Thursday, July 17, 2014

Tales of a Tract Home: House Hunting


I naively thought that when we sold our home and we started to look for our next place, that it would be all kinds of fun. Honestly, I can't say that is has been a barrel of laughs or anything. Rather it's been a stressful, exhausting process. Way to start this post with whining, right? But I think it kind of caught me off guard just how difficult house hunting could be.

Do you watch the HGTV series "House Hunters?" I've been a big fan for years, and I've been one of those judgmental TV viewers who calls out to the tv, "Seriously? You can't buy it because it has a red accent wall in the living room? Paint it already!" I just couldn't ever really understand why these buyers would talk themselves out of buying a perfectly great house that just needed some paint to refresh the entire place.

You would think I've never bought a house before. Would you believe this is my fourth time doing it? I guess you can't really call me a "newb" any more, but I certainly felt like a newbie during our house search.

I think I forgot the most important rule of house hunting: Remain as unemotional as possible.

How in the world do you remain unemotional and unattached when it comes to buying a home? This is the place we will watch our daughter graduate high school, serve a mission for our church, go to college, get married, and eventually and hopefully make me a grandmother. This is the home where James hopes to make long-lasting friends and will make many of his most important decisions and memories, and where Brett and I hope to settle until our wanderlust returns and we're off on a new and grand adventure.

Every single home we've bought before has been based almost solely on emotion.

Of course price, location, and needs have been key players in our decision, but it wasn't until we found the homes we've bought, walked in, and had that "this is the place" feeling overcome us that we've finally signed the contracts to buy our homes.

So why did I think this time would be any different? We started with a very logical list of needs: two separate offices since we both work from home, a bedroom for each child, a formal living room for the piano, a location near our daughter's high school, and a reasonable budget.

From there we started looking at listings in the areas we wanted to live. And we looked. And we looked. And we looked. What we found was a mysterious hole in the housing market in our target area. We found plenty of homes just a bit bigger than the house we had recently built. But when we jumped up in the market to look for homes with more living space, there was a gaping hole in the inventory. I've been watching the real estate market down here for over six months, and I could not figure out why homes with our specific needs weren't available. We stalked Zillow and used their "Zestimate" tool HERE as well to look for areas in which homes might become available. Nada.



So then we started thinking we could build a home. We've built one home before. It was as tract home development as it could get, and the only choices we got to make on the house were carpet color and countertop color. It was a great introduction to home ownership, but this time around we thought we could go semi-custom and get what we wanted. Enter housing gap #2. This gap was a major jump from existing home prices to new build pricing. While it is still fairly inexpensive to build in our area, prices either reflected a tiny lot or general overpricing for the area and very few areas to choose from in which to build.

We were getting seriously discouraged. I was turning into one of those "House Hunters" housing hunting divas, and I didn't like how that felt.

We dismissed houses for lot size, neighborhood upkeep, wrong school, tiny bedrooms, proximity to trains, and more. Did I really care about all those things?

I realized that my approach to house hunting this time was heavily affected by the housing market crash that destroyed any equity we might have had in the previous home we owned. I didn't want to buy a house that I could never resell. It was making the decision even more difficult as we began over-thinking every little detail.

Finally we decided we'd just pick five existing homes and go see them even though they weren't exactly what we thought we would want. Our very patient realtor made arrangements for us to walk through all five in one evening--yeah, he deserves an award for dealing with us.

The very first home we walked through had a faux finish paint job in the two-story family room. Something that had completely turned me off to the home in the MLS listing, I didn't even notice when I walked through the front door. That old-familiar "this is home" feeling started to creep over me. Walking through the bedrooms, the finished basement, and observing the view from the backyard deck, I felt it even more.

But I tried very hard to dismiss it. After all we had four additional homes to go see and a small deposit on a lot for a home we hoped possibly to build. After viewing the other four homes, our realtor, realizing we had loved the first home, asked if we wanted to go back to see it again. As it was empty, we readily agreed and walked through a second time. I couldn't deny it. I knew I loved the home.

As it was July 3rd when we walked through the home, I knew that we needed to use the long holiday weekend to make a decision. Brett and I spent long hours talking about it. We considered a second home we had seen, but realized that we both felt good about the first house. We called our realtor and decided to put an offer on the home. By Monday evening and after some negotiations, we had an accepted contract on the home.



