Emma’s (Second) House Buying Story

Emma ChapmanHey, guys! I just wanted to share something personal that is going on in my life right now. Hope that's cool. So, Trey and I have been house shopping for a little under six months now. Why? Good question. I sometimes ask myself this too when I'm feeling discouraged about our options (more on that in a minute). 

I've been living in my current house for four years this month. And man has life changed in those past four years! You can read about when I bought my first home (the one I live in now) here. At the time I was single. Elsie and I worked in a local vintage shop that we owned. My brother and niece were my roommates for a little over a year back then. And I only had one dog. Man, how times have changed. I still had ombre hair though—guess not everything changes. 🙂 And one thing that hasn't changed at all since I moved in is that I LOVE my house. It was (and is) the perfect first home for me and all the changes that have happened in my life over the past four years. 

But, with Elsie and Laura moving to Nashville, we are also moving the ABM office. I'll be the only one left in town who needs space to craft and cook and all that. So, a more traditional office space for the rest of the team made a lot more sense than the studio house. Therefore, we're working toward selling the studio house and moving the office to the space above our future bar. It's a great spot in our downtown commercial area, so I think it will make an awesome little office. But with this move, all the food styling items, craft supplies that aren't going to Nashville, and everything else that has accumulated at the studio house over the past couple of years needs to move somewhere. And my current home feels a little small for the job. That coupled with the idea that Trey and I have been thinking about trying to invest in a rental house in our hometown made us think heavily about moving. Our thought was, move to a new house that would work better for me working mostly from home, and we could rent out our current house. It's been exciting too because this time around I get to home shop WITH someone! Getting to bounce properties off Trey and see his opinion has been awesome. 

So after some time searching, we finally found a house that felt like us. It needed quite a bit of work, and wasn't all that much bigger than our current house, but the layout made it more ideal for our lifestyle. So we put in a bid. We went back and forth with the seller until we finally found a price that worked for both parties. Then we had our inspection, which wasn't all that surprising because we already knew about some of the issues the house had because we could easily see them as we walked through it. Like, all the floors needed to be redone except the kitchen (which had tile). There was even some leftover asbestos tile in the bedroom (it's an older house and, like I said, needs some updates).

I got a couple bids on the work and got a contractor and a concrete company set to work just a few days after we close on the house. The concrete was for the floors, we planned to pour concrete through most of the house. We also had a lot of painting to do the first week after we closed, so we had our evenings planned out for us there. :) 

Everything with the bank was set. Our loan was ready to go and we had our closing check ready. The night before our closing around 9pm we got a call from our realtor, which was odd because he never calls that late at night. So we knew something was up. He let us know that the seller had just discovered that he owed $5K more on the house than he had realized, and given our offer, it meant he would be upside down on his loan. He didn't have that amount in cash to make the deal happen, so everything fell through. And just like that we didn't have a house anymore. It was a shock to say the least.

The next day I got in touch with the contractors and our bank to let everyone know what had happened and cancel everything that needed to be canceled. Instead of spending our evenings painting our new house that week, I wondered if I should start building some kind of extra shelving for all the stuff that seemed would have to move from the studio house into our current home now that we were no longer moving. Honestly, I really wasn't sure what to do and I felt sort of paralyzed by the situation. After a few days, I decided to keep looking. I knew that if we were going to move this year, I'd rather move in the summer/autumn season than the winter. So I better just keep going and see if we found something we really loved or if we should stay put and I should get to work on those extra shelves. :) 

So we kept looking. I think I've seen about EVERY property listed in Springfield on Zillow. I've made my realtor take me to just about everything in our price range that seemed like it might be us. And I felt so much relief when we found another house that we both really loved. I was rereading my first house buying story (linked above), and it's funny that I mentioned wanting a house that had wood ceilings. The house that we are currently under contract for (!!!!!!!) has wood ceilings. Ha! I guess my tastes really don't change all that much.

