First came the bidding war for the outright price. House Hunters (which I watch religiously on the daily) makes it seem like this is the really hard part. And, at the time, it did seem like the really hard part. We put in a lowball estimate that I was afraid the seller wouldn't take seriously, as she had already come $5000 off her original list price. We haggled for about a week, finally settling on a price that was a full $15,000 off that list price. Feeling pretty chuffed about this victory, we figured it would all settle into place from there. We signed and faxed and scanned and signed and faxed (and then the scanner broke at work and that was no fun at all). Recall, we were buying this house from 619 miles away.
Many people have commented that I'm insane for buying a house on which I had never laid eyes. Funny enough, I trusted Jeff's understanding of my taste totally. When he told me it was laid out and finished just like our old apartment in Nashville, I knew it was the one. I loved that apartment and always wanted something like it. It was a tiny (760 sq ft) foursquare: kitchen, two bedrooms, living room, bathroom. It was small, but it was just us and the pup, and I loved how cozy it was, not to mention easy to keep clean!
Additionally, we knew the exact neighborhood we wanted, down to a certain square-block radius. I had rented at two different addresses in East Nashville during Divinity School, and I felt confident about what exact streets I liked. That was a huge plus - not buying in a city we had never known before.
Many darling children all up and down the block, including Olivia and Maeve, apparently!
So, we signed a contract with the seller, pending inspections and financing. Both turned out to be huge hurdles!
The inspection was first. The guy from codes came out and found that the electric and plumbing work was original to the house . . . that is, 1930! They both needed some serious love. We got bids from contractors we know and trust and worship with. It was about $10,000 worth of work. Naturally, we felt that the seller should pay for this work, as it would have to be done to sell the house to anyone. But she dug in, drawing us back into a bidding war for the work. We wasted a couple of weeks going back and forth on that, fully intending to completely walk away from the house a number of times.
But, she eventually agreed to cover all closing costs. That was a sweet enough deal to get us back in the game, and we moved on to financing.
Anyone will tell you right now that interest rates for mortgages are as low as they have been in recent memory. We were pre-approved for a certain amount before we even started looking, so that I would know not to waste time with houses that were out of our price range. Apparently pre-approval means diddly squat, because we became familiar with Brandon, our mortgage broker, demanding extravagant amounts of detail about the minutiae of our financial lives. And I thought I was anal retentive about keeping records! No. He needed paystubs. Then they needed to say something different. They they needed to be from further back in the past. Then they needed to "look more official," (whatever that means?). He needed receipts, deposit slips, and letters of explanation for every deposit over $200 for the past two months. When one deposit was a gift of money from Jeff's grandmother, he needed her account statement and a notarized letter certifying that she had indeed given us the money. He needed employment offer letters, then he needed letters from my senior pastor, district superintendent, and bishop, explaining the vagaries of itinerant ministry. I was prepared to pop a stamp on Vicki and put her in the mail a couple of times. That's what I thought they may ask for next!
But yesterday, all of that began to fade in the haze that blissfully whitewashes traumatic experiences in human memory. Jeff and I met at the title company, practiced our signatures nearly a hundred times each, and received our keys. I felt like I had just finished a marathon.
And we have bought our first house! (Or rather, the bank bought it and we now proceed to pay them twice as much as it cost them. Sigh.) I intend to do a room-by-room tour over the next few months, as we get settled, unpack, and rearrange. But what I'm excited for, right now, are the small things: central air, a bedroom with a closet for Vicki Jo, and the same for me and Jeff (that means everyone's clothes can actually live in their own closets! Novel!), a dishwasher (!), hardwoods that aren't varnished in peeling polyurethane, a giant backyard where Pup can run free (and in and out of the doggie door), and real tile in the kitchen (not linoleum).
Pup giving the doggie door what-for.
Of course, I'm human, and so I will want more eventually. But for now, I'm basking in the glow of our own little home-place, and longing for move-in day: two weeks and counting down!