Granted we had a fabulous realtor who really worked her tush off to find us exactly what we were looking for and even worked like the Dickens to keep us in our price range, but when push came to shove, helped us realize that maybe going above our ideal budget wasn't such a bad thing.
I guess only time will tell on that last bit :/
Anyways, because it's been 7 months since we started and we easily walked through most homes that are or have ever been on the market in the Sacramento region, I'll spare you the long, drawn-out version and just give you the highlight reel:
- The "Holy S#*! this is the best our budget has to offer?!" house: This was the very first house Husband and I walked through with our first, not-so-great realtor who, as nice as she was, just really didn't know what we were looking for. We had an appointment set late one night in November or December to look at what looked on the MLS to be a really cute 3 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom house in Roseville just in the $200,000 price range. Yes, it was pushing our limits, budget-wise, but we figured we'd take a look anyways. After all, just because they're asking for $200k doesn't mean they get $200K. Where to start? the kitchen floor was a wood laminate that had been
- The "Megan shows her true colors" house: This was a "surprise" house our realtor sprung on us one day while househunting with Mommy Dearest and The Dude. She gave us the address and we caravaned over to the Citrus Heights home that boasted 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and came in at $175, much closer to our intended budget. The only downside was that our GPS sent us though the dregs of Citrus Heights society to get to the house and by the time we pulled up, I wasn't convinced that this was the house for us purely because of where it was located. I was ready to pull away sight unseen, but Mommy Dearest and Husband, ever the optimists, said "what's the harm in looking?" The harm was that it was GORGEOUS inside, completely updated with hardwood bamboo floors, granite countertops, completely spotless and staged to sell, the laundry room was huge and also had lovely granite countertops and gorgeous cabinetry, every square inch was painted in designer colors but dammit, why did the GPS have to send us through the Ghetto?!? Just as I was starting to convince myself that maybe I could fit in there, mom and I were chatting in the front bedroom that overlooked the street to get a "read" on the neighborhood when a light blue towncar drove by with the windows down and a black gentleman in the front seat. As he drove by he began to slow down and began to pull his hand out of the window. Expecting the worst, I screamed "Mom!! Get down!" and I immediately hit the deck. Mom nearly busted a gut laughing at me, as the poor black gentleman was merely pointing out the "For Sale" sign in the front yard to his wife, sitting in the passenger seat. "Ok, I can't live here....I'm too chicken shit," I said. "And racist," Mom said, wiping tears from her eyes.
- The "Mouse" house: This one really needs no explanation, and honestly I couldn't tell you much about this house because I've blocked it out. All I know is that it was FILTHY. The carpet was black, except for where the furniture was, and the walls in major traffic areas were grey and brown. As if the owners were using them as their hand towels when they walked down the halls. The microwave looked like food had exploded from within, and no one had bothered to clean it up ever, it was coated. But by far, the worst was when we looked at the sink, which, due to mold and mildew was falling into the cabinet on which it sat, there was a dead mouse in the food trap. It was as if the poor guy had tried to escape the horrible living conditions and didn't quite make it out. But the kicker is this - people were still living there. How the hell long had that mouse been there? I didn't need to see more than that, I'm pretty sure I left skidmarks with how quickly I evacuated that hole.
- The "Shut it down" house: The memory of this house was too creepy to ever block out. It was in a cute little neighborhood in Roseville and from all outward appearances looked pretty promising...until we got to the front door. As our Realtor was searching for the lock box, I looked up and noticed a big metal tube with a lock hanging above the front door. I didn't vocalize the oddity at first, but in hindsight, I probably should have. The vacant house had all tile floors in the living spaces, which Husband had already said he hated because it was too cold and made the rooms echo. So dock one point for that. As we walked into the bedrooms, we noticed that none of the rooms had carpet, instead they were concrete floors that had been painted. Weird. We also noticed in the garage that the house was wired for closed circuit cameras and there was a TV monitor for the cameras mounted in the laundry room. Ok, double weird. As we checked out the backyard via the sliding door in the master bedroom, I noticed the locked metal tube again over the sliding door. It was then that I recognized what it was, a rolling, bulletproof, safe door that locked into the floors. It was then that I realized that all of the windows had safe doors over them and there were no windows facing the front of the house. What the hell were these people hiding from?! As I looked around the backyard, I got my answer. The neighbor that backed up to the home had a huge yard with 4-6 shed/outbuildings that looked like people were living in them. The main house itself had blackout curtains and quilts covering all doors and windows and each of the out buildings had window coverings as well. At that point I didn't care if there was a toilet made of solid gold in the house, there was no way in hell I was going to live there.
- The "Squatter" house: All you need to know about this house is this; when we opened the door to the "vacant" house, we noticed a mattress in the front room cozeyed up to the fireplace which had recently housed a small fire. There was a cooler, a wicker chair that appeared to have been pulled from a dumpster, a pile of dirty clothes, a weeks worth of newspapers and a roll of toilet paper. Oh, and the back door had been left slightly ajar. That was all I needed to see, I didn't need to start my homeownership by evicting a squatter, thanks.
- The "Door that leads to your impending death" house: This house made the Winchester Mystery house look like a cute cottage starter home. The remodel was so horribly bad, just getting in the front door was maze-like. The best feature, I think, one that was probably bummed off the ol' Winchester house, was the upstairs bathroom. Clearly the owners had run out of money to complete their crazy remodel plans because, when you opened the second floor bathroom door, there was the backyard! The toilet, sink and shower had been removed and all that remained was a 3-walled plywood shell of a bathroom. Only three walls, the back wall was MIA and the floor just stopped and dropped off into the backyard. Husband and I took one look, shut the door and said "Nice try, what else have you got?"
And finally, the one that blows them all out of the water there's "The One": By May, Husband and I were discouraged and frustrated with our search. We'd put offers on 5 potential homes and all but one had fallen through, but the one still in flux I had doubts about. One day, while searching through the portal, a home in Lincoln popped up that looked promising. Our Realtor said the home had just been placed back on the market because the previous buyer's loan had fallen through. Luckily, the homeowners had a few other prospective offers, but were willing to vacate the house for a few hours that evening. It was a Monday night in early May that Husband and I met at the house and walked through for the first time. The 4 bedroom, 2.5 bath house had a nice open floorplan that flowed nicely, a huge master bedroom and suite, and 3 bedrooms that were all good sized. The house was perfect, and what made it all better was that it was an equity sale. No dealing with a bank, no "short" sale process (a short sale is a ridiculous name because there's nothing friggen short about it), and plenty of wiggle room on the asking price. After a discussion with the selling agent, Husband and I came up with our best offer, which was considerably lower than the asking price, but still a bit out of our budget.
By Tuesday we were in escrow, and a short 24 days later, we were homeowners.