Disclaimer: Post is quite lengthy today, but I hope you will stick it out to the end. We had quite an interesting story on how we came to own our first home.
Buying our first home was extremely exciting, yet, scary and stressful at the same time. I am going to assume that those feelings do not only apply to when you are purchasing your first home, but any time you have to sale and move as well.
Let me give you some quick background on what we were looking for in a home. We knew we would likely not find one home that happened to have every single one of our specifications, but a girl can dream right?
- at least an acre of land
- 3+ bedrooms
- 2+ baths
- larger kitchen as I love to cook
- walk in shower
- nice tub for bubble baths
- a pool, this is not a luxury for us. We want it so I can do water therapy and possible help my back
- a fireplace
- fenced in yard for the furbabies
- wood or laminate flooring as we are not big on carpet
As I said above, we knew we may not a find a place with everything we wanted, but hoped that we would find something really close. We had already decided if we loved a place that didn't have a pool and the price was right, we'd still go for it and add a pool later.
My husband and I started our house hunt in September 2011. We actually went and had our first viewings on Wednesday, September 14th.
On the 14th we viewed 4 homes. 1 of which we fell in love with, and 1 of which we really liked.
Randomly, after we viewed our last home of the day (the one we fell in love with) while we were driving home, we got a call from Jen, our realtor, and she explained to us that a newscaster from a local channel had just called and asked if he could interview her for a segment to air that evening! WHAT?! Yup. You read that right! A local newschannel wanted to air a segment on how Jen was using facebook and other social networks to her advantage in the real estate world. Jen called and asked if we would mind turning around and coming back to get filmed 'viewing' the same home we'd just left. I went to high school with Jen, so we totally didn't mind doing this for her.
And off we went. As a friend of mine said to me "Heather, only YOU would end up getting filmed for live TV while viewing homes to buy" HAHAHA. We returned to the home, where we were filmed, and viewed the house again. And fell more in love.
The problem? This house was definitely on the highest end of our budget. We had already met with a mortgage broker, and been pre-approved (for even higher than this amount) but it was still very scary when it came time to crunch numbers.
We left, went home and thought about it. Of course we also though about how cool it would be if we ended up in this house that we loved and also had a recording of the
Then we made a rash decision. We decided to make an offer! Eep!
Yup, we made an offer that very same day; the same day we viewed houses for the very first time. I told you. It all happened really quick. I think we just got sucked into the hoopla of it all. Our agent was leaving to go out of state the next day, and we didn't want to take a chance on losing the home.
Now we know we truly should have waited a few days, slept on it, prayed about it, and given it time.
We both went to work that same day, and it weighed heavy on us. More so on myself as I am the one that does our budget so I was seeing the actual numbers. And yes, we could have made it work. But, at what cost? Our sanity? We would have had the gorgeous house we wanted, but we'd also be giving up a lot. There would be no more random date nights. The majority of our time would have had to be spent at home, as well as a lot of other costs cut. All we could imagine was growing to resent this home that we once loved because it'd be sucking away so much of our income.
As much as we loved the home, there were drawbacks beyond financial. First of all, let me just tell you, the home was gorgeous. It was way more home than we need in the first place. This home had even sold for $300K in 2006. Um, WOW. Here's the stats:
- 2400 square feet
- 3 bedrooms
- 2 baths (with granite tops, the master was ridiculously huge with dual vanities and a huge shower)
- .32 acres. Yes, .32, not even half.
- beautiful view of a pasture with horses from our back yard
- on a cul-da-sac (which we love!)
- BEAUTIFUL kitchen that I absolutely adored
- move in ready, we liked the flooring and paint colors
Some major things? It did not have a pool, and the budget was so high, we wouldn't have been able to afford to put a pool in, also it was not fenced in.
Meanwhile, the offer was in, and the seller had already came back with a counter (that was actually a bit higher than original asking price, what the heck) and we had accepted, again, we were caught up in the hoopla.
All of this was happening in a matter of 48 hours. It all happens really quick when it comes to making an offer.
Ryan and I had prayed about it, and we just were not feeling at peace. At all. In fact, my mood changed completely, and for that 48 hours, I was just in a down and out mood. I knew we had got ahead of ourselves and made the wrong choice. Ryan even noticed my mood change and kept asking if I was okay and what was wrong.
We ended up pulling out of our offer. We are so thankful the inspection hadn't been done yet, so we were not out any money.
