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Did I pay too much for my home? Absolutely not

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POSTED February 13, 2009 12:15 a.m.
I paid $185,000 for a two bedroom, one bathroom home with 996 square feet some 11 months ago.

The home was built in 1951. It is a true California flat-top with a slight pitch and exposed beams on the ceilings. It has real hardwood floors.  It has a stunning living room window that goes virtually from ceiling to floor. I have great neighbors. I’m close to everything I could want including the ability to jog 1.5 miles to the gym or opt to head out into the country jogging or bicycling all within several blocks of my front door. There is no central heat or central air.

Someone asked me this week if I regret buying when I did.

My answer? Absolutely not.

They said how could that be when four year old homes with three bedroom and two bathrooms and 1,496 square feet are now closing escrow for $180,000 such as 1248 Laurel Park Circle did just last month. I could have had a new home, 50 percent more square footage, another bathroom, another bedroom, central heat and air, and paid $5,000 less.

The short answer to that question – it wasn’t what I wanted.

I guarantee you there is no other house like mine in Manteca. I love what was called the California flat-top style of the 1950s. I like the small footprint on the 6,000 square foot lot. I like the fact I have an alley. I like the fact I have a car port and a garage – which has alley access by the way. At the time, I was approved to go up to $230,000 on my loan. There were houses like the one on Laurel Park Circle available for that price but I didn’t want them. I wanted a home I could pay off and live in when retirement rolls around.

It’s what Realtor Tom Wilson calls getting back to the ABC’s of home buying – location, neighbors, and mortgage burning parties.

No offense to other neighborhoods, but none stack up to Powers Tract as far as I’m concerned. The neighborhood is sandwiched between Spreckels Park and Manteca High.

Wilson said more and more buyers who are taking advantage of arguably the most affordable housing market in 30 years – once income is factored into the comparison – are looking at proximity to amenities they desire, the neighbors, and affordability for the long haul.

They aren’t looking for the biggest and perceived best. They want to feel like they are part of the neighborhood and aren’t simply coming and going. And they want a place they can call home for the long term.

“That’s what you do when you’re buying a home instead of buying a house that you think you’re going to flip in a few years for a quick buck,” Wilson said. “People are no longer looking to flip a home in three to five years any more. We’re back to the ABCs of home buying.”

I knew the home was “me” when I stepped inside the first time. Had I waited for the prices to drop to what they have today that home would have been gone and I would have had to settle for second best if that.

I also liked the fact there were a number of larger trees strategically placed to naturally cool the house. I abhor central air and I’m not all that wild about central heating.

Equally important now that I have gone through my taxes for 2008, buying the home when I did stopped a lot of “bleeding” that I did renting an apartment where the rents go up every year and my tax bite jumped annually.

I doubt I would have been happy somewhere else.

At $185,000, it is still the biggest bargain in Manteca from my perspective.
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