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Everyone wants to be debt free, right? I know we do. We’ve been in the debt spiral before. Up to our eyeballs in bills with not enough income coming in. Sure we did some things to ourselves (spent too much, etc), but we also had some stuff happen to us that was completely unexpected (disability). Anyway…it took us a long time to climb out of that hole and we were determined to never let that happen again. So since those days we have been trying to live as simply as possible while working toward being debt free and one of those goals for us was to own a home outright. That’s right, no mortgage. Sounds crazy right? But guess what? In less than 6 years, we have accomplished that goal!
Here is our mortgage portion of our debt free journey…
Living in a rental was driving us crazy. We are the type of family that loves to have their own space, if I wanted to paint the walls I wanted to be able to do that. If I wanted to plant a garden, I wanted to be able to do that too. The fact is we simply wanted to start paying toward something of our very own that we could create a home with for our family. The real estate prices in our area during this time were skyrocketing and we just couldn’t bring ourselves to pay $1000+ per month for a place to live, especially since we had experienced disability before. We never wanted to be in the position that we couldn’t afford our house payment.
We began discussing the desire to buy a home and started keeping track of the real estate ads in the local newspaper and on Craigslist and I even become a stalker of the local Multiple Listing Service website. We just weren’t seeing anything in our area in the price range that we were looking for. So, one day we decided to simply drive around the area and see if we could spot any for sale signs. We did see several, but we also saw what appeared to be an empty house with an overgrown yard and no signs that anyone had been there for a while. We decided to keep an eye on the property for a week or so and we drove by daily to see if we could spot anyone there. When it became apparent that no one lived there, I began to do a little bit of digging to find out who owned the property. I went on to our county website and researched the tax records to find the owner and I decided to write them a letter.
I initially wrote a letter to the lady listed on the tax records and in my letter I stated that it appeared as though the home was empty and I asked if she was interested in selling it. I got a response about a week later from that same woman stating that she was about to lose the home in tax foreclosure and it wasn’t in great shape so she didn’t think we would be interested. In my next correspondence I stated that I was, in fact, interested and asked for permission to go onto the property and check it out. She was right. It was not in good shape, but we have never been the type to shy away from hard work.
We decided that we wanted to move forward and we offered her half of the home’s (county appraised) value, but since the house couldn’t be financed due to its condition, she also needed to carry the contract for us. Again, the home was about to enter Tax Foreclosure, so we set a plan to pay the taxes of $2500, taking that away from the price we offered her. Also, because of the work that needed to be done on the house we requested the first 8 months to be mortgage free. Because she didn’t have the money to pay the taxes or do anything with the house, she was more than agreeable to our offer. Not only was she no longer going to have a tax foreclosure looming, she was able to relax a little bit and now she would now be receiving a monthly check. She was thrilled and quite thankful that we happened to drive by the house that day.
It is now six years later and guess what? We just sent in our last payment! Remember that 8 month delay? That means that we have actually paid off our home in just 5 years and 4 months! I don’t know about you, but I know very few people who are mortgage free and this is a goal that I never knew I would reach in my lifetime. As a mom, I love having the peace of mind in knowing that no matter what, we have a home forever and my children always have a home to come back to. No worries about what may happen in case of unemployment or disability because my home does not belong to the bank and no one can take it from me now that I have this deed in hand. Of course we still need to make that property tax payment every year, but believe me, when you compare that with a monthly mortgage or rent payment, it’s nothing.
We aren’t done yet though, hubby and I are looking for a new deal to work on! And p.s…I still stalk the MLS website.