“What’s the most expensive thing you own? What was it like to buy it?”
Well, I think that this is the perfect time for me to tell the story of how we bought our house. I just told it on the most recent episode of MetroBuzz, but I don’t presume that everyone who reads this listens to that and visa versa, so here goes.
We didn’t start the summer with the intention of buying a house. The lease on our apartment wasn’t up until February 28, 2014 and with Jay’s newly rented storage unit, we had enough space to live there comfortably. I loved that apartment and would have been 100% fine with living there for a little while longer. When the summer began, my grandfather’s condition had taken a turn for the worse and his health was pretty much the only thing on my mind. If you had told me at the end of May that by the beginning of September, we would become homeowners, I would have laughed at you.
But, just like with Jay’s car last fall, we didn’t so much find our townhouse as our townhouse found us.
Let me go back to the beginning. One of the things that Jay and I have always loved to do is go to open houses in our area. We’re so nosy! Back in 2009/2010, when no one was buying houses, there were always “upper scale” homes near us that someone was holding an open house to try to sell. We just liked looking because at the time, we knew we could never afford to leave the apartment complex we were in. Anyway, back on Memorial Day Weekend, during one of our breaks from watching Arrested Development, we were running up to Target when we came across a sign for an open house right off the road we lived off of. So, we decided to check it out. It was okay, but, we weren’t looking for a house at the time, just a distraction.
We went back home to New York the following week and well, you all know what happened then. I was a zombie for a lot of June and completely lost in my grief. One evening at the very end of June, Jay was bored at work and looking at houses on the Trulia app, when he came across the house we had seen at that open house, as well as the one next to it, which was also for sale. The layout of that house was different, so Jay wanted to take a look at it. I figured, “Sure, why not?” and contacted the real estate agent listed on the website. A few days later, we were looking at it. We told her that we weren’t really interested in buying a house at the time and that this house was definitely not for us (it really wasn’t), but agreed to be put on her email list that sent new housing listings in the area.
This was when we learned that real estate agents have a reputation for being really F’ing pushy for a reason. This woman would not take no for an answer and asked us if we wanted to see anything else before we made up our minds to stay in our apartment until February. We told her that we’d definitely look if we saw something that we liked and would most likely consider purchasing when it got closer to February. She pressed us for some other types of homes we’d like to look at and we named the closest thing to us: the townhomes two miles away from our apartment. In the beginning of July, she had us meet her at one such townhouse that was for sale so we could look at it and get a feel for it. We thought it was hands down awesome, but again, we weren’t really in a house-buying state of mind. A few days later, we went off to New York then off to San Diego and pretty much forgot about the whole thing.
A few weeks after we got back from San Diego, she checked in with us and said she was going to start sending emails with recent listings. I looked at them when they came in, but generally deleted them because we weren’t interested. Then, one day at the beginning of August, I saw another townhouse for sale right around the corner from the one we looked at a month earlier. I showed Jay and we figured, “No harm in checking it out…”
Not only did we check it out, we loved it. It was a slightly different floor plan from the first one, but one that we liked even better. We left that evening (because the agent was so pushy, she insisted on meeting us at 9 p.m. after Jay had gotten out of work) with a strange feeling that we liked that house in a way that made us not want to walk away from it, like we were expecting to. Since this happened on a Thursday or a Friday, we went back to look at it once more over the weekend (in the daylight, haha). Then, the real estate agent really started putting a lot of pressure on us to make an offer. I don’t respond well to being pressured, particularly when, oh, I don’t know, my life’s savings is on the line, so I told her that we weren’t going to just buy a house one day after seeing it when up until 24 hours before, we weren’t even looking to buy a house. So, ever the gal trying to earn a commission, she had a friend who worked for a mortgage broker send me a “good faith estimate” with scenarios on how much different types mortgage plans would be with different down payments, etc. When I saw that we wouldn’t have to put down as much as we originally imagined in order to still have a very reasonable mortgage payment, it definitely helped ease my concerns.
The pressure from the real estate agent to make the offer didn’t let up the entire weekend, though, and that almost ruined it for us. I have no problem with someone who is obvious about wanting to make a buck, but I do have a problem when they attempt to sugar coat it in fake sincerity and thinly veiled insults (“You look like you’re a worrier!” “I told you: asking them to clean the rugs is cosmetic and people generally don’t ask for cosmetic fixes. Do you understand what cosmetic means?”). Honestly, if it hadn’t been for how great I thought the mortgage broker was (she was beyond awesome and helpful), I would’ve walked away from the entire thing just to spite our agent. Despite her urging us to ask no less than asking price and offering to pay all of the closing costs, we ended up making our first offer one that we wanted to make. Naturally, “someone else” put in an offer at the same time. So, after another round of her pushing us to offer more than we wanted to, we ended up firmly telling her what we wanted to do. As Jay told her once I refused to talk to her any more, “Look, we have a place to live now and we have that place to live indefinitely. No one is kicking us out and we aren’t in a desperate situation. If it’s not meant to be, then it’s not meant to be. If it is, then this offer will be good enough.”
The following day, I got a voicemail on my phone: “Well, I didn’t think ya’ll would get it, but you did!”
And just like that, that’s how we got our house. It wasn’t exactly smooth sailing after that, but at the end of the day, we became unexpected homeowners. I still believe the house found us because we sure as hell weren’t looking for it.
So. What’s the most expensive thing that you own and what was it like to buy it? Leave your answers in the comments!