March 9, 2015

our adventures in real estate.....

For the last six weeks, we've embarked on a true adventure in real estate in the Lower Mainland. Let me tell you, it isn't for the faint at heart! We had always been tossing around the idea of moving for awhile now, finding a place that felt like it was part of a real neighbourhood where our daughter can walk to school and make little neighbourhood friends. We fell in love with a home, to the point where I had already moved us in (in my mind) and had started furniture shopping. Well, that deal fell with a thud like a hot potato. The realtor selling the home didn't tell us that it was a multiple offer situation, used our bid to leverage another, stalled our bid deadline, then sold to one of their own clients to avoid paying commissions. I was a titch, and by titch, I mean a helluva lot- pissed. But, we knew any offer in this market subject to the sale of our home, just wasn't going to stand up to the competition. We listed our home and it got multiple offers and sold in a day. We had two months to find a new place to call our own.  We went to look in several homes and nothing was really making me excited until we saw this beautifully re-done rancher. The home was on a gorgeous street, on the end of a cul-de-sac, and would be a short walk to the beach. We were in love. Right off the bat we were told it had five offers coming in on it. We still wanted to make a play for it and decided to go big - we were going to go 35,000 over the asking price, hoping to secure it. During the offer process, there were realtors lined up outside the home down the street, waiting for their turn to present their offers. I sat in the car next to my realtor, made a quick phone call to craig, and told her we're going to ramp it up to 50,000 over the asking price. We literally scrambled in the car, signing papers at the 11th hour to get our new bid in on time. The couple accepted another offer, at the same price as ours, except that the victorious people had cash. People are walking into this market with over 800,000+ in cash, no subjects. Suddenly, I became increasingly nervous. We need a mortgage, but to have a mortgage, whether you go through a bank or a broker, you have to have an appraisal on a home. No one will mortgage a house without seeing it and making sure you aren't spending a lot of money on a lemon (ie a home with a cracked foundation or a former grow-op).  So, any home with a mortgage has to have a subject on the offer: Subject to an appraisal.  Homes in this market were suddenly going for cash with no subjects - people were walking in with suitcases full of money and not asking for homes to be inspected. I was scared that we were never going to get back into the housing market.
The very next week we fell in love with another beautiful home - it had a breathtaking view of the mountains, had character to spare and just felt like us. We even had a great conversation with the owners, who told our realtor that they really thought we'd be an amazing fit for their home. As soon as we went through it, we found out, yet again, it would be in another multiple offer situation. We didn't want to lose this one and went in strong - even exceeding our realtor's recommended pricing - we went in $55,000 over the asking price. (Yes, a part of me forgets that I'm dealing with real money and gets a little bit caught up in the competition - I'd probably lose my shirt in Vegas). We got a phone call later that evening that the couple chose another couple who offered less money, but paid in cash - no subjects. I was honestly getting scared. This market was moving at a ridiculous pace, and who were all these people walking around with so much cash? I mean is Thurston Howell the Third in town? (Such a fresh reference, I know).
We went to an open house a few days later and met up with a couple who we had also seen at some of these other competitive multi-offer situations. (They too had lost out on the same houses). They had an adorable little boy and we instantly liked them. It's funny because we knew they were going to be competing time and time again against us for the same style/price point of houses.
We always get listings from our realtor a few days before houses hit the market, and another one came out that we really wanted to see. It was on a beautiful street, more in our price point and had a beautiful yard. We told our realtor to set up a viewing and she called to say that unfortunately, the house sold before it even hit the market. Now I was legitimately panicked. Our realtor was miffed that a home didn't get fair play on the market (It's always in a seller's best interest to let a home go to the market so that they can get the most competition, and the most money, for their home).
We didn't seem to stand a chance at the speed which this market was operating. Houses were seriously listing in the afternoon and selling that evening. If you blinked, you missed out.
But then one afternoon, my realtor got a call.....
You see, the house we wanted to see, that sold before it hit the market, was having their home inspection. The realtor representing the people who purchased it, was sitting in his car while the inspection was going on, and called up my realtor to say that while he was sitting there, he could see another home putting up a "For Sale" sign on the very same street. She called us right away to see if we wanted to view it. I was available to see it on my own, and as I walked though it, I kept texting Craig to say that it was amazing and that he would just love it. We got him in to see it two hours later, the house also received another offer on it at the same time as ours, and we got a phone call at 8 pm to say that we won it. I cried tears of joy. It didn't even hit the market. And bonus, the home down the street that we originally wanted to see was bought by that couple we liked. It just all felt a little meant to be. I think, had it gone to market, we would have lost another bidding war to people with cash. We truly lucked out. I can't tell you how excited we are, it's on a beautiful street, around the corner from a cute school and in walking distance to the beach - plus it is in truly a wonderful neighbourhood - we've already met some of the locals and they all love living there. We get to move in two months. With everything going on with my mom, this is the first time I have legitimately felt excited about the year ahead. She mustered up the energy to go for a drive with my dad past it the yesterday and was so excited for us. I hope she is here to go inside when we get it, but I'm so thankful she got to see our new neighbourhood first hand.

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