I BOUGHT MY HOUSE in Silicon Valley by launching a Kickstarter campaign. Together, the team blew past our target and disrupted an entire industry—all while driving for Lyft (not Uber) and Airbnb-ing our couches, of course.
First, what is a house in Silicon Valley? In the lauded land of garages-turned-unicorns, owning a house means any number of things: A wall, if one’s lucky. A floor. Perhaps a couch.
Not so for the wise who live elsewhere—like my Phoenix-based high school best friend. There, houses have four bedrooms, three baths and substantial yards, all for mortgage payments below a one-bedroom Silicon Valley apartment’s monthly rent. At least, those were the numbers she and I swapped, at the time she bought her home.
Step 1: Find the down payment. Kickstarter pipe dreams aside, I’d actually saved for a decade and got financial help from my parents. Grateful and excited, I pulled up the Redfin app.
Step 2: Locate a neighborhood. Whaaat? Turns out, I’d be living near the freeway. That, or train tracks were my way to go.
Step 3: Then, a house. Finding a condo actually wasn’t too hard, though that may be a product of knowing what I wanted: A condo with two bedrooms, one bath. Fingers crossed for a side yard. More accurately, it was driven by the limited number of options I could afford.
Step 4: Bid. I ended up lucking out when placing a bid. My real estate agent had been in the business for years and kindly pulled a personal favor during the process. That gave my name extra attention and good vibes. My thoughtful “Dear Owner” letter also didn’t hurt.
Step 5: Go into escrow. After we entered escrow, I discovered there was a leak in the roof, and we’d likely need to replace it in three-to-five years for a sizable sum. I considered withdrawing, but negotiated my purchase price down instead. Maybe I could now afford that couch.
Step 6: Close. I couldn’t believe it the day my condo closed. Selfie-time. Hashtag #gotthekeys.
Step 7: Remodel. Remodeling the ancient floor and kitchen after moving in has been quite an adventure. I now understand emotional homeowner decisions. Which may be why I still periodically….
Step 8: Go back to Airbnb. Since I moved in, the homeowners’ association has paid sizeable sums to replace our sewer pipes and extract underground tree roots. We’re still waiting to fork over for the roof. To keep up with the assessments, I Airbnb my place when I travel. And I’m not talking about just my couch.
Caitlin Roberson, author of 30 Ways to Happy, helps top tech executives change the world through business storytelling. Her previous blogs were Money Well-Wasted and Self-Tithing. Caitlin obsessively lifts weights and attends hip-hop classes, so she can tithe in Napa, guilt-free. You can learn more about her at CaitlinRoberson.com and follow her on Instagram @CRobRobber.