Long story short: Great news! We bought ourselves a house! It’s been a bit neglected and abused so it’ll take some work to get it where we want it to be, but we’re really excited to work on it and make it our home.
(Soak it all in—especially the amazing edit job I did covering up the house number, the yard that is more dandelions than grass, the ‘bush’ right by the steps that is actually not a bush at all but an overgrown weed on steroids, and the leaning tower of birdbath. But still! Potential, right?! Mucho potential. I love the stone around the garage, the rosebushes and mature trees, and the sort-of-weird-but-sort-of-adorable extreme roofline slopage.)
Short story long: Great news! We bought ourselves a house! Last time I wrote about house hunting was pretty early in the game and things weren’t looking terribly promising. I haven’t written about it since then because it wasn’t getting any better. We ended up making offers on five houses without even coming close to getting any of them. I don’t know how the real estate market is elsewhere, but here in Utah it’s picking up fast. Oodles of first-time homebuyers (hello, nice to meet you) are popping out of the woodwork wanting to take advantage of the current low prices, so the low- to mid-priced ‘starter homes’ in good shape get snatched up awfully quickly.
Just to give an example: one house that we loved received an offer from us the very same day it came on the market. We learned from our realtor that not only was our offer the eighth one it had received on its first day on the market, but more were still pouring in every hour. It ended up selling for more than $20,000 above the asking price. We never stood a chance. It looked like the whole house hunting business was going to take longer than we expected.
So despite our misgivings about short sales and the many horror stories we’ve heard about buyers waiting 6 months or 9 months or even a year to purchase one, we wondered if maybe a short sale would make a good backup plan for us. We could put in an offer on a short sale, let it simmer while we kept looking for a ‘regular’ purchase, and if in, say, 6 months we still hadn’t purchased anything else, we’d have the short sale brewing in the background to fall back on.
We checked out this house (pictured above, my house now) and, to be completely honest, weren’t terribly impressed. It was a short sale (the dreaded short sale!) and was priced quite low, but for good reason. It was a bit of a wreck. Walking through the door, we were greeted by the pungent and welcoming aroma of dog urine (go ahead and search that one out at Yankee Candle or Scentsy, it’s quite lovely). Every single wall was covered in kids’ crayon artwork and oily handprints and dirt and grime. The yard was a veritable rain forest of weeds and 3 feet tall grass. A rusting, rotting swingset in the backyard didn’t look particularly fun. Every single light fixture was an ode to 90s-style gold and rose-etched glass. We walked out and didn’t look back.
But as we kept searching, that stinky old house kept coming to mind. Sure, it was smelly and dirty and unloved, but it had exactly the floor plan we wanted, a great family-friendly layout with plenty of space to grow that even many of the houses at the tippity-top of our price range didn’t have. It was in a neighborhood we really liked in a town we were very interested in. It had a big fenced yard for Forrest to race around in. It had a great kitchen area (not cute now, but it will be cute when I’m done with it!) and tons of huge windows and fabulous natural light (probably the brightest house I’ve ever stepped inside of). This house, near the bottom end of our price range, had more potential and checked off more items on our ‘must-have’ list than many of the nicer, newer houses near the upper end of our budget did. It wouldn’t come tied up in a pretty bow, move-in ready and exactly how we wanted it to be, but we realized that everything we disliked about it could easily be changed with paint and elbow grease and a few upgrades. It sure wasn’t love at first sight, but all the basics we wanted and needed were already there, and we were excited about all the possibilities and potential we could envision for it.
So we put in an offer, didn’t get our hopes up, and continued searching for something else. Since this one was a short sale that would probably (we thought) take months and months to make its way through the bank, we expected to find another house long before hearing back about our offer.
Lo and behold, only two weeks later, we got a call from the realtor. He’d heard from the bank and they had accepted our offer. We were pretty shocked—I’ve always heard of short sales taking ages to process, but we heard from the bank after only two weeks! Although this house had started out as our ‘backup plan,’ everything began falling into place for it to be our only plan.
So here we are! We closed on the house last week and are starting renovations to be ready to move in when our current lease is up at the end of the month. I spent the weekend up to my elbows in paint (those icky stained walls look a hundred times better with a fresh coat of paint), and this week we’ll start tearing down a few walls and laying new floors. We’re hoping to get as much as possible done before we move in at the end of the month, so it’ll be a busy couple of weeks around here.
I had some helpers over the weekend . . . some willing, like my amazing interior designer mom . . .
. . . and some who were less excited about helping out.
We’ve got a lot of work to do, but I think this house is going to be great. We’ll be doing almost all of the work ourselves, too, so hopefully we’ll figure out what the heck we’re doing and how the heck to do it as we go along. I think it’s going to turn out splendidly.