We are looking forward to closing on the home at the end of this month and moving into the house in August. We hope that everything moves forward smoothly, but we trust the Lord to do what's best for our family if something causes it not to work out.

Perhaps house hunting should be a little less emotional. But how do you turn off that voice inside your head that tells you when something is right or wrong? I don't think I can live any other way than to keep that voice close and to listen to the promptings in my heart.

So while a great deal of my logical list went right out the window when we found this home, I know in my heart it's the place for me! I can't wait to make this house our home.

18 comments:

  1. Looks like a beautiful new home!! I'll have to get some tips from you if we ever buy a home, still seems so far away. What an adventure! Congratulations!

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  2. It looks beautiful Jen! I still wish it could be the one in my new neighborhood. :) Congratulations on finding one you love!

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  3. I so hear you on trusting the Spirit, it makes all the difference in knowing which home is the right one.

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  4. Congrats on your new home, Jennifer! When it comes to buying home, I totally believe in trusting your gut feeling when you walked into the house. My mom always say, buy a house that makes you feel good, happy when you walk into it. Congrats again!

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  5. Christina H.8:32 AM

    Beautiful home! Congrats! It's a rough process but so worth it!

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  6. Congrats on finally finding a home! It looks beautiful!

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  7. Looks lovely Jen! I'm glad you found a place that you can turn into your next "home sweet home". Congrats!

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  8. Your new home is gorgeous! So happy you found your new place to make many memories!

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  9. Beautiful home jen! So very happy for you and your family!

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  10. JLBOhio8:42 PM

    It's lovely!! Congratulations!! I'm sure that you will have many happy years there!

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  11. It is beautiful! Can't wait to see your new scrapbook room!

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  12. It looks like a wonderful home. I hope it all works out and your closing goes smoothly. Searching for a new home is an emotional thing. I am sure you will enjoy getting settled and putting your personal touches/decorating and such, and making it your own.

    I do know what you talk about when referring to a house snob. We walk around our little isolated development, and are so disgusted. If we were looking now vs. 10 yrs ago, we would totally not even consider this place. The only redeeming quality is it is safe. So many don't care what their place looks like and don't take care of anything. We were one of the first 12 in here, as this was a brand new development. You would not believe what we are sandwiched between. I want out of here so badly. The dynamics of this neighborhood have changed and Greg and I don't really talk to many anymore. It is pretty lonely. I wish we could afford acreage and be able to move. The market crash has hit us too. Plus, we have some decent sized projects started here that need to be finished. A little on the spendier side. Nothing like feeling trapped. I really feel like I am being tested. I just don't have the patience to be surrounded by what we are.

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  13. Renee S.4:06 AM

    Best of luck in your new home. It looks lovely from the outside. I am sure that you will make it wonderful on the inside, too.

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  14. Looks like a fabulous home!! So glad you found something you love! Best of luck as you prepare to move into your new place!! I am sure you will all be very happy there!!

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  15. I agree with your house hunters comment about rejecting a house because of the paint colors, the easiest thing to change! Glad you found a house that makes you feel like "home". Can't wait to see how you make it yours.

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  16. Congratulations on your new home! I follow you on Pinterest, so I've seen all the home decorating ideas you've been pinning. Based on those, I know your new home will be beautiful! :)

    I remember watching a House Hunters episode a few years ago where the husband said that he was willing to do some work to a house in order to get a better price. I'll never forget them looking at house and him saying, "I don't know. I think we'll have to paint this room." Cracked me up! What kind of work was he willing to do, if he didn't even want to paint??

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  17. What a nightmare dealing with the realtor from my local office. He was never on time, constantly forgot things, and when I told him that it would be nice if he showed up once on time like I was at every showing it would be nice. He yelled at me and told me that I had no idea how difficult it was being a slave and getting paid nothing.

    Margaret @ Boston North Shore Real Estate

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  18. I laughed when I read your post because I told myself to be unemotional when shopping for my current house and then all my logic went out the window when I saw this house. I don't think that it is possible to turn off that little voice, as you call it. By the way, you chose a stunning home.

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