house hunting is kind of like dating. it’s a lot of work, you’re constantly disappointed, and in the end you start to wonder if you’re just better off staying single.
but as i can attest with my personal dating history, all it takes is one really good date. or in this case, one really good house. and after six long months of late night showings and refreshing zillow multiple times a day, we found our forever home.
so with just a handful of days before we finally move in, i thought i’d share a little backstory on how it came to be.
it all started about a little over six months ago. after kicking around the idea over the summer, S and i finally made the decision to start looking for a house. it felt scary and exciting and kind of surreal all at the same time. it also felt very adult.
like with most things in our lives, when S and i set out to do something, we just kind of do it. and then iron out the details as we go. once we had made the decision to start house hunting, we figured we’d need a good realtor. so on a fall saturday afternoon, we headed into the office of the real estate agency i had actually used when my parents and i purchased our condo back in 2007 and hoped for the best. what we found was jennean munro, a bubbly and personable agent who lived in the community with her family. we vibed instantly. she had years of experience and an extensive knowledge of the area and surrounding neighborhoods so we knew we’d be in good hands. and just like that, we had ourselves a realtor.
in conjunction with finding a good agent, it was suggested that we also add a good mortgage broker to our team. i had been referred to scott morse from someone at work so we wasted no time in making an appointment with him to ensure our finances supported a venture of this nature. turns out we were in pretty good shape. three cheers for frugality! scott made everything seem so much less scary and we left encouraged that we could in fact own a home -in a sustainable price range.
so with our team of professionals assembled, it was time to start the hunt. i bookmarked every housing site i could think of on my computer and my phone. S downloaded the zillow app. we even went to our first open house in our desired neighborhood (people LOVED the similarity of our names, it was always the perfect ice breaker). we felt so optimistic and so grown-up. look at us, so domesticated.
a part of me kind of just assumed the perfect house would fall into our laps. kind of how i used to think mr. right was going to just show up at my door. turns out you have to go on a lot of bad dates (and tour a lot of bad homes) before striking gold.
we checked zillow every.single.day. multiple times a day. the good (and sometimes bad) news was that we had a clear idea of which neighborhoods (ne, which school districts) we wanted to be in, so that eliminated a lot of the inventory. we were able to hone in on finding something that honored most of the items on our checklist (at least 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a two car garage, and some sort of backyard space). from there we tried to keep an open mind. as you may expect, S was much better at seeing a home’s potential than me. but given his handiness, we knew that if a home had good bones and checked a majority of our boxes, it was worth considering. we had watched enough episodes of fixer upper to know that paint, new floors, and a festive back splash can work wonders on updating a space.
from october to december we probably toured at least a dozen homes. we saw them at 2:00 p.m. on a sunday afternoon, we saw them at 7:00 p.m. on a thursday night. we toured homes in well-established neighborhoods as well as brand new construction just a few miles away. we saw single stories, we saw two-stories, homes in great condition and ones in, well, the opposite of that. three words: horse figurine collection. at certain points, we even revisited homes we had initially written off. we became desperate for something, anything with even remote potential.
and then we found one. it was late december (i remember because we ended up seeing the new stars wars movie around the same weekend) and like a beacon in the night, a listing for a gorgeous home (with upgrades!) in our desired neighborhood popped up on zillow. it took all of about eight seconds (just long enough to scroll through the slideshow of photos) to call our realtor to set-up an appointment. we were able to score a tour just a few hours before the first of two back-to-back open houses. unlike most online dating profiles, this home lived up to its photos. from the renovated kitchen to the spa-like vibes of the master bath, the house had all the bells and whistles and was, for the first time, a place we could potentially see as our forever home. like a new crush, we couldn’t get the house off our brains. we thought about it all afternoon, so much so that we decided to attend the open house the next day, this time with my parents in tow. we were so determined to make a good impression, we even dressed up a little bit. you guys, we were serious about this house! and at no shock to us, our parents became just as smitten. before we had even gotten back to our current house, we were referring to the property as “our home.” we started figuring out the logistics of S and my commutes, which grocery stores we’d visit, how our future children could walk to school every morning. it was clear we needed to make an offer. and that’s exactly what we did.
to be competitive, we presented an offer a little over asking price. thankfully the original price of the home was way under our budget ceiling so we had some wiggle room. along with our offer we included a wedding photo and a heartfelt email expressing our desire to spend the next chapter of our lives making memories in the seller’s home. really tug on the ol’ heartstrings, ya know?
and then we waited.
much like getting that first text back from your new love interest, the waiting was the hardest part.
finally we got word that we were one of TWENTY offers. two-zero. how crazy is that?! all potential buyers were to bring back their best and final offer for ultimate consideration. we added a few more thousand dollars to our original number and immediately crossed our fingers, eyes, and toes.
and then we waited one more time.
around the same time, i had started to divulge our latest endeavors with friends and family. while it felt good to have such a wonderful team of people rooting for us, i couldn’t help but also feel an enormous sense of pressure to not let them down.
after a few days we learned what i had already began to suspect in my heart of hearts.
our perceived dream home was not meant to be.
it’s funny, despite really wanting for it to be “the one,” a big portion of me didn’t necessarily believe our offer would be competitive enough to seal the deal. maybe it was just me protecting myself from potential heartbreak but when the odds didn’t work in our favor, i kind of brushed it off as if it was all apart of the process of home buying. i had heard so many stories of friends who had put in two, three, five, TEN offers on houses only to be shot down every time. it seemed unfair to get the very first house we put an offer on. i mean no one gets married to the first person they ever date, right? actually they do, it’s called going to pepperdine.
