Saturday, August 22, 2009

How does one *accidently* buy a house?

While we were in Fredericksburg, Bernadette arranged for a realtor, Sabrina, to show us a few houses to give us an indication of the local market. Sabrina, her brother Ken and his wife Patti did a sterling job of showing us a range of places that fit our criteria: 3-4 bedrooms, 2+ bathrooms, study, kitchen with adjacent living room, playroom / basement, backyard, etc. Nothing was quite right or mutually acceptable and we ended up with Paul’s heart set on one house, and mine on another. Realising we couldn’t agree, we set off to see Richmond, the capital of Virginia, and put the whole experience down to an initial reconnaissance mission. While we had space to clear our heads, Paul and I each started to see the virtues in the other’s pick. We spoke about it and realised that for resale potential, my choice was probably the better pick. We each had a lot to think about while we watched the children cavort around the Children’s Museum of Richmond

While Paul was off with the kids, Sabrina called and asked us what we thought. I told her that we didn’t quite agree... but how about she put in a verbal offer $25K less than the already reduced price - thinking that it would be rejected outright. I confessed to Paul and he agreed that for the price we offered, he would be happy with the choice. You can imagine our surprise when we found out that the offer was accepted - on the proviso that we settled quickly! 

On our way to Washington DC on a Saturday, we stopped into the house and had another look around with our realtors. This is when we started to get attached to our decision, and saw the potential in the house. We arrived in DC and caught up with Gabrielle, Craig, James and William who had only two days earlier, moved into their new house. We decided that we should really act on our decision quickly and put in a contract and deposit while still in the area. So... on Monday, we headed back to Fredericksburg to put in a formal contract. Then back to DC to stay with Gabrielle’s family before heading back to Chicago on Tuesday. Our trip home was rather tumultuous as we wondered if we had done the right thing. We then had to organise a building inspection, a mortgage and all those other ‘moving-type’ things. 

Due to the tightening-up of the once very lax mortgage market, we found it a very long process to secure a mortgage. Where once illegal immigrants were able to borrow 110% the value of a home, it was now considered too risky for a visa-holder, with a very good credit score, an excellent debt to income ratio and secure employment to be given a loan. It wasn’t until this last Wednesday evening that we were finally given the green light - PHEW - with just a week until settlement. 

We now sit, on a Saturday night, with the moving company arriving on Monday morning to pack up our household. We drive away from Chicago on Tuesday. We close the contract on Thursday, and then we wait until our furniture arrives. We are really going to miss the city life in Chicago. We also look forward the opportunities our family will have in a four bedroom house on almost 2½ acres!

POST NOTE May 2013: 
This post originally appeared in my previous blog: 

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