The story of how Clif and I bought a house:
Clif had moved in with me and my roommate, Jed. Let me tell you just how fast one can loose their mind when living with two men, three cats and a dog in a 1 bedroom plus den condo in the middle of Herndon. Pretty. Darn. Fast.
This is the time of the housing slump when it was still possible to get mortgage loans. Home costs were down extraordinary amounts and the market was ripe for picking. One such potential pick was just a few blocks down the street from us. I wasn't sold on buying a house in that particular part of Herndon but curiosity, especially around the exterior of people's houses, always gets me. We had no plans, or even partial plans, to purchase but I suggested to Clif we take a look at the house, just to see how much it was listed for and have a peek inside. What could be the harm? It would be fun to dream.
A realtor we knew from church wasn't available on the day we wanted to look and so he left us in the very capable hands of one of his co-workers. Being a good broker he took the liberty of doing some additional research and suggested we take a look at a couple of other comparables in the area while we were at it. If there was no harm at looking at one house for curiosity's sake, why not add a few to the list?
Roughly two weeks later Clif and I had compiled a list of wants and needs and visited over two dozen homes. Our realtor suggested we move our search from the bowels of Herndon to the other side of Rt. 7 and the Sterling area. Home ownership was still mostly a dream to us at this point, we were open to looking just about anywhere!
One of our must-haves was the ability to transform an area of the home to a rental unit if it didn't already exist. Towards the end of our search we found a home that fit our needs fairly well. Though it wasn't in an ideal neighborhood, the price and space were better than we had hoped for and we started entertaining the idea of making our dreams reality. Our realtor wasn't as convinced and suggested we hold off on our decision a little bit longer.
The next day he sent me a list of two dozen more homes that he wanted me to narrow down by half. By this point the thought of carefully studying one more listing so as not to be swayed by one way or the other by the picture provided made me nearly sick to my stomach. I'd done a fair amount of research on my own and had been dreaming on a regular basis about asking prices, square footage and more. I made quick, perhaps sloppy work of the list until I got to the 12th slot to fill.
Out of the remaining homes on the discard list I needed to choose one more to look at and finally settled on a listing that almost lost out because of it's picture. No curb appeal and it looked TINY, but something told me to give it a try. Bless our realtor. The charm-less looking home that barely squeaked onto my narrowed down list is the one he had us hold out to look at. He knew it's potential and wanted us to have a chance at it.
From the moment we stepped onto the front porch and looked in the window we were in love. It was beautiful! Updated! 4 bedrooms and 3 baths including a master suite (something I never dreamed we could have), a deck off the sunroom and a huge kitchen! The basement was in substantially sketchier shape but it was already outfited as a completely separately functioning apartment. It had its own entrance, bed and bath and kitchen on top of a huge rec room with great views.
And talk about those views! The development we were in was designed with paved walking paths and a nature cushion behind every home. The back yard spilled out to lovely walking trails, a creek and woods so lush we couldn't see the neighbors behind us.
We simply had to have it.
On Superbowl Sunday in 2008 Clif and I waited anxiously in our empty dream house to hear our realtor tell us that two other bids were placed on it and they were going in for their second and last chance bids the very next morning. If we wanted this house, really wanted it, we needed to get our finances in order and draft an appealing contract immediately. We agreed to the suggestion of our realtor for an escalating clause and pushed our financial cap to uncomfortable heights, we wanted this home so badly.
That Monday was an nightmare of anxieties and it may have been that night, or maybe even the next, but we finally heard from the realtor: the house was ours! One bid never came back for their second chance and the other barely increased their offer which kept our budget at a substantially more comfortable level.
Less than four weeks later the lending laws changed to be such that we could not have gotten a loan.
Three plus years later we are still so thankful and blessed to be living in such an amazing place. Often I look around and imagine further updates we'll be able to make and one day raising our children there. Bit by bit I'm putting a stamp on the design inside and out, cultivating a green thumb in the garden and whatever the equivalent is for minor home repair projects (bruised knuckles and knees?).
Even though we've had our rough spots and in the beginning made a sudden and monstrous jump from "just looking" to making one of the biggest decisions of our lives, every moment has been worth it.