Because of our recent experience with that house that fell through the night before our closing, I have been really hesitant to tell friends or family all that much about the house. I'm really quick to say things like, "We MIGHT get it, but who knows!?" because I just don't think we'll feel like it's real until we have the keys in our hand. And Elsie keeps asking me what I plan to DO in the house, like how will I paint it and what changes I plan to make. It feels like she just about has her entire house planned out and nearly completed. But I just shrug my shoulders and mumble something about how I'm not even sure we'll move. It's pretty pathetic, but it's just where I'm at right now. I've felt sort of in limbo since the first house fell through because it just changed everything about our plans and timeline.

Even though that whole experience has made me feel a little bit off and unsure about things this past month, please don't think I'm complaining. How could I! I am so incredibly blessed, and whatever happens I know it's meant to be. But I did just want to share this experience with you all, because, well, we're friends and it's something that's been a big part of my life recently. 

And yes, when we do actually move, I'll be sure to give you all a tour! There's nothing I'd like more. 🙂 xo. Emma

P.S. If you want to "picture" my current home better, check out this (ramble-y) video tour I did. 

  • Just reading this now…a few weeks late! We’ve been through a sorta simular story…we were trying to buy a short sale and the bank that held the mortgage wasn’t playing nice. We really really thought that house was where we were going to live. Didn’t happen. Every time we drive by it, I say out loud I thought that was where we were going to live. Turns out, we were meant to build a home…it all fell into place like it was supposed to. Chin up buttercup!! It will work out how it’s destined to be. xoxo

  • This sounds like a really awesome new adventure! I can’t wait to hear how things go after (fingers crossed!) everything closes with the bank. I’m very interested in renting out our condo once we start having kids and need a bigger space, it just seems like a great way to have some locked in income.

    Best wishes!

    Kindness is the best accessory,
    Rebecca Kelsey Sampson

  • I love your personal posts Emma 🙂 You write so friendly and nice 🙂 I`m glad you and Trey found a new house that you like! Hopefully you can soon have the keys in your hands 🙂

  • I remember when I was buying my first (and only) house (as a short-sale), my realtor kept saying, “I’m shocked that anyone ever gets a house with everything that can go wrong…” and I remember feeling a little anxious but overall glad that she was keeping it real because I was really prepared for anything to fall through at the last minute. Fortunately it all went through as planned. It’s hard when you think it’s a done deal, but one way or another, it will all work out in the end. Good luck to you guys, whatever happens!

  • I know what you mean about feeling paralyzed with uncertainty. We’re planning a move to Scotland from Honolulu. We’ve bought my husband’s plane ticket, but we can’t get mine until my visa comes through. I keep talking like I’m going with him at the same time, but there’s just no way to know for sure. It’s so frustrating when your future depends on other people. I hope it all works out this time!

  • I can’t imagine what it is like for a place you have offered on to fall through, I hope you guys find something soon, I know it seems a bit fly away to say but things do happen for a reason so your perfect house is just around the corner!xx

  • i love all the posts here on abm, but i especially enjoy the ones you write, emma! you have such a genuine, engaging writing style. i’ve never even bought a house and i’m not sure if i ever will, but i still loved reading this. good luck on your new home! <3

  • Yikes! That seems like a ton of home buying and selling that you all are juggling! So stressful. I am sure you’ve thought of this and there must be a good reason (or many) that you’re not doing it, but did you and Trey consider moving into the studio house? Everything is renovated and customized already, and the crafts are already there, so it seems like it would at least be a good temporary solution. At any rate, best of luck, and try not to stress too much! I’m sure things will fall into place. 🙂

  • I love how real this post was! I love love love your blog, but it’s nice to see a more “real life story” post every once in a while. And it’s super interesting! My husband and I have been renters our entire marriage (both students) and we are now in the process of buying. Good tips to know when we go through with the whole process.

