We started going to open houses last spring and then, seriously started house hunting in May when we found out where my husband would be working. We looked and looked. The friend who had recommended our real estate agent told us to decide to see forty houses before making a decision. Little did he know that we would see probably close to a hundred. At one point, we did find a house that we really liked, but as we were leaving, we noticed power lines that were right beside the house on the side where the kids’ bedrooms would be. We came home and researched power lines and health effects. There were unverified studies between living near powerlines and childhood leukemia. Immediately, we cut that house off of our list.
At the very end of June, we had a confrontation with our real estate agent. Instead of showing us the houses we wanted to see, she showed us other ones. By the time we got to see one of the houses we wanted to, it was conditionally sold. She told us, “You wouldn’t have bought it anyway.” We were infuriated, but in retrospect, she was almost certainly correct. She kept going on about how we should buy in this one neighbourhood because, “That’s where your kind of people live.” We weren’t going to have her tell us what kind of people are “our kind of people.” Poor lady, she was right, we did end up buying in the neighbourhood that she recommended. We didn’t want it because it’s on the outskirts of the city, but it is full of young families (our kind of people no doubt) and lots of outdoor walking trails. In any case, she ended the relationship by telling us, “You are first time homebuyers from Hell.” Of course, at the time we were insulted, but as time went on, “We’re first time homebuyers from Hell” became the punch line of many jokes as we struggled to find the home that was right for us.
The week after the confrontation, I started interviewing some other realtors who were recommended from friends. Unfortunately, we hadn’t interviewed our first real estate agent which may have saved us time and grief. We settled on one and continued our house hunt. The realtor was surprised that we hadn’t narrowed down which neighbourhoods we wanted to live in when we had been looking for so long already. Let’s just say we wanted to keep our options open.
Our second time out with the new realtor, we liked the second house we looked at and before proceeding to look at the rest of the houses booked, we asked if there was other interest in this house, as it turned out there was another offer already. We raced home to put our offer in too, we even wrote a letter to the sellers explaining how we were buying a new home, expecting our first baby, and had immediately fallen in love with their house.
There was, however, another house that we were also interested in seeing that day and in a thunderstorm we went out to see it. We really liked that one too. On our way home from viewing it, we found out that our offer on the first one was accepted. We spent an hour deliberating over dropping our offer and instead getting the second house. We had to decide quickly since our offer was only open for another half an hour. Finally, we decided to stick with our original offer.
A few days later came the home inspection. Our dream house didn’t look so dreamy after the inspector had gone through. There were just so many funny things with the house- like a wood burning stove in the basement bedroom that the owners had never used- and things that had been covered up like dry wall that could be pushed in under a window due to water damage. To cut a long story short, after much deliberation, calling contractors, talking to parents, etc. we decided NOT to go through with it. We’ve since seen it on the market and the price dropped by $10,000.
After this disappointment, we decided that we needed to get a newer home because no contractors would even come into an older home before it is checked for asbestos. This new criteria of wanting a newer home, with hopefully fewer headaches, made us FINALLY narrow down our choice of neighbourhoods.
We kept going out to look at homes and we both got to the point of really not knowing what we wanted. It’s true we knew what we wanted, but the perfect house just wasn’t out there, so what should we compromise on? The home inspection did make us much more thorough when looking at houses. We were constantly examining ceilings and under windows for water damage and we walked out of many houses after finding previous water damage.
One house we went to was in a community that we really liked. Unfortunately, the seller was home. For any sellers out there- get out of your house if you want to sell it. Every time I’ve been in a house with the seller I feel extremely uncomfortable, like I’m snooping in a stranger’s home. This seller was especially bad. I went to step into the house and he stopped me, insisting I remove my shoes outside. I complied. He proceeded to follow us around his not well-kept home. It’s rather hard to talk honestly about a house when the owner is right there, but our realtor who was not too impressed with this owner critiqued it more loudly than he might have otherwise. Needless to say, we were out of that house rather quickly.
We went on holidays for a week which was a welcome relief to both of us from constantly looking at homes and when we came back feeling refreshed. This time, we saw two houses that we really liked. The next day, we went for second viewings of both of them and then, decided to put an offer on one of them. The one we put an offer on, we deliberated about because of the powerlines behind the house, our realtor reassured us that they weren’t the high voltage ones, but we still did our own research. I think he was coming to realize that we have a “little” obsession with health and maybe why the first realtor left us. Little did he know that we held our tongues and didn’t go into detail about the toxins in laminate flooring and carpet, then, who knows what he would have thought. Unfortunately, the seller wouldn’t come down in price, so we put an offer on the second one. When we had gone for the second viewing of this house, our realtor mentioned that the granite counter tops were high end. We held our tongues. The night before- for some reason (but probably because we research to death everything health related)- we researched granite countertops and found that they could release radon which can cause lung cancer. We both would have preferred less high end counters. This property also had a large green power box on the front lawn. Again we were concerned and went a researching. My husband called the “Call before you dig” line and got more information. He asked that a condition of the sale was to see where the powerlines were located. Our realtor was very diplomatic, “Now, I don’t want to dismiss your concern as it’s a legitimate concern, however, seeing as our offer is so low already, I really don’t think we should add any more conditions. We can of course make a request and look into it though.” I wonder what kind of conversation he had with his assistant when he got off the phone. After similar negotiations like the day before, we settled on a price. Our offer was “unofficially” accepted. Our realtor was on the phone informing us of this, when he asked, “Can I call you guys right back?”
Several minutes later, he calls back, “Geez drama really follows you guys around doesn’t it?” Just as we had verbally agreed to a price, another person was writing an offer. Since nothing was in writing, the seller didn’t have to honour his word. At this point, we had to laugh. We had put so much prayer into purchasing a house and at this point, I just thought, “Well, I prayed that if God didn’t want us to get it, that He would stop us.”
In the next few hours, we reconsidered everything, should we even be living in this city? Should we buy or rent? Etc.
Finally we got a call, “You guys are due for some good news.” The seller was honouring his word and our offer was accepted.
When I counted the sheets we had from houses we saw, there was 65. We saw many other homes besides those that we didn’t have sheets for or that I had already recycled. I’m guessing the number was closer to a hundred. No wonder I had a hard time, especially with my pregnancy-brain remembering what we had seen in what house.
We had a thirteen day closing, which is crazy fast and I wouldn’t recommend it. We actually almost missed it with getting our financing together. It’s a good thing we did do it so quickly, since our little bundle of joy arrived on our moving day.
After all the rigmarole, we are settled into our new house. I’m not sure how many first time homebuyers see close to a hundred houses, put offers on three houses before finally buying a house, and have a thirteen day closing, but we had to live up to our reputation of being first time homebuyers from Hell.