If you want to chat on the weekend with Bill Hogg, you’ll probably find him sitting in his 16’x25’ lanai with a cool beverage from his outdoor bar, listening to Jimmy Buffett, with nothing more weighing on his mind than whether to dip in the pool now, later, or both.
Hogg and his wife Sharon are getting a jump-start on “living the dream” in Pembroke Pines, Florida. While both are working full time, they are building their lives so that they can enjoy their retirement lifestyle sooner rather than later. And while adjusting to life in the Sunshine State has been easy for them, becoming a homeowner there was not.
In 2021, the couple was living near Denver, Colorado. For Sharon, who worked for a major airline, it was a good base. For Bill, who formerly served in the Army and is now a cloud engineer, the scenic location allowed him to work from home and spend time with his teenage son.
But when Sharon was transferred to Florida in fall of 2021, it caused a bit of a tailspin – although both love Florida and everything about the coast and ocean. “Because there was a limited housing allowance, we would have to buy in a very tight timeframe,” explains Hogg.
Where Cash Is King
In January 2022, the median listing home price in Pembroke Pines was $350,000, trending up 22.8% year-over-year. It’s also a market where many buyers, mainly investors, make all-cash offers.
The Hoggs contacted a local real estate agent and also reached out to AAFMAA Mortgage Services LLC (AMS), where they were put in touch with Damon Madlock, an AMS Military Mortgage Advisor. Damon pre-approved them for a VA Loan. They found a condo along one of the area’s famed canals, and made an offer during the Thanksgiving holiday week. Although everyone was scrambling to make the deal happen, their offer was not accepted.
The real estate agent’s advice? Use conventional financing, which most sellers are familiar with.
The Hoggs agreed with this plan and Madlock was able to quickly provide a preapproval for a conventional loan. They put an offer on a 3-bedroom, 2-bath, ranch-style home built in 1974, and this time their offer was accepted.
“We were jumping through a lot of hoops to change the type of loan we were using, but Damon – who was on vacation at the time – made the transition seem easy. He was able to anticipate what would be needed by the attorneys to close the loan so there would be no delays,” says Hogg.
Turning on a Dime
Tight moving time frames are nothing new to Hogg. He served in the military for eight years, from 1991 until his separation in 1999. Although he’d hoped to serve in Iraq, he was assigned to an Army infantry unit in Korea, where he spent three months patrolling the DMZ. He would later serve in the Reserve Special Force Group and then the 19th Special Forces Group.
In 1999, at age 29, he left the military and ultimately settled in the Denver area where he used his VA entitlement to purchase a large house on two acres. When he divorced his first wife in 2012, he bought a condo nearby. He married Sharon a few years later and the couple purchased a new construction home and lived there until her recent transfer.
In 2021, they refinanced their home in Colorado and finally realized one of their dreams; they purchased a modest vacation condo in Florida, but it turned out to be in the wrong city! “In the spring, we bought our condo in St. Pete (St. Petersburg, FL) with no idea that we would need to buy a place in Fort Lauderdale by Christmas. There was a lot going on, trying to rent [out] the condo in St. Pete, and buy a home in Fort Lauderdale,” he says. “We needed help to make the numbers work to buy our new home quickly.”
Hot Market Tactics
Although both Bill and Sharon had bought and sold homes before, they faced an uphill battle in Florida both for the tight timeframe and also because the housing market had too many buyers chasing too few listings.
“We were really fortunate to have AMS by our side,” said Hogg. “They moved quickly to change from VA to conventional financing, gave us a competitive interest rate at 3.5%, and went the extra mile to make sure there would be no hiccups at the close.”
After the flurry of homebuying and settling in, spending afternoons poolside has been refreshing, he says. “This is the place where we are happiest. By the water. On boats. Poolside.”
“I literally pinch myself every day because it’s all worked out so well.”