The Story of Our Awesome House
One day as I was sitting at home in my kitchen in the year 2014, Elizabeth came up to me and said, “Hey you and I both have jobs, cars and are adults who are interested in independence… wanna buy a house together?” and I said, “Yes!”
I’m paraphrasing (obviously I don’t remember the exact conversation… it was over two years ago!) but that’s pretty much how this journey began. We both decided that we were ready to think about moving out… we knew that going in together would be cheaper, easier and less scary… and we had confidence that we could live in the same house without trying to kill each other! So thus began….
THE PLANNING PHASE
We knew pretty quickly that we wanted to get a house instead of an apartment. Neither of us liked the idea of spending several hundred dollars every month that never went towards anything. With a house we could do all of our own decorating and remodeling, we would be making an investment that would return our money in the long run, and if we got one that was big enough we could consider getting a roommate to help cover the costs. And since our parents let us continue living at home until things were settled, we had the time to save up for it.
Step 1.) We built up credit! We both got credit cards and made sure we paid off our car insurance and phone bills monthly. We needed at least a year’s worth of multiple payments for each of us in order to get a loan.
Step 2.) Save up for a deposit! I told my work friends that I wanted to save up $10,000 to cover deposits and immediate move-in expenses by the time we were ready to buy a house.
For almost two years we saved money, spent money, paid it off, and talked for many hours about all of our house plans. Finally, when Elizabeth was home from Haiti and we were all set financially, we jumped into…
THE HOUSE-HUNTING PHASE
In the spring of 2016, after getting an approval for a loan from the bank, we went to Re/Max Realty and met with Tim McCaslin to discuss our house-hunting plans.
We wanted a 3-bedroom house that was $85,000 or less; we wanted large living spaces that could comfortably seat a lot of people; we needed a long room that Elizabeth could use as a photography studio, and I needed a workspace as well; we also wanted two bathrooms, a garage, and a decent sized kitchen. We needed it to be fairly live-in ready, but we were okay with doing some cosmetic work (painting, flooring, that kind of thing).
Elizabeth, my mom, Tim and I looked at dozens of houses. We would give nicknames to each house that had potential, and list the pros and cons for each one. There were some houses that were instantly given a no, but we had a few favorites that we considered:
The Mexican House- A stucco house that kept getting cheaper but had a tiny kitchen and not quite the living room openness we hoped for.
The Kilgore House- A nice house in a good location that was right at the very top of our budget.
Elizabeth’s Favorite- Our favorite from our first round of online shopping that had large living rooms, but only one bathroom and tiny bedrooms.
The Metal House- This house was all metal on the upper level with a nice, hardwood basement; it was like living in a filing cabinet on top of a mahogany dresser. In another life we might’ve bought it and decked the top floor out in Star Trek and nerd décor, but the style was just a bit too bizarre for us.
The Auction House- This was a nice tri-level that we almost bought, but it was being auctioned off online and we couldn’t coordinate that with the bank.
We found a lot of “almost” and “if only” houses, but no “Yyyyes!” houses. But finally, one day, all that changed…
THE “WE THINK WE FOUND IT!!!” PHASE
When we walked into the house owned by HUD for the first time, Elizabeth and I loved how large the living room was. The main floor had a large living space with a side nook, which connected to a long carpeted room with a fireplace, which connected to a long “conservatory” room with tall windows, which connected back to the living room! I literally ran in a circle around the whole area, falling in love with the unique but appealing setup. It also had 3 decent sized bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a large back porch, a big kitchen, and a mostly finished basement that had a closed-in room that was just perfect for Elizabeth’s studio!
Walking out of this house, Elizabeth and I both knew that this was one that we could really see ourselves living in. This was the first one that I was emotionally excited about; we didn’t really even nickname the house, we just started calling it by its address.
Once we knew this was the one we wanted, we got a second opinion and figured out the estimated cost up front for necessary repairs. Knowing that we could make it work, we got ready to go in that Saturday and put a bid on it… but on Friday I got a text that somebody else had put in an offer, and the offer had been accepted.
We were disappointed, but Elizabeth and I decided to pray and wait for two weeks, waiting to see if maybe, maybe, the deal would fall through and the house would be up for sale again.
More than two weeks went by, and we looked at a few other homes, but this house still said “pending” online. So we kept waiting.
One day at my work we were having our Tuesday devotionals and the discussion was about miracles. During the whole discussion I was thinking about how THIS was the house we really wanted and I was silently praying that God would do a miracle and work it out. And when I got back to my desk, I had a text from Tim: “Guess what, the HUD house is back on the market; the buyer financing must have fallen through”.
I texted my sister and mom immediately! We raced to his office as soon as we were off of work and put our bid in. A second night of waiting and adjusting our bid, and two days later they had accepted our offer!
We then endured approximately a month of just waiting on paperwork to go back and forth… but finally, finally, FINALLY we got together with Tim and a representative of HUD on October 27th of 2016, signed a million papers, and OFFICIALLY BECAME HOME-OWNERS!
THE REMODELING PHASE
Elizabeth and I each excitedly posted a Facebook status at the same time with our great news, and we received our housekeys the next day. Immediately we started calling businesses for repairs and services that needed to be done in the house, and we went into full-blown remodeling mode.
We walked through the house and talked about what we wanted to paint, where we wanted to carpet, and what each room would be used for. Elizabeth, who has a great natural knack for style, came up with most of the ideas for how the rooms should look, and together we put our house together in our head.
Over the course of the next month we had three painting parties, took a trip out to IKEA for lamps and chairs, cleaned some carpets, replaced others, moved furniture from my old office that was closing down to our new house, had various plumbing and lighting appointments, bought a stove, and made CONSTANT lists. Well, at least I did; I actually had an official “New House Notebook” where I kept all the lists of our To-Dos, To-Buys, appointments and ideas.
On a fun side note, as we started to name the rooms we ended up with a Conservatory, a Study and a Lounge. Realizing that these are all rooms in the board game Clue, we tried to find ways to put the rest of the room names in our house: Kitchen, Dining Room, Billiard Room, Ballroom, Hall and Library. On top of that, we found a way to decoratively hide representations of each Clue weapon in our house: the Revolver, the Rope, the Lead Pipe, the Candlestick, the Knife and the Wrench. So if you ever visit our house, see if you can find all of them!
On Dec 3rd we had our super fun Housewarming Party, and on Dec 8th we officially moved into our home. We’ve been living here for almost 3 months now, and we love it. We’ve got several home renovation projects to look forward to this year, and we are anxious for the weather to get warm again so we can start working outside.
Late note added: about 2 months after we moved in, I got let go from my full-time job, and I have been hunting for another one ever since. I’ve had some moments of panic, yeah… but I saw God so clearly working with Elizabeth and me in this house-buying process that I know He’s going to take care of this financial aspect and provide the right job at the right time. This whole last year has been a good reminder of His faithfulness, so I continue to trust Him in my renewed season of job-hunting.
Thank you so much to everyone who was involved in this lengthily-blogged-about process! We look forward to hosting you in our home for years to come!