1 Buying a House, the Play by Play | The Billfold

Buying a House, the Play by Play

March 30:  Start looking online. We moved to Charlottesville, Va. in October and have been renting an apartment. We’ll buy anything with a yard and more than two rooms after living in Brooklyn for seven years.

April 8: Find a realtor via Google search. She has high reviews and looks about my age. I need friends.

April 10: Look at first house. It has a window seat! And a treehouse in the front yard! My unborn children would be really happy here. Unfortunately, it is next to a bus stop. I don’t mind, but my husband spends the weekend pointing out that high-pitched squeal buses make when they stop and convincing me that those unborn children will die of exhaust inhalation before they ever make it to the tree house.

April 13: Meet with mortgage lender, as suggested by agent. Get scared. Go home and furiously purchase all three credit scores, even though I already obsessively track my score on CreditKarma.com. See they are all high; call my mother and brag. 

April 17: Look at more houses. Listing agents lie and use photoshop liberally. Decide my new business will be a Yelp-style review site for homes for sale. (Don’t you steal my idea!) We do find one we like. I know from watching “House Hunters” that I should not be able to live without granite countertops and a “five-piece” master bath, but I somehow manage to overlook that this house is missing both. Also, it is pink. Inside and out.

April 19: Look at house again, along with four others to compare. One was almost certainly a frat house recently. As we drive up, my husband remarks that he’s “seen people being obnoxious on the corner.” We are old. We decide our favorite from two days ago looks better and better. We deliberate over beers and write down pros and cons on the back of a hamburger menu.

April 20: After a late-night email from realtor that indicates someone else may make an offer on our home, we panic, decide that if we don’t want to lose it then that  probably means we love it, and put in an offer. I am still confused about how you are supposed to select the one thing that you will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on and live in for 30 years, but luckily, my husband is not a waffler like I am. I promise to stay off Zillow for the rest of my life. After a few deliberations back and forth, we are locked into a contract by 6 p.m. Excited and scared, we treat ourselves to a nice dinner while we can still afford it.

May 8: The inspection. Dun dun dun. This is an old house, built in 1910. It doesn’t look like it’s falling down, but it very well may be. The inspector climbs into the crawl space, tests the appliances and bangs on things. He finds a laundry list of problems and a super cool trap door in the floor of one of the upstairs closets. At least I have a place to hide my jewels.

May 9 – 16: Negotiate over repairs. Wait for days, which seems like years, for a response. Agonize. Drink.

May 17: We have a deal! Now we just have to wait for closing, which is scheduled for June 21. (And, oh yeah, get approved for that loan. No big deal.)

June 21: Closing at 10 a.m. We are so excited to go to the house after and run through it screaming (possibly in our underwear). Unfortunately, life is not like “My First Place,” another HGTV favorite. Instead, the lawyer tells us we can’t enter until the deed is recorded later that day. We end up there at night, drinking champagne and discovering a mosquito farm in the backyard.

June 25: We start painting. Did I mention the pink? I now understand why people rule out houses because of paint colors. I am in paint hell. I consider killing my husband every time he gets paint on the hardwood floors, but decide this house likely has enough lead paint to do it for me.

June 26: Painting.

June 27: Painting.

June 28: Packing. I naively thought this would be easy because we just moved seven months ago. I was wrong. I actually tried to tell my husband that we don’t even need a moving truck if we’re just going across town. Anything to save a dollar! I am crazy.

June 29:  Moving day.  It was 101 degrees.

July 1: I’ve been to Bed Bath and Beyond three times in three days.

July 3: Leaky faucet! Interestingly enough, fixing it is quite empowering. This is the American Dream.


Arielle O’Shea lives in Charlottesville, Virginia and writes about money. 


21 Comments / Post A Comment

Unfortunately, it is next to a bus stop.

Charlottesville is 8,063 miles closer to my house than Tokyo and apparently an entire universe further away.

t-square (#1,401)

@wallsdonotfall Charlottesville is only 500 miles from me and I don’t understand how this wasn’t a good thing.

