Updated: May 16, 2020
Buying a house is a huge decision, and it's not one that everyone wants to or is able to make.
There are definitely perks to renting: little-to-no maintenance, location flexibility, no high interest rate or large down payment required. Of course these vary by contract and location, but the gist is the same: renting allows for relatively inexpensive impermanence. (Say that three times fast!)
For us, the perks of home ownership outweighed those of renting: steady payments and no renewal increase, a private yard of our own (we didn't have this at any of our rentals), and the freedom to decorate and renovate our home space however we liked.
As someone who had grown up in the same house for almost my entire life, the lifestyle of renting and moving when the rates got too high felt chaotic. I longed for a space that I could truly make my own. A space where I wouldn't have to worry about all the holes in the wall because that shelf was going to stay there. A space where I could paint and not have to worry if the landlord would make me change them back.
A space where I could plant my roots and let creativity flow.
There were plenty of aspects about renting that I enjoyed. I loved making friends with the new neighbors when I moved or when those around me were coming or going. I loved that I didn't have to worry about the plumber's bill and cleanup the (three!) times the toilet leaked and flooded our bathroom. I also loved the odd security that came from being surrounded on so many sides; in people living in such close proximity.
That's not to say I didn't also despise the month of raccoons in our ceiling, waking us up at four a.m. because my maintenance request didn't get forwarded to animal control. Or however they messed that up.
But home ownership has been a joy for us so far. In just a couple weeks we'll reach six months of living in a home that we've packed our blood, sweat, and tears into. And what a blessing it's been!
We actually began our home search this time last year.
I have a slight obsession with looking at homes. It comes from being raised by an architect and someone else slightly obsessed with looking at homes. I come by it honestly! There's just something so fun about being allowed to snoop about another person's space; checking out floor plans and layouts, discovering how they chose to arrange furniture and decorate.
So this time last year I spotted a house on Realtor, or one of those home-for-sale websites out there. I honestly have to say that by now I don't remember much about that house, other than how the yellow curtains hanging above the kitchen sink seemed to say this space was for me.
Because we liked the look of the home so much, we decided to get in contact with a bank to be preapproved before we even walked in the door. The housing market in our area had been going strong for some time already, and we wanted to be ready in case it was as perfect for us as we thought it might be.
We were approved! But without a full twenty percent down payment our monthly mortgage payment and interest was going to be a lot more than we ever anticipated. With a heavy heart, I let our realtor know that we wouldn't be seeing the home after all, and that we probably wouldn't be ready to continue our search until some time the following year.
In January I again spotted a potential home, this one much smaller and much less expensive. With our preapproval in hand, we toured the home and declared it a good fit for us. Our realtor helped us put together an offer slightly above asking that we thought no seller could refuse.
We were wrong.
The seller had received a similar offer, but all in cash. This was not our home, after all.
We continued touring homes until we found another that we loved. Built in the 70s, it was very mid-century modern and had some fun, unique quirks. It also needed a little bit of help: new energy efficient windows to replace the original, drafty ones, fresh paint on the wood siding, repairing the ceiling in a few rooms, and scrubbing off the mold under the bathroom sink.
Our realtor helped us put together a very good offer, asking the seller to help cover some closing costs to make up for the work that needed to be done.
Once more, this was not our home. The seller refused to help cover closing costs, proposing a counter offer that was barely lower than their asking price, something we weren't able to afford with all the repairs the home would need. We turned it down.
We toured another home, and another. We saw an obvious flip that was poorly and cheaply done. We saw one that I loved and wanted but that my husband did not. We saw one the same day it was listed but the road it was on was too busy.
We could not find our right home.
So we renewed our rental lease for another year, thinking that maybe we would just keep saving and try again later.
That's when we found it. A sweet little place with large windows and an open feel, neutral paint and a hard floor, three bedrooms, two baths, and a cozy fenced-in yard. It was perfect.
We dialed up our realtor again and asked, is there any way we could see this home tonight?
No, he was out of town for the day, but would be back tomorrow and we could get a showing first thing in the morning.
I said, it had better not sell before then!
We showed up the next day as early as the sellers would allow, along with other groups of people touring the home. Not surprisingly, there were already multiple offers. The sellers said they would look at any that came in that day and make a final decision that night.
The house was just as charming in person as the photos made it out to be. As soon as we stepped through the front door, we felt at ease. The living space was small, but open. The bedrooms were large and warm. There was plenty of natural light, and it just felt so right.
Once more, we put together an offer. A better offer than we'd ever made before.
Then we sat and fidgeted and distracted ourselves however we could, a bundle of anxious anticipation for the rest of the day until, finally, at 8 p.m. we got a call from our realtor.
Congratulations, you're home owners!
There was excitement and shock that we had finally done it. We had to keep telling ourselves it was actually true; holding our breath through all the inspections and red tape that followed. My husband still says that day was the most stressful day of his life. (He's married to me, though, so we'll see for how long! I tend to go from one crazy adventure to the next.)
We now have our "perfect" home, but it wasn't without compromise.
we'd really wanted a two-car garage so that both of our vehicles could be sheltered from extreme weather and the varying temperatures that come with living in Indiana, but our home's lot only has space for one
we loved the neutral paint colors inside and out, but the back portion of the house had been sided in wood and would need repaired/replaced soon
we had a gas stove, which we wanted, but had to be careful when turning it on because the knobs weren't labelled and turned on funny, so we could barely put it on low without it extinguishing
we have a laundry room but weren't able to get a washer or dryer for almost another month, so we carried our laundry back and forth to our old apartment until the lease was done
we went from a very large walk-in closet and plenty of storage to one average sized closet in each bedroom and very little extra storage (I don't like to keep much in the attic)
our yard is much smaller than we'd first planned to get, but has a privacy fence and takes much less time to care for and mow
There's no such thing as a perfect home. Each comes with its oddities and quirks, just like each of the people who lived in it. And even if you're building a new house from the ground up, it will have plenty of quirks too, because you built it exactly that way.
I am grateful for a place to call home; a place to invite people to and a space to share with others. That's what we need to do with blessings, isn't it? Share them with others. I believe that's what a true home is meant to do.
I will be sharing updates we make to our home as we go. Various projects, home improvement, and more. I hope that this blog reflects my home by being an open door and inviting you in.
You are very welcome here!