[Post edit comment: I wrote this over two nights and holy cow, it's long! Hopefully you won't glaze over while reading it...it's mostly so I can remember it all myself!] Doc and I have been house-hunting for a looong time, maybe even since right after we got married! We love, love, love the house we own and live in, but have always known that it wouldn't work when/if the time came for us to grow our family. With the two of us and Anna and Wyatt, we already fill up all three bedrooms. So, even though the need hasn't been urgent, we've always kept our eyes open for any house that could be the perfect one for us.
Now, when I say we've kept our eyes open, I mean we've really kept them open. And have been very open-minded. We've looked in every neighborhood within an hour of our house, and we have seen a LOT of different houses! There have been old homes full of charm, and brand new homes in brand new neighborhoods that all look just alike. We've seen old homes that have new additions that that don't match the rest of the house. We saw one home on lots of acreage that was huge and had a pool and a barn and an additional apartment that was lovely, and of course wouldn't fit in our budget even if we shaved a whole digit off the asking price. There was another one that had a hot tub room and three full baths all in the master suite alone! I could see the potential in it but Doc called that one the money pit. A lot of houses have gotten a resounding no from both of us within the first 5 minutes of being inside. But that hasn't been the case with all of them...
House One In May of 2011, during a time when I had kinda pushed the house hunt to the side, I randomly got online and spotted a house that looked like it could have good potential. I sent the link to Doc and he agreed, we should go see it. He dialed up our realtor and before we knew it, we had an appointment to see it that afternoon. I called my mom and she planned to meet us there (she's my sounding board, and helps me visualize living there while Doc looks at things like the structure of the house). Here are the pros of House One: -- 4 acres on the outskirts of town -- 4 bedrooms, with potential to finish out one or two more -- 2 and 1/2 baths -- beautiful pool and beautiful landscaping -- recently renovated kitchen -- awesome screened in porch with fireplace -- woodshop in backyard
Of course, it came with some cons too: -- teeny, tiny master bedroom -- even smaller master bath -- other full bath would need renovating too -- open upstairs loft that can be seen from kitchen (definitely presented decorating/usability challenges) -- neighboring houses were not very attractive -- not located in a neighborhood with other children close by
But even though it had those cons, we really like it. It seemed as though we had found the house we'd spent years looking for! We saw it on a Thursday evening and the following day, Doc's parents and the kids were all out our house for the weekend so we took them to see the house too. They fell in love as well and the kids went so far as to pick out their rooms. By Sunday after church, we were sitting in our realtor's office filling out our official offer.
How it played out: Our realtor told us another buyer was interested, and while that definitely scared us, we still wanted to be smart about our offer. Unfortunately, our realtor was also representing the seller and could offer us zero guidance. In the end, we gave a solid offer that was not at the top of our range but the other buyer offered more. The seller chose the other buyer's offer and it was done for us. We didn't even get a chance to up our offer.
This was my first experience of finding a house, falling in love, putting in an offer, and not getting it. Naturally, I was devastated. I cried for days and couldn't imagine how we would ever found another house as good as this one. We also parted ways with our realtor after feeling burned on a couple of decisions.
House Two Fast forward a few months to the fall of 2011, and my brother Nick told me about a house he and my SIL Beth had gone to see. It wasn't right for them, but they thought it might fit with what we were looking for. One of Nick's buddies from high school is a realtor in town and he offered to show us the house that week. It looked like a winner, and all of a sudden not getting the first house made sense. Here are the pros: -- five bedrooms (!) -- 3 full baths, 2 half baths -- large master bathroom -- upstairs playroom -- office -- craft room (!) -- screened-in patio with outdoor kitchen -- 12-seater, stadium-seating style big screen theater (This was not a pro to me at first, but I came around to the idea.) -- in a cove in a big neighborhood -- backyard potential
And the cons: -- ho-hum small kitchen -- zero attic space (Previous owner's had finished out every inch of space.) -- master bathroom could use some renovating -- tiny fifth bathroom upstairs -- upstairs full bath had sloped ceilings that made it feel tiny -- overgrown flowerbeds and poor landscaping
We didn't leave our first viewing on cloud nine, but the more we thought about it, the more we fell in love. Five bedrooms! And the craft room could easily have been converted to another one should we ever need more than that. It was very kid-friendly, with the playroom and theater room. Super Bowl parties would be fun to host. The backyard had a great tree line in the rear.
So we told our new realtor - Nick's buddy - that we were interested in the house but weren't quite ready to write an offer (it had been listed for a less than a week). He agreed to keep us posted if any activity picked up on the house. He also told the sellers he had an interested couple that just wasn't ready to write the offer yet. A couple months later, after no activity on the house, the sellers asked to see our current house to possibly negotiate a house swap. We weren't really considering selling our house, but agreed to let them come see it. While that sounded like an ideal situation, we just couldn't get the numbers to work. So we dropped that idea.
