We started looking for houses seriously about a year ago. We were inspired by several families from our church who moved into the surrounding neighborhood to better reach the community. And our particular house just so happens to be a mile from the Kieklaks and two miles from my work. Major bonuses!
After having several houses snatched up before we even could take a second look, much less make an offer, we were starting to get pretty discouraged.
But things began to look brighter when we finally made our first offer in early February! It was an aggressive offer, so when she countered we were still happy with the deal. We accepted her counter offer and began to move forward with inspections.
Then we found out the roof had hail damage and needed to be replaced. We figured she would for sure say yes since it was likely that nobody would buy a house with a bad roof, and she was probably only looking at the cost of a deductible.
But she said no, so we had to walk away from that offer. This was particularly hard for me, Matt too, but definitely more for me. I hate feeling like I’ve wasted my money, and the idea of having spent several hundred dollars on these inspections for a house we didn’t get was difficult for me to swallow.
Early March, we went back to the drawing board – hunting on Zillow and Trulia in our spare time. And reviewing countless MLS listings from our realtor.
Matt and I have tried to remember how many houses we actually saw in person. In my mind it’s more than 50, but he thinks closer to 30-40. Either way, it felt like hundreds!
Then in mid-March our realtor randomly sent us a listing for a 2 bedroom, 1 bath. What is he thinking? I thought. He knows we are looking at minimum 3 bedrooms, preferably 4!
I didn’t think twice about that listing. Then the next time we met to look through some houses in person, our realtor mentioned that 2-bedroom house again. He talked about the great deal it was and how it had a basement that was an empty canvas and ready to be finished – something where we could add a few more bedrooms on our own.
We agreed to look, but in my mind my it still wasn’t much of an option. I mean, we’ve never finished a basement before! We don’t have that kind of money or those kinds of tools! Much less the skills, right?
Even after we looked, I still didn’t think we’d buy the house. But I couldn’t deny that it was a great deal. It was a foreclosure, originally listed at $62,500. Then after being on the market for only a month, they decided to do some repairs on their own to make it more desirable.
The selling bank did $12,000 worth of contract work and put it back on the market. You’d think they would have raised the price or at least kept it the same, mentioning the updates. But no…they lowered it! It went back on the market in February for just $49,900!
Definitely a steal! So, after that initial look, Matt and I began to throw around the idea of buying this two bedroom house and finishing a basement all by ourselves.
I mean, people have done this before, right?
We wouldn’t be crazy would we?
And we only need two bedrooms right now anyway!
There’s always youtube, books, and blog posts to learn this stuff!
Let’s make an offer!
And so we did. We didn’t want to lose the house, and it was already a great deal. So we offered the listing price of $49,900.
We found out early on that you should never expect the process of buying a foreclosure to be a fast one. I think it was two weeks later before we ever heard back about this initial offer. You can’t ever talk to the bank directly. Their realtor can’t even talk to them directly! It’s the weirdest thing. The realtor has to submit offers and requests to a form online and they respond… eventually.
So we waited a lot through this process, but we were okay with that. Yes, we wanted to move as soon as possible, but we also wanted the best deal possible. God had blessed us with a great apartment complex that let us be on month to month rent with no additional charges. They didn’t even need a set amount of days notification of our move out. They were wonderful!
So March to late May, we waited on this house, hearing little details along the way. The thing was though…it was pretty much always good news! They replaced everything we requested… brand new AC unit, pipes, water heater, window sills, etc.
The main floor was move in ready, and the basement demolition was all done. We kept thinking this deal was going to fall through any moment, just like the last one. We had to extend our contract once because…well…the bank just took their time on things. But that’s okay, because they were saying yes to everything we asked for! Even paying a little of our closing costs, which is basically unheard of from a bank.
Going into the week our contract was set to expire (for the second time), we still hadn’t heard a for sure ‘Yes, you are closing Friday, be here at this time.’
We started to worry that something was up, and we were right. Apparently there was an issue with the title. How could there be? They checked it three weeks ago and it was clear!
The title companies do one final check the week of closing, and ours showed a judgement against the property. I didn’t even know exactly what that meant, but I knew it couldn’t be good.
After lots of research, we found out about this guy (who I will not name out of the goodness of my heart) that has beef with our selling bank. Apparently, he was a house flipper in this area years ago and this particular bank tried to foreclose on one of his properties. Long story short, they worked it all out back then, but now he’s decided to get back at them by filing judgements on all their foreclosed properties in the Louisville area. (There’s a lot you can find out about through public property records online.)
Are you kidding me?! Who does that? That’s the kind of stuff you see in movies, but I didn’t realize anyone was actually that mean …. and … bored.
Apparently anyone who has the finances or connections can make a judgement against any property. Something new I learned! But as soon as it goes to court, they see that this guy has no connection to these properties and they just overturn it.
So, he basically wastes a bunch of his own time and money to cause a scene on every property this bank tries to sell now. So, so dumb!
After hearing this news, we just had to wait to get the ‘okay’ from our title company in order to close. Our contract was set to expire May 30th. We had already signed secondary extensions (just in case) and had pretty much lost all hope of closing that day.
Then, late that afternoon, we got the call that everything had finally been cleared and we were set to close at 7pm that night! We couldn’t believe it. We finally had the keys to our first house!
I had every intention of showing y’all some initial photos in this blog post, but my Photobucket is down today (I added that first one to the draft last week). Sorry! The pictures will have to wait until next time, but I’ll leave you with a piece of advice for now:
Before making any major purchases (like a new house), pray. Pray long and hard that God would guide your decision process and provide for your needs. Pray for patience and contentment along the way. And pray for God to show you how much your family should spend on a house. Don’t just go off what the bank will approve you for.
Matt and I were blessed by the grace of God to not have any debt going into this house hunting process. Because of that, our lender was willing to approve us for a whole lot more than we were expecting. When we started to ask about limits, they said “Basically, it’s up to you since you have no debt. However much you’re willing to pay on a mortgage and whatever you can make as a down payment.”
That was absurd to both of us! There’s no way we could have afforded a house with the numbers they were throwing around! And we didn’t need one. So we prayed about it and came up with a number we felt was within our means. We prayed for God to provide in that range, and He provided remarkably under it! It took some waiting, but we found our first house!
To God be the glory!