Maybe you’d like to know how we’re doing with the whole homebuying experience, or as some are calling it, Project Landed Gentry. After looking so long and after a few missteps, I have to admit, we’re both feeling a little superstitious about saying anything, but I’m also educated with a background in science, so maybe I can dish just a little without too much fear of karmic retribution.
To bring you up to speed, we started looking in March. We figured out how much we thought we could reasonably borrow on based on the interest rates at the time, and what we thought our monthly mortgage payment would be. Then, based on that figure, we went to a bank, where, fortunately, our math was corroborated, and we got a pre-qualification letter, and that, for me, is when it felt like we were officially “on the market”. Going to open houses stopped feeling like a lark, and started feeling Srs Biznis. Fun business, to be sure, but also srs.
Picking out a realtor also made it feel more real and serious. We interviewed a few before we found the right guy, a recommendation from a friend of ours who also recently bought one suburb out, in Arlington. Dave was the first realtor we met who didn’t tell us to expect to have to drop all contingencies (mortgage, inspection) when we started making offers. He was realistic about how intensely hot for sellers the Cambridge market would be, but he was also realistic about how completely insane we thought dropping such contingencies would be.
We saw a lot of houses with Dave, and we saw a lot without him too. We saw a lot of houses over the spring, the summer, and on into what started to feel like fall. Even though we had a lot going on this summer, including lots of travel plans and weekends away, we always found ways to get back to Cambridge in time for Sunday open houses. We saw a lot of good fits, a few great fits, but very few perfect fits.
Last month, we actually put in one offer on a place, but, over the course of one very long weekend, wound up realizing we just weren’t as excited about it as we wanted to be. Reluctantly, we pulled out, a few days after our offer was accepted. For a couple weeks after that, we didn’t go to any open houses, partly because there weren’t that many, the season was closing down, and partly out of pure blueness.
But then, a couple weeks ago, our realtor found a 3rd-floor unit in mid-Cambridge that wasn’t even listed yet. The first showing was on a Thursday afternoon, of all times. I left work a little early and met Dave and E there. We liked it right away. Top floor, complete gut renovation, new kitchen with an open floor plan connected to the dining area, all new kitchen appliances, 2 bathrooms, 2 bedrooms, great neighborhood, walkable to Harvard, Inman Square and there’s even a new Whole Foods in walking distance. It was also at the very tippy top of our price range. It wasn’t perfect, but, we agreed, it was perfect enough. We bid right exactly at asking.
When we wouldn’t come up, even a little, the seller rejected our offer. And that, we thought, was that. We let it go, and forgot about it over the weekend.
But then, on the following Tuesday, Dave emailed us to say that while the seller had gotten a few offers after his Sunday open house, none of them were as strong as ours, and so, if our offer was still on the table, we could have it. E was in a conference all day that day, but kept sneaking out to talk with me on the phone about next steps. Eventually, we decided that, yes, our offer was on the table.
Ten days later, and here we are. The inspection was a literal delight for the home inspector, and therefore also for us. We found a great lender to work with, who, after a minor speed bump (that felt for a day like it might derail us completely), offered us a truly spectacular rate on our loan. Pieces really are starting to fall into place.
If homebuying has three gates, the offer, the P&S, and the close, we are currently poised outside the second gate. We were actually supposed to sign the P&S yesterday, Friday, but then we had another one of those little hiccups, so it got pushed to after the weekend. Assuming that all goes fine, and assuming the mortgage application process all goes fine, and assuming all the other myriad parts, large and small, financial, legal, and operational go smoothly, we really ought to be living in a newly purchased home before winter comes.
But… it won’t all go smoothly of course. There will, no doubt, be a couple of surprises yet, and any one of them might derail the process completely. But that’s ok. One way or another, it’ll all work out. I think we really will be moving soon, but if we don’t that’s ok too, because wherever we go, as long as we’re together, that’s exactly where home is.