Wow. Where do I even begin?
House hunting is an emotional rollercoaster. It’s time consuming, stressful, exciting and mentally and emotionally exhausting. Throw in a worldwide pandemic and searching from across the country and all of those challenges are magnified tenfold.
Our house hunting journey began in 2018 in Boston. At the time, we were newly married, not planning on kids for a few years and living the “good life” pre-pandemic. We were also renting in one of the most expensive rental markets in the world so we knew that buying only made sense. The monthly payments were literally the same between owning and renting and the Boston market (especially South End, where we lived) is incredibly steady, popular and recession-proof.
We had a very healthy “entry level” budget (for Boston’s South End, which I would say is 4-5x the normal entry level budget) and were eager to find a home. Well, reality set in real quickly when we were outbid about 7 times in a row – after placing offers that were well over ask. In hindsight, it feels like we were trying way too hard and placing huge offers on places that were just “ok”. Granted, city living is always going to be different – places are small, old and never perfect. You’re dealing with buildings from the 1800s that are shared among multiple neighbors and city-only issues (like rodents, trash and permits). There are so many variables which make the home buying process even more challenging.
Fast forward Summer 2019…we were beyond frustrated with the house hunting process in Boston (and the market in general) so we decided to rent again with a month-to-month lease so we could continue looking.
Thank goodness we did…fast forward to May 2020 and we were living in a pandemic and newly pregnant.
We knew that once pregnant, Boston just wasn’t in the cards for us. Between the stairs, the weather, the lack of parking (and a car!), both of us working from home and zero family within a 6 hour radius, it just didn’t make sense. As sad as we were to leave Boston, we knew that moving down to Atlanta, where I’m from, made the most sense for our growing family.
Lucky for us, my Aunt Lynne has been a realtor in Atlanta for 20+ years and is an absolute real estate guru. We had many calls / FaceTime session with her and were very specific about our price range, our wants, our wishlist and our time frame. We knew that we needed a 4+ bedroom home, a fenced in back yard, an open floor plan, an updated kitchen and an indoor-outdoor feel for entertaining. We wanted a home that was cozy and comfortable, yet updated enough so that no major renovations were needed. The hardest part was locking down the neighborhood. We were torn between several areas in Atlanta – including Buckhead, Brookhaven, Chastain Park and the Virginia Highlands. We looked in them all found amazing houses in each area, all with their own pros and cons. My parents were absolute lifesavers and went to look at over 20 houses in person for us since we were on lockdown in Boston! It was so critical to have boots on the ground here as homes never, ever look the same as they do in pictures – for better or for worse.
Long story short, when our now home came to my Aunt as a pre-market preview, we knew this place was special! This home checked all of the boxed – price, location, layout and features, to name a few. The moment my Aunt, parents and BFF went to see it in person, they all said “this could be it!”. We took a huge leap of faith, put in an offer that morning and were under contract within 24 hours. I flew down for our inspection and was blown away with how much I loved the home. I knew immediately that this was the right place for Terry and I to start our family and this next chapter of our lives.
My Experience: Low vs. High
+ when a home looks nothing in person like it did in the pictures…versus…when a home is way better in person
+ feeling “meh” but feeling worried that you’re too picky…versus…when everyone loves it
+ feeling like you’ll never find “the one”…versus…envisioning your family there
+ being outbid…versus…when your offer is accepted
My biggest piece of advice for those of you house hunting is to be patient, know that it’s a process and prepare yourself for many emotional highs and lows. I tried my best to remain objective about every home and – even though I could envision our family living there – I stayed practical with my decisions and look at this more of a financial transaction versus an emotional one. Lastly, do your homework and hire a real estate agent that you trust! We are so fortunate to have had the most knowledgeable, trustworthy and reliable agents in both Boston and Atlanta so our experience was nothing but positive.
Looking back, I feel like being outbid in Boston was such a blessing in disguise and everything worked out exactly as it was supposed to! We are loving our new home and absolutely worth all of the ups and downs that led us here!