Friday, July 7, 2017

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To All The Houses I Loved Before

This year, my husband and I decided to finally make the jump and buy a new and nicer house, closer to where he works. Right now he’s driving an hour to work, 5 days a week. Wowzer! Cutting that drive down to 15-30 minutes was going to make a huge difference!

What we didn’t anticipate was that, apparently,  we picked the worst time in the last decade to buy a house (literally!) Who knew it was a seller’s market? Cause we didn’t. We also didn’t know that April is the WORST month of the year to buy, followed by May. Good times. Not until we started losing houses in multiple offer situations left and right did we realize we had to catch up to reality real fast.


 After seeing 34 houses and putting offers on SIX of them, we finally got an offer accepted! But man, was that a journey. So many ups and down. So much doubt and fear and anger and ugh, not-funness. So this is my little slideshow of all the houses we missed out on, and how we ended up with the right house (cause that’s kind of a funny story on its own)



Once Upon A Time...

Our family finally got on board with the let's-buy-a-house idea and went to look at houses (an hour to an hour and a half away!) the second week in April. Not super committed to buying just yet, but willing to look. Then we found a house that hubby and his Dad LOVED. Apparently it reminded them of one of my husband’s childhood homes (they moved around tons but this was one of the few they actually owned and was apparently the nicest house they had) It was also pretty massive, with 3 big living spaces and 4 bedrooms. Size wise, it was really by far the most perfect house we’d find in any of our searches (we required 4 beds and at least 2 living spaces)

House #1



 To me this was a decent house, definitely had the space we needed but I wasn’t overly in love. Hubby sold me by telling me the formal living area would be mine. Dude, did I have all the ideas for that little room (it was going to be an Instagram and Pinterest worthy BOOKISH room, in my mind. With book stack floating shelves, and a book page wreath in the center. Several book shelves, my desk and of course some kind of fun seating etc etc)

We could have gotten that house if we’d know what the market was really like. But we ended up wasting time bartering over price and which left the door open for a second offer which won out.

(Update: this house sold for over asking which surprises me even now. We were offering a good chunk under... We were soooo oblivious to the market πŸ˜†)

House #2

THREE of the 4 houses we saw that first Sunday were sold by Wednesday. That kinda gave us a pretty good hint at what we were dealing with. But we still had a little learning to do.

Hubby found this house the day it came out (Tuesday night). We were like “okay, let’s go see it asap! How about Thursday?” HA! Naivety! It got multiple offers Wednesday. So we rushed out to go see it with ten minutes notice on Wednesday. (Remember, hour drive? Yeah.)  Yes, we had the toddler. We only got in one car accident though, so that was good.


This house required us to make a couple sacrifices but it had some other aspects that far out did our expectations. The kitchen was amazing and it had a huge extension family room with vaulted ceiling, big deck and pretty yard. *swoons*. We put in an offer immediately but because of some of those sacrifices some parties involved were not as on board and unwilling to offer asking. We’re pretty sure this one went for *over* asking price (I’ll be stalking Realtor.com’s Just Sold section for a while to see what all these houses sold for!)

(Update... yeah this one went for several thousand over asking. Funny side note, hubby had jokingly made a comment "we should just offer ____ and get it locked up immediately." ...It sold for more than that number)

House #3




This house was cheaper than all the rest but also had some sacrifices and some work that needed done. Even with a lower list price we still weren’t willing to meet asking. We were surprised to find it had multiple offers, actually, because of the work it needed (like a broken AC unit and a garage that looked structurally unsound (we planned to tear it down and build a bigger one)) I liked this house, but we did worry about it passing FHA.  Come to find out later hubby was just willing to go along with it this time to get the house hunting done with. He wasn’t as huge a fan. This one ended up back on the market and we didn’t try for it again because of that.

(Update: this house is pending)

House # 4


This house was PRETTY. Small, but beautiful. The town and neighborhood were awesome. It was at the top of our budget and needed some work to be fit for us. We needed a bigger yard so we planned to expand the backyard into the side lot, keeping the same pretty white fencing which is fairly costly. We also needed to move around some walls in the basement to make the room we needed. All doable. Nothing insane.

