The above rental house has been awesome during our first year of marriage, but even since we got engaged we knew we wanted to purchase a house together. As a result, we’ve been house hunting since November, though more seriously looking since the beginning of the year. Not to spoil anything, but we’re finally nearing the end of the process, so I thought now might be a good time to share how it’s been going down. First, a list of our priorities in the search (not necessarily in order of importance):
Stay within our budget
Potential for us to improve the value of the house
Find a safe neighborhood (especially since Joseph will probably be deployed at some point)
Have space to host our regular game night as well as any friends or family who want to come visit us
Wood-burning fireplace (Joseph really wanted this)
Storage for all our outdoor equipment (kayaks, camping gear, etc.)
Close to where Joseph works
We also prayed that, if a house wasn’t meant for us, that God would sell it to someone else and make it clear that we weren’t meant to be there. Over the past few months, we have offered on four houses total and missed out on offering on a few others we liked simply due to timing (and the fact that the market is a little crazy here with houses going for a decent amount over asking price). In January, we were getting pretty serious about a house that had been on the market for a while. My parents made the drive one weekend to see it with us, in addition to a few others. My dad renovates houses for a living (you can see his work here) and is an amazing resource to have on our team when looking at potential homes. We decided we’d offer, and in the time it took us to get pre-approved, it was suddenly under contract. That was frustrating to me, especially since we had asked my parents to come to Richmond for the express purpose of making this decision.
The first house we actually offered on was a place Joseph saw without me. He liked it, and I did too based on the pictures in the listing and what he told me about it, so we put together an offer within a few hours (offers had to be in by 6 that evening), and we were not the highest offer. Since I hadn’t even seen the house in person, I didn’t really mind losing that one very much. It was on to the next house…
The second house we offered on was actually a foreclosure, but one that was in surprisingly good shape. It was a colonial-style home built in the 90s with lots of light and high ceilings and more room than we knew what to do with (but we were agreed we could figure that out later). It was also only about five minutes from the house we’re renting, so the location was just about perfect. Unfortunately, we weren’t the only ones who thought it was a great deal, and we weren’t the high offer for that house either. It was disappointing not to get it, but we can’t say that we were surprised either.
By the time we got to the third house (early March), we were both feeling anxious and rushed. Our lease would be up at the end of April, which didn’t give us much time to make a decision if we wanted to be out by then. We looked at four houses that evening, and it was the best of the bunch. It was brick, had potential to be updated and personalized, and was in a good neighborhood. I wasn’t crazy about it, but I figured maybe I just wasn’t going to react the way I thought I might to finding “the” house. Joseph was set to leave town for drill (Thursday to Sunday), so our realtor set up an offer overnight and we signed it that morning before he left. I wasn’t feeling good about it though, and even when we got a counter offer and had completed almost all of the paperwork to accept their terms, I still wasn’t excited or even at peace with the house. In a rather teary phone call during my lunch break, I told Joseph how I was feeling and we decided to back out of purchasing the house. We extended our lease by a month (through the end of May) to give ourselves breathing room and look at more options.
Later the following week, I saw this house pop up:
It’s a lovely brick rancher built in ‘61 that sits on 1.3 acres in a well-established neighborhood about ten minutes from where Joseph works. It has not one, but two wood-burning fireplaces and has room not only in the house to host, but plenty of parking as well. While it was clearly loved and maintained by the previous owners, it still needs to be brought up-to-date. There’s plenty of storage both in the basement and in a shed out back, and, when showing the photos to a co-worker (also house-hunting right now), he said, “You found a unicorn!” Knowing that houses like this one can go quickly, Joseph and I rushed to see it on a Thursday evening with our realtor.
One brief tangent I feel it is necessary to make is that our realtor has been a champ this entire time. When we started this process, she was pregnant (due in February) and still showed us houses in the bitter cold and while often bringing her husband and two little girls along for the ride. She’s put together offers in our dining room with kids getting stir-crazy and she’s stayed on top of things with sending us house options and information about potential things we should be looking for. Her little boy arrived in mid-February, and we thought she’d want to take a break and we would simply see houses with a co-worker of hers for a while. However, she was out showing us houses with her newborn in tow only a week or so later. So, when I say she’s bent over backwards to help us find our dream home, I don’t feel that I’m exaggerating. She’s been great and we’re so thankful for the effort she’s put into this process.
Back to the fourth house - Joseph arrived first, and had been there for a few minutes by the time I drove up. One of the first things he said was that it was his favorite house we’d looked at so far, and he only had access to the outside (our realtor was running a little late after nursing the newborn). I’m always a little more skeptical, but once we’d seen inside, I was sold as well. It had everything described above, but also has a huge sunroom on the back of the house. It’s almost 40 feet long and all windowed. I loved it! So, we offered on it the next morning. We didn’t low-ball, but we didn’t offer full asking price either. Neither of us was interested in all the waiting and back and forth that has happened with other houses, so we gave them our best offer up front and made it clear that it was all we were going to do.
And they accepted it within a few hours of our offer - no long wait or haggling! This house is a huge answer to prayers. Thank you to everyone who has been praying for a house (and for my sanity) as we’ve walked through this time of house-hunting. We’ll have a new home, and it won’t be the funny farm (and we did look at one of those). God is good, all the time, and His timing is good. Would I have been more comfortable having a house under contract before this point? Yes. But God sold other houses to keep them from us and, as a result, we were still looking when this one became available. Now we’re in the midst of paperwork and home inspections, but our closing is at the end of April, so the end is already in sight. Plus, because we pushed back the end of our lease, we have an entire month to do work on the house and then move our things over. It’s an exciting time!
I’ll be sure to share more once we’ve gotten through the moving process - including any before and after shots of our new place as we work on various projects. In the meantime, continued prayers for everything to go smoothly would be appreciated.
Until next time,