Monday, May 15, 2017

we bought a house!

When we were going on our interviews, we always asked residents about their housing situation. CR and I had discussed our future house situation a ton, and had come to the conclusion that ideally we would like to purchase a house when we started our residencies. A big reason for that was because finding a house to rent with two dogs and a cat is pretty difficult, but also because we felt we were ready to take on the responsibilities of finally being home owners. We asked residents about their housing situations since it gave us an idea of the area we could potentially be moving to. We didn't apply to any programs in major cities, so we were often in more suburban areas where I'd say about half of the residents owned homes. Knowing that, I was so excited about the home buying process, and was eager to get started once we found out where we were going to officially live for at least the next four years.

Once we officially matched, we knew we would be buying a house - since it was our number one choice, we had done the unadvisable, and had already researched real estate in that area. Obviously when you think about buying a house, there's a ton of weighing the pros versus the cons. The biggest factor was the money. I have always felt like I'm "throwing away" money by paying someone else's mortgage for them (our current rent is double the mortgage payment on the house we live in). I really was drawn to putting that money towards something that is our own, rather than just paying for someone else's house. Being that we were going to live in that area for at least four years, but probably six years, we used a rent versus buy calculator to see how the finances really work out. Since the area we are moving to has a pretty low cost of living, and houses are very quite affordable (at least when you compare it to cities even just an hour away), the calculator really pointed to how much more financial sense it would be to buy.

Saturday, the day after Match Day, we started our official Zillow searches. Since we were moving to an area where we didn't know anyone, and also because we were brand spanking new to buying a house, I really had no idea about finding a realtor and looking at houses. Basically, I just found a few cute houses on Zillow and contacted the agent listed. Within ten minutes, three of them had called me back. You really have to hustle as a realtor! One buyer's agent spent some time on the phone with us, set up a MLS search for us (I hadn't even heard of such a website before that), and scheduled a morning that following week to look at whatever houses we wanted.

We met up with our buyer's agent the Tuesday after Match Day to look at houses. She was a brand new agent - she had yet to sell her first home. But you know, she was so energetic and really hustling to get us places to look at, emailing us at like 11 PM with new listings, that I knew she would do everything to do right by us. It sounds silly, but I have always appreciated when patients trusted me to learn from their care, so I felt like we owed it to someone else to be their first too. Anyway, we met up on a Tuesday morning at this old, recently somewhat flipped, home in the country. We knew immediately that this was not the house for us, but we did the walk through anyway. Driving away from that first house, I was uncertain about how this process was going to go down. As we drove away, I told CR about how nervous I was that we weren't going to find what we were looking for, especially because we didn't have months and months to get this figured out.

And what exactly what were were looking for? I wasn't even sure. I had like three non-negotiables - it needed a fenceable back yard, I did not want to drive more than 25 minutes to work, and it needed to have central air. In the seven years I have had my dogs, they have never had a completely fenced in yard. All I want is to open a door, and let them play outside for hours without being on a lead. I also didn't want to drive a half an hour every morning at 4 AM, and after having spent most of my adult life without AC, it was time to be comfortable in the summer. Everything else I could work with, but wish list items included a newer bright kitchen, at least three bedrooms, bigger closets, wood floors, and something with character.

Well, after the first house didn't fit basically any of the things we were looking for, I wasn't too hopeful. We drove up to the next house though, and it was! This is basically exactly what I was looking for. Less than a ten minute drive to my hospital, it was a cute two story brick house with wood floors throughout, a new kitchen, a fireplace, and a huge back yard (without a fence). As I walked through the house, I was like YES YES YES, you are going to be mine. CR was not as convinced as I was - I saw the charm and potential, and he saw the big yard that needed to be fenced in, the busier street it sat on, and the kitchen that actually needed more work than I first noticed. Big bonus though was that it was at the lower end of our desired price range.

We had already agreed that we were not going to put an offer on a house that day - we had started the process of figuring out which bank we wanted to get our mortgage with, so we were still waiting on our work contracts and so on to be able to get anything concretely signed with a bank. We looked at six more homes that day - some were gorgeous, but at the very top of our price range and 35 minutes away from my work, while others were ones we knew we weren't going to buy from the moment we drove up to it (like lego colored rooms or falling down garages).

We went on another full day of house hunting the following week. We had asked that we stop by the cute brick house we saw previously at the end of the day to see if we still felt the same way. We saw a bunch of houses again - some that we could have maybe been okay with buying, but nothing where I was actually excited about the house. Our final stop of the day was at the brick house, where we spent a lot more time actually looking closely at the details. The charm was definitely there - they had recently re-done a lot to the house to get it ready to sell. The floors were all recently refinished - wood floors! No carpets! All windows had recently been replaced. The trim was all white. There was a fireplace!! With a mantle! The kitchen was brand new - new cupboards, appliances, and floors. But there were issues too. While the kitchen was new, the storage was seriously lacking - all the things were on one side of the kitchen, and the other wall was completely bare. We would have to put in a whole row of cupboards - not a huge deal, but also not "move in ready", and still a task for two people who have never done that. The backyard was big, but there were fallen trees and garbage, and it wasn't fenced in. Again, something that can be fixed, but something that would take time and money to fix. The closets weren't the big closets I had imagined having - the house was built in the 1950s, not exactly a time of huge walk in closets. The full bath was smaller, has absolutely zero storage, and is floor to ceiling tile.

But you know what - I loved that about that house. It needed a bit of work, but nothing that we couldn't either figure out ourselves, or hire someone to fix. It had charm - it felt like a real home to me, rather than just a house we would temporarily live in. It had things I had always wanted - wood floors, a semi-open floor plan, natural light, and a place for my dogs to stretch their legs. I could see our lives in there now, and in five years with a baby or two.

The next day, we put in our offer. I was so so so nervous, checking my phone every two minutes. Within twelve hours, they accepted! We had figured out everything with the banks, so we started down the path of getting all of that paperwork done and signed and faxed and emailed. I spent a whole day just trying to email forms and IDs and contracts to get everything done as quickly as possible. Long story short though, when our bank went to go appraise the house, they said it was worth $5000 less than we offered. We went back and forth on what to do - in the end, we asked to go down to the appraisal value with less back at closing. I think the owners were just ready to sell their house, because they accepted our offer. The following week, we had our inspection where everything went really well except that the radon levels were higher than our offer agreement allowed, so the home owners had to pay another $1000 to have a mitigation system installed. We were just happy we were getting the house for even less, and that they had to put that system in! It wasn't until that was all done though that I could finally really believe the house was going to be ours - I was afraid the seller was going to get annoyed with us and just pull out of the deal, even though we weren't trying to play them at all (after all, we did  offer their asking price and they knew that the mitigation system might be a possibility, which is why it was in the initial offer).

Anyway! There was a lot more paperwork, time on the phone, and internet education that happened during that time. I really have to credit CR with all the work he put into this process - he spent so much educating himself on the process of home buying, and doing the majority of the banking paperwork. If it wasn't for him, this process would never have gone as smoothly as it did. He kept me grounded and reminded me of what were looking for him our future home. I can easily be swayed by pretty floors and a nice kitchen, but he reminded me that we needed something practical and that fit our needs. I think we found a perfect mix in this house - a house with character but with a few things that need to be fixed, one that we can grow into a bit, and a place where we can spend the first few years of our marriage. I am so happy that she's finally all ours! Below is a little tour of the place - be on the look out hopefully later this week where I share details of the things we are changing and potential ideas for furnishing this place!