Even though I’ve only been working with a Realtor for a short time, I’ve been preparing to buy a house for YEARS. It started back in 2008 when I got on a written budget and began paying off my debt. While all of that was going on I was lucky enough to meet with a friend of mine who is a Realtor, though not in this area, to talk a bit about the process and set up an automated email search of houses “in my price range” so I could get a feel for what houses were going for. Getting out of debt took a LONG time and it was not easy, so having the reminder that I was doing this so I could buy a house was motivating.
I must have looked at hundreds of houses online because of those emails that would show up at 7:48 pm every day. I saw a lot of junk, a lot that were great but too far away, and some that were nice, but I didn’t have the money to act at the time. Doing all of that research helped me refine what I wanted in a house long before I had enough saved for a down payment. Being the conscientious person that I am, when I finally did choose a Realtor I expected a long and arduous home search. When I was given a list of houses that were targeted to my list of wants and needs I saw a lot of stinkers and a few that had potential. Armed with that list of candidates I took a few days and drove around to look at those houses and to reinvestigate the neighborhoods I’d casually looked at before.
Out of the potential candidates, some were OK, some were definitely not for me after seeing them in person and there was one house that I saw that I just had a great feeling about. It had a decent sized lot, it looked roomy, oh, and it’s two doors down from some friends of mine. For the life of me I couldn’t figure out why it was priced so low. Talking with my Realtor she told me that we should take a look at it once I got my mortgage pre-approval. In the mean time I looked at more candidates, but every time I did, I kept coming back to this one house. I can’t explain it, but it just felt right.
This past Thursday I got to drive around with my Realtor to a few houses she thought fit my criteria along with the house she sent me earlier that I was enamored with. As we walked up to “the house” I noticed that the brick was in great shape, and my Realtor pointed out the new door and that the front porch had recently been redone. Entering the house it was pretty much the house I’d been talking about on Twitter for years with “shag carpet and green appliances.”
Well, not quite. The living room carpet is pink (OK, mauve), but it has hardwood floors under the carpet. The kitchen is a bit dated with its linoleum floor and olive green formica countertops, but the appliances are relatively new. The den has some funky high pile carpet, but I can live with it. It’s got an attached one car garage which wouldn’t be great for doing a ton of maintenance, but it would keep me from scraping windows in the Winter. There’s a covered patio out back and a shed-ish structure built along side of the patio.
We went upstairs and the bathroom is pink. Really pink. Pink tile on the walls, pink bathtub, pink sink, pink toilet, even a pink tile floor. Clearly the zenith of 1950s style. If HGTV built a dream home in 1956, this would be its bathroom. The bedrooms had a more neutral color scheme and after a closer inspection, they also appeared to have hardwood floors like the living room. This house clearly set the bar very high for what was available in my price range, but there was another person waiting to view the house while I was there with my Realtor so off we went to check out the other houses on the list.
One house that looked decent on the Internet aside from a questionable roof was clearly not for me as soon as we got to the driveway. We didn’t even bother getting out of the car. Another house that we looked at was at the lower end of the price range I was looking at, and while the outside of the house was gorgeous, the inside needed a lot of work. Another house had a great lot, was in really good shape, but was further from downtown Bethlehem than I would have liked, it only had two bedrooms and the taxes were significantly higher than any of the other houses I looked at.
As we drove back to my Realtor’s office she and I talked about the houses we saw and I mentioned how I really liked the first house we looked at. I asked what I should do. Should I keep looking? It seemed like a deal that was almost too good to be true, and with so many duds showing up at my price point, was it worth it to keep looking hoping that maybe something better would show up? This is the point where you just have to trust your Realtor. She told me that she’d seen many houses and that the asking price was really a fantastic deal for that house in that area. It also hit on just about every single one of my needs and wants. I’d been looking at houses online for a long time and I knew it was a great deal. Sure, it had some issues that I’d want to address, some sooner than later, but I went with my gut and told my Realtor that I thought I wanted to make an offer on it.
She told me that she thought it was a really good decision, but before I did anything, I should sleep on it. She called the listing agent and asked if it had any known issues and he mentioned that there were a few minor things, and that he would send over the city inspector’s report. My Realtor gave me a blank copy of the “Standard Agreement For The Sale Of Real Estate,” a 23 page document which is used to formally make an offer on a property. With a lot of reading to do and all night to think about it I called my friend who lives in the house two doors down from the one I was considering purchasing and asked if she would talk with me about the neighborhood, because while it may have looked nice the few times I’d visited the area, they would know the good and bad about living on that street.
I was expecting a phone call, but she said to come over. I had a great chat with her and her husband where we talked about all kinds of things I wouldn’t have thought of and when it came down to it, there really was nothing bad about living on that street, not even the garbage woes that another friend of mine has been struggling with for years at her house across town. An hour and a half later it was time for their kids to go to bed and I didn’t want to overstay my welcome so I went home to read.
Contracts are dry, boring and filled with repetitive clauses that make you want to poke your eye out with number two pencil, but they’re necessary and it doesn’t make sense to sign something you haven’t read and understand. Luckily, nothing in the offer contract was hard to understand, so even though it took a while to read, I didn’t have to go look anything up or ask my Realtor what a particular section meant.
I woke up on Friday morning and had some documents from my Realtor: a copy of the city inspector’s report, a list of estimated closing costs and a list of comparable houses sold that backed up the dollar amount we had discussed me offering on the house. After reading all of those documents and having slept on it the night before, at no point did I feel like it was a bad decision, or something i shouldn’t do, so I sent her an email saying I wanted to move forward with putting in an offer.
We met at her office and filled out all of the necessary paperwork, which basically entailed me initialing and/or signing my name about 35 times. She gave me a copy of all of the documents I’d completed and told me that she would send the offer over to the seller’s agent and there was nothing for me to do but wait. She told me to try to find a way to occupy my time because the waiting could drive me nuts. She was absolutely right.
The time stamp on the email she sent to the seller’s agent that I was carbon copied on was 11:01 am. The following nine hours were some of the most stressful that I can ever remember, and it was all my own doing. My mind filled with ridiculous questions: Would the seller accept my offer? Would they throw it out completely? Would they counter offer with something I couldn’t agree to? The doomsday scenarios were many and creative. Then I got a phone call from my agent a little after 8 pm. They had a counter offer.
I talked it over with my agent and while I felt that my initial offer was reasonable, the counter offer from the seller was also very fair and instead of entering into a back and forth over a few thousand dollars that could result in the deal falling through I agreed to the counter offer. My Realtor called the seller’s Realtor back with the information and within a few minutes I got another call from my Realtor saying that the seller would be signing the paperwork the following day (today). While it was essentially a “done deal,” nothing was considered final until the seller signed the offer and I signed a document accepting their revised selling price.
I got a text message from my Realtor this afternoon letting me know that she had a copy of the signed contract and that in light of the pending hurricane they would give me a few days to sign the document with the revisions on it. Since I already know that I agree with the price the seller proposed, it’s official, I’m buying a house!