Friday, March 14, 2014

Life, Lately: House Hunting Struggles

I have a mini version of this print in our apartment...you can buy it here :)
It's been a little while since I've done one of these Life, Lately posts so I thought today would be a good time to check in. If I'm being honest, it hasn't been the best week. Cameron and I put an offer on an house earlier this week but found out that we didn't get it, which is just a really crappy feeling.

I never realized why people complained so much about buying a house, but now that we're in that process, I totally get just why it's so stressful. It's a huge decision, both financially and emotionally.You look and look and when you finally get to the point that you find a place you want to make an offer on, obviously you like the home and the area enough that you can picture yourself living there. You start to imagine things you'll do to the house, get excited about your new neighborhood, and as much as you try not to, it's literally impossible not to get your hopes up. So then when it doesn't work out, it's super disappointing. I usually try to keep things pretty positive for the most part on my blog, and honestly, the purpose of today's post is not to complain. Rather, it's a way for me to process my thoughts and to put into words some of the things that I've been feeling this week. 

So here's the situation: Cameron and I and moved to Portland this past summer, and knew we wanted to rent for awhile to allow him time to get settled into his job and to get acclimated to the area. Our plan was always to buy when our year lease was up, however, we had heard from many friends that the real estate market in Portland is crazy right now. We anticipated that it might take awhile for us to find a house, so we decided in January to start casually house hunting. I think our initial plan was to just look to get an idea of what neighborhood we wanted to be in, but thought we wouldn't really start looking seriously until the spring. However, very quickly we realized that houses were selling incredibly quickly, as in on the market for one day quickly, and so we decided to switch gears from casual to more serious house-hunting. We figured that if we came across the right thing in January or February, we'd make an offer and just pay to break our lease early. During these first couple weeks of house hunting, we found a pair of realtors that we really loved, got pre-approved for a mortgage, and started to get kind of excited about the thought of buying a house. We ended up making an offer on an awesome old historic house in North Portland (for you PDX people it was right between N. Williams and Mississippi) however, there were a BUNCH of other offers on this house, and we didn't get it. We weren't too disappointed just because our realtors warned us that there was going to be a ton of competition, but we figured it was worth a shot. A few weeks later, we ended up looking at a really adorable condo in a different area of Portland (NW, in the Alphabet District) and were really excited about it. However, the sellers were not willing to come down on price at all and we realized there were some repairs that needed to be done ASAP. This condo, while adorable, also had fairly high HOA fees and no parking, meaning we'd have to purchase a spot somewhere, bringing our monthly expenses up even higher. We ultimately decided it was just not the right move for us financially, but still, we were sad about it because we love the area. After that, we decided to be a lot more selective of the listings we'd look at and not waste time seeing anything where we didn't love the area. This week, we went to look at a really cute house (in SE Portland, right in between Belmont and Laurelhurst) that we fell in love with. It was small and needed some work but we love the area and it had a lot of charm and things we were looking for. It had literally just gone on the market, but we were told there was a lot of interest so we made an offer that was over the asking price right away and were the first offer on the house. The next day, we got word that there were some stronger offers, but that the sellers weren't deciding until that evening who to go with so we increased our offer and wrote a letter explaining why we wanted the house. After doing that, I know that both Cameron and I were very hopeful we'd get it and so we were really sad to find out from our realtor that we didn't. Apparently there were 9 other offers on the house and our offer was second, however, someone else had offered significantly more. Ugh.

So yeah, the Portland real estate market is pretty ridiculous right now and it's hard not to feel jaded. For two of the three offers we've put in, we've offered over asking price as that seems like it's common practice right considering how hot the market is. I think there are a lot of factors contributing to this situation, but the reality is there there are not very many homes for sale in our price range in the areas we're looking at and there are a lot of people who want those homes when they come on the market. We've worked to save up money to buy a house and are in a really good place financially to do so, it's just extremely frustrating to see houses that you think are in your price range that end up selling for way more. It seems like prices keep rising and there are so few houses coming up for sale, grrrrrr.

I feel like if this was another city, we'd just get really fed up with the whole situation and say forget it, let's move out to a suburb where things aren't so nuts. We'd find reasons to not like living here like traffic or other day to day gripes that come with living in a city. But the problem is that living in Portland is seriously awesome! Honestly, I really do love everything about living here and really have no desire to move farther out. And clearly, lots of other people feel the same way, ha!

Buy this print here 
That being said, I haven't lost faith that things will work out. I know that us not getting the house we lost this week means that God has something better out there for us and it wasn't meant to be. We've moved multiple times in the almost five years we've been married and time and time again, God has provided and everything has worked out better than we could have planned. So I really don't doubt that things we'll work out like they're supposed to, it's just really draining to think that we may very well have to put offers on a lot more houses before we finally get one. However, our friends here in Portland that have recently bought homes went through the same things we're going through now; they all looked at a ton of houses, put offers on multiple homes only to get beaten out, but in the end, they found somewhere they were happy with. And I know we will too. It just might take awhile. Have I mentioned that I am not a very patient person?

The good thing about this situation is that we do have some time. Our apartment lease goes until August and honestly, I really do love our current place. As frustrating as the process is, staying in our apartment for the next six months is by no means the end of the world. The other thing is I'm really just continually reminding myself to put this whole situation in perspective. Yes, to Cam and I it seems like a nightmare, but we're fully aware in the scheme of things, it's not that big of a deal. Worst case scenario, if we haven't figured something out by August, we can rent. We're not going to be homeless, and we have each other. (Aww) I realize that even being in a place financially to be able to afford to buy a home is a huge blessing that a lot of people don't have, so I don't want to take it for granted. Plus, I recognize that there are a lot of people out there are going through tough things in their lives right now that are much more difficult than this, and so I don't want to be overly dramatic about it.

