Houses for sale

I purchased my first home at age 21 for $37,700 at 9% interest in 1985. My mortgage payment was $375 per month. It was a "row home", built before "townhouse" was ever a word. It was in the city with the expected traffic, exhaust, and noise pollution. I preferred a lot more elbow room but was grateful not to be in an apartment with people living around me on all sides, and a landlord. The family beside me in the middle of a group of four homes and the boy who made a habit of riding his skate board on the side walk in front of my home late at night made my life almost unbearable for 11 years. "City life" was not for me. I felt blessed to have a house I could make my own and trapped, at the same time.

The interest rate had dropped to 4.5% and I feared it would go back up before I could refinance at a much lower rate. I figured, "If I'm stuck here, I may as well pay less for the place so I can afford to go on more vacations and get out of here." In fact, my new husband and I did a lot of camping in the mountains of western Maryland so I could keep my sanity and breathe fresh air, trees, and quiet I craved like food and couldn't live without. I was driven by fear and it felt like I was chasing my tail at high speed. I didn't 'have peace about refinancing my home and I couldn't figure out why. The anxiety got so strong it made my chest hurt, and that got my attention.

A thought came into my head. Years later I would refer to this type of thing as "God's memo". It said, "Call your mom." I said to the Lord, "But she's slow as molasses up hill in January and I need to act on this quickly before the % goes up." I got another memo saying, "It's My house and if I want to pay more for it, I can. Call your mother." My mother was a real estate agent. In fact, she sold me this house. She had been trying to sell her home for two years and didn't have one offer yet. I explained my situation to her. It was the first time I gave myself permission to admitted to me first, and then I said out loud to her "I hate living here!" She asked, "Would you like to buy our place." To which I promptly replied, "Can we afford it?" She ran the numbers and said , "Yes, you can."

When I was 14 years old, my parents purchased two houses on an acre that were built in the 1940's. It what used to be "the country". The first year they built 1,000 houses across the street and every farm I remember as a teenager was now a housing development. But, it was better than living in the city, so I completely regrouped and stopped the refinancing before the big expense of an appraisal fee.

I decided to sell, but was discouraged by something that came to my attention. Twenty-eight row homes were for sale in my neighborhood the February before. Twenty-six of them were still for sale. I chose to trust God and immediately made plans to get it ready to put on the market. Everyone in our neighborhood had done the same improvements; new windows, addition, air conditioning, remodeled bath and kitchen. Every house had the same size yard, same floor plan, except reversed. The only thing I hadn't done was replace the commercial tile floor on a concrete slab in the kitchen and refinish the oak steps. My mother and husband both insisted I didn't need to finish the improvements, but I said, "God said this is what we need to do to sell this house!" I had blisters where I didn't have hands chipping the tile off the floor for a month and my husband complained about stripping, staining and putting polyurethane the solid oak steps. He has such a knack for that and does such nice work, so he was the best person for the job. The "For Sale" sign went on the yard in April and two ladies looked at it. My mom knew the one agent who showed my house and said her client put in an offer on a house in occluda sac. I prayed it would be denied, and it was. She put in an offer on my house of $65,000 and I accepted. My row home had been for sale for 3 weeks!

We stood up from the settlement table and as we said our thank you's and good bye's I asked the lady, "You looked at every house in my neighborhood twice. What made you buy mine?" She said, "Your's was the only house that didn't have an ugly kitchen floor and painted wood steps." My husband overheard her and hasn't questioned my judgement since.

The reason why we could afford my parents property at $132,000 is because they rented the cottage and lived in the rancher. I've never rented, but now I not only "purchased my inheritance" (God is so good), but I became a landlord. The difference between the rent collected and the mortgage was $230 every month. Guess what, it was at 4% interest. Yea, crazy right!

So, we lived there for 5 years and the 309 acre dairy farm sold. They were going to put in a huge mall, with a casino. The kind of mall that brought in motor coach buses full of people from other states for a unique shopping experience. We lived close to a major airport that kept expanding and planes were dumping jet fuel in the air over head. It was like living in the city again!

Someone at church died and was being buried in at Resthaven Cemetery in Western Maryland, about 70 miles away. The voice in one ear kept trying to talk me out of going and another voice whispered in my other ear, "If you are in that coffin, you'd want people to come to your funeral." So, I went. I wanted to go, so I couldn't figure out why I was trying to talk myself out of it.

I was standing at the graveside service on a beautiful, sunny summer day in June 2000, when I turned to look at the mountain range to the west and said one of those "desire of your heart" kind of prayers, "Lord, it would be the most amazing thing to live up there." The next thing I know, I'm looking at property out there in August, we put in an offer on a house that had been listed in June 1999 and nobody put in an offer on it. We purchased it for $169,000 and moved in October 2000. I rented both houses on the property near the new mall until my health made it impossible to manage.

My mother kept telling me to sell the rental property. For three years she bugged me about it. "You need to get rid of that property before the housing market collapses," she said. I said, "God hasn't told me to sell, so I'm not selling until He says so. If put it up for sale, I won't be able to rent it and it may not sell without His blessing." Suddenly in April 2008 God said, "Johnna, sell." I told my husband to paint the basement door and I replaced the shingles on the pavilion. He didn't complain and got to work on his project. The house was listed in May and was on the market for 5 weeks. Remember my mother couldn't sell it in two years.

I got 3 offers; two for $325,000 and one for $305,000. Which one do you think I accepted? My mother, our commercial property agent and my husband all said, "Take one of the highest offers." I said, "No, I'm going to take the one that has the best chance of making it through settlement." I studied the woman who offered $305,000. In her mind, it was already hers. She had plans and nothing was going to stop her. One week before settlement the bank wanted $26,000 down. When we purchased it from my parents the bank wanted $26,000 down, which is exactly what we had after selling the row home. The other two offers were borrowing their closing and this lady just happened to have $26,000 in the bank. We went through settlement in August 2008 with no problem and one month later the housing market collapsed.

There's more! I had a haunting feeling that kept telling me to pay off our mortgage on the mountain. Every time I sent in an extra principle payment, I saved $820 per month. That's addictive, in a good way! I put $100,000 from the sale of the rental property toward paying off our mortgage and paid down the rest. I made the last payment on our home two months before I lost my job in February 2010 and was disabled, so I couldn't work.

My point is this. Don't make decisions when you are in right brained, emotional, fear driven, survival mode, fight or flight, stressed thinking. Stop and get in your left brain where logic, wisdom, intuition, creativity and truth reside.