This morning I woke up thinking about a Bible verse: “Those who wait upon the Lord, they shall renew their strength”. Even though I am no longer a Christian, I can recognize the universal truth in this verse. For any person who is trying to follow God as they understand Him, they find strength and purpose in submitting their will to His and being patient for the outcomes He intends.
This week has been a lesson in the stresses of buying a home. I’ve always heard about how maddening it is, but now I get to finally find out why. It seems like the name of the game is compromise. And then after you’ve compromised, do some more compromising. What’s most interesting to me is how it took what seemed like forever to get our loan approval, and then once that happened everything started moving almost too rapidly.
As I mentioned in my last post, last weekend we went looking at condo properties. Mind you, all of them were previewed online by my husband and I. We had already pretty much narrowed down our favorites, so we were basically just wanting to see them in person to confirm that they matched our expectations and make a decision from there. To tell you the truth, the process was not how I imagined at all. For one, I made the mistake of thinking the online pictures were accurate. As my oldest son would say, “sike!”
The first property we looked at was one that our realtor had chosen for us. My husband and I had seen it online, but were not interested in it. However, we decided to give it a chance. First of all, the place was tiny. One thing we had neglected to do was note the square feet of each place. For the last 6 years, I’ve been living in apartments that had anywhere between 1600-1800 square feet, and this first place was a measly 1400 sf and it showed. The small bedrooms were crammed in the upstairs, and the kitchen was almost nonexistent. It didn’t take us very long to do the courteous walk thru and then reject it.
The second place we went to was much nicer, and over 2000 square feet. It was still being lived in, so the family’s furniture and personal items were still everywhere. Fortunately, they had nice things. Even though the rooms were generally on the smallish size, the home had a good layout and cozy feel. It was actually one of our top two choices, but after viewing the property our realtor explained that it was a short sale but not yet approved by the lender. Additionally, an offer had already been made on it, and was awaiting a response. Our realtor explained that because of it being an unapproved short sale the negotiation process could take months if we were to make an offer. My lease is up in less than 90 days, so that was not a luxury we could afford. There were just too many “if” factors about it, so we decided to move on and see what else was on the agenda.
The next two places we saw were in the same neighborhood; literally 4 units apart from one another. As such they had the same floor plan and pricing. They both were around 16oo sf. Again, the upstairs was small and compacted, the kitchens only slightly more generous than the first place we looked at. Personally, I was very put off by the gold (yes gold, like shiny flakes) flecks in the black countertops. It was too “disco” for a kitchen, let alone one with actually very nice wood cabinets. The one redeeming feature of these was the more spacious living room, but unfortunately it wasn’t roomy enough to offset the deficits. What was appaling to me was when we went into the first place it was a hot mess (and this even though it seemingly had fresh paint etc). There were carpet stains everywhere, and clearly you could tell someone had kept a dog in the house even when it had to potty. The second one had pet stains too, and was only in slightly better condition. Next!
The last place we viewed was another of our favorites. I personally was very eager to see this one. It was over 2200 sf and and had a two car garage. When we walked in, the entrance foyer was at the bottom of a stairwell. Being Muslim, I liked the fact that we could pile everyones shoes away down there without them cluttering up other parts of the home. As I went up the stairs which led into the expansive living room, I was awestruck. There were two large (6 feet high starting at the floor) double size windows along the longest wall. The opposite wall had a fireplace flanked by a single size window (same height as the others- in fact this is the case for the entire house) on the left and a door leading out to a small fenced “backyard” on the right. The celing was vaulted as well, so the entire of feel at once was one of space and light.
Standing in the middle of that room, there was another set of about five wide steps to the right which led up to the dining area. The dining room was standard size, but because the one side of it was open to the living room (balcony overlook) it borrowed that space and made it seem larger. Opposite the dining area was a small half bathroom followed by another set of stairs leading up to the bedrooms. Walking past those (as if you came up the stairs from the living room) put me in the kitchen, which was bright and newly tiled. All of the appliances were new as well, and opposite the raised counter in the center was a breakfast area. Again, two large single sized windows near that and the fridge.
So far, the downstairs was ideal. We went upstairs and the master bedroom was rather impressive size-wise, with another two double sized windows like the living room had. The other two bedrooms and bathrooms were standard. Needless to say, we felt this was the house that would fit our needs. It better be, because there were no other places in our part of town that were within our budget, and we really don’t want to leave this area as it is close to my work and the kids have been in the same schools all their lives. We decided to take a couple days to think it over and make sure we knew what we wanted and discuss any other options we were entertaining. In the end, we decided to make an offer.
Up to that point, things seemed to be going fairly streamlined. It wasn’t until we made the offer things started to go goofy again. First of all, our realtor found out it’s a foreclosure being sold “as is”. That means if it needs any repairs, it’s our dime. Granted, the walk-through looked great, but there’s no telling what is hiding behind the walls. So, depending on what comes of an inspection, that may or may not be an obstacle to us actually getting it. Another obstacle is getting our offer accepted at all. Our first bid was 10K below asking price. Mostly we made that bid because it was what we could afford once taxes and HOA fees were thrown in. If they do accept our bid, and there are any type of substantial repairs needed, we will have to let it go because we wouldn’t be able to afford both. If they don’t accept our bid or counter offer something higher, I’m not sure we could stretch it that far…especially when the inspection hasn’t been done to tell us what else there is to pay for as well!
So at this point, it would take a real miracle to get this place, I feel. Basically the bank which owns the property would have to accept our offer straight off, or make a really great counter offer (and by great I mean one which we could counter-counter offer something maybe 3k more than our bid now, and they would take it then). All of this seems like a huge stretch. I know better than to get attached to a particular house, and I can’t say that’s what I’m doing here. However, we saw everything else our side of town had to offer and it was CRAP. I’m not going to buy a crap place just to stay in this area, but I’m also loathe to get a decent place a half hour drive away. It seems like neither choice is viable, so my hope is that if this place doesn’t work out, something else will open up around here before our financing window expires in December.
And that’s what really burns me up about the whole thing. We HAVE to get ourselves under contract by 12/19. Our loan offer only has 90 days of life, and that’s fine by me because my lease ends on 12/21. The part that bothers me is that I’ve already looked around at what’s available for what we have to spend, and sure enough the best properties are farthest away. The only reason I’m in Georgia is to raise my kids, and the only reason I’m buying a house is so my husband can live with us without someone crying about his criminal background. I hate to make my kids pay the price (by uprooting them and putting them into a new, possibly lesser quality school system) so my husband can have a breather. I also hate the idea of settling for a crap house just to satisfy the needs for all of my family, because it’s miserable living in a place you don’t like, especially if you know you OWN it. Who buys something they hate, especially as expensive as homes are?
The reality glaring me in the face is that if it weren’t for my husband needing a home, I could live in any apartment in this area with my kids and have what I want and what they need. The price would be having to basically let go of my husband. So, in a lot of ways, if this house doesn’t work out it will feel like I have to choose between he or my kids. It sucks, because I hate to shaft him just so my kids can have the upbringing they deserve, but unless something works out it seems unavoidable that a difficult choice will have to be made one way or the other. So this is where we wait on Allah, making fervent dua every day, to give us just one more miracle by making the way easy for us to get this home. Insha’Allah He will have mercy on us and see fit to preserve our family in a way that all of us are satisfied. I trust in Him because I hate to think He would bring us so far just to have something wacky mess it up like this. I prayed even then, when all of the worst parts of tests were going on, that He would go ahead and cut the ropes then instead of making us suffer for it to only happen down the road.
So we wait…