In my last post I mentioned that I am in escrow on a home. This is no minor perturbation to my life and I am having many mixed emotions. I am excited – I am overwhelmed – I am scared! The real description of me is I AM A CLIENT!
The process started when I realized that I could probably purchase a home this year. I have the income substantiated by my tax returns and I have money for a down payment (as modest as it might be). Fortunately my credit scores are up in the area that makes me a “good bet” for paying things off. The banks are starting to lend money to normal people again and the interest rates are so low that it is hardly a factor. The prices of homes are going up rapidly and I have seen people delay their purchase until they can no longer afford to buy. Those were the easy things to see. The time to purchase is now. The difficult part is that I do love where I currently live. However, it is pretty far from work and I do not have a garage, dishwasher or bathroom large enough to turn around in.
I struggled with the decisions that must be addressed. I cannot afford to buy much and less in Sebastopol than if I went to Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park or Windsor. But I decided that being close to my friends and the places I love is more important to me than the size of the home, size of the lot or about anything else for that matter. So like a good client, I made my “must have” list. I must have a garage. I must have a dishwasher. I must be located in Sebastopol, Forestville or Graton. (Sorry, Occidental. It is just too much of a drive right now.) I must have a normal bathroom with a vanity counter. I must have two bedrooms and a second bath would be fantastic. I want at least 1200 square feet of living space.
With my list in mind, I started my search. Realization #1: There are no detached homes in my price range. Ramification #1: a townhome in Sebastopol is the best that I can do. What is the difference between a townhome and a condo? They look the same but the townhome has minimal liability from the homeowner’s Association and therefore has lower HOA dues.
I made an offer on a home off Bodega Avenue. I loved the exterior space and could live with the interior. I adjusted to Realization #2: I am going to have a two story home. This home was in my price range and move in ready. There were seven offers and it went for $55,000 over asking with an all cash offer. Realization #3: I may need to spend more than I want to get my “must have” list. This was very disappointing.
Then I told myself what I tell my clients. There is something better for you out there. You must be patient. I reacted about the same way my clients do – Sure, Barbara, I will spend every spare minute on the Internet looking for something better. Call me every day so that I don’t spend my down payment on a new car to cheer myself up since I will never be able to afford anything.
But within a week another unit came on the market. The outside space is not as good – in fact it is a tiny yard and a pretty drab exterior – but the interior space is dynamite. I could see where my furniture would go. Not quite move in ready but close enough to make it possible. Better location than Bodega Avenue. I immediately wrote my offer and got it submitted. I offered $5,500 over asking. And then the wait began. I gave three days to respond. At three days, no response. I am getting nervous. The rooms are getting smaller. The stove is getting older. The floor plan is getting less desirable. Day 4 and still no response. By now I am thinking - I really don’t like this place after all. It is dingy and miniscule. When clients call me asking if there is anything they can do to get a response sooner, I tell them that they need to be patient as the only real options we have are to wait until the seller responds or withdraw the offer. This usually elicits a sigh of disgust. I am now sighing – heavily. Day 5, I get my answer. My offer is accepted. To me it seemed over 10 days. I now have so much more empathy for my clients.
I immediately asked if I could go back to see the house and take Gail and Katy – before I even have inspections. Clients do this all the time. We walked into the living room and it was WOW! Other than painting and that I want different flooring, the place is move in ready. The stove is just fine and my furniture will all fit. I am delighted.
How did I get this home over the other many offers? I offered a bit higher than asking (it has appraised at that amount), I took less than 10 days to remove my inspection contingencies (I have the best inspectors), I accommodated the tenant and have a long escrow (71 days to be exact) and I have a reputation of getting the escrow closed. Whatever really made the difference, I don’t know but I believe that I was meant to move to Sebastopol and live in this lovely home. I am now 33 days from home ownership and delighted with the prospects of settling in.