Buying in a Seller’s Market
Buying a home is one of the most exciting, stressful, exhilarating things you can do. In a seller’s market – add terrifying, nerve-wracking, and frustrating to that list. What you’re about to read is my account of buying a home in a seller’s market.
This is not the story of first-time or even second-time home buyers. My husband and I just bought our third home, sold our second home, and yet throughout this entire process we still had a lot of surprises, a lot to learn, a lot of firsts, and were faced with situations we had never before had to deal with. When we purchased our first home back in 2012, it was a foreclosure on the border of Milwaukee and West Allis. It had been on the market for a long time, and despite having to deal with the bank, a less-than-trustworthy Realtor, and all of the unknowns of being first time buyers, it was a relatively easy process because it’s the only house we put an offer in on, and it was accepted quickly.
The second time around was even easier. In late summer of 2015, our home sold the same week it was listed for full asking price, and we were forced to quickly find a new house. We purchased a house in West Allis that had been expertly flipped, was on the market for about a month, and our first offer was immediately accepted. Again, besides the tight timeline, a relatively painless process.
So that brings us to March of 2019. We once again decided to move (I say for the last time, but as Allison tells me, never say never!), and I can honestly say we had NO idea what we were in for. We knew the market was hot, we knew there was limited inventory, and we knew that we needed to put our offers in quickly. What we did not anticipate, because we’d never gone through it before, were the bidding wars, high home prices, and honestly how devastated we would be when our offers didn’t get accepted!
The first house we looked at was an older home with a beautifully remodeled kitchen, huge added-on great room, a hot tub in the living room (ha!), a massive 3 car garage, and all the charm of a home built in the 1920s. We saw it the morning it was listed, fell in love immediately – which you aren’t supposed to do, and I would recommend NOT doing if possible – and put in an official offer within hours of leaving. The following morning we found out another offer came in, quickly increased our offer, and then waited…and waited…and ultimately found out we were outbid. Despite our heartfelt letter about watching our kids grow up in the house, despite our increased offer, despite the fact that we’d already picked out new furniture to fill the huge great room….no dice. Again, I reiterate – DO NOT fall in love with a house until your offer has been accepted. Definitely don’t pick out furniture. And 1000% do not tell all of your friends and family that you put in an offer on the PERFECT house and you can’t wait to have them all over once you’ve moved in. Don’t do it.
So, to say that we were crushed is an understatement. I’m not sure who took it harder, me or my husband. We sulked around for a few days and forced ourselves to go to some open houses that Sunday (in the middle of an April blizzard) to “get back on the horse.” And that’s when we found it. Our house – an even better location than the first, a big back yard, huge front window, a never ending basement that was perfect for guests. We talked to the agent, found out there were no offers yet, and we called Allison as we were leaving. Cheerful and encouraging (as always), she told us she’d set up an appointment to see it again the following morning so we could figure out an offer.
We got up the next morning, drove to the house, excitedly showed my mom and Allison around, talking about where we would repaint, what furniture would go where, ooo-ing and ahhh-ing over the basement and yard and large bedrooms. This was definitely it, this was the house. We submitted our offer, which was presented with another offer that morning. We anxiously awaited and received the call we’d been waiting for that afternoon. I happily answered the phone, and Allison sadly told me we didn’t get it.
Back to the drawing board.
Devastated again, my husband and I decided to stop looking at houses for a while. Two rejected offers in a matter of days was too much for us to handle and we were DONE. Until that night. We found a house online and sent it to Allison. It was fine. Neither of us was as enthusiastic about it as the others, but although we had said we were going to stop looking, we were also both now determined to find our new home. We had an appointment for the next evening, both of us convinced there would be a bunch of offers on it before we even had the chance to look.
I think I called, texted, and emailed Allison 15 times the next day as I searched for homes and tried to get over the two we had lost out on. We adjusted our max budget based on taxes in one of our desired areas (the homes were more expensive, but taxes were less so we expanded our search). Allison emailed me a list of homes that she thought we should look at. I specifically remember asking my mom “do you think I’m crazy?” when I picked one of the houses she had sent me to go see.
A mid-century modern ranch, this house was at the very top of our price range, had one less bedroom than we wanted, and only 1.5 baths when we wanted 2. Something about the house made me want to see it though, and Allison felt the exact same way. I will tell you this, if you have a Realtor who has your back, knows your wishes, and has your best interests at heart – the entire process is easier. She worked her magic and got us in to see the Muskego house that night, right after another showing. My husband met us at the first house, the one we’d initially sent to Allison the night before, it was nice. I thought it needed a lot of work but it had some really great features and a lot of awesome potential. We left thinking we’d probably put in an offer because I was still on the “I must be crazy” train of thought as we drove out to Muskego.
We passed my work, our church, our kids’ school, and a few seconds later turned on the street of this home. Win #1 – 60 seconds from where we spend almost all of our time. Perfect. The house was in a cul-de-sac. Win #2 – my husband has ALWAYS wanted to live in a cul-de-sac. We were barely in the door of this house and we were both in love (I know, I know). This house had a different feeling than the first two, and we were excited but sad at the same time because we were both convinced that there was absolutely NO WAY we would get this house. We wouldn’t be able to go over asking, but this was the kind of house we dreamed about. Charm, character, unique features, room to grow, a huge backyard that our kids would absolutely adore, a wall of windows, a big basement…the list goes on. Allison immediately called the listing agent, found out there were no offers yet but a bunch of showings scheduled over the next few days. We wanted this house.
We walked out of that house and Allison quickly drove to a Starbucks and put together our offer. We sent it over that night and the waiting game began. The next morning around 10 am Allison called…she goes…”well…*long pause* *sigh*…..YOU GOT THE HOUSE!” —- YES!!!! WE GOT IT!!!! I started jumping up and down and crying and all of the things that you do when something FINALLY works out after a road of disappointment.
So we got the house. Allison expertly sold our West Allis house IN A DAY. Everything was working out! But I will tell you this. We still ran into issues. Actually, we ARE STILL running into issues after being in the house for about 3 months. There are things we’ve found that have to get fixed, other things that were found on the home inspection that will have to get fixed down the line. We ran into a few bumps along the road with our bridge loan. The plumbing in the shower backed up two days after we moved in. The dishwasher almost started on fire….the list goes on, haha.
But in the end, despite the issues, we love this house. It was worth every tear, it was worth the heartache, it was worth the rejected offers on the homes that clearly were not meant for us. So what’s the point of this you ask? Encouragement. I want to encourage those that are beginning the process that we just finished. This market is TOUGH. The houses are EXPENSIVE. The inventory is LIMITED. But you WILL find your “perfect” home. Note the quotations, because no home is perfect. But you will find a home that is perfect for you. Perfect for your family.
While this process was different than our previous home buying experiences for a lot of reasons, it was a million times better because of Allison and Denali Realty. I would not have taken the time to write this all out if I didn’t truly believe in this amazing team. Their knowledge of this industry, passion for what they do, and care for their clients is something that we never experienced before. Even when things were crazy, we knew we had an amazing team of people working to make sure everything ended up okay.
In summary – don’t get discouraged, you will find your home. And make sure you have a Realtor in your corner that is truly fighting for you!