My husband and I weren't even planning on buying this year but when I mentioned the magic word to my father-in-law (grandbabies), he offered to help us. I asked my new coworkers in February if they knew of any good real estate agents. I was a little apprehensive, since I had seen a good friend go through hell with her and her husband's first home purchase; the agent didn't even file the correct paperwork and they lost the house. But I was led to Silvana & Alex Dias, who in my boss's words, were real estate agent extraordinaires. We met at the first house we saw, which had a huge yard but inside the basement, when husband stepped on the tiles, water gushed up in an arc. That was a no go. We saw approximately 30 houses over the course of our search:
-one house that had a fire pit and had a gorgeous office.
-one was a cute cottage, but the kitchen was completely gutted, as was the basement
-one house we had to walk past a dog because the sellers never made showing a priority
-one had mold on the door to the attic and a half naked man showed us the house
-one had duct work that extended so far we had to duck walking around the basement
Getting our pre-approval letter was another nightmare, our lender drew everything out as long as possible. Part of the issue was the fact that the husband had paid off his only student loan and our apartment complex refused to report to his credit report. So in the credit world, he didn't exist. The debt/credit report world is so fucked up; they reward you for having debt. It's completely backward.
It was amazing the things you learned about a neighborhood when looking to buy. We were standing in the backyard of two different houses; one had roosters and the other had a koi pond. Silvana and Alex guided through every step with so much detail and usually alcohol. When we went to put our first offer down (first of four!) we were at their house for four hours and we sat and ordered Chinese food.
The market was so hot, that the first three offers we made were completely ignored. Everyone keep out and overbidding everyone else. It got to be so frustrating; you would put your heart into a house and then have it snatched away.
The last house we put an offer on, we had to put three separate offers on because the sellers kept pushing for more money, when we were the only people to put offers on the place. We put the first on and we dickered for about two days before they rejected it. We waited a few days and put another offer on and it was rejected outright. We waited a week and put our third offer on it. We waited on pins and needles, going back and forth for five days. Our final offer was 205K with 7K of closing costs and they came back with 210K and no closing costs. We resubmitted the offer and then Silvana called. She asked how I was doing. I said I was a hot mess and she said to have faith. I asked why. She said because they accepted the offer and I had to keep myself from screaming in my office.
Then we began the arduous task of paperwork. We had to submit financial records, have our credit checked approximately 20 times, move money around, get signatures from our employers, and so on and on. We were living and breathing house stuff. I read up on house buying and all the applicable issues that come along with it.
We had our loan accepted two days before the Fourth of July and the race was on to have the inspection finished, the appraisal done and the termite inspection completed (our house is completely wood) before we could close. Then I had to hunt down reasonable rates for homeowner's insurance and spoke with, I swear, a character actor named Stu from Progressive. I could not make up that voice if I tried.
We set the date for Thursday July 26th, only to get the news the day before that the sellers wanted another 48 hours to review the documents, despite having everything for a month. We pushed it to July 27th at 11 am. Only we got to the closer's office at 11:40 because construction shut down Connecticut Avenue in DC to one lane. Our lender kept asking for more paperwork so we finally closed at 12:20 pm.
Everyone at the table kept asking if we were excited. I felt, feel bewildered. A homeowner. I'm the youngest to own a house in my family. I'm a homeowner in the one of the worst economies in the history of the US. I'm a homeowner two weeks before I turn 26. This is a whole new chapter in my life and I'm calmly marching into it.
Photo Credit: Silvana Dias