Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The House Hunt

We are buying a house!

While I've posted a bit on FB about this, the thought of writing a blog post has felt a bit daunting...what to write? Where to start?

Remember that post I wrote a while back about being content with the space we had (our 2 br condo), and just doing what we could to maximize that space? We tried really really really hard to do just that.

It didn't quite work...Not long after we decided we needed to rent a storage unit (sometime in late May/early June), we decided rather suddenly that it was simply time to seriously explore our options as to finding a larger home for our growing family. In our research, we found that it was actually more possible than we had previously thought. So we started moving forward. We are fortunate in that Nick's parents were able to qualify for a home loan to buy a house for us, until we are able to qualify ourselves, so we don't have to wait until we sell the condo; but we will be making the payments (like we're "renting" the house from them, only when we take over the mortgage the amount we've already paid towards the home will be deducted-- it's a pretty sweet deal for us, as it will cheaper still to do it that way than to rent). I am ever so grateful for my in-laws, and touched that they trust us that much.

As a note, because some might wonder why we don't just rent our condo...We have looked into renting our condo, and will end up doing that if we can't sell it by early September (which is when we move into our new house). However, new lending regulations require a home to be rented out for at least two years before the mortgage on that home no longer counts against the loan limit. So, we will try to sell the condo first; if that does not work, or we cannot get a high enough offer (we owe more on the condo than what it is currently worth, but are prepared to make up the difference up to a certain amount), then we will start renting.

It was a little stressful, putting our condo on the market and beginning the house hunt, not knowing if/when we would manage to actually sell our condo or find a new home. We worked hard, repainting our condo and doing minor repairs, filling up a small storage unit with stuff to make our condo less cluttered for showings. I had anxious visions of us selling our condo, but then not having a new home to move into; or on the other hand, finding the house we wanted to buy but then not being able to sell our condo and ending up with two house payments. But we prayed and did our best to do all we could and follow the promptings of the Spirit.

We ended up viewing seven or eight houses total, but none of them felt quite right. We did find a large house in a good neighborhood, a foreclosure and a major fixer-upper. We did make an offer on that house, but with little hope of success as there was already a previous offer on it. Nick really liked that house...I never really felt quite right about it, worried about the amount of work that would need to be done and wondering how we would be able to make the time to work on it in order to make it just livable. All of the homes we viewed that would actually be suitable for our family would have required a good deal of fix-up work. All of the homes, except one...the final home we looked at...

Last week, Nick was gone on a fifty-mile hike for five days. We had not discussed before he left what I should do in his absence. I figured I would continue to house hunt, just in case, but didn't expect to find anything...I tooled around on the MLS and hammered our buyer's agent with new listings, which she looked into but told me she didn't think they would work for us (based on previous homes we'd visited with her). On Monday afternoon, I found a new listing that had been up for just a few days; it looked promising, so I called my agent about it. She thought it was worth looking at, so we scheduled a showing for the next day.

Prior to the showing, I said a prayer for guidance. With how quickly all the good and affordable homes were being snatched up, I realized it might be necessary to make an immediate offer on a home if it turned out to be suitable. While my agent assured me that I could make an offer on a home, and we could still back out later if Nick did not approve, I was still pretty nervous about making a mistake and Nick being upset with me. So before I viewed this home, I prayed to God to let me know-- to give me a feeling-- right away whether or not it would be a good home for our family.

I drove to the house and the first thing I noticed--which had not been apparent from the pictures--was the very steep driveway, which was not a good first impression. But, I was already here and figured I'd go ahead and view the rest of the house. I pulled up onto the driveway and put on my parking brake. The boys and I got out of the car and explored the yard while we waited for our agent. She finally showed up, and we viewed the rest of the house.

It was a nice enough house. A bit of a fixer-upper, but nothing insurmountable, and in better shape than the previous house we'd made an offer on. Generally, I would have been inclined to like it-- it certainly had everything Nick would want in a house, including a fireplace in the living room and a wood-burning stove downstairs. The boys would have enjoyed the yard. It had four bedrooms, and plenty of room. The kitchen was not exceptional, but I could have been happy in it...But even as I registered all its good qualities, I could not forget about that steep driveway, and the sinking feeling I'd felt upon first pulling up. I knew it wasn't the right house for us, and I finally told my agent, who seemed a little disappointed (even she thought it was the perfect house for us), but was supportive of my decision and we left. I got the boys back into the car, and pulled out. My rear bumper scraped the road as I backed out! Yet another confirmation that I had made a the right choice...

After this experience, I was starting to feel a little discouraged. At this point, every promising listing had been explored, and there was nothing left. And yet, that same afternoon, I once again found myself perusing the MLS, willing myself to find something I'd missed before. I was little obsessive about it, really. I must have done the same search four or five times that day, with still the same results, until...

I found a brand new listing! There it was, with "New Listing!" in bold green letters. I clicked on the listing and began to read the details...I immediately called up my agent and asked her to schedule a showing, which she did for the following day.

As I had done with the previous house, once again I prayed for guidance, and for good measure spent a whole hour the next morning in scripture study and meditation. It felt good, and I was at peace. Even before I actually saw the house, I had a good feeling about it. Once I finally walked into the place, all my good impressions were confirmed and I knew it was the home for us. I called up my mother-in-law, and she and our agent wrote up and submitted the offer the evening of that very same day (it was Wednesday).

Ours was the first offer to be submitted. We learned after that that there had been several other showings after ours. This house was in huge demand, and we were ever so lucky to be the first offer in line...Though I don't really believe it was thanks to luck alone, but God guiding me and my desire to follow His promptings in my efforts to find a good home, that led me to find that listing when I did.

Still, I was apprehensive about what Nick would say, how he would feel, when I announced to him that I'd made an offer on a house without him...Sure enough, when he finally got back home and I shared the news with him, he was a little upset, and understandably so. I was nothing but accepting of his feelings and apprehensions, though, and did my best to reassure him and be sensitive to how he must be feeling (I would have had similar anxieties had he gone and made an offer without me). He, too, generously granted me the benefit of his trust as much as he was able, and we had an open dialogue over the next few days as we awaited the time he would get to view the house for himself (the current residents didn't want the house being shown without one of them present to keep an eye on things). He finally did, yesterday afternoon, and officially gave it his seal of approval.

We are scheduled to close on or before September 6th. We're pretty excited :) A detailed description of the house itself will be given in another post, this one is long enough ;)

And if all goes according to plan, we will never have to move again...that will be sweet...

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