Finance & Enjoyment Blog

It was a dark and stormy night in Southeast Denver and my apartment lease was weeks from expiring.  I had spent the last few weeks of April trying to find the perfect home to rent so I could have a yard for my basset hound to play.  May 1st rolled around and I realized that maybe renting isn’t the best option for me.  
A friend asked me, “Why don’t you buy a house?”  To which I immediately laughed.  “Are you crazy?” But later that night I took a step back and I realized the idea wasn’t that crazy after all.  

If you take into account the historically low interest rates, the buyer’s market and the $8,000 first-time homebuyer credit (Form 5405), the idea of buying my first home just became a lot more attractive.  I found a lender, hired a real estate agent and the hunt for my first place officially began! 

During the summer, I spent every weekend driving by potential residences and walking through various neighborhoods both in and around the city of Denver.  After a number of weeks, I had weighed and explored the unique characteristics each area had to offer, I then narrowed my search down to a handful of spots, all of which had my desired features:

  • A Large, fenced-in backyard
  • Garage
  • Two bedrooms
  • 900+ square feet
  • Nice Kitchen

Of course, Wash Park and the Highlands jumped towards the top of my list of favorite areas where I could see myself.  Of course, as you might guess, these are also two of the most sought after neighborhoods to live in, which also make them two of the more expensive areas.  Although my chances of getting into one of these areas were small, my plan was to keep my eye on nearby areas nearby.

Offer #1:  The DU House.
One neighborhood that stood out to me was the University of Denver.  This young and hip area offered plenty of amenities to keep me busy, as well as lots of great blocks to walk the dog around.  After a few weeks of searching, a house popped up for sale on S. Franklin St. smack in the center of the DU neighborhood.  I took the tour, fell in love instantly, then, I learned that the house was a short-sale.  

Fortunately, being a self-proclaimed HGTV watching addict, I was aware of the short-comings that came along with the process of buying a “short-sale” home.  Although a buyer may pay less than the market price, it may take six to eight weeks to get a response.  Confident that it would only take a couple of weeks. I submitted my offer which was quickly accepted by the sellers of the home.  (In a short-sale, the current owners must accept the offer from the buyer first, and then the bank will decide whether or not to accept the offer which is generally lower than the amount owed to the bank.)  

After five weeks of anticipation, the bank responded. Reee-jected!! Not even a counteroffer?  No sir, not even a counter.  I jumped into a bidding war with several other potential buyers, and submitted a higher offer.  
Although I won the bidding war, another six weeks would pass.  More waiting and continuing to search neighborhoods went on while I searched for a place that could compare.  Weeks went by and I could find nothing that came close to the DU house.  I was starting to think that if this deal didn’t go through, that I would never find the right place.  And to top everything off, the deadline to qualify for the first-time home buyer credit was only a couple of months away!  

In this bidding war I lost the DU house.

Offer #4: The Glencoe House.
Maybe this is the one!  I found a posting for a house that had two more bedrooms than the DU house and offered a lot of the things that I was looking for.  I saw the house on its third day on the market.  After viewing 100 homes I saw this one as a great opportunity  With  four beds, one bath, an attached garage, a large fenced-in backyard, and a kitchen that was twice the size of any that I’d seen thus far I directed the realtor to submit an offer that day.

This house was neither a short-sale nor a foreclosure, and the next day I got the response: A counteroffer!  I countered the counter to which the seller had until the next day at noon to accept….

Shortly after submitting the counteroffer, my realtor informed me that he expected to hear a response from the bank regarding the DU house.  This could mean that if I had two accepted offers, I would have my pick between the two houses!  The next morning around 11:30 the response came back that the sellers at the Glencoe house had accepted the counteroffer!  Yes! It was finally over.  Well…That’s what I thought anyway…
Once the seller signed and accepted the offer, I still had to sign the counter in person to make it valid.  My realtor called me back around 11:40 a.m. to inform me that two more (much higher) offers were being submitted to the seller and that I had until 12:00 to be at his real estate office to sign the acceptance.  I don’t think I’ve ever gotten to Colorado Boulevard so fast!  I was in my realtor’s office within five minutes, so it seemed anyway.  I signed the papers which were submitted to the seller’s realtor at 11:59 am.  Whew!
It’s official.  The Glencoe house is mine and I couldn’t be happier.  It’s been little over a month and a half now, and my first house is starting to feel like home more and more each day.  My dog loves his new back yard and the doggy-door that I built for him.  

What did I learn from my home-buying experience?

  1. Someone should change the name Short-sale and replace it with its new name: Long-sale, because they take forever to get anything sold.  
  2. Learn as much as you can from the people around you because yours peers have been through it before and can offer some of the best advice available.  Thank you to every person whom I’ve asked their opinion about something during this house hunt.  
  3. Know what you are looking for and stick to your list of desirables.  If you are patient, then I am confident that the right one will come along for you.  

As for me, I am glad the nightmare is finally over and I can finally live the dream in my new place and enjoy some of this wonderful Colorado sun!

Posted in Your Financial House »

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