Monday, June 13, 2016

The Big, Crazy House-Buying Saga

If you recall, a few months back, I mentioned that we found a house! And made an offer! And, after several counter-offers, it was accepted. Woohoo!

Built in 2011, 3400 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, in an up-and-coming neighborhood, and complete with all the finishes we wanted . . . we were pumped!

If all had gone according to plan, we'd be closing on that house a week from today.

But, as some of you may know, house buying can be quite the topsy turvy process.

Everything started out great. We got the house for exactly what we wanted to pay. The inspection showed barely an issue. We got a great loan rate. Life was good.

But then the appraisal happened. Oof.

Our bank's appraisal came back $18,000 below our original offer.

*insert face with eyes bugging out here*

At first, we were kinda excited to hear that. We figured that gave us some huge negotiating room with the sellers and that we'd be able to get our dream home for an even lower price.

But then more details unfolded. We were told that the appraiser the bank had chosen was a conservative guy. And that he undershot the value of the house. So we agreed to wait around for the sellers to have a private appraisal done by a private appraiser of our choosing. Seemed fair enough. We were hoping this private appraisal would be close to the bank's appraisal, but maybe a smidge higher, and we were willing to pay that little bit extra out of pocket on top of our loan, since the house really seemed worth it.

Fast forward one week and the private appraisal came back $2,000 above our original offer.

*insert face with eyes bugging out and mouth hanging wide open here*

Folks, we weren't trying to buy a $1 million home here. Not even close. A discrepancy of $20,000 in appraisals is just flippin' insane for the price range we're in. Insane.

Upon closer inspection of the second appraisal, we found he used some . . . interesting comps, including two brand new homes half the size of the home we were trying to buy. And one of them had never sold before. Meaning the price he used as a comp was a price no one was willing to pay (at least not yet) for this brand new home. What the what?!

But the sellers were sticking to it. And understandably. They wanted top dollar for their home, and their private appraisal claimed it was worth it, even with the shotty comps.

To be fair, the comps in the area were limited at best. Few homes had sold near the home we were trying to buy within the last year, and of the ones that had, very few were actually comparable (built around the same time, nearly the same size, with similar finishes). So we know that was likely the cause of the appraisal discrepancy.

We tried to renegotiate and meet in the middle, but the sellers weren't interested. Our only options were to pay $18,000 above what our bank thought the house was worth or walk away. So we walked. And were super bummed.

(This was within a week of our miscarriage too, which just made everything harder and way more emotional.)

But God redeems.

The day we found out the house was going to fall through, a Sunday, we were at Mass and noticed two new houses were being built in the neighborhood right next to the church. AKA the exact neighborhood we wanted and had tried to be in. But nothing to our liking was available when we were originally house hunting, so we basically gave up on that dream and hunted elsewhere.

Can you believe it? Two brand new houses for sale exactly where we wanted to be. And on the exact day the other house fell through.

After the dust settled from all the appraisal issues (and a rude seller's agent who was very disrespectful to our agents over the whole thing), we decided to tour the larger of the two new houses in the church neighborhood.

A brand new home, 2200 sq ft, 4 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, beeeeeautiful finishes, and to be finished within two months.

While we loved it, we hesitated. 2200 sq ft just sounded so small for us, especially considering we'd like to be a bigger family some day. And storage space was super limited as there was no basement. And the bedrooms were tiny. (How can we stuff all the kiddos into shared bedrooms with barely any bedroom space?) And the kitchen was teeeeeny tiny, a far cry from my dream kitchen. AND the price per square foot was woahhhh expensive since you pay a premium for a brand new house. So we were basically looking at overpaying for a new house that we'd likely have to move out of within a few years since we'd (hopefully rather quickly) outgrow that space with just another kid or two. It didn't seem like a great investment. But it was exactly where we wanted to be. So we held off, but were discerning it heavily. I mean, talking about it allll the time. And praying about it. And really really really considering it.

It's funny how God works.

He must have put that hesitation on our hearts.

While we were touring the brand new house for a second time, this time with the builder -- he was giving us all the info on the unfinished details -- we bumped into a neighbor on our way to our car. He was just hanging on his porch and wanted to say hi. We got to talking and he mentioned that a house two doors down was going to go on the market soon, which was in great shape, much bigger, and would cost must less per square foot compared to the brand new house. While it seemed like a long shot, we kept it in the back of our minds and hoped and prayed it would go on the market soon so we could check it out.

"Jesus, we trust in You!" has been a mantra on repeat around here for a while now. It's so hard being in the middle of a discernment and having question marks over your future and then another question mark pops up. To wait for this other house to come on the market, and in the process risk losing the new house, or not?

Jesus, we trust in You!

Two days after the conversation with the friendly neighbor, I decided, what the hay? I called our agents, who've been soooo good to us through this whole process, and asked if there was any way we could get more info on a house that wasn't even on the market yet. I figured it was a long shot. I mean, what were they gonna do? Knock on this family's door and ask for a tour? But as it turns out, I guess that isn't weird at all. Our agents said they will frequently knock on peoples' doors if a client really likes the look of a house and ask them if they're interested in selling. Isn't that nuts? But it didn't phase our agents at all.

They knocked. The family answered. And we set up a tour of the house. All before the house ever hit the market.

Built within the last 15 years, 3000 sq ft, 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, a wonderful layout, huge kitchen, mountain views, withing walking distance of our church . . . pinch us, we're dreaming!

We toured the house yesterday, put an offer on it last night, and we've signed a contract as of this afternoon.

Can you believe it?!

And since the sellers never had to work with a real estate agency on their end, they're offering it to us for a really good price. At least, we hope it's a good price! It seems like it is so far. Thankfully, that's where the inspection and appraisal will come in handy.

We are thrilled to have found a house so close to our church, with everything that we were looking for, and under budget. God is good.

And so that's where this big, crazy house-buying saga stands as of today . . . in case you were curious.

(Do you feel like you're inside the most dramatic episode of House Hunters ever, 'cause I sure do!)

Please join us in prayer as we embark on this inspection/appraisal/home-buying path once again. We're so nervous after our last house-buying failure. But then again, with all this falling into place so easily over the past 48 hours, we're hoping that means it's really going to work this time.

More updates to come!

Jesus, we trust in You!


  1. Wow! What drama! What intrigue! Hopefully this last part of the house story goes super smoothly. :)

  2. Buying and selling houses is NO fun! I always feel as if the inspectors and appraisers are corrupt. So sorry about your experience so far but I really hope this last offer goes smoothly! It sounds as if it is meant to be! Prayers for your family!!

  3. How exciting! Prayers that it all goes well.

  4. Wow! That sounds like quite a roller coaster! Hope its smooth sailing from here!

  5. Wow--sorry about the first house, but everything seems to be working out so providentially with this one! Praying that all goes as expected!

  6. AHH, I was wondering what happened after the small-kitchen debate! :) So glad you found something that worked to all your advantages. We're still in the thick of trying to find a new one in Omaha - looking at 4 more today and hoping that one of them sticks, because we have a closing date already set up on our current house (that sold this weekend, praise God!) so we're on a deadline!

  7. Prayers!! I hope this one works out!!

  8. That's awesome! Our house buying process was similarly crazy but ended with goodness, so many prayers yours does too!! Seems like it has so far!

  9. So much craziness! Now that it's a week later, I'm thinking we need an update!

  10. Isn't it amazing how you can have all the details ironed out to make sure the sale goes through and something out of your control can throw a wrench in the works? That appraiser should have known the value and come in at the same; they do it all the time to speed up the process.


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