If you have also bought a home or are thinking about buying a home this year, then you already know how INSANE the housing market is right now. Good luck! Buying a home in 2021 has caused me to question my own sanity. I had legitimate nightmares over thinking we were never going to find a house. I’ve read online article after article about if it was even a wise decision or not. The truth is, we are moving, and we want to own a home. So, if we can’t control the timing, what are we to do? Well, we stand up, put our chins up, and go purchase our home.
Beginning the process
I definitely thought there would be a whole long list of things we needed to do in order to buy a home. Turns out, there are only two things, and they are super easy. Get pre-approved for a loan, and find a realtor! That’s it. It’s kind of crazy that is all you need to do in order to go into massive debt for the next 30 years. We got pre-approved for a loan using PRMG. It’s crazy how everyone grows up, because my old high school friend actually handled our loan for us. Small world, friends.
Finding a realtor
Finding your realtor! This one always seems like a more personal decision. When I say personal, I mean people expect you to choose to use their personal recommendation. The truth is, the barriers to becoming a realtor are low, so just because someone has a license, doesn’t make them the best realtor. Choosing your realtor is ACTUALLY a personal decision, which means that you don’t have to use your uncle’s friend’s realtor just because your mom says it’s a great choice. This specific example didn’t happen to me, but I did have my mom recommend someone, and my coworker recommend someone, and they were both a little disappointed when we didn’t use their recommendation.
Once all the realtor Zoom calls and phone calls were finished, I decided to call just one more realtor who was recommended to me on Instagram. It seemed like a long shot. Who finds their realtor on Instagram, right? I figured I would at least give her the benefit of a short phone call. I liked the way she sounded on the phone, and we scheduled a Zoom call. By the time we finished that second call, we hung up knowing we had found our realtor, Alex! AKA our newest friend in the area.
The Process of Buying a Home
Now that we were pre-approved for a loan, and had found a realtor, it was time to… buy a home! Cue crazy 2021 housing market.
Stalking the MLS every morning over coffee
Our new morning routine consisted of looking through the online realtor portal of all homes for sale or coming for sale. If were were lucky, the home wasn’t either a.) already booked with showings, or b.) already under contract by the time we told Alex we liked it. Even getting an appointment to see homes was crazy! Once we saw a home we liked, Alex would physically be at the property within a couple of hours later to show us the house in person or to FaceTime us. Shout out to all you realtors out there– never realized you all worked such odd hours until these past few months. Thank you!
Offering to name our future children after the homeowners
Okay, we didn’t offer to name our children after the homeowners at our first house. But, the first home we saw, I thought was the one. If you don’t know me, I am a very decisive person. I bought my wedding dress at the first place I went. I knew I wanted to marry Thomas before we were even exclusive (funny story on that another time). We drove up from Norfolk to see this home in person because we were serious. This home is located in Old Town Alexandria (again, if you know me, you know that I LOVE Old Town). We saw it, and we thought long and hard about what we wanted to offer. Our realtor, Alex, helped us make our offer as competitive as possible.
Explaining our offer
Our offer: $50,000 over asking, no home inspection contingency (we did a pre-inspection, which is around $250, and you pay whether you get the home or not), and the appraisal contingency removed as long as home appraised within $50,000 of our offer.
Let me say that again. We offered FIVE ZERO thousand over asking. I thought this was incredibly aggressive, turns out not aggressive enough to actually get the house.
Long story short, we lost the house to a better offer. Hence, the offer to name our first child after the current homeowner. It was like anything we could use to sweeten our offer, we would do. I can look on Zillow now and see that the home sold for $5,000 more than what we offered. It would sting, except I think the home we eventually found was an even better option for us.
Offering a kidney for a home
This title is a bit more aggressive because the second offer we put on a home was even MORE aggressive. But no, my kidneys are fully in tact. We sent Alex over to see the home since we couldn’t be there. The market was moving too quickly for us to wait until the weekend to see it.
So, she FaceTimed us, and we trusted her impressions heavily. We offered a whopping $65,000 over asking, no home inspection contingency (pre-inspection again), and the same appraisal contingency as before. Crazy, right?
It was sold by then.
This home was smaller than the first, but in the fantastic neighborhood of Del Ray. We didn’t even have to wait until they viewed our offer. Alex called us to let us know that someone else had offered $100,000 over asking with zero contingencies.
Can we talk about that kidney again?
Sealing the Deal
I can honestly say I am SO happy that first two homes didn’t work out. Because, after those homes fell through, we found OUR home.
Alex FaceTimed us to walk us through our home. We hadn’t quite decided yet, but she is so proactive that she said she would draft up the offer anyway, just so if we decided we wanted to make one, it would be ready. Again, that’s the kind of market this is! And why you don’t want to just hire your uncle’s friend’s nephew! We decided we really wanted the home, and she had the offer submitted that SAME evening.
We were definitely getting tired of cutting the home inspection guy a check for every offer we put down, only to lose out on the home. I was beginning to feel like we would never find a home. This is not what the home buying experience was supposed to be like! But, if you’re buying a home in 2021, you can also relate (speaking of which, if that is you, I would love to hear you experience in the comments!).
Our offer was $30,000 over asking, but we didn’t have any special contingencies, and the owners accepted! Yay! FINALLY! By later that evening, there were already multiple other offers being submitted, and I think the sellers wondered if maybe they acted too quickly. We are glad they did.
The home we found was in the perfect neighborhood near Old Town. We can see the Washington Monument peeking through the trees at the corner of our street. And lastly, there is a huge sense of community in our neighborhood that will be the perfect place to raise our future children.
What is even better? We didn’t have to do a pre-inspection! Our offer included a home inspection contingency (which definitely put me at ease), and it was under budget. All the stars had aligned! I (hopefully) won’t wake up one day to find that my house is going to blow away, and be financially ruined. Always a good thing.
On the day we closed, Alex handed us the keys. We both (Alex and us) got each other surprise gifts, and I’m not sure exactly what it says about us, but we both actually gifted each other tequila. Just kidding, I know exactly what it says about us, and I’m quite proud of this gift exchange. We definitely would not have this house without our realtor, Alex!
We drove back to the house. Just before we opened the door, Thomas picked me up and carried us across the threshold (thank you, Christine, for telling him to do this!). Then we put down our rug on the hardwood floors, and soaked it all in. My sister joined us and supplied the champagne, so we made a toast in every room. This will always be such a happy memory for me.
If you made it to the end of this post, I’m impressed. But also thank you! It is my pleasure to share this story. I share it because buying your first home is scary, and it’s been made WAY scarier by this crazy housing market. If you are looking for a home in 2021, I am here to tell you that your home is out there! It just may take a few offers to get it. Or maybe it will take you a little longer to find it. But it is out there. 🙂
If you also purchased a home in 2020 or in 2021, I would love to learn your story! Send me an e-mail or comment below.
April 14, 2021