Third Time is Not Always the Charm: Our Home Buying Journey

Third Time is Not Always the Charm: Our Home Buying Journey

Not going to lie to you, today's post was meant to be how we bought a house; a happy ending. But the end of this story isn't written just yet. There are a lot of chapters though so get readdyyyyy!

Our Home Buying Journey

I think this story really begins back in May when we got our lease renewal for our apartment in the city. Remember we're still in the height of the pandemic, there are a lot of unknowns and no one really has a plan for what's next. Andrew and I have known for a while that it would either be this year or next we'd find a place to live, probably in Westchester, NY or Fairfield, CT. And it was time to figure out if it was now or later.

We had many talks about it -- first with each other, then with my CPA, financial advisor, and also with our parents just to see what made sense for us financially and see what our options were. We even looked at two bedrooms in our apartment building for the year, but there was noting with our view (and that's the best part of our apartment) so we weren't ready just yet to part with our place. We resigned for one final year. 

Then comes July. 

We spent two weeks in a beach town in NJ and it was our first real taste of freedom in 5 months. It was amazing and truly needed. But when we came back, I fell into a deep depression. I've always struggled with depression my whole life but it hadn't gotten this bad since high school. 

Coming back and not being able to go out without fear or without a mask or just get fresh air without worry took a toll on me. I kind of hit a breaking point at the end of July and I just told Andrew I need out. I always told myself whenever I go to the apartment or to the city and am filled with dread, that's when I know it's time to go. And it was time. 

While not ideal, since we just resigned our lease for another year (10 months at this time), it was something that was just kind needed. We're talking about an 800sqft (max) apartment with two people working from home and I'm starting a second business. To say we felt crowded in our own home would be an understatement between that and not knowing how long this all will last, we decided to take the next step.

Andrew and I have been keeping an eye on Zillow for about a year now and it just so happened that we fell in love with a home in Courtland Manor NY that was under budget, absolutely massive (but pretty far away for whenever Andrew would need to commute) and agreed seeing it would be the best place to start. 

There happened to be an open house on the last weekend of July and we went to check it out. 
We fell in love with the house (although it was probably too big for us) but the taxes were INSANE (like 30k) and while we knew NY taxes are high, this made the house completely out of budget. But it did start us off on our official house hunt.

Andrew's aunt set us up with a realtor who worked in NY and CT and beginning of August we hit the ground running. We're pretty open to anywhere in Westchester or Fairfield with good schools and thankfully there are a ton so we were able to cast a wide net. I'd say we maybe looked at 50 houses? We'd go up just about every day or every other day to see new places and we were checking Zillow by the hour to stay up to date. 

Most were just fine but nothing truly perfect. 

We'd find some houses that were great but were too far or another that we loved but needed more work. In terms of what we were looking for, we wanted an 8+ rated school district, close to the train/easy commute for Andrew (which is about as far out as Fairfield CT and as high up as Peekskill NY) and 4+ bed, 3+ bath. 

Our nice to haves were a big yard, an open kitchen, and room for storage. I know that may seem crazy as it's just Andrew and I but we've been set on the idea of trying to find our forever home vs a starter home that we'll just sell in a few years. 

(now, this is going to be kind of dumb but I really want to protect our privacy and the houses we looked at so I won't be sharing any photos of the places. But instead, you can get what I wore to each showing lolol.)


Third Time is Not Always the Charm: Our Home Buying Journey

After a lot of houses, we came across house #1 (what we'll be calling it). We spent the morning looking at two houses in Fairfield (the first one we loved but they had an offer accepted that morning) then the afternoon looking at two houses in New Canaan (house #1 was the first of the two houses). House #1 was decorated exactly how I would decorate it. Blue and white everywhere so it was pretty easy to envision us there. The exterior of the house was gorgeous, it had a front and back porch and an absolutely massive yard on about 2.2 acres of land. 

We really really liked it. 

I left the house thinking "this is amazing but probably not "the one"" but as I went back over the photos and videos and after talking to Andrew some I thought "oh wait, maybe it is." The pros of the house were that it was convenient to the city and Andrew's parents, it had a great school district, it was secluded, had a ton of space for us to live and grow and it wouldn't need hardly any work.

The cons were that there was no garage (which isn't that big of a deal -- more of a nice to have), that it was on well and septic (which is pretty common we found in CT), and the master bath was super small. All the bathrooms were. But we loved it. We knew that with time we could fix things here and there to make it our forever home.

We asked to go back the next day to see it one more time and the good part was I loved the house more than I did before but the bad part was it didn't go too well and I didn't get to do what I wanted to do there. It's a long story that doesn't much matter but that night we talked a lot, fought a little (we were both #stressed) cried some, and then put in an offer. They had gotten an offer that morning so we put in at full price and just waited.