  • That sucks but it’s great of you to share the story so people with less experience are ready to expect such things to happen (because it happens sooo often, it’s not even funny). The first property I bought was my current condo. I was 24 years old at the time and my mother who had bought a lot of houses in the past helped me out a lot with the whole process. There’s definetly less to worry about with a condo but the process is similar. I looked and looked and finally found the perfect place and made an offer that was accepted and at the very last minute, the seller decided not to sell 🙁 I was sooo sad and focused on the perfectness of that place that I could not imagine finding somewhere better. But of course I ended up doing just that. It’s been 5 years since and although I’m happy with my place I was getting just about ready to buy myself a proper house. So last year I started looking for houses in neighbourhoods I fancied but quickly realised the market is terrible right now in my part of the world. Houses are way over priced and people in this region have a tandency to live above their means (that’s what happens when you live in a government town where you’re sure to have a pretty secure job). So they move into houses that are way to pricey for their family (because they get accepted at the bank) and then have no money to update or renovate the place…..then they decide to move and the market has gone up so they put their house up for sale following the market prices and you end up with a 30 year old house which has never been renovated and/or updated but is still up for sale at an outrageous price (it’s not unfrequent to see a house that needs 25 to 30,000$ worth of work done and is already listed at 400,000+). Bottom line is….sometime the market is just not good enough when you’re ready to move and it’s best to be patient than to ruin your financial health.

  • I feel you! Two springs ago we were all set to close on a home and the day our P&S was due my husband got laid off and we had to back out. WORST FEELING EVER. We had already told everyone and then had to go back and explain everything to everyone. So, when we bought a home just 6 weeks ago (YAY!) we barely told anyone because we were afraid we might jinx it. And it didn’t feel totally real until we were in the lawyer’s office and signed a million papers and got the keys. Best of luck to you and Trey! While home shopping can be really romantic, it is also maybe one of the most stressful things I’ve done in my life. xxxx

  • Ditto. We’ve been on the hunt for a while and just yesterday had an inspection. Results not so great. So here’s the hoping that we are able to get the seller to come down to cover the repairs… 🙁

    I’m just ready to be “home”.

  • I’m sorry that the first home fell through for you guys. I hope everything works out with this one!

  • We were buying a house before we got married years ago and part of the deal was we fix a couple things to pass the city inspection so we had a contractor in and found out the basement had a major problem. So we backed out of the deal. We got sued by the realtor and lost our good faith money. What a mess. We had to move into another house which was for sale and keep looking. We made an offer on a house and didn’t use a realtor and had a private inspection done.We ended up in a better neighborhood and school district. I’m sure you will find the right house for you guys.

  • I know you how you feel — we just closed on our first home a week ago. We didn’t have any troubles in the closing process, but we looked for over 18 months — I thought we’d never find something we loved! Wishing you luck!

  • I don’t want to say too much and jinx it but I’m buying my second house and selling mine at the same exact time. So I’ll just leave it at that, but I’ll still *knock on wood*


  • It’s perfectly fine that you aren’t shouting it from the rooftops and have a whole house renovation planned already! I think that it can be wise to approach a big transition with a calm and flexible attitude. It will make moving day that much more fun and surreal feeling.
    It’s sorta like how some people tell everyone and start buying stuff for a nursery the second they see the lines on the pee stick and some people wait till the second trimester. Either is fine. It’s about what you are comfortable with.

  • I cannot wait to see what your new place looks like!


  • Hey girl.. thanks. I just wanna move already.. LOL you know the feeling. xo Love to you all in MO!

  • My husband and I had an offer on a home that needed work, it fell through three days before closing (also the day before I was scheduled for induction of our first child!). We just closed on our second preferred house yesterday! I went through six weeks of telling people “we may get it”. Hang in there!

  • Emma – thanks for sharing. I think these stories are good to hear. My sister went through the same thing the last real estate bubble.
    Also – you guys in the Midwest should be happy your houses are so affordable. I live in Los Angeles, (Burbank) where the average 3 bedroom 1 bath house is $575,000. I could buy a really cute house out there for the cost of a down payment here ?.

  • We have a very similar home buying story! We were under contract for 5 months on a rehab and it fell through. We had everything figured out and contractors lined up. I was shocked for days and then we jumped right back into our home search. I think we looked at 100 homes and then found ours. We made an offer the next day and closed in a month. It is PERFECT. We say all the time how thankful we are that the other house fell through.

