We Bought a House!

Or as Caleb likes to say… We bought a zoo! I can’t believe this home is finally ours. Here are some photos from the listing itself, staged with furniture that’s obviously not ours but worked really well for the Open House!

And before I even begin… Thank you all so much for all of your support and love! I feel truly blessed with such a supportive and caring community and can’t believe that some of you have been with me since my Tumblr days!

We knew when we signed our lease for the townhome last May, that we would like to purchase our first house within the last month or 2 of our 1-year lease. So after we paid off the wedding and honeymoon in full, we began the process of looking for our house. But let’s be real, I started browsing since 6 months before our lease ended just because I was so antsy and wanted to find out what exactly I wanted in our future house. And so I did find out: I wanted a ranch with a yard, hardwood floors all throughout, a decent sized kitchen with a window over the sink, tons of natural light and enough room for our family to grow by at least 1 more person. Caleb wanted most of those same things, but also like the split-level style that old homes have, as well as an office space and a large kitchen.

In doing this, I got a feel for what area we wanted to live in, as well as the price range of what we could afford compared to our current rent and our household income, as Trulia, Zillow, and RedFin give you a rough estimate of what a monthly mortage would cost. It was both encouraging and discouraging. Encouraging because I felt like we could afford some of the homes we were finding online! Discouraging because it still felt like there were soooo many unknowns: What is the surrounding area really like? How is the commute for both of us? What can we really afford? How does a loan even work? Do we really need a realtor?

In the midst of wedding planning, Caleb got a phone call from a realtor who is a co-agent of the realtor who managed our townhome asking if we were ready to start looking at purchasing a home. We definitely weren’t ready then, so we held off until the end of April when we gave him a call. We gave him a general list of things we needed and wanted in a house, and what we thought we could afford. Then, he referred us to a loan officer that he works closely with, so that we could get exact numbers before we even start looking at homes. With both the realtor and the loan officer, they were fully transparent and supportive in the fact that we have the choice to choose other people to help us along this process if we felt that they weren’t doing us the best service. However, it turned out that they were both incredibly helpful and exactly what we needed as first time home buyers.

Now, everyone will tell you to get a first-time homeowner’s loan and I fully agree, but we were in a very fortunate situation where we could afford to put forward a decent down-payment rather than 0%. So we planned on looking for homes at around the $200,000-$300,000 range which could get us a decent, renovated ranch house. So we looked.

The first day of looking with our realtor, we looked at 5 homes. Most were duds, but 1 really stood out to us. It was built in the 70s, but was fully renovated with a brand new kitchen, new appliances, good laminate floors, new light fixtures, a true and large master bed and bathroom, a huge deck, a backyard, a storage shed, you name it. We knew that we should look at more, but we could just imagine us building our life here. However, it lied on a crawlspace that needed insulation and that could be costly, so it gave us another reason to keep searching. As we kept looking at more homes in the perimeter of Atlanta (ITP), we just couldn’t find any that really gave us hope. This was definitely discouraging. If it was renovated and affordable, it was an insane commute for the both of us. If it was affordable and close to both our workplaces, it was old and needed work. If it was close to work and renovated, it was half a million dollars.

So after looking at about 20 homes and really liking only 2-3 of them, we narrowed our search region and knocked out anything outside of the perimeter (OTP), as well as 2 cities that were too far south for our commute and also still developing. However, that knocked out so many of the affordable, renovated homes but we came to terms with the fact that we’d rather have a better commute because we felt that if our commutes were terrible, we would come to resent the house in a way because it was so far and that we would spend so much time away from it. We also decided that we would need to decrease our downpayment from 10% to 5% so that we could afford something $300,000-$370,000, because once you get closer to some of the established neighborhoods in Atlanta, the market skyrockets and the houses that would cost $300k OTP in the suburbs would easily be $600-$800 ITP. Insane, right?