We didn't get the house. 

The other buyer offered all cash and we couldn't compete. Sad, stressful but also we just saved a ton of money so we were ok. We had gotten the process out of the way and we'd be ready to do it again. Throughout this whole process we knew that if it was meant to be, it will be. So we kept looking. 


Third Time is Not Always the Charm: Our Home Buying Journey

5 days later we put in our second offer on house #2. This was in Hawthorne NY and I think it got listed the day before the really big storm that rolled through the area so we couldn't see it for two days. We were there on day three and it already had two offers. One was super low and the other they were considering but hadn't accepted. We loved the house. It was totally updated, had a TON of space, was walking distance to the train, and only 20 mins from Andrew's parents.

The cons were the neighborhood -- not that it was bad but this was the nicest house on the block (and most expensive) by a lot. That leaves a big question mark on how the area will change and fiar. It wasn't bad it just wasn't as nice as the house. That was the big hang up. That and the yard was kinda on the small side but with some TLC, we could make it bigger. We put in (another) full ask offer that night. 

We waited to hear back for two days, and then another two days and then the weekend... as the sellers left it up longer they kept getting more and more offers so we're waiting to see what everyone brought to the table. By this time we were kind of annoyed that they were even looking for other offers but tried to keep a positive spirit. 

Then (on the day they were supposed to decide) they asked for our best and final offer... But the first offer was our best and final. So Andrew and I had a long talk about what we could do to sweeten it, how much more we were willing to pay, and so on. It was hard because we don't want to overpay for this house that (without this kind of market) may never sell this high again. We went back and forth a hundred times with our loan office and ourselves and decided to take a break from talking about it, make a decision separately and talk in an hour.

Andrew got out of the shower about an hour later and we had both decided to keep the offer we submitted final. If they didn't want full ask, then this house wasn't for us. Turns out, it wasn't for us and they accepted another offer (unsure what it was!). 

So again, while we were sad we were sure that our house was out there and we would find it. We had faith in the process and finding the right home. And while we were eager to get out of our apartment, we technically weren't in any kind of rush because we still had our apartment. The main issue now was we had seen just about everything on the market.


Third Time is Not Always the Charm: Our Home Buying Journey

And so we went back to the drawing boards. We started looking at older listings and setting up a few options that all happened to be in Fairfield and a week after hearing we didn't get house #2, we picked up our search again. I remember the morning of the showing I was having terrible anxiety and I could feel an attack coming on (not because of anything, that's just how I'm wired sometimes). There was a lot of traffic going up so I was able to sleep for most of the ride there and a lot of my anxiety went away.

I remember kind of becoming alert in the neighborhood of house #3 and was like this is nice. Then we pulled up and I was like wut. It was the perfect day out, the sun was shining and it was a setback house on a quiet road with a big yard. The curb appeal is there.

By this time, I was exhausted

I was tired of seeing duds, tired of getting rejected for houses and so I just went in not really having anything prepared for this house. I didn't really look at the pictures or give much thought to the house in general. For every house we visited, I would film a walkthrough and even that I was like nah.

But as I started to walk through the house I was kind of taken back. It had everything on our wishlist and our nice to have list. As I was walking around I asked our realtors why this had been on the market for over a year. In this kind of market, it's unheard of! So there had to be something wrong with the house... right?

The sellers' broker explained that they had an accepted offer a while back but the guy was going to flip the house to sell. The story was that he took multiple months to finalize permits and contracts and the seller got tired of waiting so they canceled the deal. Then a second buyer came in and was under contract sometime in early March but either lost his job due to COVID or got a divorce (or both, story unclear), and therefore the loan fell through on the house.

So here was this amazing house, ripe for the taking -- a hidden gem in the rough -- and it was like everything made sense. All of the other houses had to fall through for this one to happen. I had all the good vibes. 

This was Friday and on Saturday we put in an offer -- trying to be aggressive this time, they came back with another offer between where we were and the listing price, and we agreed. WE HAD OUR FIRST ACCEPTED OFFER!!! WE ARE GOING TO BUY A HOUSE!!

Third Time is Not Always the Charm: Our Home Buying Journey
(^me when we had an accepted offer)

Like... holy crap. We got a house. Our house. I was so excited. Now the real work began.

Sunday's we always go up to Westchester for dinner and right before dinner we got a call from our agent. She said that there was another showing that morning and they had put in a full ask offer with a higher % down and asked what we wanted to do. Our current offer was about 20 below ask, a 90 close (because we had to get rid of our apartment), and full downpayment at signing. 

