Hans and Erika bought a house? Where did that come from?
Yes. We did. And now that we're closed, we're ready to tell you all about it. Until the keys were in our hands, we were too nervous that something was going to fall through. So here's the relevant facts.
We had planned on taking the next year or so to save up money and have a nice little down payment. But we still like looking at houses, so we'd occasionally stop in to open houses and model homes. One day, way at the beginning of April, we were looking at some new construction homes just down the street from our apartments. While chatting with the sales woman, she asked why we weren't planning to buy until next year. She said we really should cash in on the Obama money while still available.
It got us thinking. Not only was Obama handing out $8k (which would totally cover our down payment...) but the interest rates lately are stupid low. We can't see them getting lower any time soon, and certainly not this time next year. Hans' parents agreed with this and said they would front us the money for our down payment until our Obama check arrives.
We agreed to meet with a realtor, Lori, just to see what was out there. If we found something we loved, we'd get it. If not, we'd walk away and stick to our original plan. This was all around the beginning of April. Over the next three weeks, Lori showed us so many houses we lost track. Based on the stack of MLS sheets on my desk, I estimate it was in the 80-100 range.
It was funny how our wants/priorities changed through out the hunt. We originally thought we wouldn't mind moving to Buda for the cheaper home prices. But after driving out there, we realized just how far it is and how none of our friends (I'm looking at you, Andrew/Abinadi/Tom) would come out to see us. Even though it wasn't even on our radar at first, we quickly decided we wanted to be in the Bowie school zone. Not that we expect to be in this house long enough to see our yet-to-be-even-considered children attend high school. It was more thinking about re-sale value. We noticed that two houses we looked at that were the exact same floor plan, same upgrades, same condition, etc. but in separate school zones (One Bowie, One Akins) had a $20k price difference between them. Better schools = better house value.
We ended up making four offers, on three houses. The first house was not worth nearly what they were asking and they weren't willing to budge. I'm now really relieved we didn't get that one because that was in the early stages of the hunt, back when Akins didn't look so bad...
The second house had the best location and a great floorplan. Seriously, killer location. But it was older and didn't look like anything had been updated, ever. We'd probably have had to gut the kitchen and redo. And the price didn't reflect that. Her house had been on the market since October, and she wasn't budging on her price. We decided to sweat her out until the end of April, figuring that as the Obama tax credit neared it's deadline, buyers might get more willing to negotiate.
In the mean time, we found a third house. We love the floor plan and the location. While not *quite* as good as the second house's location, still stellar. We put in a low ball offer, expecting to have to negotiate up to the where we really wanted to be. I guess she was desperate, because she took it straight out. Now counter offer, no nothing.
Incidentally, House #3 accepted our offer about an hour before House #2 caved and cam back and accepted our offer. That's what she gets for waiting. I check the MLS periodically to see if it's sold - it still hasn't. Suck-ah!
Even though we went under contract on our house at the end of April, we couldn't close until today. 1) we wanted the latest closing date possible because our lease isn't up at our apartment until Nov. 1 and paying rent AND mortgage is gonna suck. and 2) they needed a certain amount of pay stubs and other paper work that took us FOREVER to get together.
And that's it, so far. We were able to lock in a killer rate of 4.875%, the house appraised for more than what we bought it for, and the inspection turned up virtually nothing wrong with the house. I feel like I signed my life away today at the title office, which was scary, but the house is ours!! No more moving every nine months. No more not being able to paint walls or hang stuff because of renters' policies. No more listening to the guy upstairs entertain his lady friend at 2 a.m. A yard to let the dogs out in! A garage to park our cars!! A big kitchen to cook in! I'm excited - our first home.