Hurdles along the way

Buying a house is the most stressful experience I’ve ever been through. The business of real estate does not operate like a traditional business. There is so much that is out of your hands, and you are at the mercy of everyone else. I felt like I was constantly playing a game of telephone – my agent would tell me something that the seller’s agent said, that may or may not have come directly from the sellers and may or may not have been over exaggerated.

Once my offer was accepted, I had to immediately schedule an inspector because I only had 10 days to back out if they found something wrong. Thankfully the inspector didn’t find anything major with the house – some electrical work to be brought up to code, some other things that would be nice to get fixed, and a few repairs that needed to be finished from before the house was put on the market.  We encountered a few other bumps in the road along the way towards closing, but everything was worked out smoothly.

I began packing up my apartment and strategized what I would do first in my new home.

Winning the prize

Thursday, April 4, 2013 started off like every other. I went to work checked my email, checked the new house listings and that’s when I found it. My house. Yes the decor was outdated and there was pink carpeting, but it was in a great location, was a great size (2160 sq ft) and had everything I wanted. I commented on the listing “Love this! Must see ASAP!” then emailed my Realtor.  When I hadn’t heard back from him, I called him on my lunch hour and told him I wanted to see it right away – I wasn’t letting this house get snatched up by anyone else.  We made plans to go see it that evening after work.

The house was in great shape – it had only had one set of owners in its 49 years and it had been well cared for. I immediately saw all of the potential.  A few coats of paint, removal of wall paper and some new furniture would do wonders.  We spent about an hour in the house and I was ready to move forward with an offer. We found out they were expecting another offer in the morning, so we put together a solid bid.  The next day, the sellers agent was in touch with my agent.  She was concerned about my FHA loan and the appraisal. I called my mortage broker (who was amazing!) and asked her what my options were. She said she would do everything in her power to get me bumped up to a conventional loan, but it would cost me more. I told her I didn’t want to lose this house just because I was FHA.

On Saturday morning I received an interesting call. The sellers wanted to meet me before accepting my offer, would I oblige? Of course! Sunday afternoon my agent and I met at the house and spent about an hour with the sellers. I told them a little about my background and we had some commonalities – one of my MBA concentrations was HR and the gentleman had spent his career in HR. They were a very sweet couple and wanted to meet the person who would be moving into their home with all their memories of their children & grandchildren.

After the meeting, I thought, we’re in the clear and I should have a contract soon! But of course it wasn’t that easy. The seller’s agent informed mine that she had 7 offers on the property and was going to present them all. She was definitely the villain in this story – I found out later she told my Realtor I was offering too much and should lower my offer. Huh? She makes a commission on the sale price so why would she want me to lower my price? She was hoping the sellers would go with an all cash offer so the sale would “be easy for her”.

Alas, the villain did not succeed and my offer was accepted on Tuesday evening. I was on my way to becoming a homeowner!

Taking a break

My weekend in Chicago for St. Patrick’s day was a much needed break from my house hunt in Dallas.  I saw some of my good friends from college and stayed with my friend Stephanie who had recently relocated from Dallas. We enjoyed lots of  green beer, good food and new & old memories. And, I got to check off one of my bucket list items – see the Chicago river dyed green!

Chicago River

Chicago River

Once back in Dallas, the house hunt resumed. After a few more weeks I found it! My future home! Little did I know finding the house was the easiest part, the process that would ensue would be torture!

Pulling the trigger

Over the next several days after my first day of house hunting, my personal search website was updated daily with new listings.  Each day I logged into my portal to review the new houses and decide if I liked them, hated them, or if they could be a possibility. Very few houses were coming on the market in my search parameters, and even fewer that I liked.  I started wondering how long it could take me to find something.

Meanwhile, the Dallas housing market was heating up – supply was low and demand was high. Houses were selling within hours of going on the market and for above asking price! What this meant for me: I had to be ready to pull the trigger when I found something I liked.

The second weekend of my house search, I had plans to meet my Realtor in the morning to go see 5 houses. Before I left my place that day I logged into my custom site and noticed one particular house that I really wanted to see.  It was in a great location, less than 1 mile from my good friend Annie, and backed up to a neighborhood greenspace that had a huge pool, tennis courts, playground and walking path, all for a low HOA fee of $600 per year! Saturday’s house hunt produced nothing exciting, but we made plans to go out again on Sunday morning and see the aforementioned house.

Day 3, Sunday March 10: met with my Realtor and went and saw the house. It was almost as good as I imagined it would be! The layout was okay, it had a great wall of built-ins which featured a wet-bar, and the kitchen was pretty spacious despite being a galley layout. The downside: it was FILTHY! They current owners had not cleaned in months! Everything was dusty, the countertops & cabinets hadn’t been cleaned in quite some time, and the closets were full to the brim of junk! Thankfully, I knew cleaning was an easy fix – a few gallons of ammonia would take care of all of the dirt and grime.  So we saw a few more houses that morning and went back for my “second look” and decided to put in an offer.

After the showing I headed to book club and await an update.  Within an hour I had an update: there were already 3 offers on the house. I decided to proceed with my offer – you can’t win if you don’t try. On Monday, I had my answer: there were 2 FHA offers and 2 conventional – they weren’t even going to consider the FHA’s because they knew there were issues with the house that wouldn’t meet FHA guidelines that they weren’t going to fix.

Although I was pretty disappointed, I knew my chances were pretty low to begin. It was time to take a break and regroup, plus I was heading to Chicago the next weekend to celebrate my favorite holiday – St. Patrick’s Day!