Arielle@twitter (#1,503)

@t-square @wallsdonotfall I find peace and quiet to be a good thing.

Derbel McDillet (#1,241)

@Arielle@twitter When we bought our property, we considered paved-road frontage a con.

@AconyBelle – The long block before ours, which connects to the main thoroughfare, is only half-paved. I used to wonder why they didn’t do something about it but now I appreciate that there’s no thru traffic on our street.

I could see how being literally next-door to a bus stop would be annoying; a block or two away would be ideal.

omgkitties (#206)

Post purchase: frequent real estate sites to see new listings, pat self on back for a good purchase and/or tear out hair at missed opportunities. Sometimes both in the same day! (Don’t do this.)

Has there ever been a realtor in history who hasn’t pulled the “OMG SOMEONE ELSE IS ABOUT TO MAKE AN OFFER YOU’D BETTER PUT YOURS IN RIGHT NOW!!!!!!!” move? Because, ugh. Realtors are the worst.

@Doree Shafrir@facebook <— Generalize much?

You know not what you speak of. With interest rates at all time lows and this being the most popular homebuying season multiple offers are not un-common. I am willing to bet that I have been in contact with many, many more Realtors than you and can say the vast majority are good, conscientious people who care about their clients. Look up “Fiduciary Responsibility”.

But hey, if you feel so strongly that Realtors are evil incarnate, you can always try to deal with the seller (whose objective is 180 degrees from yours), the contract terms, inspections, contingencies, loan underwriting, title, etc. on your own. Oh yeah, and chances are you would spend more for that house as you won’t have access to the net price of the sold comps.

@Mick_Feisty@twitter Yes, I’m generalizing from my own experience with several different realtors. Maybe I had bad luck. But I found that they tended to not exactly LIE, but also not exactly tell the whole truth most of the time.

Lemonnier (#184)

@Doree Shafrir@facebook I had a similar experience — all of the agents with whom I dealt were primarily concerned with getting me to buy a house as fast as possible so they could get a commission, even though in theory they were representing me. I’m sure that most realtors are good and conscientious, but I only met one during my house-hunting and buying experience — and then she moved away!

LDB (#164)

@Doree Shafrir@facebook I have to say, I bought and sold an apartment in Brooklyn without using a real estate agent for either transaction and would make the same choice a million times over. No offense to all the terrific brokers out there, but they are not always helpful!

Megano! (#124)

Yes! Painting SUCKS. I’m glad you got a house inspection though, but since it seems you are an HGTV afficionado, that is like, the main thing to take away from all of those shows.

sony_b (#225)

Congratulations! We just closed on ours but after months of hell trying to buy it because it was a foreclosure. We opted to skip the painting part for a while. We’ll do it room by room sometime next year.

AHP (#1,504)

Hey, my husband, kid, and I also live in Charlottesville (well, slightly north of downtown) and also like beers and hamburgers. Congrats on the new home – Cville is a fun place to live.

Arielle@twitter (#1,503)

@AHP Yay for Cville! We really like it.

honey cowl (#1,510)

This is amazing! I want to read it over and over.

ElBlynx (#499)

Yes, more of this! Even when it is relatively easy (Start looking for a house to moved in in 3 months!!!!), it still seems like the most scary and stressful thing you could possibly to yourself. I am also a major waffler who is married to an instant decision maker, so I am glad you were able to combine your powers into a house buyer!

Also, I am so jealous of your secret trapdoor. Secret compartments and passageways are my granite countertops.

@ElBlynx “Secret compartments and passageways are my granite countertops.” Kindred spirit!

Pictures! Post pictures!

Congrats! I just bought a place in Richmond and I definitely get the daily visits to BBB (for me it’s Lowe’s, that’s my new favorite store). Settling in is WAY more work than I anticipated (I’ve only been there a month, and I still have boxes everywhere). But it’s a very fun challenge!

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