Friday, June 29, 2012

How to Bounce Back

Here's my remedy for home buying pains: Go to the beach.

That's all.

Grainy self portrait on the beach. I took this right after our last offer was rejected.

It's going to be a beautiful weekend and there is a lounge chair at the Water's Edge Resort in Westbrook with my name on it. The doctor has ordered a vitamin D IV. So I'm packing up my bathing suit, my book and some SPF 30 and heading down route 95 for some sun therapy.

Last time we had an offer rejected, we got right back on the horse and started looking for new listings. Well we're kind of doing that, but I have to admit that my heart's just not in it yet. I need to take a home buying time out. After the inspection report came in I was reluctant to give up on the house. The next day my worry had turned into a bad feeling. I realized withdrawing our offer was the best thing to do. I'm ok leaving the house behind. (I know, I know. There will be others.) However, I'm still really attached to the town. I'm still really attached the cute street and the pretty field across from it. I got excited when I saw how excited our cousins were when they heard we'd be moving near by. And I got excited when they told me how awesome trick-or-treating was on our block. (Trick-or-treaters don't come to apartments. I missed that living in New York.)

Instead of think about what I'll be missing come October, I'm going to indulge in the summer. I'm going to focus on the right now. After all, it's about the journey, not the destination. (<---Look! An uplifting quote that is not annoying me. All hope is not lost.)

I know this is all par for the course, and a real estate deal gone south is not the worst thing that can happen. But if you've ever been in my shoes I'm sure you understand what a frustrating process this can be. Tell me, how you deal with minor let downs in you life?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Woes of House Hunting

Here's my sob story for today: I've officially lost my patience with house hunting.

"The right one will come along, you just have to be patient."

"If it's meant to be, it's meant to be."

"These things take time."

I've heard these, and other variations of these statements, over and over again in last few weeks. I know it's true, but the Everything-Happens-For-A-Reason reasoning is starting to get under my skin. These are the type of comments that are used in sucky situations, which is why I hate them. I hate sucky situations. The last time I was offered these sentiments was when I got kicked to the curb by a boyfriend.

"I'm tired of hearing that! This is what you say to people who get dumped," I said in frustration to Keith. "It didn't help the last time I heard that and it's not helping now!" (I'm a little dramatic in the morning before I've had my coffee.)

"But didn't it work out for you," he said. (In a very, I'm-right-and-you-know-it tone, I might add.) "Didn't you end up with me?"

"Yeeeeeeessssss," I shot back in my I-don't-like-to-admit-I'm-wrong-but-I-know-I-am tone. "But all those sympathetic comments from my friends didn't make my heartbreak just disappear."

Then he pointed to the cat who was spread out on the kitchen floor and said, "But you never would have met this kitten if you hadn't gotten dumped."

Why's he got to bring the cat into this!?

Now that I've established that I'm upset I can fill you in on the rest of the details. They go a little something like this: We found a house we loved! We made an offer! We were excited! We negotiated and negotiated. We worried! We had our offer accepted! We celebrated! (I started stalking We had an inspection done. We found out there were a lot of things wrong with the house. We stopped celebrating.

The house is 60-years-old. It's no wonder that it needs some fixes. My dad said, "I'm 60 and I need some repairs." Then he looked at the inspection report and made one of those hmmmmm sounds. The ones you don't ever want to hear from your doctor. The sound that means, "This is worse than I thought." Keith had been making those sounds all day. If my cat knew how to do anything but beg for food I'm sure she'd be making those sounds, too.

I know that we can do more negotiating and have some (or all) of these problems fixed. We can ask for more money at closing to fix them ourselves, or try lowering our initial offer. We have options, but now we both have that sinking feeling that there might be more things wrong with this house that the inspection didn't reveal. (Hello, have you seen that Mike Holmes show? If I'm going to be on HGTV it's going to be Bath Crashers not Mike Holmes Inspection. Just saying.)

