Buying our first home

Reagan Welcome

Let’s jump back to September of 2012. I had been living in Wyoming for just over two years, and we were just winding down one of the hottest Cheyenne summers on record. We survived nearly triple digit temps (I say this facetiously, but here’s a fun fact: it’s NEVER been over 100° F in Cheyenne. Check it: Cheyenne Climate. So we broke down and bought a window AC unit. I say “we”, because, things were getting serious with Jesse. I was living with a boyfriend for the first time ever, which was a little bit daunting at first.

I consider myself to be fairly balanced when it comes to being my relationship self while also understanding myself as an individual, although I think both of these aspects are continually changing. I had a few semi-serious boyfriends in college. Dated a couple nice guys and some real winners. But hey, who’s college experience is complete without being heartbroken at least once over an idiot pot smoker (double points for a pot dealer), it’s like a rite of passage… right? Anyhow, I had been in and out of the dating game, but never had been to the point where I was ready to share all of my space and all of my free time with my love interest. I still feel like one of the best things I’ve ever done was to move to a new state and city, where I knew zero people, to start a job out of college. Just me and my dog, coming home from my big girl job to my own apartment, and having mac and cheese and beer for dinner if I felt like it. Yay adulthood!!

So, here I am enjoying the feeling of young independence, struggling to meet anybody in a strange little western town where the social crowd is extremely hard to find, and WHAM! I get hit with the love of my life. Ok, it’s maybe not quite that dramatic. Actually, I met my best friend. Oh, and he happened to be married at the time (how convenient and non-threatening, right?… Wrong. But that’s a story for another time.) We immediately became close, he got divorced, and pretty quickly we both realized that we had found something special in each other. So after dating for about 7 months, Jesse tells me that he noticed a For Rent sign in a nice looking, single family home with a huge fenced yard, which I didn’t have at my current rental for Reagan. He made a call to the landlord that day, and after seeing the house and the price, we were ready to get out of our individual leases, and leave the double bills and driving back and forth to each other’s places behind. I did, however, get just a little bit nervous about giving up my own space. Jesse, as I said, had been in a not-so-great relationship and marriage for several years, so it was not as intimidating to him. The nerves didn’t last long, and moving in together turned out to be totally rad. Not only was it much more convenient because we were already spending almost all of our time together, Reagan loved having a yard all to herself, and it also turned out to be really fun and lead to us starting to think about finances. We made some smart decisions that I think have seriously contributed to the success of our relationship. Pretty neat.


So while we were making some decent sized moves in our relationship, we were not even thinking about buying a home. Actually, we had mentioned it in conversation, as in “once we get married, we’ll think about buying a house, but that’s a ways down the road.” It wasn’t really on our radar. So when the house across the street from our rental went up for sale, we didn’t think much of it. We grabbed a flyer as we walked by, as we often like to do for the sake of curiosity, and thought that it was probably out of our hypothetical price range if we were, say, shopping for a house. About six weeks later, we noticed there was a price reduction on the house, of about $7,000. Still didn’t mean much to us, since we were clearly not in the market. A couple weeks later we happened to be home on a Saturday, watching tv when we saw the realtor put up an open house sign in the front yard. Our curiosity got the best of us (wouldn’t you just love to see what it’s like in your neighbors’ houses?) so we took a stroll across the street to check it out. Walked in, and were immediately impressed with how nice the house was. We chatted a bit with the realtor, prefacing the conversation to let her know that we were not shopping, (or even married, which for some reason we felt was relevant), and found out that the late 20s home was purchased and flipped in 2010 by a married couple of real estate agents. New plumbing, windows, mostly new electrical, remodeled kitchen, bathroom, refinished original hardwood, and the kicker… A full basement that was 75% finished with a bedroom and a huge space that would make a badass tv room. So after finishing the tour, we thanked the agent for indulging us and went back home. Jesse made a comment about wondering what the mortgage payments would be, and I think I laughed and said “yeah, like we’re going to buy a house!”. He started roughly crunching some numbers, and within a few minutes I had started to consider that it might not be such a crazy idea after all. We probably surprised the listing agent when we showed up again about 20 minutes after leaving the open house the first time, and started asking her more questions. By the end of the day, we WERE in the market for a home (this home), and had an appointment with the same agent to see a couple of comparables the next day. A couple turned out to be one comparable, as the other home she had in mind had just gone under contract. The house that we cross shopped was only two blocks away, had a very similar floor plan, was close in age, but had an unfinished basement and an old furnace. The kitchen, while it was updated, just didn’t have nearly as nice looking cabinets and finishes, while the original house we were after felt like it was done as we would have if we had done it ourselves.

Feeling like we had done our due diligence of cross shopping, we had pretty much made up our minds. We had our hearts set on the house across the street. We made a couple of phone calls to our parents (“Hey dad, uh… Do you think we should buy a house? ‘Cause I think we’re going to buy a house.”), and set up an appointment for Monday to write up our offer. We also (briefly) wondered if it’s wiser to work with a separate agent rather than allowing the listing agent to represent us and our interests as well, as many people and online information will advise against using a dual agent or transaction broker. In this situation, a single real estate agent will have to work both to get a fair price for the seller, and to represent the interest of the buyer who wants to pay the lowest possible price. However, we didn’t really know of or prefer any other local realtors, and we felt pretty comfortable that the listing agent would be fair. We could hope so anyway, sometimes you just to have a little faith in people, ya know? So we went in Monday with an offer that was well below asking price, and about $2,000 lower than what we hoped to pay. We had asked for her to pay closing costs, as well as requested her washer and dryer in the deal (you don’t get what you don’t ask for). Super excited, we went home and anxiously awaited a response.  We stared out the window longingly at the house, devising a plan to scare off anybody that might drive by and pull over for a flyer. Just kidding. But really, it is intense not knowing if you could lose the house to another offer. Even worse that we’d have to watch somebody else move in to the house of our dreams.

To our relief, the real estate stars aligned and we received a call on Tuesday afternoon. The seller had countered our offer, she was not willing to include the washer and dryer. She also countered with a price that was $1,900 more than our offer, and agreed to pay closing costs. You read that right, she came back a whopping $100 under what we thought would be an ideal price! It was meant to be. Our agent even admitted some surprise, as we had told her what we were comfortable paying, but she is not allowed to discuss any of our personal or situational details with the seller. She acts as a sort of neutral mediator. Needless to say, we accepted the counter offer, and we were officially under contract!! And to think, just three days prior, we were not even thinking about a house. We opted to do a basic home inspection, as well as pay for a radon inspection. This cost us about $120 and turned out to be well worth it, as the radon levels were high, so we asked the seller to install a radon mitigation system which runs upwards of $1,000. She obliged, as this becomes public record, so she would have had to let any other potential buyers know about the radon if she had refused to pay for the system. We were then able to close within 30 days, and move in mid-October.

So while I’ve heard many people say that buying a home is extremely stressful, and a drawn-out process where you see so many homes that the features all start to blend together, this was not the case for us. And I doubt that it is typically this easy, but it sure worked out for us! We fell in love with the house when we saw it, and then we bought it.  Boom. Homeowners.

New House!

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