Friday, April 3, 2009

The One That Got Away

The one that got away...

So, the pre-approval business was the most stressful part about this home-buying business so far. Until now.

Pre-approval involved Greg and I digging through our respective files to find our last two pay stubs, our W2s for the last two years, 401K statements and bank statements, and a contract for our firstborn. But once we submitted all these things, and sat down (or emailed back and forth, in one case) with the loan officers and got pre-approved without much ado.

That was when the exciting parts began, and Greg and I hooked up with a realtor and began the process of looking for a house. We combed through about 65 online listings with pictures and maps and information about the neighborhood. From that 65, we were able to narrow down the list to 35. Some were pretty easy – the house with 7 dogs in the pictures, the ones with the backyards practically ON the freeway, the houses that showed incredible deterioration in the pictures on the real estate website. Google Maps was very helpful in this situation, as we could look at the street view of the neighborhood and get an idea of what the surrounding houses looked like.

After that elimination process, Greg and I drove around, visiting the houses in person, checking out the neighborhoods. Again, we were able to rule out a lot of houses – the one that shared a fence with a shady used car lot, houses nestled in a neighborhood full of boarded-up homes, houses within walking distance (and thus parking distance) to the busy fairgrounds. After two hours of driving around, we were able to narrow our choices to about 20 homes.

Then yesterday, we went out with our realtor and actually walked through the houses. That was a true experience. We saw one house that was very obviously being used by squatters – they were there when we came by the house that was “unoccupied.” Five children, one dirty mattress, Tuna Helper smell throughout the house, toys scattered everywhere, and a father who had on a work shirt from some video game company in town. It was disgusting. We saw another house that had 3,000 square feet, but 2,000 of that was in a basement that looked like it had been flooded about five or six times. It was the money pit, literally. Someone had obviously spent a lot of money on parquet floors and a built-in bar, only to watch it flood with two feet of water.

But there were two houses. One was in a nice neighborhood with big lots that families are buying up to tear down houses and build up larger homes with huge garages. The house we looked at was adorable – two bedrooms, one bath, two living spaces, sunroom/patio with a space heater, one car garage, big backyard, big closets. The second was like a cottage, in a neighborhood that we love, on a corner lot, two bedrooms, one bath, huge living room with wood-burning fireplace, adorable kitchen, big backyard, two-car garage.

After lots of hemming and hawing that evening, we had both decided we really liked the cottage house. So, we decided that on Sunday we would make another trip to the house, walk around the neighborhood, walk through the house one more time and then possibly work with our realtor to make an offer. It seemed quick, but we really liked the house and the neighborhood.

Then, yesterday morning, disaster struck. The house, after being on the market for only FOUR days, got a full-price offer from another buyer. My heart sank. My little dreams of the sunny kitchen and the big, deep bathtub popped. Visions of planting tiny shrubs along the pathway in the backyard melted. Both Greg and I got a sudden glimpse of how much we had really loved the house.

But it was not meant to be. On Sunday, we’re doing a little more house hunting, visiting 10 or so more houses. The other house we liked has lost a little of my favor, after being so in love with the Cottage. But we may come back to it, depending on our mood. There were just some fundamental things that we didn’t like about that house, but they could possibly be resolved after a second look.

The kitchen in which I will never cook...

This part -- this is stressful.


Arlynn said...

Awww... House Hunters makes it look so effortless : - ) Especially when you have 1.2 million to throw down on a second home in Italy, ha!

Well good luck , I can't wait to hear more of the saga & learn when you find the one.

Jenn said...

I'm sure there are plenty of stories yet to come. I knew that it couldn't be so easy as finding a house on our first trip around town.