Real Estate, Time & Love Equity

How old were you when you purchased your first home? 29, 32, 38 maybe?  Do you have more equity in real estate than what you first started with?  After all, isn’t that a key consideration in buying vs renting?!  

The balance between taking on debt to put a long term roof over our head while also establishing a substantial asset on your balance sheet is an experience most of us have gone through, maybe even recently at this stage of life. But for those of you at a much early stage, say in your college days, let me share a story with you that may help if you’re considering starting this process even EARLIER.

My husband and mother-in-law (my Ms. Vickie) have a passion for real estate, one that I have definitely adopted for myself as well.  We enjoy spending weekends as nosy neighbors touring open houses in our neighborhood or visiting estate sales to get peaks of historic home craftsmanship.  Their love for real estate goes back much further too, before I was even in the picture...

Matt & Vickie, present day


19? Really? While I was spending my college years focused on studying, having fun and waiting tables to pay my rent, Matt and his mother were looking for opportunity to establish a foundation for his future dream home.

“He wanted to move out and I didn’t really like the idea of him renting when he had the opportunity to stay at home.  So, we looked into what it would be like to purchase a home instead,” Ms. Vickie told me over lunch one day recently.  “My grandparents never owned a home.  They always rented.  I think that’s because it gets harder to get your foot in the real estate door the longer you wait in life.”  

I’ll agree with that.  

So I started wondering about how in the world they were able to accomplish this?!  Here’s what Matt had to say:

“I’ve always been a saver.  I started saving as young as age 8 from garage sale proceeds. My mom would even help us decide how much we should save and what we could have discretion over.  I believe we even had a bank account??  As a little kid, my goal wasn’t a home really, but instead a car when I got older.  In my later teen years, I had a credit card just for gas, that I would pay off each month. By the time I was buying my home, my score was in the 700’s. Having that good credit helped.”

My husband is a smart cookie, but I doubt that he could have figured this out all on his own back then.  Our brains at that life stage just aren’t programmed to be THAT forward-thinking.  Ms. Vickie started those foundational lessons at childhood, teaching Matt about money, about saving, about goals.  She told me later during our lunch, “You don’t do a child justice if you just give something to them.  I made sure to teach my children about the importance of money.  I let them know how much things cost vs how much something is worth and that there is not an endless supply of money. Today, I’m not surprised that both of my children have never developed a reckless habit with their finances. I’m very impressed with both of them.”

Early saver........check.

Good credit........check.

Parental guidance........check.

Foundation for purchasing a home? Definitely.



Regardless of what your big purchase is, budgeting appropriately is a must-do. Getting into something as substantial as home-ownership without the proper planning can be disastrous!  Missing note payments, inability to keep up with maintenance, lack of balance between other responsibilities can be really scary for your future and hard to come back from.  You can avoid those scary monsters though…..with proper PLANNING.

We’ve recently driven by that house of Matt’s that started it all.  I asked him how he chose that one, as that’s really the first step in planning a home purchase.  “The first thing out of my mouth to my mother was ‘You just don’t want me to live anywhere nice, do you?!” Ms. Vickie smiled and laughed as she recalled the moment vividly when I shared that with her.

Matt’s first home purchase almost 20 years ago

Apparently, the home was dirty and very ugly at the time. “But I knew I needed to buy the cheapest nicest home in the best possible location.  This house would need work, but I wanted something that I could start with, improve, and build from.  We refloated the walls, replacing flooring and improved the cabinets all ourselves. It turned out nice,” Matt told me. The way he described the experience was just like Ms. Vickie had, with smiles and a lot of love. 💗

Matt’s mortgage note was about $500 a month back then.   At our age now, that’s a fraction of childcare payments!  At 19 however, it can be someone’s entire working income. A big planning lesson he learned was that budgeting for other cash flow items to maintain your home is EQUALLY important to your note payment.  If you need help figuring out what those costs are or how to estimate them, google your heart out first, but don’t forget the value in reaching out to someone with first-hand experience, preferably in your local community. Ideally, that would be a combination of parents, friends, neighbors, and your financial advisor. You’re never too young or old to gain wisdom from those who walked before you.

“My added bonus to the lessons I learned was figuring out how to lay tile and fix things.  I’m glad I did my test runs on my first home though.  It makes things a lot easier and streamlined in our current home today,” Matt told me. I’m glad he learned those lessons too.  My strong suit is in goal planning and finances. I’m okay with him handling the tile-laying. 😊  “I also got to live with my best friends.  3 of my buddies moved in, which of course made things more fun than maintaining a home on my own.”

Cheapest, nicest, best location possible........check.

Home maintenance costs planning........check.

Elbow grease & friends........check.



When Matt and I first met, we each owned our own respective homes.  By selling them both and using the accumulated equity in each, we were able to buy our “forever” home together.  

I was literally brought to happy tears when Matt told me, “Purchasing that first home at such a young age has allowed me to be in the home we’re in today.  It was an indirect method of forced saving for me. I was able to roll over the equity, from each of the progressing 3 homes since then, into this one we share. And, I was able to gain hands-on experience to prepare me for the bigger purchase decisions later in life.”

Matt’s 2nd home about 6 years later, 2006

It’s difficult to feel the importance of the lessons we teach our children in the moment, but wow…HOW POWERFUL.  Ms.Vickie, and her willingness and drive to teach her children about money and real estate at such young ages, has translated into what Matt and I are using as our foundation for our little ones and the lessons we teach them today.  I can coach clients all day long on goal planning or invested wisely, but the early lessons that Matt learned came only from one place.  

A mother’s investment in her children........check.

A son’s willingness to learn........check.

A very grateful daughter-in-law for both........check.

Me with our 1st newborn at our forever home in 2015

Lessons start at home.  Teach your children small things every day.  Have a garage sale.  Establish an account for them.  Find a common passion and use it as an opportunity to prepare them for whatever their future might become.  Reach out to us if you have questions about purchasing a home or financially planning for it.  

And, check out our other articles and helpful resources here.

Have questions or comments?  Email me here.

Written by:

Rachel Stewart

Financial Advisor