Finding THE House

Finding the right house was a process for us. I am a planner. I like information. I do my research (a skill I honed doing dozens? hundreds? MILLIONS? of papers in grad school).

Last fall we met with our credit union to find out what we would need to do to buy a house. We talked about what we would want our monthly payment to be, what our credit looked like, and what kind of downpayment we were looking at.

Then we started saving.

Since we were renting at the top end of our budget already, it wasn’t the easiest to do, but we were determined. We got rid of cable television (we only had basic to begin with), changed our mobile phone carrier (Virgin saved us about 1/3 and we’ve had no issues with them), and we limited our personal discretionary budgets. Less yarn is sad. New house is happy.

While we saved, we would go to open houses. Since the two of us had only lived together about a year, and we rent from a friend (so we chose our current rental from those he had available), we hadn’t thought a lot about what we wanted. I knew what neighborhood I wanted to be in, which was different from where he wanted to live. Thankfully, each of our second choices was the others’ first choice. I cared about having space to have people over. He cared about the spacing of electrical outlets. I cared about whether the yard was big enough for the dog, and he cared if we had a dishwasher. We both really wanted a space for a “library”.

Open houses really gave us an idea of what we could expect in our price range regarding quality, features, neighborhoods, size.

Once we were close to having our down payment, we decided to find a realtor. We asked around, got a couple names. I’m pretty picky about who I want to do business with. I think my exact requirements were a “hippie, liberal, feminist realtor”. I called the first one. We met with her, she seemed great. She wasn’t. She cancelled regularly, never got back to us when she said she would check on things. After about six weeks and catching her in at least one lie, we decided to go in another direction. We called the other name that friends kept mentioning. Fewer than 48 hours later we were looking at houses. The next day, he showed us a listing that wasn’t yet on the market. It was just two doors down from his own home. And that was that. I actually made him take us back a second time after we saw a couple others that day.

It really felt like it was meant to be.

We saw the house on Sunday. We were scheduled to meet with the credit union on Monday to get our pre-approval done (having not expected to find THE house yet). And I was scheduled to have surgery on Wednesday. So, on Monday we went to the bank. On Tuesday we scrambled to turn in a bunch of paperwork. And on Wednesday I had my uterus out and while I recovered in the hospital, my husband left and met with the Realtor to put in an official offer on the house.

We are currently waiting for the appraiser to turn in his report and for a few relatively minor repairs to be done. We should close before the end of the month.

I’m now in extreme planning mode. I have a dedicated Moleskine for sketches for each room and lists of projects and items we need to purchase. I’ve spent a lot of my recovery time at hardware stores. They’re great for post-surgery walks! Walk a while, rest for a bit in the outdoor furniture display.

How long did it take you to find THE house?