By the summer of 2005, my wife and I owned 40 acres and 1 large city lot in Payette, Idaho. We thought we were doing pretty good and so did my family. Looking back now, I don’t know what we were thinking.
For the next couple of years, my wife, Kourtney, and I just made our minimum monthly payments and our extra money went towards our vacations. We started to fall in love with it. We went to Hawaii for 10 days and had a blast and then we went to Florida and took a cruise.
Then, in 2007, it was my time to transfer, which means it was time to move. At this point, the Coast Guard thought it would be best for me to go to a 110-foot cutter out of Bahrain. Well, I guess I actually volunteered for it. This type of tour was only for one year and families were not allowed to come with. That made Kourt and I come up with a new plan. The first step of our plan was to see if one of her friends wanted to get a smaller apartment with her. This way, we could cut down on our expenses. The second step was to find somewhere to live. We both wanted Kourt to be able to go to Idaho whenever she wanted because that is where her family and support system was. However, she did not want to live with family or friends. We found a town home that was a three bedroom, two bathroom for roughly $100,000. We got 100% of our loan covered between two loans, split at 80% and 20%. The third step was moving about 99% of our stuff to Idaho. At the time, we figured it would be cheaper to move it to the house we just bought then to put it into storage.
This was property number three for us and our first home we ever bought. The summer of 2007, I left for my boat and spent a year overseas. At the time, I was going to school and was thinking about becoming a teacher. The only real place to get any experience in teaching in the Coast Guard (I thought) was to become an instructor. I requested a job in Virginia at Training Center Yorktown. This allowed me to get some experience in teaching and also allowed me to come home pretty much every night. After that year overseas, it was something that Kourt and I both really wanted.
At this point, we wanted to challenge ourselves. We wanted a fixer upper. In the spring and summer of 2008 we were looking at foreclosures online and found some really cheap houses. We thought this was going to be awesome. In reality, we had no idea what the area was like, but there were some dirt cheap houses. I was ready to buy without ever stepping foot in the area or seeing any of the house. Luckily for me, Kourtney convinced me that we should at least see the area and see some of these homes before we bought anything. I reluctantly agreed, but thank God that I did. Those cheap houses I liked were horrible! They were in bad neighborhoods and were in horrible condition. There was a reason those houses were so cheap and we are so lucky I didn’t jump the gun and do something that I would have really regretted.
Once I got back, we took a week in Virginia and looked at multiple homes in the area. We had qualified for an FHA loan that wasn’t really high, but there were homes in the area that were in that price range. I think we qualified for a home for around $150,000. Our realtor wanted us to try and use our VA loan and get a home with that. She thought we would qualify for a higher loan. Well we filled out the paperwork to see if we would qualify for more, and we did. We qualified for a loan for $350,000. I don’t have a clue how or why, but we did. Our realtor was so excited! She already had a bunch of houses she wanted to show us with that new limit. But Kourt and I didn’t want to go up that high. We finally found a house that we really liked. A three bedroom one bathroom with about an acre of land down this old dirt road in Gloucester, Virginia. It was a good solid house with a barn. It had some areas that we could fix up if we wanted and a lot of room to make improvements on the home.
While I was overseas, we were able to pay off the 20% loan that we had on the home in Idaho. By the summer of 2008, we had four mortgage payments: two pieces of bare land, a home in Idaho, and our home that we lived in Virginia.