It finally happened! We are in our own house. One that I can change paint colors without permission. One where I can plant flowers. One where I can settle in for a while and officially call it home. (I’ll try not to speak too loud here as God loves to mix me up just when I get settled, it’s kinda this game that we play).
Let me provide some backstory on this house.
It started around 5 years ago. My husband and I decided that it was time to start looking for a house of our own. Not a rental filled with fleas, a cabin that was for sale, a pool house that has all sorts of issues or a 1950’s cottage that could be foreclosed out from under us. We wanted a house of our own.
Problem 1: We have never bought a house before so we didn’t have a clue how it was supposed to work.
Problem 2: Learning the foreign language of real estate.
Solution 1: Find an agent. Check! Problem solved. Now we had a translator.
We started looking around at anything in our price range (which was not too high). We were signed up on Trulia, Zillow, and just about every agents watch list in the county. We started looking to identify what we wanted, what neighborhoods we liked, how big/ small the house needed to be, what we wanted from a house.
My list: A yard (preferably 5-10 acres of yard, but that was negotiable), a garage, a neighborhood in which I did not fear being mugged, minimum 3 bedrooms 2 baths, nice kitchen, fenced yard for the dog(s).
His list: area to entertain, close to social group.
We first were looking for houses in Tyler, Texas, and the surrounding area. Being pretty well settled in the area we figured it would be a good place to light for a while. We looked at every ugly house in Tyler. We saw houses with hideous tile, bad back yards, scary neighborhoods, bad floor plans, no floor plans. Yes, we saw every bad foreclosure out there. We also saw some very nice houses, but these houses needed something we didn’t have. A large down payment. We were right in that middle ground income group that we needed to have money to put down, but didn’t make enough to save money to put down.
So we instead moved into a 1 bedroom apartment with a 13 year old dog, a cat, a fish and 2 persons. This was after the aforementioned 1950’s house was foreclosed out from under us, I still don’t know what they were doing with our rent money. The plan was to downsize for 6 months, and then we could buy a house.
Eighteen months later we moved to Killeen, Texas, from the apartment. No dream of having a house came true in all the time of being there.
I will spare the details at this time regarding our move to Killeen, it in and of itself is quite the tale. We found a nice house to rent (which is also a short story in and of itself) and proceeded to find a church family (again, another story).
It was time to start looking for houses. My business was making enough to add to our income, and my husband, Patrick, had a good job. Enter agent number two. We started looking for something livable with acreage for my horses. After setting the price and identifying some parameters, it was time to start looking. We saw every ugly house in a three county area in Central Texas. At one time, we could tell you every house with land for sale in the area and what was wrong with it.
That house up in Harker Heights, yep, the only site built house in the neighborhood. Neighbors have cars up on blocks, but it’s okay, the goats and chickens need somewhere for shelter. Hackberry? Which one? One has only 1.5 acres and they are asking $230,000. Yes, it is priced way too high. The other, the one with the zebra, kudu, and camel? That one has major foundation issues that we don’t feel makes the price worth it. Why yes, there are some for sale on Spotted Horse. Yes, the house and property are beautiful and if I had a spare half mil laying around I would make a bid on it. The other one? Well, she has a reputation in town, and not the type of reputation you want a house to have, if you know what I mean.
We looked at houses that were unfinished, unbuilt, unattractive, inaccessible, and inefficient. We looked at houses overpriced, underpriced, and well-priced. We found every house foreclosed on, set on fire, and “in need of TLC” that was available. We even made bids on a few. One with a “troubled past,” another that didn’t qualify for any loans (but the property was GEORGEOUS). Two houses we tried for multiple times. One which was heading to foreclosure, and they still wanted far more for it than what it was worth, and another that we were willing to take as-was and couldn’t get anyone to sign off on the estate for it to be sold, both of the houses are still sitting vacant.
In the midst of this we picked up a third agent. Only having one in central Texas wasn’t cutting it for us. We had to have two to cover the area we were looking at. We looked at more houses. One house they were going to reroute a driveway and add more acreage if we were interested, another had a “2 acre tank.” Which would have been great, if were weren’t in a drought. It was a 30 foot deep hole in the ground, um, thanks but no thanks.
We started to look for something that was JUST a house. No land for the horses. Something that was in a good school district which would allow for resale later on. We really like the Salado area and decided a second school district close by was tolerable, so we settled into a much smaller search area. In one week we had 3 strong hopefuls, and 3 disappointments. I felt hopeless, beat down and like we would NEVER find the perfect home… well I was right.
To be continued…