My Dummy Run At Buying A Home

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Readers may have noticed there has been a hiatus in my posts over the past few days. There’s a good reason for this — one that is totally relevant to this blog.

In the space of seven days my partner and I were given notice on our rented home, found a home we wanted to buy, put an offer on it, accepted a counter-offer on it, viewed the home five times with contractors and inspectors in tow, and then, today, decided to walk away. This house, lovely though it was, just needed too much money spending on it.

We are back at square one, looking — more actively — for a home to buy. But boy are we more prepared now than we were before.

We learned a lot.

  1. We learned that you may tell yourself not to rush the life-changing, potentially ruinously expensive decision that is buying a home, but that such wise counsel can be swiftly ignored when you fall in love with a house.
  2. We learned that things move fast with home buying — presumably always in a hot market, but also it seems in a slow one. Offer presentations, negotiations, debating points of issue, drafting and signing contracts and inspections happen from one day to the next, including on weekends.
  3. We learned that it really is a buyer’s market — even in the desirable neighborhood we zoned in on. The home we pursued had been listed for more than two months, and had already had one price reduction. Our offer, which was accepted, was significantly below the new price. Nevertheless, the homeowner couldn’t wait to get us into escrow.
  4. We learned that there are things about the US property market that never applied in London — even at the height of the UK bubble. We were asked to supply a family photo and personal letter which would be presented to the homeowner. We found this strange, not to mention difficult to achieve. We had to scrabble around to find a harmonious family snap and cringed while drafting the “begging” letter.
  5. We learned how invaluable a 4-hour walking tour of a home with an inspector can be. (In our case it was the straw that broke the camel’s back as we watched those escalating dollar signs in our mind’s eye.)

So we press on — more prepared and a tad more wary.

I’ll keep you posted.