How it ended up playing out: After the house swap idea fell flat, we told the sellers, via our realtor, that we didn't want to do anything during the holidays but would put in an offer at the first of the year if it was still available. True to our word, on January 2nd we toured the house one more time and then wrote out an offer in their kitchen. The offer was pretty straightforward - no contingencies - but I did request that all window treatments stay with the house (I wanted the hardware!) and also all equipment needed for the home theater (we're not very techy and wouldn't have known what to buy). Within a week, we had their counter-offer in hand. Obviously they came back with another purchase price, but they also removed the part about the window treatments and home theater. Instead, they wrote up a Purchase of Personal Property agreement that stated they'd sell the window treatments and home theater equipment to us for $1. This would keep those things out of the appraisal of the house - fine by us. We filled out our response, meeting them in the middle on the purchase price but also knowing we were so close in numbers that wouldn't kill the deal. We'd go to their number if we needed to. We didn't sign the Purchase of Personal Property because one sentence was weird and needed clarification (about the replacement of a big speaker). Our realtor gave them our response and, since it was a Friday morning, we gave them through Monday evening to respond (we knew they were traveling over the weekend). To me, it was said and done. There was nothing that could go wrong.
Doc called me early that Monday morning and told me he'd spoken with our realtor and it wasn't good. I thought he was playing a joke on me. There was no joke, though. The sellers had decided on the Sunday evening before to sell their home to their (the wife's) sister instead of to us. For the same price that we offered. The paperwork was already signed, sealed, and delivered to their realtor's office. It was done. And we were no longer in the picture.
Obviously, I was devastated again. The tears came again. Luckily, within a week or so of losing a house (again), we found out I was expecting. That was something worth being happy and excited about! But it also put the urgency in our house hunt...
House Three We have to give Nick credit for introducing us to this house too. The unique thing about it? It wasn't on the market. Somehow, Nick and his buddy the realtor had caught wind that this couple was looking to move, they just hadn't listed their house yet. And anyone who'd been in the house said it was a lovely house. If listed, it could receive multiple offers.
We asked our realtor to check with the homeowners to see if we could tour their house. It took almost a month before they agreed to let us in. And when we walked in, we fell in love. Everyone we'd heard from was right - the house was lovely. And very well-built. And - this was important to me - it didn't look like every other house in the neighborhood. Here are the pros: -- 4 bedrooms -- 3 full baths, one half -- large master with its own sitting area -- HUGE eat-in kitchen -- large dining room off the kitchen -- office -- upstairs playroom -- 3 car garage -- maintained landscaping, good-sized yard
Only a few cons: -- backyard isn't fenced in -- no front walk to front door -- bathrooms could use some updating, but not necessarily a complete renovation
How it played out: Immediately after seeing the house, we wanted to put an offer on it. Since it wasn't listed for sale, our realtor had to ask how and if they would be accepting offers. They needed to fill out either a Permission to Show or a Listing Agreement (I think). While they decided on whether or not they wanted to do that, we went ahead and filled out an official offer. Because it wasn't listed, we had to pull a purchase amount out of the air. We did our homework and crunched the numbers on all the comps and came up with what we thought was a solid offer. Our realtor's response was that it was above what he thought the listing range would be, but we went with it anyway.
I get fuzzy on the details here because it drug out for so long. The seller spoke with our realtor on a Wednesday morning and agreed to sign the Permission to Show and send it to him that afternoon. He never heard from her that day, or the rest of the week or weekend. We knew they were leaving the following Monday for a week at Disney, so everything was put on hold. While they were gone, our offer expired. Since we never heard back from them before they left, we felt very discouraged and continued to look at other options.
The seller finally contacted our realtor after they returned from vacation. They were ready to accept an offer. So we met and re-wrote one, once again feeling like we were offering a solid amount. It was presented to the sellers on a Tuesday and had a Sunday afternoon expiration. We patiently waited, but never heard anything. An hour after our contract expired, the phone rang. It was our realtor and he'd received a counter from the sellers.
We agreed to change the expiration time on our contract so we could accept their counter. Unfortunately, the counter was a big jump from our offer. I'll fast forward through the play-by-plays here because there was quite a bit of back and forth before we agreed on a number. In the end, we settled on a purchase amount with a contingency that the appraisal of the house be equal to or greater than the purchase offer. The contingency also stated that if the appraisal value came in within a certain range below the agreed upon price, the contract was still valid and the purchase price would be adjusted to the appraisal value.
Even after all the lines were signed, we were hesitant to celebrate. Everything still hung on the appraisal value. We quickly got our paperwork through our bank and they ordered up the appraisal. In less than a week we had what we'd been waiting for, and it wasn't good. The appraisal came in lower than the contingency amount, thus making our contract null and void. The deal was over.
Sigh...now it was up to the sellers to decide if they still wanted to sell their house and if they were willing to do so at a lower amount. We, of course, were definitely up for buying it at a lower price! It was three days before we heard from them again and they were willing to lower their selling price. Oh yea! They signed their part of the paperwork on a Monday afternoon and we signed that same evening.
And just like that, we have a house! (That was a very abridged version of the hellacious roller-coaster we have ridden for about two months. We have nit-picked back and forth over every single pencil mark on the forms, and they have given on nothing. Our motto has become "they have what we want" and it's what's gotten us through it. But everything's signed now!)
While we are super excited about the house, we're still a little hesitant to really celebrate. We have an inspection set for this Thursday that we're anxious to get through. If it goes well, then maybe we can pop a bottle of
champagne sparkling grape juice!
So that's where we are in the house hunt! The house has been found, but we'd still appreciate prayers for a passing inspection. Then, the fun will really begin and I can start showing you some of my inspiration for the nursery!!