I’ve dreamed about writing this post many times, and today I can finally say it – WE BOUGHT A HOUSE! After 6 months of ups, downs…and many more downs, we reached the light at the end of the tunnel. Obviously, 2020 has been a difficult year for most of us, and many have been particularly hard hit financially. We’re incredibly grateful that we could take this step, and we recognize how lucky we are to take it. However, we’re also so proud of ourselves. Purchasing a home felt like a distant future for us, so seeing that hustling this year to save our pennies – and canceling our wedding – could pay off just makes us feel proud. We did it. This was our dream for ourselves. Sure, we’re still not married like we planned, but that’s OK. We’ll get there. The home-buying process was excruciating in the current climate, so I thought I’d fill you in on how it went for us and share some “before” photos of OUR new home! Gah, it feels so good to say that! Welcome to “The Manor.”
How did we afford a house in California?
If you don’t already know, California homes are notoriously over-priced. We’d been living in Orange County for years, and we did really love it (how could you not?!) but it’d be many, many more years before we could even consider purchasing a 3-bedroom home there or in San Diego or Los Angeles counties. Ultimately, we decided it was time to move inland, so Coachella Valley here we come! Even though we’re not looking forward to 120-degree summers, it’ll be worth it to have something that’s OURS. Andrew’s sister lives only 5 minutes from our new home! By moving to a “less desirable” area, we bought a house for about half the price it would cost in Orange County…maybe even more. We even have a pool! It’s worth the move, but we’ll sure miss the weather.
What’s it Like to Buy a Home during a Pandemic?
We were among the many couples who took advantage of historically low interest rates this summer as Coronavirus impacted the market. Despite a pandemic, EVERYONE and their mom wanted to buy a home in the Coachella Valley. For us, that meant very few options, outrageous competition and houses selling for well-above list price. We were also up against a lot of all-cash offers, and it’s nearly impossible to compete with that. This home was the sixth offer we formally submitted, but we attempted others. Competition was so intense that one home wouldn’t even accept a bid because they had too many already. In the end, our home had, I think, 14 offers. By then, we’d felt completely defeated and tried not to get our hopes up, but we actually got accepted! We bid way over the home’s list price because it was exactly what we wanted and didn’t want to miss out (having already learned from past homes).
But wait…there’s more. Our excitement over the offer being accepted was quickly squashed when we learned that the home appraised for less than we offered. That means the bank wouldn’t give us the loan for more than the appraised price – the bank doesn’t care what the “implied” value is in a bidding war or a pandemic. In that case, the choices were fight the appraisal, come up with cash to pay the difference or renegotiate the price with the seller. Ultimately, the appraiser wouldn’t budge, so we worked with the seller and attempted to renegotiate, but Andrew and I both has almost given up all hope at that point because we knew how much competition there was out there. They could have easily given up on us for an all-cash offer that wasn’t dependent on an appraisal. We thought it was over…Then she said YES.
HUGE shoutout to my friend Kristin from BlissMakes, who recommended we make a video to appeal to the seller. It was the main factor in her decision to accept a lower offer! Andrew called me at the grocery store with the news and I started happy dancing in the produce aisle. I’ve never felt such relief in my life! Despite the rollercoaster, it feels good to be HERE. The last month has felt more like 3 months.
The Before Photos of the House
Now, here’s the house! I’ve dubbed it the Montex Manor (Andrew’s last name). It’s an 80s build, and it sure looks it…With a lot of new paint and some hard work, we’re hoping to make it beautiful. Eventually, we’ll remodel the kitchen and install new flooring, but that’s several years away. For now, I can’t wait to get to work DIYing the whole house! First up, we’re tackling the backyard!
2020 sucks, but I’m happy to have something to focus my energy on and pour my heart into. Our families were a HUGE help and were very generous in helping us cover unexpected costs as well as understanding why we decided to use gifted wedding funds for a house instead. We truly couldn’t have made this all happen without them or without cancelling our wedding. Ultimately, I know it will be worth any hardship.
The high ceilings, large square footage and beautiful pool attracted us to the house. Everything is in wonderful condition, and so far I’ve painted several rooms in a warm white so that we can start with a blank canvas. Can’t wait to share more! Home sweet home!