As I said last week, I am no kind of a wheeler-dealer. And yet most of the periods of time during which Lolly and I have had some very handy extra money to spend, came from the sale of homes that we bought at fair market price and sold for much more.

Why? We had turned them from houses into homes.

The next house we bought and sold was one in Natchitoches, La. We paid $22,000 for it in August 1973, stayed in it happily until May 1975, and let it go to another recently retired veteran, who we allowed to take over our loan. Our only profit was the happiness we felt in helping another veteran and his family to find a nice home.

Moving to Port Arthur, Texas, we bought a comfortable three-bedroom home with a 20-foot-by-20-foot den in addition to its large living room, and a nice attached garage, half of which became my workshop. Cost? $28,000.

We added a nice-looking metal garden shed and the slab for it to sit on for $350. We planted some vegetables and flowers, which cost the time to do it plus perhaps $25 in seeds and bulbs. We paneled one bedroom, spending $75 for paneling. I removed the living room, hallway, and bedroom carpets so as to reveal the polished hardwood flooring beneath them. It cost about eight hours of work, a $49 polisher, and a $3 can of paste wax to get that floor gleaming. I spent $18 on paint for the trim. Sale price of house: $47,000.

Next, we purchased a large, newly constructed house in Phoenix with four bedrooms, two baths, formal dining room, formal living room, den, and two-car garage. Price $107,000. However, this one was an error because of its location. After watching the growth of a drug trade in the neighborhood, we let someone take over the mortgage, were glad to be rid of the place, and moved to Mesa where I taught school.

We then bought our last home in the Valley, paying $88,000 for a nice new townhome in a development with a swimming pool, tennis courts, a large common area, and some truly great neighbors. We moved into it in 1989, and the only three things we did to the place was turning a backyard planted with ugly ground cover into a nice little lawn, changing an open roofed patio into a covered patio for about $250, and adding two fountains, one out back and one in the small front yard; cost: $175 for piping and fountains.

The inspector who checked the place nine years later in 1998, when we sold it to come up here, told us, “This is the only house I have ever inspected that had nothing wrong with it.”

We got $119,000 for it.

So, all in all, we’ve made a little under $50,000 in the sale of three out of six houses. It wasn’t exactly a fortune, but we weren’t out to make a lot of money; we just wanted to have a place we enjoyed living in, and working to make a house a home isn’t really work, is it?

The simple two-story, three-bedroom place we bought up here for $110,000 is now landscaped, has asphalt driveways, a large workshop, and a whole lot of other things it didn’t have.

We don’t really care what it sells for after we are gone.

But our kids will.

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(1) comment

Alexander Frankman

Great idea and implementation, thank you!

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