Building Wealth: Two Couples Make the Move from Renters to Homeowners

2013-01-06T00:00:00Z Building Wealth: Two Couples Make the Move from Renters to Homeownersby Michelle Krueger Times Homes Columnist
January 06, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Forgoing the latest “get rich scheme,” most people know there is no single right answer for building wealth. In fact, when you Google “wealth building,” you’ll find ten rules, nine lessons, three simple steps, seven strategies, four pillars and more to help you manage your money.

Whatever path you choose on the way to achieving your financial goals, you must first formulate a plan with specific actions to get results. The key is to come up with a plan specific to you based on your resources, interests and abilities. Since everyone’s situation is unique, no two plans will ever be identical.

The most simple and least painful way to save money is automatically. That’s why many people arrange their finances so that every month certain actions will automatically grow their assets, without any decisions or extra effort on their part.

That’s precisely the way home ownership became an integral part of the American dream - adding equity to a home is a much better use of our hard-earned money than paying it to a landlord.

Meet couple number one: Jared and Michelle D’Amico.

For the past two years, Jared and Michelle were renting a townhome in Palos Park, IL.

“We both had properties in the city, but we wanted to be near friends and family in the south suburbs,” Michelle said. “We had a wait and see attitude toward buying. But, over time we started feeling out the market and looking at other townhomes to purchase.”

“With all the issues in Illinois, the budget problems and potential to raise the already high property taxes, we decided to take a look at Indiana,” Jared said. “A friend of ours referred us to Herm (Hoge of RE/MAX Realty Associates in Munster), and we took a tour of the area. We probably looked at more than 20 different homes, but we especially liked West Lakes in Munster for the easy access Illinois. The difference in travel time for us to get to work in the city is less than five minutes. Michelle just gets on the train in Hegewisch now.”

“We also liked what was going on in the town, the new development, the schools and Centennial Park,” Michelle added. “Herm also explained about the over/under pass that’s coming at 45th.”

The fact that the home they bought last September needed some extensive updating to meet their needs did not deter the D’Amicos.

“We’re confident that the Munster market will support our upgrades,” Jared said. “Plus, the mortgage, property owners association dues and taxes to purchase a townhome in Illinois was actually more than it’s going to cost us to buy and gut this house – and there was no yard there. We also have the benefit of the mortgage interest deduction when we file our taxes now that were owners instead of renters.”

Meet couple number two: David and Ashley Pettigrew

When David’s job brought them back to the region after living most recently in Tennessee, the Pettigrews chose to rent while they looked for the right home to buy.

“We wanted something that would be a good investment,” Ashley said. “My parents recently moved back to Munster, and Herm was their real estate agent. Our search ran the gamut from Frankfurt and Mokena IL to Valparaiso, but ultimately Herm knew that we wanted a fixer-upper in Munster. The challenge was finding the right one in our price range.”

“I brought them out to see this house the day after it was listed,” Hoge said. “I think it was a done deal the very next day.”

“The location is great, you can walk to all three schools,” David said. “The taxes ultimately ruled out Illinois, and we really wanted to be close to our family and friends. We love Chicago, and it’s an easy commute downtown for Ashley. I hated handing that rent check over to someone else. Plus you gain control over the place where you live when you own.”

“Our mortgage payment is lower than what our rent was by almost $200,” Ashley added. “This our first fixer upper, and it’s been a lot of fun to customize the kitchen. We opened things up a bit. Now we’re working on the finishing touches inside and looking forward to getting outdoors in the spring.”

“We’re confident that the value of this house will support our investment,” David said. “Owning a home is an easy way to gain wealth over the long term. It’s like we’re paying ourselves for any labor we do after we get out of work.”

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