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Tuesday
May242011

When I First Laid Eyes On You

Some of you may be wondering the story about how Mark and I wound up in our first place.  I wish that I could tell you that it's a remarkable "love at first sight" story...or even a nasty bidding war story (I hear drama makes for good reading), but the story of our first place is really pretty standard.

In 2008, the Arizona real estate market crashed...and it crashed hard!  It was a scary time for people who had recently purchased homes, and for anyone working within related fields.  I know that a lot of people were struggling to stay in their homes, and sadly some families had no choice then to sell their home through a short-sale, or foreclosure. 

Although the crashing market ultimately left me with little options to enter the design field after graduation, it opened up an opportunity for Mark and I to make our first move on our first home.  Just a few years prior, prices for starter homes were mostly priced within the low $200K's, with mortgage payments that were way to steep for our budget...and those were the 1600 square-foot homes...anything bigger came with an even larger mortgage payment.

I had been keeping my eye on housing pricing for a few years, and with the way things were going I had come to accept that Mark and I would not be purchasing a home any time soon.  Then came 2008.

Houses that were previously listed in the $150-250K's were now being sold through the lenders for under $100K.  A lot of our friends started looking for homes at that time, so "home fever" was definitely in the air!

We soon found a real estate agent through a referral from our bank and we got to work.  I think we must have looked at around 30 houses (yep...there were that many to choose from!) before seeing the listing for this little gal:

She was a 2100 square-foot, single-story, listed precisely in our price range...and just so you know, all of the photos you see in this post are directly from the real estate listing that was shown to us by our agent...so these literally are the first photos that we've ever had of our first place.

At first, Mark and I were split on this one.  We both liked the home, but what Mark liked best about it seemed to be what I liked least about it, and visa-versa.

We each liked the open floor plan that featured a living/dining room combo with a bay window.  I wasn't always a fan of the whole "combo" room style (since I am a big fan of clearly defining spaces according to function) but since the rooms were each pretty large, I knew that I could separate them visually by using area rugs, and appropriate furniture placement.

I really liked that the house also had a breakfast nook that was open to the family room and the kitchen.  We both thought that the kitchen was pretty small, but since it was open to other living spaces it didn't feel that way...and at least the cabinets were maple!

We liked that the master bedroom and master bath were pretty large.  This photo doesn't really show the room at the best angle, but I'll be posting a tour soon to give you an idea of what it looks like.

It's actually a bit funny because Mark and I both agreed that the backyard was one of this house's best features, but it was also one of it's worst features.  The yard is fairly large, and it wraps around the home in a big L shape.  I liked that this would give us an opportunity to create different zones for different uses of our outdoor space.  The only downside is that our house is surrounded by two-story homes, and practically all of our neighbors can see into our backyard from their upstairs windows.  Not fun!  (We're really going to have to be creative when it comes to privacy solutions for the yard, but that's way down the road at this point.)

Ultimately, we decided that we each liked this house enough to place an offer, but we had also seen two other houses that week that we really liked too (one of which I completely had my heart on), so we placed an offer on those two as well.

After putting in the offer for this house I had a gut feeling that it would be the offer that was accepted...and I was right.  The offers we placed on the other houses were out-bid, but the bank came back to us on this house requesting a "highest" offer...which we learned means, "just how high are you willing to go on this baby?" in real estate terms.  Feeling the pressure of losing the home, we raised our offer from our original $80K to $89.  Looking back, this is the one thing that I wish we would have done differently.  We had basically gone in with what we wanted to pay on the first offer, so I really feel like we should have stayed with our original bid.  Live an learn, I guess.

The bank chewed on our offer and countered to $90,500, but at this point our agent had already found out that our offer was the highest offer that was under consideration.  She thought we were a little crazy when we refused the counter offer, but we felt it was worth the risk.  We figured the odds of the bank getting the other buyers to raise their bid to $90,500K would be slim, so we took the chance...and it worked out!  The bank accepted our offer for $89K and we signed the papers on June 22, 2009!

We absolutely love practically everything about our first place...but there are a few things that we hope to resolve through our home improvements.  I already mentioned the privacy issue in the backyard, but the other big issue is storage.  Our house does not have many storage solutions, so we plan to be creative so that we can create nice little homes for all of our things.

Well, that's our story.  I told you it didn't have much drama, but I hope you enjoyed it anyway.  Tell me about your first experience shopping for a home.  Did anyone have any horror stories?  I sure hope not, but if you did, send them my way!

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Reader Comments (2)

I like your house! I'm excited to see pictures of what you've done with it! :) Someday we'll own a house... Heck, someday we'll "settle" somewhere!

June 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSara

Thanks Sara!

I'm hoping to post a description of the progress we've made so far within the next few weeks. We haven't made too many changes from what you saw in this post, but I think the changes we've made have had a big impact. I'm anxious to dive into more projects to get things rolling at a faster pace.

You've been able to live in some really beautiful locations. I think you'll be happy that you saw so many unique places and met so many great people when you look back at everything.

June 2, 2011 | Registered CommenterAHPCH

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