The Most Important Thing Before Writing An Offer on Your New Home

You may have heard that Jon wrote the purchase contract on the home we’re currently living in, without me stepping foot in it. But what you may not know is that we had a purchase offer in on another house a few months prior. One that I actually saw, twice. We loved the bones, the layout, the location. Naturally, there were about a hundred ways we planned to demolish outdated bathrooms, repaint green molding throughout, can the cherry cabinets, make it our own. But together, we agreed that it would be a beautiful place to call home (eventually).

We did all of our due diligence. I compiled the comps, Jon priced out a new roof and mechanicals, and a contract was drawn up. My Dad (a real estate guru for 44 years) taught me long ago that you always make your purchase offer contingent on the sale of your current home. It was a non-negotiable. And so we always have, and always will. We low-balled them because their home was grossly overpriced compared to the comps, and had not been updated since it had been built 25 years ago. That’s a bad combo when you’re looking to sell. The sellers rejected our offer and countered very close to full price, but would allow us to keep our contingency (selling our home in Chicago first). I kid you not, it was a 10 second conversation between Jon and myself where we looked at each other and said, “rip it up”. It was just a gut feeling that suddenly, it was not meant to be. Did we waver over the next few months when our Chicago home sold and we absolutely, positively needed a place to go? It was the dead of winter and inventory was low. There were very, very few homes on the market. And the ones that were on had been on for some time (read: over a year, then people start thinking someone died in there, you know what I mean?). This one was still on. The sellers had moved. It was vacant. And even worse for wear.

I remember on occasion, Jon would say, we can always buy that one if we don’t find something else. But it was the settle house at that point, wasn’t it? We didn’t settle, and for that I am forever grateful. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have a soft spot for that place. (I’ll admit I had already made several idea boards for designs of each room). I bookmarked the listing and checked back often, hoping someone would peel back that garish green and see the potential. They didn’t. It’s now off market and rented. We hadn’t seen it in person since we’ve been back in CNY, but today Jon suggested driving by on our way home. I am so glad we did, because we learned the most valuable lesson of all. We were so consumed with the house, the property, the landscaping, the urgency to find something soon, that we failed to look beyond the house. I remember getting back in the car on both showings and was so focused on taking care of the baby, or recapping likes and dislikes with Jon, that we didn’t look around. Sure, we saw the neighbors. But what about just down the road. Four houses down there was a massive dementia care center. A quarter mile in the other direction was a dilapidated junk yard. I hadn’t seen them before, but I saw them today. You couldn’t miss them. But we had. Twice.

The moral of the story is, take your blinders off. Buying a home is the biggest investment of your life. We all oooh and ahhh over that pretty shade of lipstick on a pig. It comes in many forms. New appliances. Pinterest worthy interior design. Grab the makeup remover and wipe it away. See a home four times if you have to. On different days, at different times, sunny or pouring rain. And be sure to look for the manure too, because shit happens. (Naturally, that was Jon’s addition. Eye roll.)

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