Property Ladder
Magazine Money

Property Ladder

Photo by Nick Antony

“The rent is too damn high,” is not just the campaign slogan of former
New York gubernatorial candidate Jimmy McMillan, it’s a reality for many big-city residents. Jumoke Dada learned this in late 2002 when she told a friend about her $900 monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in South Philadelphia.
“He said, ‘Girl, you could own a home for that much,’” recalls Dada, now 33, who worked as an application developer for Towers Perrin (now Towers Watson), a professional services firm.

Armed with the 5% to 10% required down payment and excellent credit, Dada contacted a  real estate agent and set out to find a condo. But her plans changed when she learned from her agent that a building with two two-bedroom apartments was about to hit the market. The owner had planned to list the property at $200,000 but accepted Dada’s offer of $150,000. It was appraised at $250,000. Dada doesn’t know why the seller accepted such a low offer but believes he may have been unaware of the property’s value or just had a bottom-line dollar amount for which he would sell it.

“When I went to look at it, I was like, ‘Oh, OK, I can have two apartments–somebody will live upstairs and pay the entire mortgage,’” Dada says. She closed in the summer of 2003 and, at 25, found herself the proud owner of a duplex. “My parents couldn’t believe it. My mom thought buying real estate was something only married couples did, but I did it as a single woman.”

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