August 28th, 2013 – this was the big day. Biggest day of my life, and every time I think back on it, I can’t help but smile, laugh a little, and just feel a complete sense of perfection. An incredible amount of time and effort went into every detail. At this point, everything was in motion and even if we had wanted to change something, it was too late. It was our wedding day, and everything was *perfect* (due in very large part to my wife’s unparalleled amazing-ness).
Roughly a year later, we started bouncing around the idea of moving on from our townhouse. It was hers before I even knew her, and while a nice home in a quiet neighborhood, it was just not going to suit our needs going forward. There were not any issues with the place – everything functioned, it had a nice layout, and had ample room for most couples or small families who don’t share our same hobbies or work from home schedules, and is in a great location.
We started by just going to a few open houses here and there. We didn’t have much in the way of ideas on exactly what or where we would end up. Mostly just spending time accumulating ideas for what was in our region and the general price range that I had in mind.
One of our good friends is also a real estate agent with quite a few years of experience. We certainly had quite a few days riding in her car to look at different houses. Some good, few great, and a handful of actually scary ones. Along the way we nicknamed houses, mostly to jog memories when we were thinking back about houses we looked at. “Peach Cake”, “Hoyt Hut”, “Korean Doctor”, “Schnitzel”, “OMG Kitchen” are a few that I can easily recollect.
Throughout the process, we never acted with much urgency. As many buyers do, we wanted the next home to be something we both loved. Granted, this is actually fairly easy for my wife and I, as we have extremely similar tastes in practically all aspects of a home. Often times, we’d walk into a home and both be thinking very much the same thing in either a positive or negative reaction. All the while, we honed what we had for “requirements” in the new house.
Skipping forward a couple of years to 2016… in particular, summer of 2016. I don’t even know how many dozens of houses we looked at. Big, small, near, far, on land, on no land, one story rambler, two story + basement, old, brand new, expensive and cheap. Sometimes we would look at 8 or 10 in a day, and other times just one or two. A lot of times our agent and friend would be with us, and sometimes we would just plan to visit a few open houses on our own.
Summer of 2016 also signifies when we (again, mostly my wife) started kicking major ass on getting our townhouse ready for listing. We’ve both spent time boxing stuff, moving some things to storage, selling stuff we no longer want for the past two years. But this year, things felt different. Much cleaning, fixing/updating and packing started to happen.
One of our outings, in mid July, we went to an open house that was very near our townhouse. I think this one was a somewhat pivotal moment in the overall story, though of course time will flush that out. We went to the open house on Saturday and talked to our agent that night. Turns out, we would’ve had to have an offer in by that Monday. To both of us, the house was an “8” out of 10. We often would rate the houses we viewed on a scale of 1 to 10, though somedays it got a little out of hand (“Well, I think maybe 8.75?”). An 8 out of 10 isn’t at all bad, but it might not be as good as it sounds on paper. Any house we looked at had to at least be an 8 for us to even consider putting an offer in on. A 9 would be “Ok, we should strongly consider an offer”, and anything over 9.5 is “We’re putting an offer in”. Very, very few houses were above an 8.5
At this point, we both felt pretty rushed. There was an offer deadline looming, and while we liked the place, we were not blown away by it. We decided to go ahead and write up an offer. As these things go, our agent checked to see if any other offers were in – and, actually, there was at least one other offer in.
Quick side trip – the housing market here, like in a few other places – is fairly crazy. If you find a house that you truly like, you better be prepared to make a full price offer that night. Oh, and expect to quite probably be in an escalation battle with another buyer (or two).
The price was decent, but my wife and I agreed that for us, it wasn’t worth offering more money on. Case closed, let’s move on.
As I flipped through listings on the John L. Scott and Zillow websites, one briefly catches my attention, but I move on from it. My wife later stumbled onto the same one, and took a closer look at it than I had. Taking a fine look at the pictures, most especially of the overall design and feel of the house (in addition to the pretty nice location), we wanted to take a look. We had a few others to look at (I think 6 in total), so we made a day of it.
We viewed the house, which we named “Schnitzel”. It certainly had a lot of charm and things working for it, but, it also had a lot working against it. The master bath was… pitiful. The second bath was just as bad. The flow of the house was great, and the German / Tudor design was very much what we were looking for. The price was very agreeable as well. In our minds, as it sat it was an 8.5, but had the potential to become a 9.5 if we sank time and money into it. We came back to the house later that day, walked it once more, and decided to put an offer in. Our agent checks, and so far, no other offers. Things are looking pretty OK.
The sellers came back with a counter-offer – which was to be expected. It was fairly agreeable, though we wanted to change a couple of terms. We send back a new offer, and wait. Email exchanges happen, and it seems that everything is going to be agreed on and the buying process will begin.
The next morning, our agent calls us to let us know that another offer actually came in. We were given the “option” of matching it. The story would normally get somewhat lengthy here, and this post is already long. I may detail it in another post at some point. The important things to know that, even after engaging a lawyer on the manner, it turned out that we were not going to get the house. We had the option to take it to court with an “OK” chance to win the case, but it would at least be a 6 month process, costing us thousands of dollars. Nah, not really worth all of that – let’s move on.
Sometimes, things don’t work out for a reason. A lot of times we’re never shown or given explanation for it. On rare occasions though, you are. This was one of those times.
After talking to our lender a bit more, we figured that we could comfortably look at higher priced houses. In fact, we could look at houses that were way higher priced. We didn’t want to extend ourselves too much, but we did end up looking at slightly more expensive homes. Immediately, we found a handful we really like. Here we go again :).
After viewing all of the newly found homes, we settle on one we like. This one is a 9, maybe even a 9.5. An offer is written up, and submitted. The sellers accepted it, and that is basically where we are with the buying part of things now, as the offer is technically contingent on our townhouse being sold.
The only catch being, we really need to sell our present home. I can’t carry two mortgages, even though hanging onto this place for rental income would be great. My wife found even more energy and seriously finished packing and moving out a ton of stuff in under two weeks. I helped where I could, and she delegated some tasks to me, but easily 80% of it was her. Crazy, and amazing, she is.
Our townhouse is up on the market for sale. We had a buyer, but they decided to back out of the deal for some rather shaky reasons. Nothing wrong with the house or us, and the excuse seemed very shady. Once we are able to fully close the sale on this place, we’ll be able to close on the house we want to buy, and this chapter of the story will conclude. So far, a few agents and potential buyers have come through the place, and we’re keeping our fingers crossed that a good offer comes our way soon.
Once all the dust settles, I’ll actually miss this townhouse. We’ve spent over 3 years here together, beginning not long after our relationship developed into something serious. We lived here when we got married, and I have quite a few fond memories of this home. Though I know it is not a home that will be suitable for us, it will still be a bittersweet day when we hand over the keys to who ever does end up buying it.