We hung up with our agent and my heart sank. How could there have been a second offer? How was it possible that they put this house on the market for so long and the day we put an offer in, someone else comes in as well? We got a second call from our agent saying that the seller talked to someone and was worried since we were so young that we wouldn't qualify for our loan and she was worried since she's been burned before.

We were told that she (with the last accepted offer) had planned and paid for movers and when the contract fell through, she lost her $35,000 deposit (hold all thoughts until later). So she asked us to put in a stipulation that if we didn't buy the house after contract signing, we would cover her moving costs. 

First of all, $35,000 would move you to the MOON. 

A quick google search and we could that you can have a white glove mover come in and move you to CA for $15,000. So our guard was up. What was this number and why is she thinking we wouldn't get approved? We had a preapproval letter from our lender and we tripled checked with him that there is no issue, which he assured us there was not.

Remember, we really wanted this house. This was the house. So we presented her with two offers: 1. Full ask, higher % down (and all at signing), proof of funds, 45 day close OR 2. Full ask, same % down (and all at signing), 60 day close, and $15,000 IF and ONLY IF we didn't get approved for a loan. We also wrote her a letter explaining who we were and how much this house meant to us. And this was all during dinner. So Sunday was a stressful night. 

With the 15K, we knew we would be approved for the loan so it was a risk we were willing to take but not one we took lightly. We thought it was absurd to ask for $35k and took it as her trying to re-coop her losses from her last move. We didn't like it at all but made sure that everyone was aware that we would ONLY pay it if we didn't get approved. This will be important in a second.

Then on our way home, we got a call back from our agent and said they accepted our second offer. So we were back in business. Six days later, we had our home and septic inspection. It was really happening! It was exciting and overall both inspections went well. The next day Allie came over to shoot my apartment to list and rent out and the following day, we were off to NJ for the week.

We went over the inspection report with our agents, our lawyers, our parents, and each other. There were two minor (what I like to call) yellow flags and we asked a lot of follow up questions and did the normal back and forth of making sure they fixed X and Y and cleaning out this and that. Normal stuff -- due diligence -- and our goal at this time was to get this contract signed. We liquidated stocks, trusts, and various accounts, we listed our apartment online, we started making plans.

And then things kind of just went quiet. 

Our realtor stopped replying to us, our attorney was asking us what the update was and we started to get a bad feeling. A week had passed and there had been no update to anything. We still had questions that needed to be answered by our agent and the lawyers were still negotiating everything.

Until we heard that the seller is asking that the $15,000 be for not getting the house at all (this is now the following Thursday). Meaning for any reason if we don't buy this house, we owe her $15,000. Not just if it's on us but if the house doesn't appraise, and we need to renegotiate the deal, we owe her $15k before getting to draft a new deal. Or owe her $15k just to walk away.

We loved this house but we were not going to be bullied. We stood firm and said no. We agreed to the $15k only on us failing to secure the loan. We would never be willing to do so for something very much out of our control. So we stood strong. The agents communicated that this was their line in the sand and that it was a take it or leave it deal. 

Now let me remind you that 1. they bumped up our asking price. If the house wasn't going to appraise, it would be on them 2. They would never see the $15k if (and when) we buy the house. The $15K would never go to her if this went through and 3. This is PENNIES compared to the price of the house they were willing to lose. 

But Andrew and I held strong. Called their bluff. Said no deal if that is the case. And the sellers walked away on September 4th. And we lost out on our third house. 

This one stung. It was really sad. 

We had made plans, we had drained accounts, we listed our place, I started dreaming up the space and being able to have my parents come to stay and visit. I envisioned our life, the updates we'd make, the things I want to buy, I started looking into cars... it stung. I cried. 

But that means it just wasn't meant to be. Maybe we dodged a real big bullet on this one. And there is a lot more to the seller side of the story that I don't really feel comfortable sharing. But think about this: was there a second offer? Did two people before us just so happen to fall through? Or is there a common thread here? After everything went down we started to recount all the events that had happened. And now we think it was for the best.

So what now? Now, we're going to wait. I think we're both a little emotionally drained honestly. We'll keep our apartment listed and if there are any takers we'll find a two-bedroom in Westchester or Fairfield that will let us do a short term lease so that in April/May of next year we'll be ready to buy a place.

Anyone else going through this, I wish you the best! It's the most stressful process and the biggest decision of your life!! But I think everything works out the way it's meant to and I'm really excited to see what our house will be like in the future. 

Connecticut Fashion and Lifestyle Blog | Covering the Bases | All rights reserved.
Blogger Template Created by pipdig