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  • jamesjballard

House Hunting Again

I thought I was done looking at houses for a while. When I bought my condo I knew it wasn't going to be my forever home, but I figured it would be my home for a year or more while my girlfriend and I continue to date and get to know each other, etc.

Early in the month of September, after a conversation, we thought it might be fun to see some open houses, see what's on the market, and start to nail down our list of wants, must haves, and features to definitely avoid in a house for the three of us (me, my girlfriend, and her mother). We definitely wanted an in-law apartment so that cut out a lot of houses in our price range.

We saw a few houses each weekend, the number of houses seeming to snowball after I'd suggest one or two, and she'd find some, and her sister would get excited and find houses that looked interesting to her and might work for us. Even the nephews got in on it.

Around mid September we found one that seemed almost perfect. Tons of space, well maintained, the finished basement already had 90% of the work done to make it a separate living space with its own kitchenette and bathroom, but it was on the high end of our vaguely defined price range. We got serious and I contacted the real estate agent and mortgage lender I worked with earlier this year and after running the numbers found out this house that was 90% perfect was also 20% outside our budget. It could be doable but also stressful, and seeing the numbers was enough to take the rose tint out of our glasses and see some of the previously white flags were actually light red. Not complete deal breakers, but enough that we could walk away.

We said we'd slow down on seeing houses. I stopped sending as many listings to my girlfriend, and she didn't focus on looking as much as before, but somehow we still saw 2 or more houses each weekend.

As she was going to sleep last Friday night, my girlfriend opened at email from Zillow about new listings matching her search, and found this house with a listing time of three minutes. It was added to Zillow just before the email went out, and the more she looked at the listing the more she liked it. She showed it to me and her mother the next day. It was available by appointment only, and we quickly had a showing for Sunday morning. We still had some open houses to see on Saturday and ended the day by driving past this house, since we were in the area. We liked the neighborhood well enough, and it was a better commute for my girlfriend.

Sunday morning came and we finally got to look inside. With our agent by our side, the four of us spent almost an hour taking in the house, imagining ourselves and our furniture in the space.

On the way back home, while I was riding in the back of the van, I texted our agent and emailed our lender and by the mid- afternoon we had a written offer sent to the listing agent. The seller had one other showing that afternoon, and a low-ball verbal offer, so we waited on tenterhooks.

Monday morning the seller came back with a counter offer. It was more than we really wanted to spend, but as a portion of the offer, it wasn't really that much. We countered back with a smaller increase, and gave our agent implicit permission to negotiate up to what the seller asked if necessary to secure the house.

Monday evening we heard back. The seller accepted our second offer. Slightly more than our initial, but still less than the seller's counter offer.

It seems like a good value for the money, being essentially two houses glued together. The in-law space has its own full kitchen, separate washer/dryer hookups, two bed, 1.5 bath. The main house has 4 beds, 2 full baths, 2 half baths, and its own washer/dryer hookups.

The fenced-in backyard is expansive (0.79 acres total) and includes an in-ground pool, small garden plot behind the two-car garage, wooden play structure (has seen better days and may need to be rebuilt) and conversation circle fire pit.

It has 98% of what we needed, and the last few things are easy enough to live without until we can get them done later.

Waiting on the home inspection before we move forward. The current owner is still looking for a new place to live. We're excited and cautiously optimistic that everything will work out soon.

Side note: The listing photos are largely terrible. Washed out, weird color balance, and some interesting choices of subject. Most of the bedrooms weren't photographed in the listing at all. The house really does look much better than the photos.

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