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New: Why Buying a Home Is Easier Than You Think: A Conversation with Margaret Smith

Posted on Jun 21, 2018


You may have heard of Margaret Smith. She’s the Director of Operations for Pickett Street and social-media-extraordinaire. She’s also an incredibly inspiring woman who knows how to focus and go after what she wants. This week I was able to chat with Margaret about her experiences buying and renovating her duplexes and about her home-buying hacks.

Margaret says that you shouldn’t hesitate to reach out to her with questions at margaret@pickettstreet.com. To get in touch with the Pickett Street team, contact them at info@pickettstreet.com or (425) 502-5397. In the meantime, here’s what Margaret had to say.

On her secret to making money and paying off her mortgage:
I got this idea from Cody Touchette with Caliber Home Loans. I started with Pickett Street in November 2012. I walked into a rambler Pickett Street was selling that Winter, and I started to cry. I realized that I might not ever buy a home with a partner (hardly anything to cry about, and yet I did!). I cried because I wanted to own a home, and I literally had no idea how to make it happen on my own salary.

So one day before a class we were holding, Cody told me if he could go back in time to his first purchase, it would be a duplex. And that’s when he explained to me that every time you add a unit to your purchase, you’re adding more buying power.

For example, here was my potential buying power at that time:
If I purchased a rambler, I could buy up to $225,000.
If I purchased a duplex, I could buy up to $320,000.
If I purchased a triplex, I could buy up to $400,000.

Basically, every time you add a unit, you have someone that is helping you pay your mortgage- and so you’re able to qualify for more!

I had never had someone explain that to me before.
I was done talking. I was ready to act.

On the buying process:
Setting up a home search with Pickett Street and then sitting back was hard for me. Once I knew what I wanted, I wanted it now.  If you ever just want to see what’s on the market- email margaret@pickettstreet.com, she’ll set up a home search for you, it’s that easy!

About a year went by, and the Montana Road duplex had been sitting there for over 365 days. I didn’t think I could actually afford it–I thought it was priced too high for me. But we made an offer, the bank accepted, and boom! Off to the races with an FHA 203K rehab loan of $22,000 to fix it up.

The most exciting part was figuring out that I was actually going to be making $50 per month rather than paying a mortgage. That blew my mind and still does. Why would someone do it any other way or continue to pay rent??

I purchased this duplex in south Everett, WA for $296,000, put $22,000 into the rehab and had a mortgage of $318,000.  Here is the breakdown:

$2,130 per month (mortgage payment)
$1350 per month: Upstairs Unit
$650 per month: Downstairs Roommate
$130 per month: Amount I had to pay!!
-After I refinanced my monthly payment moved down to $1946 and then I was MAKING $54 a month!

On the FHA 203K Rehab Loan:

The first project at Montana Road was a $22,000 rehab as mentioned above. This project was very accessible and is not a bad option for a first time home buyer.

Here is the process:
1.  Identify the property.
2.  Make an offer, contingent on 203K approval.
3.  Get bids from several contractors, submit the final bid you choose to the mortgage company. Get the bid accepted by the mortgage company. (the contractor must be 203K certified- if they aren’t, its a simple process)
4.  Appraisal.
5.  Loan approved by underwriter.
6.  Close on the loan.
7.  Start work immediately. You have six months to complete the renovation. Must be approved by an FHA consultant depending on the type of FHA 203K loan.
a. FHA 203K Limited: $5,000-$35,000 rehab
b.  FHA 203K Standard: $35,000 and above rehab

The second project was much larger and cost about $240,000 total. I took the house down to the studs. I would not recommend this for a first time home buyer!

My favorite renovation is absolutely my Third Ave Treehouse (the second project I mentioned above), which is the duplex I purchased in April 2017. The space is what I’ve had in my head for a long time. I’ve always wanted to live in a studio, with bright flooring and open air. I love everything about it. The flooring, the kitchen, the brass features, the mosaic flooring in the entryway. I am an artist, and this was totally a labor of love for me.

To view all of the photos from this project—-> see the images at the bottom of this blog.

On letting go of self-doubt:
I think the message I want to relay the most is that investing in real estate on my own is something I thought I would never be able to do. I’m really passionate about sharing what I’ve learned with everyone because of that.

When I made my first home purchase, I was a single lady on a salary of $50,000 in Bothell. I didn’t have a savings and had to ask for help with the down payment for the first purchase.
Many people don’t ever inquire about buying a home because they really don’t believe they can afford it. I always encourage them to at least ask. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know! And I would much rather be paying a mortgage than rent.

If you’re ready to ask today—> reach out to Margaret or her friend at The Touchette Team, Cody Touchette: #425-909-2007.

Thank you so much, Margaret!

To get in touch with Margaret Smith and the Pickett Street Team, reach out to margaret@pickettstreet.com, or info@pickettstreet.com ((425) 502-5397).

You can even text Margaret directly on her cell phone: #206-228-5067, and yes- she will respond 🙂

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