MY FATHER WAS A CAR salesman who, for many years, worked totally on commission, with no paid vacation. In 1953, when I was 10 years old, we went to Cape Cod for a week. A friend gave him a tip on a great place to stay. In his enthusiasm, my father booked for a week and paid in advance.
The place turned out to be worse than a Second World War army barracks. My mother refused to stay. To get his money back, we all agreed that I would have a sudden asthma attack, necessitating our immediate departure. That worked, my parents got their money back and we then stayed in several places on the Cape, ending up in Chatham. Even at age 10, I was hooked.
Fast forward to 1976. I’m married with four children, ages one to six. In a moment of enthusiasm, I said, “Let’s go to Cape Cod.” Amazingly, most of the places I remembered from 1953 were still there. From that summer on, we spent vacations on the Cape in a motel or a rented house.
On every trip, I expressed my goal to buy a vacation home in Chatham, as unrealistic as that was. I even subscribed to a local newspaper. Every week, I longingly checked the homes for sale. After several years, my family didn’t want to hear about my daydreaming anymore, but I kept looking.
In February 1987, I found a house that was old, but appeared financially feasible for us. I was warned that if I didn’t buy a place this time, the family was never going house-hunting again. By mistake, we went to the wrong real estate office and they showed us a new house that was in our price range.
After some wrangling, we got a 30-year mortgage at 9¾% to buy the place. I was delighted, as was my family, partly because they wouldn’t have to listen to me each time the Cape Cod Times arrived.
When I say wrangling, I mean it. At the last minute, the bank decided it wanted us to make a larger down payment. I didn’t have more to give and was resigned to losing my dream house. Not my wife. She phoned the bank, and threatened to call every real estate office on Cape Cod and tell them how the bank did business. She was determined to avoid more of my vocal daydreaming. The upshot: There was no additional down payment. My lasting regret was that my father died the next year and never saw the house.
An observer looking at this financial move would be aghast. It was the year before the oldest of our four children headed to college—and the start of a 10-year spell when one, two or three of them would be in college.
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Source: About the House – HumbleDollar