And we learned a very valuable lesson. Don't rush into any decision, in all things be patient and prayerful. As soon as we pulled out of the contract, our peace came back. We knew it was the right decision.
I started to look more into the other house that we had saw and really liked, it DID have a pool, and was about 20,000 less than the original one we loved. BUT, and this was a deal breaker, upon my searches, I found that the house had been a former 'grow house' for marijuana. WHAT?! Yes. that just happened. Something didn't seem right with it. I had saw that the house had just sold in June 2011 for about $70,000 and was now listed for $140,000. I asked my realtor if it had been flipped, or what. She was able to find out that the house had pretty much been rebuilt that when the investor bought it it was in shambles and they redid a lot. I did further investigation as it didn't make sense to me since the neighborhood was nice, and the other houses didn't appear to be in shambles. That's when I found the article about the big drug bust. And that was a quick negative. That would NOT be our future home.
SO, the house hunt continued. And was quite slow from then on out. We lowered our budget ourselves. We dropped our MAX down to what WE were willing to pay, not what we were told we could afford. Our broker was awesome. He told us up front "look, this is what your numbers say you can afford, however, I don't know all the variables, I don't know how much you guys like to go out, etc etc, so YOU will know best when it comes to making that decision, and do what is best for you and remember financial stress is one of the leading causes of divorce" We really lucked out with being recommended to an awesome broker. The 1st time we met with him, he had the same book out on his desk that the young adults at our church were currently studying through. It was nice to know we were working with a fellow Christian.
Anyways, while we continued to look, nothing else ever stood out, until an email came across my screen in November. It immediately stood out because it was a 3 bedroom house WITH a pool on almost 2 acres and it was within 5 minutes from BOTH of our parents houses. WOW!! It seemed too good to be true. The reason we hadn't seen it before is because it was 10,000 over our price range, and the price had JUST got lowered and was now at the top of our budget so it popped up in our criteria.
I replied to that email right away with a "when can we view this?!" That was on Monday, November 14th. We weren't able to actually schedule a viewing until that Saturday but on Saturday the 19th we went, and really, really liked it. Now, I won't say it was love at first sight, like it was at the home that was well over our budget, BUT, there was so much we could work with. And most of the drawbacks were truly cosmetic so no biggie. This time we actually gave ourselves a few days to truly think and pray about it, and on Monday the 21st the contract was drawn up. We threw them a low ball offer, $15,000 LESS than what they had it listed as, but I felt it was fair as it was the exact same purchase price that seller had paid just 2 years before in 2009. They countered with an offer that was still $7,000 below their original asking price. HEY! We were happy with that! Of course, that wasn't including closing and all that good stuff, but you know what? After everything was all said and done, we ended right back at their original asking price, and were only two hundred dollars over budget. We can deal with that! Our closing date was December 29th 2011.
We are SO thrilled with our decision.
We know it was the right one for us.
We ended up in a smaller home square footage wise(1500 sq feet), but it has SO much more to offer us. We now own a huge screened in underground pool and site on 1.93 acres of land, plenty of room to expand if we so chose. And, we are located on a quiet side street (with lots of nearby pastures with horses and cows!), not a cookie cutter neighborhood, and there is no homeowners association which is amazing! We didn't want anyone telling us what we could or couldn't do with our home/land.
There was some stuff we sacrificed, we don't have a fireplace, but we can still buy one. But really, how often do you think they are used in Florida? Not often enough. It was more of an ambiance thing for me. We also gave up some of the finer things that we were seeing in the immaculate short sale homes, such as granite tops, and newly remodeled bathrooms, but, you know what? We can add those. We can do renovations. We also need to finish fencing the property in as it's only partially complete. You want to know the best part about our new home?
We can make this home, our home, into exactly what we want.... because we still have money to do so.
My advice for anyone that is house hunting is never jump into something that is over your head. Sure, it all looks fine and dandy on paper and in your mind, but you really, really, need to crunch all numbers and think and pray stuff through. You need to make sure you have peace when it is all said and done.
And we do. We have an amazing peace of mind in knowing that we are exactly where God wants us right now. We are building our home together, and yeah, it's exhausting and we haven't had a free weekend since we closed, but, we can't wait until it is finished, and we can just sit back and relax in the house that we made home.
That date is coming soon, my friends. And I can't wait to share more updates with you.