Real estate is a tough game. Nothing about moving is easy. Even in the best situations, there is always a bit of nail-biting and fear of regret. Are we moving to the right neighborhood? Are we throwing away our savings? What if the buyer falls through? Well, this here is the beginning of our little story of how we ended up living in the Dreamhouse and all the joys and struggles that went along with our fifteen-month adventure.
We got our home all ready to sell. We were living in a two bedroom, two bathroom townhouse. Olivia was one at the time. We knew we wanted to grow our family more so we wanted a bigger place. We were also interested in cutting our hour plus commute down if possible.
So we cleaned up the house. We decluttered that mess and staged it right. Then we hit the road. We had two dogs and two cats. With that hour long commute, I would not be able to get a call from the realtor and have to go pick them up so the house could be shown pet-free. They were kind of noisy and would pee on strangers so I really didn’t think it was putting our best foot forward to leave them there while potential buyers came to see the place. So we packed up our precious cargo and got out of the house. We moved in with my in-laws.
It took a little bit of back and forth, from the pictures to settling on the price with our realtor, but finally, the house went on the market around St Patrick’s Day 2014. We were asking a good $50,000 less than what we paid for the house. But we had planned and saved and we needed to sell the house in order to move on with our dreams. People started looking at our house right away and there were a couple of open houses but no major interest. It can be hard to read the buyer’s realtor notes after the walk-throughs. You think you’re giving people a great bargain by coming down on the price. They don’t really see it that way. They’re always looking to get something more. I know this because I was a buyer too. Buying or selling a home really takes away some of your faith in humanity, I’m not gonna lie.
After a few weeks we hit a total dry spell. I remember going to bed each night with my stomach in knots. Afraid I would be attached to this townhouse for the rest of my life. I tried to imagine renting it out to a family in need. I have a friend from the same area who did that. It worked out great for her, but I wouldn’t be able to get someone to pay enough rent to cover my monthly mortgage payment plus our home owners dues and special assessment. That place was a money pit for us. I was willing to pay off the special assessment in one shot so that a buyer would not inherit that payment, but the regular dues kept going up and up as the market went down. This all becomes very important later in my story.
Six months in. One move so far. We were still staying at my in-laws’ house. The school year had ended. I was at a conference in Atlanta, GA. My realtor called to tell me that a couple was coming back for a second showing and they were asking real questions. Serious ones that you wouldn’t bother asking if you weren’t serious about buying the house. Then, as I was about to board a plane back home, I found out they were making an offer. The offer didn’t come through on my phone before the plane took off, so I had to wait…
When I landed in Chicago I got on the phone right away. The offer was insultingly low. It was pretty devastating. The kind of devastating that makes you want to cry right on the spot. I couldn’t put myself in the buyer’s shoes or wonder why they were shooting so low. I couldn’t think maybe they were just looking for their dream house and fell in love with something out of their price range. I just felt like it was an insult. After living with my in-laws for six months, uprooting my family, imposing on my husband’s, I felt like this was a horrible, horrible ending to a sad story. The couple was asking for weird things that we had not even been prepared for, like cash at close. So I’m supposed to sell them my house at an offensively low price and give them money for it? WTF? My realtor couldn’t even explain it. Then the negotiations happened. They couldn’t close right away because they had an apartment lease and a vacation planned. So we weren’t going to close for almost two months from signing the paperwork in July. Needless to say, we accepted the offer. They probably knew we were desperate since it had been six months already.
In the meantime, we had way outstayed our welcome in our current living situation and so we hung our heads and moved back into the townhouse we had hoped we were out of forever. Now that we had an offer and didn’t need to show the house anymore, I guess that it made sense to go back. It’s just that it was bad enough that we had committed to practically giving our house away and I was feeling low. Maybe some home shopping would cheer me up?
Of course, this story has a relatively happy ending. Stay tuned…