Friday, July 01, 2011

House Hunters

For the past six months The Man and I have been house hunting. The apartment we’re in now was a great starter place, but it’s getting a little cramped. As in bursting at the seams with Baby Boy’s toys. Let me tell you, legos on the bedroom floor can be deadly, especially when stepped on at 3 in the morning. (I’m thinking of writing them into my next book. Death By Legos?) Plus, with Big Boy starting junior high in the fall (gulp), we really want to be closer to his school. So, we first started looking at homes for sale in the neighborhood last year. Only when we went to get qualified for a loan, the banks kinda giggled at us. (Really, banks don’t consider “writer” a “stable profession?” Huh. Go figure.) Which left us renting again. Only the problem is, apparently there are a lot of professions that banks don’t consider “stable” at the moment, and everyone and their mother is trying to rent in our school district. The competition has been insane. The day something goes on the market, it’s already rented. People are starting bidding wars. It’s every renter for herself in an all out race to the house. (Sometimes literally – I have cut in front of other cars to get to an open house first.) For example:

House #1
This place was a little on the small side – about the size of our apartment really – but it had a yard, was in a great neighborhood just a couple blocks away from one of my best friends, and near a really cute park. So, we applied, crossed our fingers, and waited to hear back. And waited. And waited. Finally after two agonizing weeks, I called the owner. Her response: “Yeah, your 2009 tax returns weren’t really what we were looking for so we gave it to someone else.” 2009!!?? Seriously? My six months of 2011 pay stubs weren’t enough to prove I have steady income? I mean, even the bank only wanted 2010. Sigh.

Two weeks go by in which I am haunting Craigslist like a vulture, ready to pounce the second something comes on the market. And, yet, I am always two steps behind someone else, and the place it already taken. Gah!  Then finally...

House #2
This was a super cute townhouse in a cookie-cutter development. The yard was small, more of a paved patio, but the community had a pool and gym, and the place was within our budget. (Just barely, but we could stretch a little.) Due to my diligent refreshing of the Craigslist rentals page, I caught this one just five minutes after it came on the market. I emailed the owner right away and set up an appointment for later that afternoon. He told me I was the first one he was showing the place to. Score! We get there, it’s cute, we tell him we’re going to rush home, fill out the application and send all the supporting financial paperwork to him ASAP. And we do. Thank God there were no CHP on the road, because we were seriously speeding home. We totally ignored Baby Boy’s naptime in our frantic quest to get bank documents scanned and license plate numbers copies down. An hour later, we emailed everything to the owner, sure we were the first ones to get our app in. Yeah, not so much. It turns out the lady that came see the house 10 minutes after us, actually emailed her application to the owner before viewing the house. She wrote the deposit check sight unseen. And she got the house.

House #2
This one was way out of our price range. As in, thousands more than we’re paying in rent now. But we were getting desperate. It came on the market, and within an hour I was one the phone to the rental agency. One freaking hour after it went on the market she said they already had two applications in, but she’d show it to us that afternoon on the off chance that both fell through. Since off chances seemed like all we had at that point, we agreed and met her later that day to see the place. Five other couples were there viewing it at the same time, all asking to be in line behind the two whose applications were already being processed. Yeah, needless to say, being 7th in line, we did not get this house.

As you can imagine, we’re getting really desperate now. We have an appointment in an hour to see House #4. And this time, we’ve learned. I already got the application, filled it out, and emailed it in to the property manager two days ago. I created a kick-ass, kiss-butt application packet including a letter about how awesome our kids are, what a responsible family we are, and how much we would respect and care for their property while living there. In addition to the pay stubs they asked for, I submitted bank statements, stock statements, letters of recommendation from former employers, friends, local prominent residents, and our current landlord. And I capped off with an adorable family photo. I have my checkbook in hand, and if this place is even halfway decent, I’m dropping a deposit check and offering them $50 more a month in rent than they’re asking for. We are SO getting a house.

Cross your fingers for me.  And toes.  And perform any other good mojo tricks you may have.  We serisouly need it.

~Trigger Happy Halliday


Lucy said...

It's been a couple of years ago but a friend of mine said her son was looking for a house in DC and apparently was having the same issues you are. They'd come in bidding tens of thousands of dollars MORE than the asking price and get beat out. They ended up buying a "starter" home (about 1,000 sq. ft.) for $750,000. Unbelievable!

Anyway, good luck on the house hunting! Fingers crossed. :)

Gemma Halliday said...

Thanks, Lucy!
From everything I've heard, we have a very similar housing market here in northern California to D.C. Crazy prices. The upside to this is that The Man is a realtor, so while we can't afford to buy here yet, he can at least capitalize on the high prices in comissions. ;)

Brandy said...

Crossing my fingers for y'all. Having lived in Northern California years ago, I know how high housing prices are there.

Linda McDonald said...

I hope it went well for you! Wishing you the best of luck!

Kima said...

Gemma, you need to come to my little berg. My new hubby and I put our respective houses on the market and they languished there for 6 months. Took them back off, got married, put them back on and POOF! They sold. Mine in 7 days and his in 2. For this area, that's a miracle! There are dozens of cute to gorgeous houses here at astonishing prices (as compared to either coast). If you don't mind a bit of humidity and weather than can change on a dime, you should think about relocating to the midwest.

Unknown said...

I would really be helpful if you took photos of the house you've been to. Anyways, searching for a new home is really exhausting. To make your life easier, make a list of everything you want for your future house and then hire someone to look it up for you. House hunting really needs time and effort so better hire someone to make it easier for you.

Kristopher Washington