We had been married for eight months, my husband’s job was going well and our one bedroom apartment was about to burst. The bedroom was small, the kitchen was similar to a short bowling lane, and the dining room was nearly nonexistent. The living room and bathroom were the only decent-sized rooms in the entire 500 square feet of living space. Our neighbor was a video game player and my husband could tell exactly what he was playing by the sounds coming through the shared living room wall. We had a regular ant problem and our electric bill was ridiculous for an apartment.
Needless to say, soon we were going to have to find a bigger apartment or buy a house. When the First Time Home Buyer’s Tax Credit was approved we felt that was our sign to move forward. We easily met the requirements. Neither of us had ever owned real estate much less in the past three years as required. With a total income of $36,000 a year we were easily below the $75,000 per person income limit. This lead to our first problem, I didn’t have a job and our income seemed considerably low to comfortably afford a nice house. At around 5 percent, the interest rates were on our side, but we were still pushing it.
We live in an area with some of the best home prices so we started out with our price range around $80,000. We were prepared for a long search. We began screening homes thoroughly online to avoid wasting our time going to see houses that didn’t fit our needs. I was thoroughly surprised by how many adorable houses there seemed to be in our price range. The first house we toured was adorable, but as soon as we entered the neighborhood we wondered what we had gotten ourselves into. The entrance to the neighborhood was marked with a junk yard, and the neighbors’ lawns were similar.
The next house was a foreclosure, and at $70,000 it was a steal. To our disappointment we arrived to find the house had been stripped of light fixtures and appliances, and the carpet had been destroyed. The neighborhood was amazing, and at this price we could afford to fix all of the problems, but before we could put in an offer it was gone. We easily fell in love with a third house slightly above our price range only to find there were 5 other offers well above the asking price. A dozen houses later we had made no progress and were thoroughly frustrated.
We quickly realized we would not find a quality home in a good neighborhood within our price range. We also realized foreclosures were not worth the hassle to us. There would have to be some major compromise. Ultimately, we decided to compromise on price. Although our loan officer assured us we could get a loan well over our current price range because of our lack of debt we decided to go up only to $100,000. It is an understatement to say we are conservative when it comes to money so this was a lot for us.
Soon after we upped our price point a tip from a relative would lead to a great find. My husband was put in contact with a builder who was developing a subdivision about 3 miles outside the city limits. With a quick phone call we were scheduled to tour an unfinished home the next day.
We knew in an instant that it was the one. It was a simple three bedroom, two bathroom with a split bedroom floor plan and a garage, but everything about it was nice. It came with a deep one-acre lot that provided a large, flat back yard. The only problem was the price; at $104,900 it was a bit above what we were willing to pay. For the next 24 hours we negotiated with the seller and finally, when we thought we had lost another one, we came to an agreement of $102,500.
Twice missing paperwork and lack of communication delayed closing on our new house, but we finally closed on May 13. The builder was out of town and our real estate agent was unavailable so closing was short and painless. Less than two weeks after closing we met with our CPA to file an amended tax return. We were told that $8,024 was on the way via direct deposit.
Although we had requested direct deposit and provided our new address, two months later we received a check in the mail that had been forwarded from our old address.