It's been about six months since we purchased on our current home. Buying this house was a major part of Jeremy's and my year and one of the happiest memories we've shared as a couple. I'm here today to tell you the story of how this house became our home. 🙂
Our story starts with dreaming, as many do. We spent our first year of marriage living in Jeremy's home, which he purchased as a bachelor before we met (see our tour here: Living Room, Kitchen, Bedroom, Bathroom, Closet). It was a great place to start our marriage and super fun to decorate together as newlyweds. It was also pretty tiny. We decided that if we could, we wanted to move to a larger home where we could plant our roots for a while and start a family. We started to have lots of conversations about the kind of house we wanted to shop for. We started to casually shop online. And one day we drove by a house with a sign in the yard, and I got obsessed. This is where our story really begins.
First step, time to get a loan. Having been denied loans in the past (I tried to buy a home while I was single before Jeremy and I met), I was very nervous to apply for this home loan. There are a lot of factors that come into play when you are a small business owner. Things like royalty income, past tax returns and fluctuating income can make getting a loan much more tricky than it would be for someone with a traditional income. I knew this, so I started preparing the year before, asking my accountant as many questions as possible and getting all my ducks in a row. We also chose to go directly to a mortgage broker, rather than a bank. I always recommend this option to my friends who are also self employed. More options are always good. At our first consultation we expected to just get advice, and we were excited to get an actual "yes" on our loan request with a killer interest rate. We celebrated!
Next, we hired a realtor and started to seriously look at homes. This stage was a lot different than I imaged it would be. We made a list of 3-4 houses we found online that we wanted to see. We booked a day with our realtor, and he suggested more homes. We added some of them to the list too. The first house we viewed was the one I had been dreaming about. I'd already decided in the back of my mind that it was "the one" even though it was a little outside our budget. As we walked through the rooms I felt nervous and a little discouraged. Most of the rooms had poor natural light and needed expensive renovations to make them workable for our style. It didn't match up to the hype I had created in my mind, and we agreed to keep looking. After the next few homes we started to feel a trend developing. There was something about each home that we considered a deal breaker.After viewing at our second round of homes, we started to feel a little discouraged. We worried that the dream home we had in mind wasn't realistic in the budget we wanted to stay within. We started making lists. We had a list of "must haves", features that we absolutely needed. Next we made a (much longer) list of wants. On our wants list we had "lots of natural light", "an inviting family room" and "a back yard with potential"—we really wanted a back porch for summertime parties! We knew we probably wouldn't find a home that had everything on both lists, but it really helped to keep things in perspective.
After a few more discouraging visits to older homes, we decided to change the game plan. We started looking at newer homes, just so that we would have more options. Our well of older homes was quickly running dry. We found that it was much easier to cover all of needs and some of the wants when looking at newer homes. We put an offer on a subdivision house with amazing windows, but it fell through. A few weeks later we found another nice new home and put in an offer, but it had already been put under contract. We resolved to be patient. We had heard stories of couples shopping for much longer, but I was anxious to move forward—I get obsessed!
One day I was working at the studio with Emma when I got a call from Jeremy around 10am. He was driving through one of the neighborhoods that we liked and found a house that had just gone up for sale. We called around and learned it had just been listed that morning, and we had the chance to be the first to see it. Since it was an older home, we were super paranoid about it getting snatched up. I left for a long lunch break to see the house. I wasn't particularly excited because of all the homes we had viewed over the past few months. I had learned to keep my expectations low.As soon as Jeremy and I pulled up to the house, we squeezed hands. It was an adorable two story home with white trim and a big front porch. Our realtor was already there. And as we stepped onto the front porch, he said, "I like this one." We were giddy.
The home still had a family with lots of kids living in it. I've heard a lot of people say that it's easier to look at empty houses. While I do agree, I also enjoyed looking at houses that were still occupied. It can be helpful to view a furnished home. For example, you get to see what size tables and beds they had in all the rooms and if it feels roomy or cramped. Plus, it's kinda fun to see how other people decorate.
By the time we got upstairs, we were already asking our realtor what kind of offer he advised. We fell IN LOVE. I know how cheesy and dramatic this is starting to sound, but that was a day we will never forget. We snapped some cell phone photos and booked our meeting to make an official offer later that afternoon.
The support of our family and friends was so special during this time! Above is an e-mail my mom sent to me that I saved (how cute is that?). Some of our besties, Todd and Laura, put an offer on their house the very same day. We celebrated with a bottle of champagne and then long conversations about light fixtures, flooring and furniture.
Thirty days later we signed a mountain of paperwork, bought a few gallons of white paint and spent the day soaking in our brand new, empty house. We were so excited to use those keys for the first time! We ordered pizza and sat on the floor in our new living room with smiles that we couldn't wipe off our faces.We spent a month ripping up carpet and painting walls before we moved in. Six month later we are still doing home projects weekly, but we definitely feel settled now. People aren't lying when they say the renovation process never ends.I'll share more stories about our renovations and decorating process soon. This home has definitely been an adventure for Jeremy and I and the start of a new season! Thanks for reading our story. I'd love to hear about your experiences as well! xo. Elsie
PS. Emma also shared her home buying story last year!