SURPRISE! If this blog post is live, that means we survived closing on a house during a global pandemic and all of *gestures vaguely* that has made 2020 the craziest year. In my recent blog post I shared that I’m still figuring out what direction to take my blog since I’ve been a bit bored the last few years. Something tells me being a homeowner will inspire a lot of content here and on my Instagram, which is exciting! It feels like a big project that we’re starting, despite it not being a home reno (I’ll share more about the house in a future post).
I’ve moved 9 times in the last decade, which is less than ideal… Moving that often, it was hard to find the motivation to invest the energy and resources into making a space feel like home. The problem is that I’m a homebody and my environment affects me greatly. Living in spaces that didn’t quite feel like home was okay the last few years, since I shared my space with Jared. Home is very much who you share it with – but I was still wishing for a space to call our own. Also, I’ve learned over the last few years that I’m just not cut out for apartment life haha. I won’t miss sharing walls with others and as much fun as living in the city was, I’m ready for this return to the suburbs. I grew up in the suburbs and I always knew I’d be back.
Last year after we got married, we started looking at houses and we found one that we really liked out in West Seattle. (If you’re from Seattle, you know that West Seattle may as well be an island with the bridge construction at the moment.) We started envisioning our life there but that ultimately didn’t work out. Looking back, I am extremely glad that was the outcome. We weren’t ready to become homeowners, the house didn’t have a yard (which is a must with Lemon) and ultimately was not in the right area of Seattle for us long term. The key is definitely that we were not ready to become homeowners though. The last year has given us much needed time to work on a lot to prepare for this big step, plus the unexpected move back to my parents’ for a period actually meant we could save extra money.
Finding a House
I love looking at houses and when I wasn’t pinning home ideas on Pinterest (follow my giant home board here!) I was always scrolling through Redfin. The Seattle market is nuts and we weren’t really in a rush to buy anymore, after re-signing our lease for a year, so I just perused for fun. After quarantine started and we decided to break said lease, it started becoming more of a hobby for me. I mean, it’s not like I had anywhere to go or people to see anymore. Anyway, I started noticing interesting trends with the real estate market. First, inventory was still pretty low, however was picking up slightly after a few months of the pandemic. Second, mortgage rates were dropping and a lot of people I know were discussing refinancing or jumping on the homebuying train because of what a “deal” you could get from lenders. Lastly, the idea of remote work started feeling more and more appealing and I guess..realistic? Jared and I are both remote until the end of 2020 but I think we’ll both stick to being remote from here on out! That really prompted us to want to move into a home where we’d have more space. We instantly recognized having a yard and the safety of the suburbs was a huge blessing when we moved in with my family.
I kept casually watching houses pop up and go pending within days, and started to feel a lot of pressure. Having a really open ended plan, aka no real timeline in place for when we would return to Seattle, was a little stressful to me. One random evening I was sharing that with my mom and Jared and explaining to them that I didn’t know if there would really be much inventory to pick from by the time we had loosely set as our time to return to Seattle. (We originally chose November as a placeholder since that was our original lease end date.) Both my mom and Jared were understanding but were kind of like, eh there’s no rush. Just be patient and see what comes up so you don’t rush into something.
About a month later, we’re having the same conversation except this time I’ve been eyeing a particular builder that I really like and have been studying like a madwoman all the homes selling quickly. I basically present my findings and both agree they like the builder, the timing could be right for us (since they were still in the process of building), and things looked promising with the location, etc. So we decide to make a trip up to Seattle to look at some homes. Within a few hours, my parents’ realtor (I can explain this more in the future, but you 100% need to have a realtor before you go see homes) was on it and we had appointments scheduled for two days later. There was one particular floor plan that looked interesting to us and the lot was still for sale, so we expressed that that lot was our #1 priority.
Obviously in 2020 fashion, there’s no way this could go smoothly. That would just be too easy. The literal next day, I open up Redfin and get a notification that the lot I had my eye on went pending. Surprisingly, I wasn’t that upset but my mom was actually really sad about it! We decided to still keep our trip for the day after and just see what other lots were available. Though through a giant chain of telephone, it was rumored the lot we liked was the last one available of this floor plan. Also, they told us the lot had brown cabinets and couldn’t be changed to white. This matters later in the story, I promise.
Getting the House
We took a day trip to Seattle and first viewed the model home. We asked the agent if there were any other lots left with the floor plan we were interested in. At first they said no, but then we found out there actually was one more. The LAST one. It wasn’t on the market yet though. It was going to get listed after the weekend so if we were interested, we’d need to move fast. Like, make an offer that day fast. That was a crazy thought because we literally just started entertaining the idea of moving soon. (It was only the start of July at this point). This lot that wasn’t on the market yet was really bare bones but they told us we could go inside and look around.
When we entered the house, I went straight into the kitchen to see the design document they tape to the window and I almost cried when I read that they had pre-selected the kitchen to have white cabinets. Obviously, cabinets can be repainted but if I was going to buy a new home for this price, I really really wanted it to already have white cabinets. Anyway, as silly as this preference of mine is, I took that as a sign that we weren’t meant to get that other lot anyway and things were really looking good for us.
We looked at a few other homes in the area after but nothing was really special. On the drive back to my parents’ house, we got to work. We submitted an offer while simultaneously connecting with a lender who was getting us pre-approved. 2020 is a weird time, where you can do all these things from a moving vehicle as long as you have a smartphone with data. (If you’re not driving, obviously.) By the time we got home a few hours later, we had submitted an offer to the builder and had an approval letter in hand.
The next few days were less nerve-wracking than I expected because the house wasn’t even on the market. However, several people had inquired about the lot after we visited and there were a few people prepared to submit backup offers. Luckily with a new development, unless something goes wrong with your financing or you back out, the first offer is usually the one they accept. Fast forward, obviously they did accept our offer, yay! Something that was also a surprise is that we were originally told the house would be done in November but when we sent in the offer, they said it would be done mid-September. That was great news but felt so soon!
Moving into the House
By the time you’re reading this post, we’ve already packed our things into a U-Haul and have driven up to our house! Our house was finished a few weeks ago but they’ve been doing some touch ups the week prior to closing. We’re still going to have a few windows replaced that were damaged in transport, but other than that it’s all ready to go! The next few days we’re going to be cleaning things (there’s a ton of dust with new constructions!), sealing the grout in the kitchen and bathrooms, and putting things in their places. We have a lot of shopping to do but we’re pretty indecisive and shipping is delayed everywhere, so I would expect a slow trickle of home updates throughout the next several months. I can’t wait to show you all though!
Thanks for reading this post if you made it to the end! I have a lot that I could go into about the home buying process, what I’ve learned, and more. I wanted to write a Q+A post about general life but I think I’ll write a Q+A post about the house first. If you have questions, please let me know! I am not going to share where exactly we’re moving though :) It feels surreal that I get to share that we bought a house finally. I’ve kept this secret for months and it’s been tough!