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Two weeks ago if you’d told me I’d be writing about my first time home buyer experience, I would’ve straight laughed at you. I’m an avid HGTV watcher so I had grand fixer upper dreams and plans to make them happen. But like, next year. Needless to say, reality looked nothing like my plans.
We got the call on a Tuesday evening, our landlord was making more money with his properties on Airbnb so he wanted to do the same with our place. He gave us 60 days to vacate. Since we were month-to-month and had proper notice, there was nothing we could do legally.
I wasn’t worried, I knew we’d find something and it wouldn’t set us too far off our plan of buying in a year, we wanted to renovate anyway so we’d need a place to live while that happened. We searched for apartments to rent for approximately three and half days. Short story: Rent prices in St. Petersburg, FL had jumped up quite a bit since our search in 2015.
Every apartment was smaller and hundreds of dollars more expensive. I was panicking. I told my readers in the Friyay Partyletter that one of the benefits of knowing your financial state is being able to make better decisions when you’re in crisis mode. So, of course, the day after I sent that, we decided to buy a house.
So, of course, the day after I sent that, we decided to buy a house.
This was definitely not part of the plan. We have very little debt but as a result had very little money in our bank account. Everyone was telling us we should buy but everyone also thinks we’re weird for paying off our loans so fast, so I don’t know.
We started our search with fixer uppers, that search ended quickly. Not just because we didn’t have the budget to fix it up like I wanted, but because every house was being snatched up by cash buyers hours after hitting the market! Yeah no.
By the next Tuesday, we gave up on our shiplap dreams and looked at move-in ready houses. There were so many crappy flips out there. But somehow we found a good one and we made our first offer on a home with laminate flooring and two mango trees in the backyard. We went $10K below asking with 3% in closing costs. We needed closing costs covered more than anything because well, we broke.
Related: Are You Ready to Buy a House?
I posted on Facebook and was so excited, “We made an offer! We’re getting a home!” Pssh, I was so naïve back then. That offer was beat out by a full ask offer with no concessions. Bummer.
Friday we looked at more houses and our realtor, Lana, got a call from the listing agent of the house we really liked. She had made sure there were no contracts keeping us from falling in love with that house before she took us. The agent asked what we thought and accepted our offer with a verbal agreement.
Lana immediately left to draw up the contract and I texted my best friends to tell them we were homeowners! But when she got home, she couldn’t submit the contract. Apparently, the seller had already accepted the other offer and the listing agent was pulling us along just to get a backup offer.
I was livid, I felt an anger inside of me I didn’t know I was capable of. And I talked to others about it and everyone knew someone who that’d happened to, or been the victim of it themselves.
One lady said that real estate is counterintuitive to everything we’re taught about how to make big decisions. We should go home, think, sleep on it, do some research then make the decision, but in real estate, if you hesitate, you’ve lost out. Both of the houses we lost were on the market for less than a day.
Devastated and defeated I went out one more time. I called Lana to take me out while Travis was working. We looked at a few promising houses and just when we were about to call it a day I asked her about a green house I’d seen on Zillow.
She looked up this trendy 3/2 and it wasn’t in the MLS. She said it’d probably been sold but since it was in a neighborhood we liked, it was worth taking a look. We got down there and were both instantly in love with the structural integrity and adorable charm of the house. It was a dream. Not only was it still for sale but the open house was the next day.
I sent Travis pictures and ogled over all vintage features and modern updates. Lana called the sellers to offer asking with 3% seller concessions, I wasn’t playing hard-to-get anymore. They said they knew they’d get asking with no concessions but if we’d go 3% above asking they’d give us the concessions and the house was ours.
With this stipulation, we’re going $35K above what we’d originally budgeted for. But Travis and I were so tired we accepted without hesitation. The house was better than anything we’d seen and after crunching the numbers it’ll only be about $100 more per month that what we’re paying in rent. Turns out we’d been underestimating out budget!
Our first time home buyer experience was nothing like what I thought it’d be.
In total it was 13 days, and we’re getting a house I would’ve never dreamed I’d live in before 30. So even though it was different, I’m so thankful we dove into this big scary thing head first.
As I sit here, our contract is signed by all parties and if everything goes well with the inspection we close in 30 days! I promise to post pictures of all the neat touches and beautiful quartz countertops (I seriously thought they were marble.) Until then, wish us luck! And let me know your experiences in the comments!