We went to see this house HOURS after it hit the market and offered asking that night. The realtor very clearly and openly used their weight to push us around a bit. In a seller’s market, the seller has the power and they used it. It’s a longer story than I’ll tell but they kept pushing back the time they said they'd respond to offers and a few days after we put in our offer they still hadn’t responded (asking us questions but unwilling to answer ours) waiting for more offers, which they got. Our emotions were super high at this point and we ended up pulling our offer before they decided. I do think it’s likely we would have gotten this house if we’d been patient. At the very least we were in the running.

(Update: this one ended up back on the market *mwahaha vindication!* but it was after we finally got another house in contract. I knew it would still sell super quickly and I was right. Within a few days it was back in pending status. It's still pending now)

House #5


This was the closest thing to a fixer upper that we looked at (though we considered others, just not seriously enough to go see them). It was in a very, very nice neighborhood, many of the houses around were valued a good amount higher than this one. It was definitely big enough (though it still required a little twisting to fit exactly what we needed since it was 3 beds). It needed a lot of cosmetic updates. It was dark, the carpet stained or loose in places, dented doors etc. but we were totally willing to do the work and by the time we were done we knew we’d have a very highly valued home which was awesome. I soooo wanted to live here and I honestly thought we’d get this one! We offered barely under asking and heard no word of other offers… until they called to tell us they took a different one. Apparently the other offer was a conventional loan, ours was FHA so they took it just based on that (FHA has a tougher inspection. I know it needed a little work, but nothing that I thought would fail an inspection  (you almost always have to do a little bit with these loans but they're small things. Fix this window, repaint this..) which makes me wonder if there was more wrong with the house than we knew)

(Update: Yup, they sold the house for less than we offered them πŸ™ )


Tired of bad news yet? Cause we were. I was ready to give up after house #3. The emotional roller coaster of finding a place you decide you want to live for the next decade+ to find out they picked someone else to live there… was tough. Every time we thought it might be it. Every time it was crushing to hear no.

Every time. 

We learned a lot through the process though, about which neighborhoods we wanted and which we didn’t. We realized we needed a large enough drive way because the city we were (mostly) looking in didn’t allow street parking overnight. We decided we weren't willing to settle for less than a 2 car garage. You’d think we’d get less specific as time went on but we learned a lot about what we needed and about the neighborhood (we did sacrifice on number of bedrooms, just so long as there was room for us to make a fourth)

I also prayed a lot. I prayed for the right house, and I also prayed for deals to fall through if it wasn’t the right one. God obviously answered that prayer. But as time went on, I definitely wondered if the right house even existed.


The Tuesday after house #5 fell through, we found a new-on-the-market  house that looked really nice. We knew we’d have to see it quickly. So we set up showings for that house and three others for the next day (The others were just filler, not super promising but worth seeing since we'd be up there anyway. You never know!) But while we were getting ready to leave for those showings we got a call that the house we *really* wanted to see had accepted another offer. Great. We scrolled through the listings again to see if we could find something to replace it but they were all reaches. I clicked on one house, while getting the toddler ready to walk out the door that I hadn’t seen. It was a brand new listing. Looked decent. I sent it to our realtor before I even showed my husband. We were unsure about the neighborhood, comps, the garage and the drive way because we didn’t have time to look into them much. Luckily the house was vacant so we could set up a last minute showing.

On the way, I googled a bit while hubby drove. Good neighborhood (we’d seen a few houses in the same neighborhood. Actually, funnily, the VERY first house we saw was further up the same street). Right near a great elementary school (we could walk there). Street view on Google Maps showed the garage was definitely 2 cars.

Hubby declared the drive way big enough as soon as we pulled up to the house. He was inside 30 seconds before me (had to get a jacket on the little guy since it was raining) and he said he was "sold" as soon as I walked in. Well, that was fast! But it really was perfect. Not as perfect as the very first house we saw, size wise (we’ll need to finish a room in the basement to be a bedroom) but better in a few other areas (like location, schools etc). The house was listed a under our budget so we offered a bit over the asking price.

We got the house. So, it was worth it.





If that other house hadn’t popped up and sold when it did, we may not have seen this house quickly enough. Just by *chance* (or divine intervention ;) ) we happened to find it and add it to our showings within an hours notice. I find that pretty awesome haha!

So that's our story. Honestly, it feels a bit surreal that we actually got a happy ending, We got a house that's great, that I'm super psyched about, but I think a lot of those houses will still be in my mind as time goes on. I wish I had a magic wand and could morph together all my favorite things about all those houses. 

But today I'll have to say goodbye to all the houses I loved before! 






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