Saturday, October 20, 2007

Here I Am--In the Closet

You know by now that my husband and I have seven children--together. Sometimes I wonder how I was able to do so much investing, while caring for them. We signed the contract on our first rental property in December, 2000. It closed in April, 2001. In May, I signed my first rental contract five days after a C-section with my fifth child. What was I thinking? It goes to show you that when your eyes are on the goal, the tasks you perform in between are irrelevant. My baby was with me and that's all that mattered.

In 2000, I didn't use e-mail very much, and neither did any of the builders, agents, lenders, or title companies. I couldn't imagine doing it today without my computer. So I spent much time on the phone and in front of my fax machine. Being on the phone with five kids running around was a less than ideal way to conduct business. Many times, they'd come looking for me--even though I had told them that I'd be on the phone and not to disturb my conversation. As they'd scream my name at the top of their lungs, I'd have to mute the phone stick my hand out the door, and say, "Here I am--in the closet!" I've also had to lock myself in the bathroom, but that causes so much echoing when the kids would bang on the door.

I needed to find a way to invest while raising a busy family. Research was key. First I'd get the free new home magazines from the grocery stores. I would mark the neighborhoods where I thought the numbers would work. Then I'd call the agents asking about the pricing for the current phases, tax rate, HOA, etc, in order to determine if that development was still a viable option. On the weekends, we'd pack up the kids and peruse the areas in person.

The kids would have a blast running through the houses and saying, "This is my room! I like this house," as we reminded them repeatedly that we weren't buying the houses for ourselves. We will let other families live in them. The looks they gave showed how perplexing that statement seemed to them. They eventually got used to the routine. The grand openings were the best because, for us, we had the opportunity to buy in Phase 1 (which was good then, but not now), and, for them, they got food. We would also drive around the area and view the open houses--which is how we met the only real estate agent we have ever worked with in Southern California.

The only problem with taking the kids house hunting was when we were ready to talk to the agents. It's hard to focus when you're trying to get the kids off the tables or when you're in the bathroom every five minutes. We did the best we could. It got to the point where we would check off the most important items and then place a deposit, knowing that we had time to pull out and get our money back.

It must have worked because those were the homes where we made our fortune in real estate. I suppose back then, we could have bought a mud shack in California and still made a killing.