I Just Made (At 50) My First Offer Ever On A House

I’ve never owned a home. I’ve never really had any money to speak of, and there seems to be some sort of connection between the two. Plus, I hate yard work. When I was a kid, my dad was forever making me do yard work. I hated it so much that I swore one day I’d be too poor to afford property. That’d show him.

Anyway, there comes a moment in every person’s life when they realize they’re going to grow old and die freezing to death in a refrigerator box on the street if they don’t finally do something about the fact that they’re still living like someone who’s main concern in life is what kind of chips to buy for their kegger that night.

And that moment, in my own life, came about fifteen years ago. And I went, “Okay, that’s it. No more being poor. I’m gonnna become a WRITER!”

I know what you’re thinking: Stupid much?

Well yes, as a matter of fact, I am.

Anyway, for the First Time Ever, my wife Cat and I, as of this morning, are making an offer on a piece of Actual Real Estate — except there’s no land involved, since it’s a townhouse (being a three-story condo, don’t you know), which is located in a “planned community” (um: be afraid) called San Elijo Hills.

If you go to www.sanelijohills.com, you’ll read this nugget o’ sales copy:

“Just north of San Diego on the highest point in North County is a community designed with almost everything in mind … a walkable Towncenter planned with shopping and dining, brand new schools, 18 miles of trails, 1100 acres of open space, a regional park for hiking and horseback riding, a 19-acre community park with ball fields and play structures and homes of every size, shape and feel you can imagine.”

Horseback riding. Yeah. I’m sure Mr. Ed would be very happy living in one of our closets.

Anyway, there you have it. We’ve made an offer on a townhouse in San Elijo Hills.

I’ve been renting since I was sixteen. I’m now living in about the twenty-fifth apartment I’ve ever lived in.

What a trip, to … have to fix my own garbage disposal, or whatever.

To not know that at any moment someone with the power to evict me could turn his or her key to my front door, and walk on in.

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  • Hjordes

    Wow… this is huge! It looks like a great community.

    I love owning. We’ve almost finished the front yard, are in the planning stages for the backyard. It’s fun to know you always have creative projects to work on at home if your life gets less busy (we bought our home in 1983).

    Congratulations on taking your first step toward ownership! Wishing you the best of luck!

  • How kind of you, Hjordes! Thank you. Sorry to hear about all the yard work you do.

  • John,

    Add my congrats! And going up and down the stairs will help keep you fit.

    As far as yard work – try Round up. Spray on the entire yard and then put down rocks and call it a rock garden. Worked for me, until the homeowner’s association ran me out of town.


  • Too funny, Sam!

  • Elizabeth

    Congrats, John!!!! HH and I actually own three homes. Long story but we bought our current house and moved out of state before the other house ever sold. Then, we have a house that belonged to HH before we married and has been a rental since our marriage. We have renters in the other two houses… We are going to "try" selling the one that we previously lived in on the East Coast when our renters' lease is up, but HH's rental house will never be sold. HH bought it a long time ago as an assumption. Needless to say, taxes on that puppy will eat us alive if we ever try to sell. But, the good news is that we own it outright, and so it is always going to be a good investment for us.

    You will love ownership versus renting… and being in a townhome like the one you were describing is really all the rage with the young up and comers right now, so you are right in with the rest of the pack. We had a couple of those town center kind of areas near our former residence on the East Coast. Very cool. Very convenient, really and it's really like apartment living, but with ownership and without the yard headaches!

    Very happy for you!!

  • Alright! With any luck we'll be making an offer on a place in scenic Cheyenne in the next week. Ownership, while not for everyone, is very cool in my opinion. We were owners at one time and have missed it.

  • Interesting community plan. As part of my involvment with my community, I work with a number of urban planners. What we have here with San Elijo Hills is what is called the "New Urbanism". This is a 180 degree turn away from the sprawl that all us boomers grew up with (drive to everything). Urban Planners have finally realized that pedestrian scale communities that combine retail and residential are the most desirable.

    Good luck with it. Hint: Have a BBQ with the neighbors as soon as you get in. It sounds like you are in on the ground floor and you have the chance to participate in making this a real neighborhood. From what I can tell, you would be a good neighbor to have.

  • They say you're not a man till you've got a mortgage!

    Hooray for you, John….. you've arrived!!!

    The pride of ownership is a whole new experience!

    I bless your house and home!

  • Lynn

    Nice! Hope the real estate transactions go smoothly for you. Just think of all the creative possibilities coming from this community-type atmosphere. If you get the condo, here's hoping you don't cross paths with that star nosed mole creature…or worse yet, a McCain supporter 😉

  • Judy

    Congratulations, John. It’s a big deal to own your own place. I know what you mean about yard work. I don’t mind cutting the grass, but the weed pulling is the pits. I got sunburned today mulching the flower beds!

  • Judy

    50? You’re 50? Never would have guessed. 🙂

  • Wow. What an extremely kind and very encouraging comments. Thanks to each of you. This support is so sweet! It means a lot to us.

