OUR HOUSE BUYING STORY

August 3, 2015

After several months of hunting, a new house popped up online one day in the Spring. I was attracted to its pretty exterior, so I asked our realtor for more information. It was for sale by owner and came fully furnished. When she told us the yard was small and mostly taken up by a basketball court our interest mostly dissipated.

About a month later, we had reassessed our priorities and were more open to buying something at a lower cost and skip trying to buy land. I was becoming discouraged and anxious about making the right house decision. Because we wanted to buy before the end of summer, was it wiser to go for something that was quite good early in the season or wait and see if something really great comes later? It was a lot of stressful risk management and weighing subjective factors.

Then, the house with the basketball court resurfaced with a 25k price reduction. Feeling a bit down and with no prospects, we decided to go see it. The reduction came from the seller choosing to bring on a realtor. He also added interior photos to the online listing. Seeing the inside for the first time, I felt I was getting to know the house in the more emotional way. My interest was increasing and the creative wheels in my brain were turning of what I would do to the place. I was optimistic and even a little attached.

On our drive to the showing, I told David I thought this would be the one. When he saw it, he agreed! We wrote up an offer that night. It had technically been on the market for some time, but it also felt like a new listing because of the dramatic price change and the realtor formally listing it only four days before. (The owner used only zillow back in the Spring.) There was an open house the coming weekend. We tried for an aggressive offer to avoid a bidding war and secure the house as ours. They countered a bit higher and we agreed. I always saw myself getting a house for a deal that was a hidden gem on the market for months with everyone passing over it because of all the work it needed. Putting in a higher offer on a new listing was not what I expected.

As strange as it sounds, I was still conflicted about how much I wanted the house. The best way I can explain it is by telling you that owning a nice home is an idol for me. That leads to a lot of anxiety around the process. On one hand, I love the house because it is safe, beautiful, and has everything we need. At the same time, I hate the house because idols never satisfy and just make us slaves to them. No house could ever live up to the level of fulfillment I was hoping it would give me. That does not mean we would abandon buying a home at all, but it was a battle going on inside me for a few weeks. As Tim Keller defines it, an idol is making a good thing into the ultimate thing.

Thus through the whole month of closing, I was weirdly keeping one foot in and one foot out. Every time we crossed another checkpoint in the process, I would think about how we could still call it off. Or about how I did not really want this one. And still looking for any other listings that might be better. This is all irrational and contradictory, but sin does that to you.

Things progressed smoothly (like, strangely smoothly). With some minor discoveries from the inspection, we negotiated the price down lower than our original offer they had countered. From the day we saw the house until the day we closed was less than 40 days, which my friends tell me is crazy. I expected to be a total mess at closing partly because it is the biggest purchase of my life, but also because of all the ugly idolatry stuff too. It made it easier by trusting David to see the decision through in his mature, less-emotionally-tossed-about way.

Today I looked back on our original house wish list for the fun of seeing how it compares to what we bought. The things we got: four bedrooms, good square footage, close to work & church, fireplace, two story, formal dining room, office, unfinished basement, and not on a busy road. The things we sacrificed on: “having land,” first floor laundry (but I have plans!), lots of natural light, and the stairway not being in the entry. And the whole diamond in the rough thing. I was a tiny bit disappointed it did not need more work because I love DIY so much. I am sure that will not bother me when I see how fast I can burn through the budget anyway!

The house just felt like a good, solid, smart buy. With all our opinions and preferences along the way, we really only took six months house hunting, the average for home buyers! We give thanks to God for this home we can spend our days in.

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Comments

  • I thank you for sharing, too! I grew up in an unstable hectic home, and one of my biggest dreams (and idol at times) has been to have a beautiful, peaceful, loving home. We close on our first home a week from now and I’ve been doing the weird half-excited thing too. So glad I’m no the only one. I’m loving your vision for your home! Unconventional at times but you rock it :)

  • Thank you for sharing this. It is something my heart needed to hear. My husband and I recently moved and I’ve been going through a grieving process and a love/hate relationship with setting up a home. I was making the idea of home an idol and this post helped me reevaluate and realign.

    • Rachel Schultz

      That is great, Leah. Thank you.

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