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Rated: E · Article · Home/Garden · #1190576
My first freelance article in 14 years! My personal experience purchasing our first home.
         The apartment life was more than suitable for my wife and I for the first five years of our marriage. Owning a home required commitment, responsibility and a drain on our meager income. But everything was going to change with the birth of our first child in January, 2001.

         From constructing a crib, decorating a baby’s room and altering our daily routines to conform to the new family style, it felt like something was missing. We were still making payments on our new mini-van while rent increased by over $100 a month. The drain on our finances had kept us from seeking out a loan to take that next big step -- buying a home.

         As we considered the possibilities and what purchasing a house might entail, our heads were aswirl with numbers, locations, listings, realtor ads, lenders and more. But it was looking like more of a reality once our local bank pre-approved us with a $90,000 loan.

         Comparing communities and school districts with desirable demographics came into play. Talking to friends, neighbors and realtors would not give us enough to draw any kind of conclusion. That's when I turned to the internet.

         Realtor.com was the easiest, most informative site chock full of enough listings to boggle the mind. I found links to homes in the school district we wanted for our son and would keep us close to our jobs. The listings came with so much information I had never even considered. Yes, taxes was one of them. I could look up who lived on that street, the kind of neighborhood and demographics for the people who lived there. Information on crime and links to relevant data on the school district we chose was available, too.

         With all that, we knew we were looking in the right place. We had a few thousand saved. And we had a promise of a loan. But something we hadn’t imagined was on the forefront in a stale economy -- lowering interest rates. The drop in interest rates would allow us to up the ante and to look deeper into the neighborhood we desired for a home that would serve our long term needs, a place where we could settle in and not fear having to fix up.

         Scanning newspapers and the internet, while realizing the benefit of our nation’s economical collapse, we started focusing on some homes that held the most promise. Our timing could not have been better, because lowering interest rates was making way for rising price tags on homes. It was time to pay some visits.

         The houses we selected ranged in price from $106,000 to 129,000. The neighborhoods were a bit diverse even within that small range. The first home was a ranch-style with about 12-hundred square feet, three small bedrooms and a partially finished basement. Even though it was under 30 years old, it looked like something that someone’s grandparents had lived in. Very plain. And there was the matter of the location.

         This house was at the end of a block on a busy road connecting a scattered industrial-type area that included some small manufacturers, truck and trailer lots, warehouses and the like. The price was right, but that was about it. We knew we were going to have to set our sights higher.

         Instead of tromping through a bunch of houses that realtors had posted in fliers and on websites, we turned to the classifieds. And there it was. We didn’t know what to expect at the time, but the brief ad was appealing. An open house would give us a chance to scope it out.

         What we discovered was a cozy, split-level home on the corner of a street that ran into a cul-de-sac. The cross street ended just 100 feet away to the north at the beginning of a public park with a pond and walking trails, a place known to inhabit deer. But it got better.

         This property was less than a mile from the airport. It was a block away in either direction to a main road that quickly lead us to two interstates, downtown and the shopping district. So close, and yet, where was the hum of all those aerodynamic shapes pushing their way over the graded blacktop?

         We were amid a small forested area with that park to the north. At the backside of the property, several stands of pines that rose 50 feet hovered overhead. We were in a tight grid of homes and trees. It was peaceful, like being in the country, but protected. But there was the matter of air traffic.

         The most unusual thing to catch our attention while looking for a house that summer was the sight of a stealth bomber zipping by and doing some touch and gos at the local airport. No doubt, preparing for a visit to the annual airshow some 60 miles away. What a treat for our nine-month-old.

         The planes that flew directly over our prospective home hung low and were magnificent to watch. Would there be a problem with sleeping? We learned the planes that took off over the house were the most bothersome. They seldom cast a shadow over this dwelling going North, and never in the late hours of night, nor the wee hours of morning.

         The home’s owner was divorced with two grown children and about to remarry. This diesel mechanic had taken good care of his home in an economical and efficient manner, as everything was functional right down to the door hinges. Everything was original, like the 70’s style kitchen with green tile, stove, dishwasher and sink. Dark trim and doors complimented a plain brown carpet and even duller shades of paint on the walls throughout.

         The house had one and a half baths that were small. Among the beds on the top tier, the master bedroom was the roomiest at 12x13. A spacious front room with a vaulted ceiling rose from eight feet at the front of the room to the peak of the house at about 15 feet high. The lower level had two adjoining rooms. A living area 22 feet wide and less than 10 feet across with a fireplace in the northeast corner. The small adjoining room lead to the entrance of a two-stall garage.

         'For Sale by Owner' might scare off some potential customers, but not me. I had not employed an agent either. I was raised by a shrewd man who was always looking at ways to cut out the middle man.

         It was approaching September and we had been talking with the owner over a period of a few weeks. We tried to hide our enthusiasm, and played it as cool as we could while looking over other homes one last time. We had consulted several mortgage houses and had the loan and rate we wanted locked in. We were ready to deal.

         Because of the property’s low profile, for sale by owner, I knew the competition might be weak. The price tag was $119,900. Because we had been informed that someone desperate to sell might take a bid much lower, we decided to offer $103,000 to start. We worried our offer might offend, but were very tactful in our approach. We mentioned our finances as compulsion to offer this low. This tactic seemed to ease any potential tension. Our confidence was growing.

         The owner was concerned more than perturbed with this offer. And we understood when he immediately rejected. We suggested we could go as high as 109,000. He did give this a little consideration, but it was not acceptable. We parted for several days to mull over our options, to crunch more numbers and check rates one more time.

         We were into the first week of September, when we decided we needed to be aggressive and get this home. We had fallen in love and realized we did not want to miss this opportunity, or the process would have to start all over again. It had seemed our destiny to find this home, so we had to seal the deal.

         We approached the owner on September 9, 2001 and made our last bid and kept our fingers crossed. We strategically bid $113,000 knowing we could meet the owner half way at $116,500. On that evening we had our initial rejection and I immediately counter offered to split the difference. He gave it another day and on September 10, we had our answer. It was Yes!

         The next morning, I was changing my son’s diaper, reveling in our victory. The country station was playing in the bedroom when it hit --the 911 disaster at the World Trade buildings in New York. What was ironic was the wallpaper in Alex’s future bedroom was a skyline view of New York, prominently featuring the two towers.

         Looking back, it had seemed our destiny to secure our first home. We have been pleased with our decision, despite struggling with home ownership matters that only experience can teach. But we do not regret the outcome and would do it again in a heartbeat.


© Copyright 2006 BKCompton, NormalizingAtypical (ripglaedr3 at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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