See those faces up there? Those are the faces of SIX MONTHS worth of hand-wringing, ups and downs, excitement and disappointment, all becoming worthwhile when we finally - finally - closed on our first home.
In December, on our drive from LA to Missouri for Christmas, we decided to start home shopping (it was a long 28 hour drive...plenty of time for important life decisions, obviously). We worked on hashing out what we wanted - an extra bedroom and bath, a garage, a decent commute for Ryan and a neighborhood where we at least felt relatively confident that we wouldn't be robbed (hey, this is the land of expensive homes and we're not made of moolah, folks...we can't ask for much). In January, we embarked upon the looking process. The LONG looking process.
I went into this process with the horribly misguided idea that things would be simple. You know...find a house in our budget, bring it up to the cash register, pocket the receipt. Boom. Now, where should I put the couch?
Nope. Not. At. All.
The first house we saw was a short sale. If you're unfamiliar with short sales (I was) let me do a petite crash course for you. A short sale is when the seller is selling their home for less than the amount they owe the bank on their home loan. Which means the bank has a big fat say in approving or disapproving the sale price and the terms of the contract. Short sales are quite the opposite of "short". They are notorious for taking forever.
BUT...we really, really liked that short sale house. And we figured, we're not in a big rush, right? So we tossed in an offer. And we waited. And waited. Almost two months later, they finally rejected our offer. So we raised it. And in the meantime, we started looking at other houses. Houses, houses and more houses, eating up all of our weekends. Some of them were lovely. Some of them looked like former crack houses (I kid you not). All of them were making my head spin.
We made offers on a handful of other homes, but we were outbid by another buyer each and every time. And then, the bank rejected our short sale offer again. So, up we went with the price.
Fast forward through a few more months, through yet another rejected offer and price increase on the original short sale, and into the end of May. On a whim, we decided to check out a short sale townhouse in the same city we live in now. We were absolutely apprehensive about the idea of messing with another short sale (I mean, we were five months in with the first one and still no closer to being homeowners), but home prices had already started to rise and we were a little bit desperate to get in on this sweet deal. And the listing agent for the house absolutely nailed it - seriously, this guy had all of his ducks in a row. By the time we left, we were totally confident that this would be a much faster process than the first short sale attempt. So, we made an offer that night.
Now, THIS is where things got complicated. Because of course it couldn't just be smooth sailing from there. A few days after we made an offer and had begun the escrow process on short sale #2, we got a call from short sale #1 saying the bank had FINALLY, after six freaking months, accepted our offer and we were good to go for the sale. Though our agent was virtually positive we'd get short sale approval on #2, we didn't have it just yet...so we had to make the decision to A) accept short sale #1 or B) turn down #1 and cross ALL OF OUR FINGERS that #2 would come through. Are you so confused you want to punch yourself in the face? Because that's exactly how I felt.
We decided to gamble on short sale #2. And for a few extremely lengthy days, I teetered on the edge of a complete mental breakdown until we finally got the sale approved. And then a few more days of hyper-ventilation until we closed escrow.
And then, BOOM. The keys were ours. The house is ours. The debt is ours.
Wait, does this mean we're officially adults? Now I'm hyper-ventilating for an entirely different reason...