Thursday, March 10, 2011

The ups and downs of buying a first home

I am in the throes of buying my first house.  They aren't happy throes either.  I think I've watched too much HGTV.  Or maybe not enough, depending on how you look at it.  But this is not the experience I expected.

I began my housing search like most people my age -- on the internet.  I looked at houses online, trying to determine which ones I actually wanted to look at in person. 

Next, I contacted a bank to get pre-qualified for a loan.  This was probably the most painless part.  The guy I'm working with is awesome, explains things well and is very laid back.  That helps a lot.  I'm a worrier, and financial stuff goes over my head. 

The third step was finding a realtor.  I called the one suggested to me by a trusted friend, and it has been the best decision yet.  She may not be Sandra Rinomato, but she is awesome.  She has taken me through eight homes over the course of three appointments and has spent a great deal of time explaining things to me and helping me weigh the different options.  I honestly feel like she's looking out for me and not just trying to make a sale. 

Last weekend, my parents and a family friend came to look at a few of the finalists.  Their input was really valuable, and made me look at my original preferences in a different light.  I ended up getting really excited about a different home than I had originally liked. 

So, on Monday, I met with my realtor to look at comparisons and write up my offer.  I knew it was low, and I fully expected the sellers to counter.  They did.  And they hardly budged (in my opinion).  I replied, bumping my offer up by $5K.  They responded pretty quickly and, again, barely came down from the original list price.  I was frustrated and bummed, and really feeling like this house wasn't going to happen.  After a workout, some chocolate and nearly an hour talking to my parents on the phone, I decided to go in with my final offer.  It was my absolute ceiling.  But I guess "final" doesn't mean final to everyone.  The sellers countered my "final" offer and made their biggest jump, even throwing in a one-year home warranty to sweeten the deal.  It was tempting, but I wasn't ready to bite.  I talked to my parents some more and did some figuring ... but the monthly payment made me cringe.  I couldn't do it.  Not if I want to be able to buy clothes, take vacations and do all of the other things I wanted to do.  So I walked away.

Today, I submitted an offer on my second choice house.  After some studies and conversations, I got really excited about this one.  I would have much more comfortable montly payments and still have a nice place to live for a few years (remember, this is my first home, not my dream home).  My realtor talked me into offering less than I originally planned.  I trust her, so I went with it. 

I felt pretty good when I left her office. But of course that would come back to bite me.  My realtor called me a bit later and said she talked to the seller's agent.  There was no response, but the seller's agent said she was expecting another offer this evening.  My realtor thinks the seller's agent is bluffing.  Again, I trust my realtor.  But what if the seller's agent isn't bluffing?  What if there is another offer and it's higher than mine and I miss out on the opportunity to even negotiate?  Ack.  My realtor does not want me paying more than I have to for this house, and she said situations like this are a gamble.  I decided to err on the side of safety.  I upped my offer.  I guess if they take it right away, I'll know they probably were bluffing, but at least I'll have an accepted offer, right?  *sigh*

I hate hate hate this process.  I'm really excited to own my first home and begin making it mine, but this process is really souring those dreams.

Someone reassure me this will all work out.


  1. I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. Hopefully by next year this time you will be tucked into a cozy place that is all yours and this will all be a distant memory. Good luck.

    I see that you are also a donut fan and that you entered to win the donut pan on Iowa Girl Eats. I am giving away a copy of Lara Ferroni’s Doughnut Book, a donut pan, and an extra wide pastry bag for making French crullers on my blog. Stop by and enter to win. Winner will be announced on March 15.

  2. In the two homes I have bought, the seller's realtor was a bitch. The first one said they had other offers on the table which made me feel pressured to take their counter offer. The second one made me bring her the application for the home warrenty. It's a game with these people, and it very annoying to say the least. You just have to be willing to say what you will pay and walk away if it's no good. It's tough though. I'm no good at negotiating either and I tend to love things rather than thinking of it as just property.


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