We’re so so so happy to say we’ve finally purchased our first home!
It’s been a long time coming now (we started looking with our realtor last April and just closed this past February). Our current dream home would check most if not all of these boxes:
- Be a unique home (i.e. not cookie cutter)
- Ideally, be built in 1910-1960
- Approximately 1700 square feet (minimum 1300, maximum 1900)
- Craftsman style, if I can get really picky
- Have lots of trim, moulding, details
- Have a coat closet
- Have a big kitchen
- NOT be an open floor plan (we actually like a little bit of separation)
- Have a yard for our future dog
- 3+ bedrooms, 2 full bathrooms
- Have a tub (I love my baths!)
- and most importantly, have the potential for us to put our touches on it
Well, with the exception of the tub, this house checks all of the boxes. But lets rewind to how we got here. When we first started looking last April we were a bit overwhelmed. We wanted an east coast home but on the west coast. They’re hard to come by out here. Finding an open floor plan home built in the 90’s with zero character and builder grade orange-y oak cabinets aren’t hard to find. Most of the houses or areas that we liked were just so expensive that nothing seemed feasible. We’d either find a house we loved in a not-so-great area or find one we could afford in an area we liked but it was a tiny total fixer upper and maxed out our budget. There was one house we adored in the perfect neighborhood but at 800 square feet for $650,000 that wasn’t going to fly.
So we searched. And searched. And went to open houses. And toured houses with our realtor nearly every weekend.
We even left Palm Springs early on my birthday weekend to come back home and look at a house that had just popped up on the market. But, nothing was giving. Finally, we got so close to our wedding that we had to stop looking and focus on the wedding planning. Well our wedding came and went (and was amazing!!!) and a few days later we were off on our honeymoon. One day while lounging poolside in Maui Ben mentioned a house that he saw on MLS. I glanced at it quickly and immediately ruled it out remembering the house’s proximity to the freeway. No way was I going to live that close to the freeway and deal with all that noise. But, he persisted and I did like the photos of the inside of the house (though the seller’s realtor could use a few photography tips…) so we decided to make plans to check it out.
By the time we returned from the honeymoon and looked at the house it was late October. The house had been listed for sale in late July and hadn’t had any offers, ours was the first one. We happily put in an offensively low offer thinking what the heck, the house has been sitting for a while and is in pretty rough shape (the weeds in the backyard came up to my waist!). I should add that the house was a trust sale and man, these trustees were not having it. They countered our offer and we countered back a few times before they said we won’t go below $X number. Unfortunately, that number was too high for us but we came up as high as we could go, coming in just about $7,500 under their $X number. Now, in the grand scheme of things $7,500 when buying a house for hundreds of thousands of dollars really isn’t that much, especially if its then going to be split among multiple members in a trust. Basically, we though they were being stingy, considering how long the house had sat on the market with no offers and here we come along with our offer, happy to buy the house, and they just won’t play ball. They countered back again at $X number and said that’s it, thats as low as we’ll go.
And we had to say no and walk away.
To say I was crushed was an understatement; I was devastated. I cried for days. Even a few weeks. We had found THE HOUSE and lost it. All over such a minuscule amount of money (again, in the grand scheme of things here). Every house we looked at afterwards just didn’t compare, didn’t have the character, didn’t speak to me, was just meh. But we held on hope, thinking that maybe they’d drop the price soon since they’d had no activity on the house. So the littlest glimmer of hope still lived in me.
Then the news came. They accepted another offer. Cue the tears and devastation again.
This was it I thought, its really done. We have no more chances. Both the seller and buyer have agreed on $X number (the one we couldn’t come up to) and that was that. There was a contingency that the buyers sell their current home in order to buy this one but we weren’t too familiar with that.
So the house sat on the market, and mocked us by still saying “Active” (as opposed to “Sold” or “Sale Pending”). Of course, every house after that still didn’t compare and the one that actually did sold so fast we didn’t even get a chance to make an offer on it!
Fast forward to January we casually mention to our realtor what we wouldn’t give to get another chance at buying the house we loved (albeit still not for a higher price). He mentioned briefly he’d speak with the seller’s agent again and see if there was any wiggle room. At this point the other buyers still hadn’t sold their home in order to buy the/our dream home and it had been two months since their offer was accepted. We were on pins and needles checking our email every 2 minutes all day and night and finally after a few days the sellers agent told our realtor “David, let’s put you to work”.
I shrieked. Ben got excited. We thought, wow does this mean we have a chance again? At this point, I had shut myself off so much from it emotionally that I wasn’t too excited. But after a few negotiations we happily agreed to a price just $4,000 above our last max. We had done it! Coincidentally, the rates had gone done just a bit, and it was just enough to make that higher price still manageable for us. In the end, patience really was a virtue, even if it was unwanted patience.
And that my friends, is the story of how we bought our first house.