Inside a 27-year-old $ 560,000 condo in Hawaii
It took over two years, but these days Jeremy Mateo finally feels at home. Mateo, 27, is a real estate broker in Honolulu, Hawaii, and bought his first condo on the island of Oahu just before the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020.
It all started in January 2019, when he was showing a unit in a building that overlooked Diamond Head and Waikiki. “Immediately I saw the view and I was like, ‘Wow, I need to live here,’” Mateo told CNBC Make It. “So I made it my absolute goal to earn an income so that I could buy a unit in this building.”
Over the course of a year, he saved $ 60,000 for a down payment and worked toward his goal of buying the “home of his dreams.”
Then he spent another year renovating and furnishing his house. The last of his pieces of furniture arrived in the spring of 2021, finally closing the chapter of his home buying journey.
Here’s how Mateo bought his one bedroom condo for $ 560,000.
One year of savings
When Mateo set his goal of buying a home, he was still learning the ropes of real estate and making $ 20,000 a year. After researching room prices in the area, he pledged to sell 10 homes in 2019 in order to earn $ 100,000 in commissions, most of which went towards his down payment.
His determination paid off. After setting his goal, Mateo sold 17 homes that year, took home $ 120,000 and put everything in savings while also giving himself $ 500 a month for food, gas and daily expenses. Mateo is grateful to his mother for allowing him to continue living at home without rent during this time.
“She just wanted me to sell a bunch of houses and save for my down payment so I could buy my house. And as soon as I moved, she was extremely happy, ”says Mateo with a laugh.
Mateo supplemented his income by working as a nightclub deejay and even saved money on his social life by getting free admission and drinks to join his friends while working: “Being a DJ will help you save money on cocktails, ”he adds.
Although Mateo was hitting his savings goals, he acknowledged that one-bedroom units in his price range were scarce.
He returned to his dream building and researched the names and addresses of residents on the 25th floor and above, then sent three sets of handwritten letters to see if anyone was interested in selling their unit to him.
When that didn’t work, he would use his insider access to check MLS, or the Multiple Listing Service’s database, for expired listings to see if he could reopen any offers. He found an expired 2012 listing for a 37th floor unit costing $ 560,000. Mateo then called the real estate agent behind the ad to see if residents were still interested in selling.
As Mateo remembers, “the next day he calls me back and he says,” Hey, Jeremy. Yes, my clients, they actually want to sell now. “And there I hung up the phone and got up and screamed. I was clapping. I was super excited.”
Mateo used the initial listing price of $ 560,000 as a starting point, which the sellers agreed to. Mateo considers this “a very good deal”.
He was surprised by the stress he felt throughout the process: “As a real estate agent, I thought I was up for anything. But when it came to the emotional side, I was always stress.”
Mateo put 10% less on his house, or $ 56,000. He originally hoped to get a loan with a 5% down payment, but as his income fluctuated as a real estate agent, he had to put in more funds.
His closing costs were $ 7,800, but he also earned a 1.5% commission for buying his own home as an agent, which wiped out that initial expense.
To fund her bank account and appear less risky for her lender, her mother and grandmother deposited about $ 37,000 into her account “to show [the lender] that I am able to buy this house and that I am not going to be broke “, explains Mateo.” I was a little apprehensive that they would do it, but that was the only way for me to close the loan. He says he has since returned the funds offered.
Mateo used a 30-year fixed rate mortgage with an interest rate of 4.25%. Since the down payment was less than 20%, he pays $ 185 per month for private mortgage insurance, bringing his total monthly mortgage payment to about $ 2,833. He pays an additional $ 1,010 per month in homeowners association fees, maintenance fees, taxes and insurance.
In total, her monthly housing costs are approximately $ 3,843.
After closing his house, Mateo planned to do a complete renovation to create his “modern millennial bachelor apartment” and budgeted $ 50,000 for the project. He ended up going over budget and, along with the furniture, spent $ 100,000 to fully outfit his space. He says part of the overspending comes from working with a contractor who was not transparent about the initial pricing, and Mateo believes he could have saved $ 30,000 by going with someone else.
Just inside Mateo’s front door is a full-length mirror with a Forbes decal: “So every time I leave my house I can look at myself and say, ‘Hey, Jeremy, you’re going to be on the cover of Forbes Magazine One Day. ‘ I know it sucks, but, you know, I call it manifestation. “
Off the entrance is the renovated kitchen, where Mateo has removed a wall of cabinets to open up the view to the living room and balcony. He replaced the woodwork in the remaining cabinets and upgraded the appliances to a Samsung refrigerator, wall oven and microwave, and installed a glass rinser next to the sink, which comes in handy when he serves drinks to his friends.
Mateo has equipped his living room to welcome and entertain. He had a custom entertainment center made, with a 60 “electronic fireplace and a panel for electronic lights activated by Alexa. One of his follies includes his 82” television, where he enjoys watching football games and of basketball.
The bedroom includes a king-size bed, two nightstands, a chest of drawers, and another 55 ”flat-screen TV. While that’s enough space to live in, Mateo says his condo’s biggest downside is the lack of storage, other than a “small closet”.
Another major renovation project was to modernize the bathroom with a new shower, toilet, mirror with LED lights, cabinets and a counter.
Although Mateo’s condo measures 800 square feet inside, the crown jewel of the space – the balcony and its view – adds another 300 square feet of room on the outside.
“That’s why I wanted to live in this building,” Mateo says of his balcony access and the view he gets from the 37th floor. He often works and eats outside, and he particularly enjoys the space to receive friends. “It’s all I’ve ever wanted in my life so far.”
After Mateo finally closed his house in March 2020, his first months of homeownership were stressful. Covid struck right after closing his house and suddenly found himself with no income as the pandemic shut down the real estate market
Mateo panicked, “I have a mortgage now”, but “I haven’t sold a house for two months, and honestly I was starting to worry a lot.”
Due to the wild real estate market that lasted the rest of the year, Mateo sold 24 homes in 2020 and earned around $ 250,000 in income, which helped cover his new housing costs and overspending in renovation. Still, going from $ 500 to almost $ 4,000 in housing costs per month has been an adjustment, and Mateo says he’s now living sparingly to rebuild his savings cushion.
He plans to live in the condo for four to five years, then buy a single-family home and rent the unit for passive income.
“For me being a 27-year-old owner in Hawaii of all places, I think it’s such a great achievement,” says Mateo. “Hawaii is one of the most expensive places in the country. And for me, buying a really nice house at this young age feels good.”
Mateo hopes sharing his own shopping experience will help other millennials understand the ups and downs of the process. When he previously thought about leaving for the mainland, he came to understand the privilege of being able to afford a living in Hawaii: “When it comes to the people here, the food here, the culture here, that’s what makes me love Hawaii. very much. “
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