I had just passed an incredibly important exam for my job - the kind that gives you job security if you pass, and unemployment if you fail. We had been getting anxious in our apartment, knowing we didn't want to stay there much longer. Sharing walls was getting old, we wanted more space, we wanted something that was ours.
We had looked at houses at the end of the previous summer, into the fall. And by houses, I mean like something like 20 - at least. Some were great but expensive, some were okay but not us, and some were downright scary. After I got this new job we knew it would be best to wait until I passed the exam. I passed the test on a Tuesday.
Wednesday my mom forwarded me a new listing from our realtor, saying "You should check this one out!!!" That is a direct quote, with three exclamation points. There was no picture. And the description read as follows:
"CHARMING AND COZY 3 BEDROOM, 2 BATH HOME SITUATED ON BEAUTIFUL LARGE PROFESSIONALLY LANDSCAPED LOT. MASTER BEDROOM WITH CATHEDRAL CEILINGS AND LOTS OF WINDOWS. OPEN FLOOR PLAN, HARDWOOD FLOORS, BUILT-INS, BRICK FIREPLACE, 4 FINISHED ROOMS IN LOWER LEVEL, 3 SEASON PORCH, DECK, 2 CAR ATTACHED GARAGE, 2,500 SQ FT."
Yea, all caps. I hate that too. And no pictures? COME ON, how can you even know if you want to look at it? We had scheduled three houses to look at that weekend, the all-caps-description-house was not one of them. My parents lived closer, and did a "drive-by" and said we should really go look at it. A few pictures popped up on the web and although they left quite a bit to be desired, I sent our realator an email, "I hate to be a pain but..." and promptly added the all-caps-description-house to our schedule for Saturday.
That Saturday we looked at a house across town first. It was cute, and had quite a bit of land, but felt cramped. And had a dirt basement. We were mostly looking forward to the last two houses of the day, a few towns over, but made our way to the all-caps-description-house. There was someone else leaving just as we got there.
There was a "please remove your shoes" sign, which I usually take as a good sign. The hardwood floors were bright, and the bay window in the front provided some serious light in the living room. The living area was open - as promised in the description. The kitchen needed some love, but was big and we said things like "oh we could do this and this and it would be great." We went through the bedrooms, being typical house hunter types commenting "this would make such a great office" and "oh the floors in the bathroom are heated, this is so great." (We're such nerds....)
And then it happened. Off the main hall there was a pocket door opening to a short hallway. On the left of the hall was a large bathroom with two seperate sinks and glassed in shower. To the right, two walk in closets. And then the ceiling opened up and I stood in awe. When they said cathedral ceilings, they meant it. Large windows on three sides. An incredible amount of space. I wanted it.
We checked out the basement, which was a collection of sectioned off rooms which was a little weird, but we were sure we could do something to make it work.
We agreed that we didn't even want to bother looking at the other two houses. My parents were with us at the time, but we wanted B's parents to see it too, especially since his dad is in construction and he would be able to help us see how things were structurally.
That night our realtor sent us an email, letting us know there weren't any other offers on it - yet - but that the selling agent was expecting there to be some soon. Crap. He then suggested we write a letter to the owners, just letting them know who we are, why we wanted the house, etc - he said we didn't have to, but that's what he did when they put the offer on their house, and he felt like it made a big difference.
Sunday we went back, and after B's dad checked out a crawlspace, and had a good look at the house, we decided we didn't want to wait and risk someone else putting an offer on it. After going through the formalities of making the offer - including our "Hi, We're B&S and we want your house so please sell it to us" letter (it was much better than that, I promise!) - we headed home to await our fate...
I don't remember how many hours later, but it wasn't many. We got the call. There was another offer on the table, but they counter-offered only to us (which we later found out was due to the letter I wrote - boo-yah!). We had offered listing price and asked for $5,000 in closing costs. Their counter was $5,000 over list price, but with $5,000 for closing costs. For whatever reason, they needed to net list price - they were an older couple and moving to Florida.
We took it.
Looking back, hindsight is 20/20 and if we had waited six months, who knows what kind of place we could have gotten for the same amount of dough. And sometimes its frustrating to think about, especially when houses in the neighborhood get sold for a fraction of the cost. And then when things like mold appear, or pipes leak, or we try and figure out what the hell this guy buried in the back yard, we wonder why we ever wanted to be homeowners in the first place and B usually starts shouting "That's it, we're selling!"
But, I'd say its finally becoming ours, and B's outbursts are less frequent ;P So for the next month (i.e. 3 years from when we made our offer, to the 30 days later when we moved in) I'm going to focus on how far we've come, and document all work we've done, right here. We can consider it part of my New Year's Resolution to be more appreciative of what I have. Now I've just got to find all the pictures that are hiding somewhere...
And don't worry, I'll get around to sharing some more information about my latest crazy commitment to the half marathon soon too.