    Good luck and I know you’ll think the same once you are in your new home 🙂

  • I live in a smaller town and I swear there are only like 5 houses I would even consider moving into after we grow out of this one (which will happen in the next couple of years for many reasons). These houses already belong to people though so it is going to be so tough to find somewhere!
    I’m crossing my fingers! I’m glad your second option is working out!
    Leah Faye

  • That sounds super disappointing, but I’m glad things are looking up! When we made an offer on our home I was 100% in right away, but my husband wouldn’t even dream with me because he didn’t want to get his hopes up on something that wasn’t for sure. I’m happy to say that it all worked out and now we are elbow deep on updating our 135 year old Victorian. Thank you for sharing your story, these are my favorite type of posts!

  • My husband and I are house hunting in Springfield right now also! I wonder if we’re looking at the same houses?!? I had my heart set on a house in Roundtree but someone beat us to the punch 🙁

  • I think it’s safe to say a lot of us know the feeling. We’ve been in this process a while now. We were under contract for a house we had instantly fallen in love with. I spent so much time dreaming about the updates we’d make, but after the inspection we tried to negotiating some repairs that the owner refused to do. It would have been a lot of money out of their pocket, but our bank simply wouldn’t approve as-is so we had to walk. It was disappointing, but we were both pretty at peace with it so I think, deep down, we knew it wasn’t the right house.
    A week later we found a house that had only been on the market for 2 days. We both knew we loved it, but were both hesitant to make a snap decision. After looking at some houses that sent us running (literally, we couldn’t get out fast enough), we visited a second time the same day and made an offer. We were under contract in less than 12 hours. We used the same inspector and he made it clear that this was the better house with no obvious problems. We’re scheduled to close in 19 days. I’m still feeling hesitant, afraid something could happen. But I know that if this is the right house then it will work out.

  • Oh man! What a crazy experience. As if moving wasn’t complicated enough haha. Glad to hear you’re keeping your head up though. I’m sure you’ll find the perfect place when the time is right!

  • I completely understand. We found our dream forever home and were completely packed up and ready to move in with just a toothbrush and a change of clothes not in boxes because we had to be out of our apartment that week. We went to sign our papers and our agent told us we lost the house. It was a crazy seller and a crazy change of heart that literally threw our world upside down. We got on a plane to New York and blew our whole deposit check. Long story short, thanks to the good Lord, we eventually got that same house. It wasn’t an easy or smooth process so I feel ya! Keep the faith. Good luck.

  • I hope you find what you’re looking for!
    By the way, your lipstick color looks absolutely fantastic!

    xoxox Lex // LexMeetsWorld

  • This got me a little teary. I can totally relate because I am going through a similar situation right now. We were supposed to close 2 weeks ago, I had everything planned out and pinterest boards stacked with ideas and the night before closing we found out it fell through (or possibly just delayed for a few months) too. I’m always super upbeat and excited to share with friends and family but these days I avoid the subject while we try to figure out what to do. Thanks for sharing. xo Good luck!

  • Oh Emma, I’m so sorry to hear the buying process has been so difficult for you. My husband and I just got the keys to our new house last week after weeks of unpredictable delays and dubious behaviour by the vendor (why do they make it so unnecessarily stressful??!) so I can relate to the sense of limbo that you’re feeling. I hope that everything goes smoothly with the house you now have under contract, and that you and Trey will soon be very happy in your new home. Best wishes to you both!

  • Thank you! And yes, please come check us out when we are open! I am so stoked to see what Springfield thinks of the bar once it’s up and running.


  • I never thought of house shopping like dating but I totally see what you mean! ;P


  • Looks like my husband is more up on comments than me today… 🙂


  • Yep. Sounds like you and I have been through similar things. I def think “nervous wreck” is an adapt description of me this past month.

    Thanks for sharing!


  • Your family does property rentals? How cool! I wish I knew more about it as we’re thinking about getting into it, well, just one property I guess. But that’s really cool! Your parents probably keep their cool about house buying and selling more than I do. 🙂 Oh well, time brings wisdom… or at least I hope.


  • Yes, I am SO thankful this didn’t happen on top of selling our house. We would have been moving in with one of our parents temporarily (I guess?) and getting a storage unit. I bet someone has been through that so since it didn’t come to that I am thankful for sure!


