. I credit that “luck” to being a veteran in the Army. Realistically, it wasn’t lucky that I joined the Army and served for six years- it was hard work and dedication. But the Army did offer a VA loan, and without that, I would never have been able to afford a home in Southern California, even at the bottom of the market.
Check out my post on Military Service and financial freedom to learn more about how the VA loan helped, and to discover whether joining the military can help you in your quest for financial freedom.
But it was lucky that I was in a position to be able to buy when the market was low. It was also lucky that the market made a great recovery in my area. However, a lot of hard work did go into this real estate success. Sometimes big wins take a lot of effort and a little bit of luck. And sometimes luck is disguised as hard work!
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Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world’s problems. She’s self educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming and her cats.