    And yeah, Mike, you're really right: San Elijo Hills is very much a model–or at least serious effort toward realizing–the whole New Urbanism phenomenon. It's won about a trillion design awards for that very reason. (It won the national Planned Master Community of the Year award in 2002; and … well, to quote an article on it: "It's no coincidence that San Elijo Hills is at the cutting edge of smart growth. During the initial planning stages, the developer sought counsel from one of the masters of the New Urbanism movement, Peter Calthorpe, principal of Calthorpe Associates of Berkeley. Calthorpe's plan for the town center included a unique road configuration that greatly enhanced the walkability, efficiency and charm of the towncenter."

    If anyone's interested in learning more about the Smart Growth/New Urbanism movement, http://www.newurbanism.org is a great place to start.

    Anyway, thanks again for the comments. We sure do appreciate them.

  • Congratulations on your first home purchase!

    You are close to my brothers and sisters in Murrieta off the 15 fwy.

    We have a huge yard, but have opted for a gardner. We need one, it rains to much here in Costa Rica. Everything grows overnight.

    Blessings to your new home and I imagine a new office as well.


  • Yvette: Very sweet! But, alas, we've only yet made an offer on the home. It's a short sale, so … so I think that means we have to wait while the lender on the home finds the seller and breaks his kneecaps, or offers to refinance his assets based on a mortage interest rate in accordance with a current market stability analysis calculus that reflects the investment yield over appreciation scenerio that makes me have to lie on the couch and eat ice cream while I wait for someone to tell me where I'm living and how soon I'm going to go broke. Whoo-hooooo!

  • nearlynormalized

    Sounds so planned and controled–do they tell you when to crap? HOA's can be the killers of free thinking. Congrats!!!

  • Wow. Angry much?

  • jonwrites

    Hi John,

    I've been so discouraged that, at 42 I'm still a renter. Money has been our main issue and frankly, I'm surprised you've found some. I didn't know they still made the stuff (wouldn't mind a couple samples to be reminded of the smell).

    But from what you tell us, there may be something to this "writing" thing. I'll let you know how it turns out. With luck, maybe I won't be mowing a lawn right next to you someday.


  • Kathy

    Owning property in California is quite an accomplishment! :Congrats! We felt we had to leave CA to buy – bought a TH in Oregon, a house in Florida and now a house in Las Vegas – we love owning a home. And yes, there are Christians in Las Vegas. 🙂

  • Elise

    Hello John,

    Regarding Coyotes, visit The Daily Coyote blog and perhaps there will be a different light shed on what they are really like. You will have to google it, as I don't have the exact email address. Elise

  • Huh?

  • arlywn

    so if you get a mortage now… right now… you'll be 80 by the time you pay the mortage off? Not that that is a bad thing!!!!!!! Did that sound like a bad thing…. well… okay, I'm shutting up now.

  • Arlywn: No, that doesn't sound too bad. Depends on what kind of shape I'm in when I'm 80, right? Either way, I KNOW I'm better off being 81 and owning the place I live, than being 81 and be renting. So … what other choice do I have, but to buy now?

    Jon: Extremely funny there at the end!

    Kathy: Awesome. Yeah, there ARE Xtians in Vegas. They're all going to hell, of course–but at least they'll be used to the heat. (THIS IS A JOKE. REPEAT: THIS IS A JOKE. Thank you.)

    Grace: Perhaps the coyote lady was somehow referring to this series I once wrote on coyotes? It's … well, the first of the posts starts here:


    So … maybe that's it????

  • 50 is young, really young. Getting younger all the time…

    We have coyotes, but I’m lost as to how that fits in here. What did I miss?? We used to have a poodle and she would take those bad boys on. But they got her eventually. She was old by that time and it was encounter #3. A fluffy little poodle named Candy should know better.

    Congrats! Hope your pets are safe in your new fabulous townhouse! Do you have pets other than those critters from last week’s posts??


  • FreetoBe

    John: Of course there are Christians in Vegas LOL (nice disclaimer at the end, BTW). Just as there are non-conservatives in OK. I actually saw a Christian raise his hand during worship at church. Gave me chills.

  • John,

    What's with the new Red-and-Black widget and how come so many Aussies come here?


  • First I have to say how much I totally enjoyed your "political series". Just toooo funny and so well done.

    Congrats on the new home. I too always hated yardwork and was going to buy a condo or townhouse when a couple of friends talked me into buying the house I'm in. The roommate that was going to take care of the yard is long gone and I have a quarter acre of vegetation the City calls "blight". LOL

  • Lee

    Yup, I'm another that wants to tell you I enjoy your articles. Haven't read your blog before, though, and coming across this about your house offer — well, I've deleted my note twice and maybe this one won't be completed, either.

    All the best on the house. Pray, put it in God's hands, and enjoy! Once a happy renter, I married a guy craving home ownership. As Betty Crocker jr (hey, I've a medal to prove it!) plus maintenance master, it seemed a good move so we took that step. I became ill and couldn't work for an extended period of time, and we lost the house so are back to renting. I MUST remind myself we prayed about that purchase, and I don't mean whispered a few words at the bank. But b'rupcy took more than the house!

    What ifs and should-haves can drive us crazy. Trust God.