But it still stinks. Ha.

So if you're still reading this, I'm impressed! Honestly, this post was really more for me than anyone else, and it feels really good to get my thoughts off my chest. I just want to remember how I'm feeling now, because I know that at some point down the road, this period of frustration will just be a distant memory. When we finally do find a house, I know it will be that much sweeter because it didn't come easy and this struggle will all be worth it!

Meanwhile, if you live in Portland and have any tips on houses going up for sale, let me know! :)
(Not joking.)

Have a great weekend everyone!

13 comments:

  1. lady, this is so rough! i hope things look up and the perfect house drops into your lap. but it might be a long-haul of a process... to ensure you get the best house! perhaps the market will crash... i guess we should not be hoping for that! ha! have you two considered moving farther out west? beaverton/hillsboro/areas? or farther south? i know it's reasonable in those areas because it's not as close in to the city and houses can be lovely. many people from the nike campus live out that way in beaverton and so there are gorgeous homes, i hear!
    ladies in navy

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  2. I was the same way when we started looking for our house... We wanted to be closer in... Living out in the suburbs was never ever going to be an option for us :) Best of luck, I know firsthand how frustrating the whole process is!

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  3. It will all work out and you'll probably end up with an amazing house that's perfect for you in the end! :)

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  4. good luck, this is my same fear about starting the house hunting process even though we won't be at that point for a while yet!

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  5. Don't worry it will happen. Nick and I looked for a year and put multiple offers in before we brought our house. Nearly four years later we're still happy with the house we purchased. My advice is to take your time and have a wishlist, but know what you are willing to compromise on. Good luck!

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  6. Ahh Jane!! I know!! I'm sorry about the one that got away. That one is kinda like a first love, it sends a pang to your heart for awhile but (and even though I refused to believe this when others said it) THERE WILL BE ANOTHER. And in the long run it will turn out to suite you and Cam beautifully. PS your apartment is gorgeous and Kevin and I both love it--especially with what you've done with it. I look forward to seeing how you make the future place a home :) Hang in there lady!!

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  7. Totally understand your frustration! Here in Denver we put in 5 offers and all 5 came in 2nd place, offerering significantly higher than asking. Finally we had to majorly increase the budget and area and found the right one. Now I can't imagine living anywhere else and our house is perfect (for us!). Your house is out there! It's just not quite ready for you yet. ;)

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  8. Oh man, I'm sorry it's so frustrating. I can see how it'd be easy to get your hopes up and your mind set on a house and be so disappointed. Fingers crossed something better comes along quickly. Can't wait to see where you guys end up :)

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  9. My fiancee and I have been house hunting in Los Angeles (San Fernando Valley to be exact) since January as well and have fallen into the same problems you have! We bid on one that we found pretty quickly but the seller's weren't willing to work on problems that came up on the inspection so we had to pull out. After that we put in 2 other offers which weren't accepted (on 2 different properties) and finally on the 4th they accepted our offer and we are now half way through escrow (hoping to close on 4/7/14). It is SO frustrating to find a place you really like and could see yourself in and then to have it taken away. No matter how hard you try NOT to picture yourself in it, you do. ;/ But just like you said, when it's meant to happen it iwll happen (it's still okay to be sad, though)

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  10. You have such a great attitude about the process! It is crazy frustrating, but you are right, it hasn't happened for a reason and when it is meant to be, it will. If you get frustrated with your agents, we loved ours (Connie McDowell @ Hasson). She is FAST and got us into a bid for our house just in time. Good luck and happy house hunting! Hang in there!

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  11. We are in exactly the same position, house hunting in Portland, so I feel your pain! I am sure that you'll find the right thing really soon. The best things are always worth waiting for.

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  12. It'll work out. And i feel your pain. Thank you, Bee Talmadge, for posting, "That one is kinda like a first love, it sends a pang to your heart for awhile but (and even though I refused to believe this when others said it) THERE WILL BE ANOTHER." I really connect with that. We recently had a bad house buying experience. I shared your advice to my husband and it's really helped put things in perspective. Thank you! Thank you!

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  13. Oh, I feel for you!! I was totally itching to find a place and settle into it back when we were house hunting, after years of apartments and moving a lot. The market was just starting to pick up when we were looking, and there were a lot of short sales and foreclosures in our price range, although almost nothing we could afford of the size we wanted in the city, so we drew a circle around MAX stops and the highway west of Portland and stuck to that area. In order to get something similar for a somewhat affordable price we would have had to be in St. John’s, Lents, or maaaaaybe Foster Powell, but all of those were also pretty far from my work, so we headed back to the suburbs and love being close to places we shop and family out here. Even so, we made an offer on a short sale in our neighborhood that was much cooler than the other townhouses we’d looked at but didn’t get it, so we decided to sign up for one of the units still under construction in the neighborhood and had to wait a painful 8 months for it to be done! We got to watch it be built, though, and pick out finishes. It was worth the wait!! Had to pay a good bit more than the short sale, but now the market has picked up so much, it’s already worth $40k more than we paid. Good luck searching, it is totally worth the initial headache and waiting and shopping and checking your phone all the time for new listings!! ;) Best wishes!!

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Your sweet words make my day! :)

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