That's where we stand now. We've made three offers on three house with not much to show for it. So go ahead, leave your thoughts below, but please hold the sympathies and everything-happens-for-a-reason-type comments. I've got plenty.   

Monday, June 4, 2012

House Hunting Tactic: Stalking Houses

Making sad playlists and moping around the house may work for heart-broken high school girls, but not for me. So we didn't get the house we wanted. It was a bummer. But the only way to get over it is to get back on the horse again.

So that's what we did. Keith and I spent a rainy Saturday morning trolling the web for listings. Then we plugged the address into our GPS and hit the road to check out the properties. Since our realtor usually needs 24 hours to set up a showing (and we are impatient) this helps us see the area and scope out the yard. You'd be surprised how misleading some of the pictures posted online are! (But then again, if you've ever tried online dating, maybe you wouldn't be.) Stalking the properties we think we are interested in has actually helped us find areas we love and neighborhoods we don't care that much for. Plus, we usually stop for ice cream on these drives.

Here's why I advocate stalking properties:
Saturday we stalked a house in a neighborhood that we LOVED. According to Google maps it was situated pretty close to a major highway and Keith wanted to see if you could hear the traffic from the house. When we drove up to the house I confirmed that I did love the area and I was instantly charmed by the outside. Then Keith rolled down the windows and said, "Shhhh, listen." The optimist in me heard pretty birds chirping. Keith—the realist—heard nothing but the swoosh of speeding cars. He took a quick peek behind the house and confirmed more bad news—the highway was visible through the trees. Maybe it wouldn't have bothered us. Perhaps the noise is barely audible from inside the house, but Keith says having a major highway in your backyard is bad for resale value. It's hard for me to imagine selling a house that we haven't even bought yet, but I have to agree. If it makes us think twice, what will others think five or ten years from now?

A brick house was good enough for the Three Little Pigs, but not for us.

On Sunday we hit the road again. The sun was out so we packed a cooler and spent the morning at the beach. By 2 pm we were on our way to an open house in another one of our top favorite neighborhoods. The whole place smelled like cat pee and the layout was just too weird. And worst of all there was nothing on my checklist to be found in this house. No dining room, no fireplace, no beautiful front entry. An eat-in kitchen alone ain't gonna cut it. But we had two more listings that we wanted to stalk and they were near a Dairy Queen so I kept an open mind as we motored to the next town. Thankfully, we loved the locations of both houses! One was across from a beautiful park and the other was on a pretty side street in our favorite town. If their interiors are true to what we've seen online, I think we might find a winner.

Wish us luck!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Our First House Hunting Let Down

Let me just start by saying this: It's not as bad as it sounds. It's Friday, the sun is shining and I got a free doughnut at Dunkins this morning in honor of National Doughnut Day. All is good in the free world. That's why I'm only slightly disappointed that the offer we put on a house we really loved was not accepted.
Dream house, I know you're out there! 

Let me paint a picture for you: It was a charming Cape with lots of space, a pretty fire place and a dining room. Check, check, check. The upstairs bathroom featured a major bonus—a jacuzzi. And there was an additional 500 square feet and a wet bar downstairs thanks to a beautifully finished basement. The neighborhood was perfect and the schools all checked out.

But I guess someone else loved it more—nine thousand dollars more than we did.

I'm a little bummed. I was already picturing family movie nights and backyard cook outs. In my head I had already made close friends with all the neighbors. I'd invite our new couple friends over for a glass of chardonnay and entertain them with hilarious stories and everyone would laugh and think, "Man, are we glad they bought this house!"

I know that this is not a bad thing. I know there is another house and another neighborhood and other cool couples to entertain on our back patio. I know that when people say this happened for a reason they are right.

I just hope that the reason appears sooner rather than later. Design Star just started again and I'm dying to start decorating!

If you have ever had an offer turned down, tell me how you got over it. What kept your spirits up? And how did you stay patient during the hunt?