Real Estate or simply Property – Is property better than sex?
Buy at your peril!
Property in my Life
The current topic is Real Estate which we simply call “property” here in South Africa. I wrote on this topic recently as part of a hub on investing. So you can read about that aspect in that hub if you wish to.
Unfortunately I have had to deal with purchasing of property more than a few times in my life.
Most of these were not a great experience probably a bit like sex?
The First time 1965
The first time was supposed to be the investment of a lifetime. I was young, naïve and susceptible to a smooth talking sales person. The fact that she was pert, blonde very pretty and wore the shortest of mini’s had nothing to do with it. I promise hand on heart, I was only about twenty at the time. You see it was the sixties and all the girls wore minis. Besides driving around with her looking at view sites was certainly pleasant (the property, dammit concentrate!). The car radio played “help”, unchained melody and “I cant get no satisfaction.The premise here was to buy a vacant lot make a small down payment. Pay the interest only and wait for the property to appreciate in value. The transfer balance needed to be paid before development could begin, so you could leverage the increased value against a building mortgage and build a house, or sell the land at the increased value, to a buyer who wanted to build. Well that was the theory. In any event, payments were duly made and for a while I simply forgot about my “golden goose”.
A few years on – 1971
A few years later after marriage (not to the blonde, min-wearing, salesperson – who I never saw again after signing and paying the deposit- yea ok don’t be smart) and a baby daughter, the time came to build that house. I then hauled out my papers and found out to my horror, the development company had gone bust and I owned a piece of land I could not build on as no development of infrastructure or new houses had taken place!
So was my first time good for me? Well not really I would say.
So my ex and I went home hunting. The car radio played Bridge Over Troubled Water", "Country Road" and Imagine. But guess what, we found a new development in progress and liked what we saw. I then asked the developers if I could trade my piece of ground as deposit on the new place. To my utter delight, they accepted, so my I sort of recouped my losses and owned a house and mortgage.
My second time was infinitely better!
Third time ( and fourth or maybe it only counts for one?) 1977
Well a few years went by - two more kids, three in total and as we were in the country, the kids were in a farm school which was fun for the kids but not really a great school. At that stage in South Africa, schools were area bound and the school we would have preferred for the children’s education was in a different suburb and town. So if we wanted our kids to attend that school, we had to move. So the house hunting began. The car radio played Hotel California, Mull of Kintyre, Ma Baker, and Bohemian Rhapsody Every house we looked at was too expensive.
We eventually found a suitable house and made an offer. The owner (a builder as it turned out), reneged on the offer and the deal fell through. The house hunting continued. Once again we found a house under construction, made an offer subject to the sale of our existing house, and it was accepted to our great joy and delight. We had a party on the strength of that!. We put our house up for sale and sold within a few days. We got our price (with a tidy profit) but we had to move out within 60 days. Our builder assured us the new house would be ready in time. But you guessed it , it was not ready!
Hell on earth.
We now had no choice we had to move and the interim step was to stay with my parents. We crowded the five of us into a three bedroom house and put the furniture into the garage. Two cars were parked in the driveway and one outside on the kerb.
This state of affairs endured for about two months. My ex never had a good relationship with my mother from that date. Parenting ideas differed and Mom was not above expressing her opinion, frequently, often and loudly invariably ending the sentence with “after all this my house you know!”. The third time was not so great after all.
We finally moved into our dream house and lived happily there for 20 odd years until my younger son died in a car crash and we were attacked and robbed in our home by 5 armed men.
So the fourth time was pretty good most of the time.
The fifth time. 2001
After our few bad events described above, my ex and I went on holiday to the Natal coast. The car radio played “Another Day In Paradise" , "Sail Away" On the way we stopped off and looked at a farm in a small Mpumalanga town and fell in love with it. We made an offer subject to the sale of our house. It was all accepted and we sold our house at a good profit and moved to the farm. The farmhouse needed work and I did it all myself. The idea was we would live off the land in semi-retirement but the cost of restoring the farm was eating into my savings and my ex suggested that I went back to consulting. This meant a weekly commute to Johannesburg, staying at my club during the week and returning home on weekends. My ex then became friendly with the neighbor and the rest is history.
Divorce was the result. So the fifth time was not good at all.
The sixth and hopefully last time. 2003
I then met my dearly beloved, got married and we found a house under construction made an offer (once again – I never learn do I). The car radio did mostly talk shows and “Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me” and "White Flag", so the CD player gave us sixties classics most of the time. At any event we made an offer and we have lived here happily for the last 6 years.
So the sixth time has been great.
The Seventh time (actually not it was an oops).
Because of our regular commute we decided to move to a more suitable location. We hunted around found what we wanted, made an offer. “The premise here was to buy a vacant lot make a small down payment. Pay the interest only and wait for the property to appreciate in value. The transfer balance needed to be paid before development could begin, so you could leverage the increased value against a building mortgage and build a house”. Sounds familiar doesn’t it? At any rate we approved plans, re-approved plans, costs escalated and suddenly everything was more than budgeted. The economic downturn had begun. I tis instance, we reneged on then deal, sold the land and restored the status quo.
So we didn’t have a seventh time besides we are getting older!
So is property better than sex? Go figure!
But however you cut it you eventually get screwed!
Besides as I told my dearly beloved, they need to take me out of here feet first!