When I think back to the year and a half ago, when I purchased my very first place, exactly two months after my 30th birthday, I realize how lucky I am, but also how hard I’ve worked. It’s not easy being a single-income Realtor in one of the most expensive places to live in the United States. Paradise, is it worth it?
As a homeowner of nearly one and three quarters of a year, I have to say it is. It was almost kismet how this cute little studio in the heart of Makiki became my home. It started on a dreary morning, about a week after my 30th birthday; I gave myself two weeks to find something, or I wouldn’t buy. It seems silly now, but at the time, there was the $8,000 tax credit, and my dad had oh-so-subtly been hinting at the fact that I needed to start buying. It had been a four year process and not so diligent search.
When my dad first started hinting in the spring, I, like many of my friends, had no money…but you don’t want to tell dad that. He kept saying, “why don’t you buy something? This is the year,” but when you have no money, too scared and embarrassed to tell dad…and are the only child of a Chinese father, you somehow try to figure out a way.
So, for the next three months, after his second hint, which at that point, started to sound like a command, you think, why the heck not? And I put myself to work. Why not try to save the 20% down your dad expects you to already have? I worked my butt off and by the time September rolled around, I barely had that 20%.
I was extremely sad one morning because I had the opportunity to purchase a one bedroom unit in a great building that met all my dad’s and grandparent’s specifications of having a washer and dryer, and the ability to walk to the unit. Yes, they had a say, even though it was my money. The condo was $280,000, and I thought to myself, I guess I could borrow $80,000 from my dad…but how and when could I ever hope to pay that back? 30 years? Depressing.
Then…the perfect home came up on the hot sheets. It was a studio in Makiki! At the time, there was nothing for $200,000, my price range, with a washer, dryer, and elevator! I rallied up a couple of Realtor friends and we went to take a look as the first viewers.
It was perfect—I walked inside and saw a kitchen with a counter that I could imagine having wonderful conversations with my friends and family, space for living, and storage. It was more than I could hope for. Most studios in Makiki go for approximately $230,000 (which I couldn’t even dream of affording) and there weren’t a lot with a washer and dryer.
My new home with the counter I fell in love with
I had to work for my clients, but when I had a moment, I managed to get that offer, my cover letter, which had me eating and waving to the neighbors across the way since I have no view, but like New York, could definitely be cozy with the neighbors, and hand delivered it to the agent. I was so nervous…but when it finally got accepted, one of the sellers was trying to buy her brothers out—she was a Kumu Hula, and felt I had good energy—so she told her agent she wanted me to have it, I was golden! Colored red, purple, anything that would put me into my very first home.
Then one day, I felt sad again. I found myself wishing I had two parking spaces. I thought, well, that’s just greedy, and there isn’t any place on the island that is a studio with two parking spaces. I’m definitely dreaming. That’s when the agent called to tell me he just found out the covered parking stall I had parked in was not the stall that went with the studio. I was a little concerned, and asked which stall did. He said “27.”
Of course, I had to ask, which one is better? He said there were pros and cons to both. The one that went with the unit didn’t have anyone next to it and would probably be better for my car, but it wasn’t covered. I rushed over and looked for 27, lo and behold, there were two cars parked at the end of a little lane in front of my building—that was my stall! Get out of town, right?
Everything that could possibly happen to get me this property, happened. It was as if the world conspired to make everything I wanted available in this tiny studio in Makiki. That’s why I tell my clients—the first time home buyers, second home buyers, etc.—that when it’s the right property, the world will make it happen for you. I know it sounds crazy, you’re talking to an analytical, Chinese woman! But it’s true what they say about positive thinking. I’ve seen it happen to my clients over and over again. If a property is meant for you, it will fall right into your lap when you least expect it.