  • Email me: emma@abeautifulmess.com

    And welcome to Springfield!


  • Love House Hunters—although it’s better when it’s not you I guess. 🙂


  • yes-it sounds like you all are pretty much in the same situation as us. crazy! glad to hear you did find and close on a home you love. that’s awesome. sending you good moving vibes. 🙂


  • Don’t worry! The perfect house will come along and it will be wonderful. There is no reason to wait to imagine all of the changes you will make. After all, you have plenty of time to get to that, after all of the paperwork is done!

  • I used to be in the rental house business (buying and renting out),so I know how that whole buying thing can go, but you have a great attitude about it and best of all, some to share it with:-) Trey & us;-) I will keep my fingers crossed that only the best idea or house comes along for you guys to move forward in your dreams and goals:-)I can’t wait to see the bar and even come for a drink when it’s opened!:-)

  • I went through such a range of emotions during house shopping! You have such a great attitude about it. Can’t wait to see the new place!!

  • Oh, boy. I feel like this about dating right now. “Yeah, he was nice. I gave him my number. Maybe he’ll call. (Maybe he won’t.)” “He asked if I wanted to go out some time. Maybe it’ll happen, maybe it’ll fall through.” Oh, man! Thanks for sharing! ;P

  • Emma won’t be working out of the office. The office space will only be for the people whose jobs exist mostly on the computer, like myself, Jacki and Philip (developer), because it won’t have a fully functioning kitchen or dedicated space for projects. It’s definitely feasible for Emma to work from home now—just pretty cramped—but turning our current home into a rental is part of our financial planning/goals. All that stuff. Make sense?


  • Why not just rent a storage shed until you get into the office space? Seems more logical than buying a new home just to house a bunch of craft items.

  • Sorry you had to deal with last minute let down like that. Especially the night before getting the keys!!! My husband and I had made it all the way to the appraisal when the deal on our house fell through. It was really discouraging and I felt we would never find anything else. A few months later, we got the keys to a much better, bigger house that was (and is) absolutely perfect for us. Everything went so much smoother the second time around but I was a nervous wreck the whole time. Hope everything goes smoothly with the new house and that you love it even more than the last one!

  • I think it’s like that everywhere, just watch those House Hunters shows. haha! Good luck on your closing http://www.hannamarielei.com

  • I’m so sorry to hear about this! I know exactly how you feel – my family has a property rental business and I’m so used to my parents putting offers on houses and them falling through at the last minute, or the other way round when they go to sell any. I truely believe that everything happens for a reason, so I’m sure it’ll all work out in the end! 🙂
    Also, I love that you guys are sharing more personal posts again!
    xo April
    April | April Everyday

  • House hunting can be so much fun, until it’s not :/ we just sold a house, and purchased a house last spring, and I was a nervous wreck that something would fall through on both! Especially since the buying of one was contingent on selling the other. But, thankfully it all worked out well in the end! Hopefully this house you’re in contract for will too 🙂

  • Can’t wait to see the post that you actually got the keys!

    Side note…I just moved to Springfield so if you need some company painting/crafting let me know! I could use a friend and love reno projects (I swear I’m super cool).

  • I appreciate how humble you are, Emma. Posts like these represent your humanity, and it makes me all the most interested and invested in what you all do at ABM!

    I’m actually the seller in my scenario and I have the older house (And thanks for being so easy-going about older homes in your story!! People here in MA are SOOOO picky! They want a mansion for a nickel AND want it to have charm but NO issues. Like HELLOOOO.)
    Anyway I had offer after offer fall through and even though we are under contract (!!!!!) I am still so nervous something will happen until we sign at closing. Here’s hoping for you!!!!! XO

  • oh Emma.. I can relate. We are in the midst of moving right now, and we found a house at first we thought would be ours, but lo and behold.. it fell through and we never got that one.. we found this one… and we closed on 7/15. We’re moving soon and couldn’t be happier. It all happens for a reason. Smile, live your life and trust in His timing. It’s always right on time. xo

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