Then we found a house. It was in an area we loved, with a good commute for both of us! It was the perfect size, was in a great neighborhood, with renovations going on around us so that we weren’t the “best” house in the area, but also with plenty of million dollar homes in the same neighborhood. It had a sunroom we loved with a spacious backyard and a storage shed since it didn’t have a garage. We went to the open house, then called our realtor who was on vacation in Hawaii who sent in our offer with a cute little letter about us to the seller, and crossed our fingers. It was above our budget, but we took a risk, with a shorter due diligence period which gave us a bit of a lead since we couldn’t offer too much above asking. And almost every house ITP that doesn’t have anything crazy wrong with it will go for above asking.

They told us they would review offers at 8PM that night, then get back to us shortly. We waited. We watched Game of Thrones. They told us they would review the next morning. We were so incredibly anxious even though we were realistic about it and thought we probably wouldn’t get it. But we were still hopeful because things happen, you know?

We didn’t get the house.

It was pretty damn discouraging. They told us that they accepted an offer and that we were the back-up offer, meaning if the primary offer were to fall through in their due diligence period of 7 days or they didn’t like what they found in the inspection, we would get the house.

This is when we asked ourselves, “Do we wait 6 months (which means pay rent for 6 more months), save more, then go for an even more expensive house with a bigger down payment?" Or do we keep going? Is it even worth looking more if it’s been discouraging so far and all the good houses we find are either too far or too expensive? Will we ever find a freaking house? Keep in mind.. we had only been looking for 3 weeks so I was totally being dramatic, but it sure felt like we were never gonna find one, especially with our lease coming to an end.

I checked my phone constantly for the next 7 days, in hopes that our realtor would text/call saying, “You got the house!” But we also kept looking, because we still had a lease that would end in 20 days and we didn’t want to waste any time.

So we went to see plenty of other homes and didn’t like any of them. Surprise, surprise. I mean, it’s not like we were crazy picky. It was that some of these homes were terrible, were recklessly renovated, made no sense whatsoever, or weren’t worth the price they were asking for.

Then came my mother in love, Caleb’s amazing mom, who was also looking at Zillow, Redfin, Realtor.com, Trulia, you name it, on her downtime who sent us the link to our house (can’t believe I can say that now). It had been on the market for a whole 2 hours and it was exactly what we wanted. Ranch with 4 beds and 2 baths, a beautiful back patio, hardwood floors all through the house, tons of natural light… does this sound familiar? Our realtor then called the selling agent and asked if we could go see it ASAP. However, the seller’s agent wanted to keep it closed to everyone until the Open House which was 4 days away.

So we went. And we loved it! The commute would be perfect for both Caleb and my work, it’s so conveniently located near so many nearby neighborhoods of the city of Atlanta, malls, shops, grocery stores, the list goes on. The only cons were that there was only a half driveway with no garage or shed, and the backyard was more trees than grass, but everything else was perfect. That being said, we obviously put in an offer, above asking of course, that night with another cute letter describing who we were and found out we were one of 3 offers so far.

Then, we waited 2 days to hear back. And we got it!

Pure bliss after signing all the closing papers and getting the key to OUR house!

Pure bliss after signing all the closing papers and getting the key to OUR house!

Even though we weren’t the highest offer, the seller’s agent said. Weird, right? But we didn’t care. We hired an inspection company to come the next day and we were hoping that even though the house was 60 years old, it wouldn’t be too terrible upon inspection.

On inspection day, my FIL came up to hear/see it all. It wasn’t pretty. There was a loooooottt of stuff to be sorted so that the house could be the safest and most efficient it could be. The water heater was in the master bed closet because it used to be a garage: Not up to code. The outlets weren’t GFCI, meaning they aren’t grounded properly: Not up to code. Single panel windows: not cost efficient. Mold in the crawlspace with asbestos tape. Not good. But in every other aspect… it was perfect.

So we badgered the seller to either: fix the problems before closing or give us the monetary value to fix it. Not getting too into the details, we received 2 estimates saying that it could either cost us $5000 to fix it all, or $13,000. So by now, you guys know we went with the house. So what did we get from the sellers to make us to justify those problems and go forward with closing?

To find out, keep your eyes peeled for the next blogpost with house updates #1.

So excited to walk you guys through the process. If you have any questions regarding this whole thing, comment them below or email me regarding the contact form!