ANYWAY, despite knowing in our hearts that losing the house was all apart of our journey and in the bigger picture, a part of God’s plan, in the weeks that followed, a greater sense of disappointment set in. i suppose it’s kind of like getting turned down after you’ve asked someone out on a date. whatever, i didn’t like you anyway. but the thing was, we did like them. a lot. and the house was far and away better than anything else we had seen in our now almost four month-long search.
p.s. want to know something crazy? this house ultimately sold for $36,000 over asking price.
as we headed into the new year, we were hopeful that more inventory would start to emerge. as expected, new listings began to pop up here and there as sellers came out of their holiday haze. we began touring homes again -sometimes as many as three in one day! but no matter how good the house seemed, objectively speaking (four bedrooms! large backyard! great nearby schools!), we’d be lying if we said we didn’t compare each new listing to the one that got away (and boy ain’t that the truth in terms of dating, too).
by march we were tired. we had been on the perennial hunt for six months and i was starting to feel like maybe it just wasn’t our time. instead of trying to force it, maybe it was time for a breather. the good news was that we already had a beautiful home of which to make memories and enjoy. the issue had never been whether or not we had to move. it was whether or not we wanted to contingent on finding a place where we truly saw the next few chapters of our lives transpiring. and i made sure to remind myself of that. often.
and much like dating, when you stop looking for love, it finds you.
and i like to think that the house that would become our home did just that.
it was a few days before easter (again, i’m really into specific details, the dates i believe actually have an impact on the story) and a listing popped up on zillow with the description “coming soon.” from the specifics, it sounded right up our alley -in the right neighborhood/school district, with enough bedrooms and baths, and even a separated two-car garage (one for my car and one for S’s workshop!). and the price! it was well within the confines of our budget. unfortunately it was listed without accompanying photos (a well-employed strategy to garner interest, i’m sure), so for all we knew, it was all talk. we kept an eye on it, refreshing the zillow app multiple times a day it seemed to verify that the home was just as good in person as it appeared on paper.
finally, a few days later the photos were added. S alerted me right away and though separated by distance (each at our respective workplaces at the time), as soon as we scrolled through the photographs, we came to the same conclusion: we must see this house in person. and fast. because if the photos were anything like the real thing, not only could this house be the answer to many many early morning prayers (anyone else do their praying in the morning?), but it would definitely move quickly if we didn’t spring into action.
we immediately emailed jennean to see if she could get us a tour ASAP. as always, she delivered with a late night tour the following evening -the thursday before easter weekend. despite not being able to see everything in the light of day (the natural light the home boasts is one of its greatest features), the home still showed equal to, if not better than the photographs. we went room to room in awe of its beauty. the hard wood floors, the white walls, the immaculate carpet, the kitchen, my goodness, the kitchen! we could not find a single thing wrong with the place. honestly, it was as if someone (God, duh) had taken all of our wants and desires and packaged it up one the perfect property. a property that, similar to our condo, would be protected behind gates, a feature we hadn’t requested but realized could be beneficial when we started our family.
without hesitation we told jennean to write up an offer. we weren’t going to risk losing out on an ideal property again and therefore we came in at full asking price. we were told that the offer wouldn’t be considered until after the weekend as the sellers had already planned an open house for that saturday. we held our breath all weekend, going into the easter holiday with hopeful hearts. ultimately i know that the reason there weren’t any other competing offers that weekend was because God had already set aside this house to be our home, but i also don’t think it hurt that the open house was held over a holiday weekend when many potential buyers might be out of town.
whatever you choose to believe, the fact is that in matter of 96(ish) hours -we had found, fallen in love with, and purchased the house of our dreams. life comes at you fast, guys. you just have to be ready to receive it.
and now we’re just days away from figuratively and literally moving from one chapter of our lives to the next. we actually officially got the keys to the new house last night(!), though the professional movers don’t come until next saturday. as someone who has lived within the same four walls for almost 11 years, i would be lying if i said that the closing of this chapter isn’t a little bittersweet. i spent my entire 20’s in the condo. a decade that was wrought with difficult and trying times, but also some of my happiest moments (pretty much everything that has transpired in the last four years since meeting S -awww). as sad as it’ll be to say goodbye to the first home S and i have shared as husband and wife, i know our best moments lie ahead of us in what we hope to be our forever home.
so if i can offer any advice to those in the thick of their own home search, it’s to be patient. i realize that’s easier said than done, but much like dating, life is too short to invest in a home not best suited for you. try your best to see the potential in a property even if it doesn’t match up with your ideals at first blush. be willing to compromise but be honest with yourself about your true deal breakers. get a good team (i can’t stress this enough) -a good realtor and mortgage broker are your BEST allies.
and above all else,
pray. i prayed every single morning for this house. maybe not every single morning but most of them. and on those days i didn’t, i’m fairly sure my mom was supplementing with a few (dozen) prayers of her own. ultimately i approached finding our home like i did finding S. i believed in my bones that God had the right one already picked out for us; all we had to do was trust His timing.
to quote myself (don’t mind if i do), our house was stuck in traffic.
but when the moment was right, the jam cleared.
and that, my friends, is how casa de rivera came to be.6