so i've been looking for a house for almost a year. the saga so far:
found a short sale. it was a little more than i wanted to pay for a house (180k), but i put in an offer anyway since i had 2 guaranteed roommates for a year. waited FOUR MONTHS for bank to approve it, seller went bankrupt before short sale approved. (in retrospect, thank god. that price was a bit too high).
found a brick ranch fixer upper a couple miles south of where i really wanted to be. 4 bed/2 bath for 45k, in decent shape. (that, to me, represents rock-bottom, or close to it, of the atlanta market). put in offer for asking. lost it to (presumably) an investor.
first short sale house came back on market as a foreclosure for a lower price. put in offer, above asking, but still not as much as before. the next day, the bank sends notice that we need to send highest and best offer because there are already SIX OFFERS...and it's only been on the multiple listing service (on the market) for less than 24 hours. go up to originally under-contract price (grudgingly). face the fact that i've probably just lost the first house i ever loved (insert sad music here), but also grateful that i'm not going to be spending that much money.
find another house, in the location that i want, for ~80k. needs a small amount of work or can do a more major renovation before move-in and have a freaking awesome space. either way, still will have <=140k in the house, which i am FAR more comfortable with than the 180k for the first house. put in offer for 85 (with 3k in closing to be paid by seller). receive notice that there will be multiple offers and need best and final. up it to 91,725 (with closing costs by seller) and hope.
that's where i am right now. this house feels right. there's an upstairs area that is currently two attic bedrooms (will become one bedroom, large closet, and large master bath). it feels like a little treehouse up there, so cute! and downstairs is a compact floor plan with 2 bedrooms and a bath, kitchen, dining room, living room, and back deck. all brick exterior, big yard with fence. feels very not-so-big-house-ish. big magnolia tree in front yard. on a street with well-taken care of houses in the location that i want, and very close to publix and the interstate. in short, i can see myself there for a good 10 to 15 years, as long as i don't accumulate a crapload of STUFF. which i plan on not doing. :)
also, within the area that i want to be, i am in one of the sub-areas that doesn't yet have the majority of homes rehabbed. so as an investment, i'm either one of the frontier people (and will therefore make more money when others follow) or i do it and no one follows (but there are a couple already rehabbed, so i'm pretty sure that won't happen). and i'd be okay either way, price wise and neighborhood wise. so all in all, i really hope the hunt is over. i will find out wednesday or so. cross your fingers!
the reason for the title of this post: i think my realtor and i have different purposes for this house. i see it as a space that i'm happy with, that i can be happy with for years to come, and that i can afford comfortably while still having enough room for a family. realtor sees it as an investment, and has in mind a certain amount that i need to make off this deal in order for it to be worthwhile. (the assumption, i think, is that i will want a bigger and therefore better and more expensive house in a few years and this "instant equity" is the way to do it, which is not entirely true. if i'm happy there, i'm staying, because then i can use extra money for travel and fun). this perspective, though, is good and bad...it's nice to have someone watching out for my equity, but at a point, i keep losing houses because if i offer above a certain amount, i don't make the "magic number" on it.
so for this one, i offered a little more than the realtor suggested, in the hopes that i might prevail. and while i'm giving up some instant equity, i'm not banking on the instant equity being there in the first place--it's just a home for me, a haven, at a price i am ok with and with the intention of living there for a long time. if i make money, great, if not, at least i have a really cute home that i love and want to live in!
all in all, i am very, very glad that my realtor is who he/she is. i trust this person implicitly because they are above all a friend (and i know there is commission to be made off me, but the person's main income isn't from homebuyers, they just do this because it is their passion to find people homes and make them instant equity--they are actually pushing me NOT to spend as much money). also, every action is explained, reasons are logical, and no question i have regarding the process, prices, reasoning, etc. is off limits with this person.
it's been an interesting year. i have gained A LOT from the process, though, because the process was somewhat atypical: we began by driving around many different neighborhoods in the area, and comparing what you can get for what price in what area. after several months of this, i was asked which neighborhoods were my favorites. my choices? cabbagetown, old fourth ward, and east atlanta village. two were out of my (self-imposed, not the bank's estimate) price range for amount of space and the condition that i desired, so that was easy. the most valuable part of the experience, though, to me, was learning the city. i know where most, if not all, of the neighborhoods in atlanta are. in more than half of them, i know which areas are safe versus not-so-safe, where the good food is (cause come on, y'all, good food is one of my top priorities in life), and the general feel of the residents. i fell in love with the city (cities in general, this one in particular), made a friend who is now among my closest friends, and learned a LOT about real estate. (never mind the fact that it has always fascinated me and secretly i've always wanted to be a realtor and interior designer). it also took (takes?) my mind off my somewhat depressing current apartment. AND, i like looking at houses even when i'm NOT going to buy one--sometimes when we were young, my family used to drive around on saturdays looking at houses (where i lived, they were generally left open for much of the construction process, allowing for us to wander in freely). it's great cheap entertainment, and good for when you actually do look at houses for real, because then you have an idea of floor plans/finishes/etc that you really like and think would flow well.
i love houses, homes, interior design, and making my space fit me and feel good. i also love helping other people express themselves through their spaces (helped my BFF decide on curtains for her classroom, and i think she will be really happy with them and enjoy them a lot!) here's to hoping i have that in my own life again soon. :)