Our First Place

Today at 2:30 PM we will be closing on our new house. We may not have been chosen to be on TV, but there was plenty of drama anyway.

Our story really began in November of 2007, when we first started looking for a house. And by “looking for a house” I mean “Carrie started looking online and we drove past some places.” Carrie found one house in Glen Ellyn (near COD) that she thought was perfect. She drove past it and her parents even looked in the windows. Of course, when we went to look at it with the selling agent, we discovered that not only was the inside kind of cruddy, but it lacked a basement. Thus we learned our first lesson of house shopping – despite how stupid it would seem, some people actually do build houses without basements.

Flash-forward to March of this year. This is when we started looking in earnest. First we thought we’d be smart and just go look by ourselves. We spent on Saturday going to see houses that we found online and by calling the selling agents. Of course, every agent we saw wanted to be our realtor. We saw a bunch of houses that day, but only one of them did we like. It was in Winfield, and it came to be known as The Blue House.

We got a referral to a realtor through Homegain, and in April went out for a day of “shock and awe” house hunting. I think we saw 10-15 houses in one day. We saw everything from huge homes in Glen Ellyn to run-down foreclosures that would take $70,000 to fix up. We came away from that trip being pretty sure that we’d narrowed things down to three houses – the aforementioned Blue House, a house in Wheaton that had some funky issues with bedroom placement, and a giant house in Glen Ellyn with a bedroom pre-decorated for a young cubs fan. Actually, now that I look through my emails, it seems like in that same day we also saw the infamous Witt House, which was in Lombard. It was a house we really loved, however, it received an offer the day after we saw it. For quite some time, the Witt House was the standard by which we measured all houses, and we were very depressed that we didn’t have a chance to try to get it.

While this was all going on, we were interviewed for the show My First Place on HGTV. As it happens, we didn’t get chosen to be on the show. in retrospect, we think that they missed a great opportunity, because as you will read, once the offer process started, the drama started coming out every which way.

We spent most of the summer looking at houses and wavering on what we wanted, where we wanted to live, and what were acceptable compromises. One of the houses we saw in the original “shock and awe” day was a pretty nice house in Winfield that we called the East House. It was really spacious, and had a good yard that backed up to a forest preserve. However, the location was a little further out than we wanted to be. That being said, I always thought this would be the house we would end up with. Eventually, we narrowed it down between this house and a house in Lombard called the Pinebrook House. Carrie had fallen in love with that house, but we really weren’t sure, as it only had 1.5 bathrooms and a small kitchen.

We were standing in the dining room of the Pinebrook House with our realtor trying to decide what to do, when she said “Hey, remind me…why haven’t we been looking in Lisle?” We told her that it seemed too expensive for us. She replied that there were several houses she had listings for in Lisle that were in our price range that she thought we would like. To humor her (and put off making a decision) we agreed to go look at them on Monday.

We looked at three houses in Lisle that Monday, all in the same subdivision. The first two we saw weren’t for us. The third house.

The third house will be ours in about six hours.

As soon as we saw it, we knew it was our house. There wasn’t a single thing that we considered a “compromise”. It was completely move-in ready with all sorts of brand new appliances, new woodwork, etc. We walked out of the house and under my breath (the sellers were in the house) I told our realtor that we were ready to make an offer. So a few minutes later, at Chinn’s 34th Street Fishery, we drafted an offer.

Over the next few days, there was quite a bit of drama. The sellers would not reply to our offer until we gave them a copy of our pre-approval letter from our lender. So I faxed the letter to our realtor, and this kicked off all kinds of crazy back-and-forth between our realtor, our loan officer, and the seller. We were arguing with our realtor as well, who kept insisting that our loan officer was trying to rip us off, and that we should go with someone she suggested at Chase. We felt we were in the right. However, once we did talk to Chase, we discovered that our original loan officer WAS a bit of a shyster and that he was charging us thousands of dollars in closing costs that Chase would not charge us. So we switched to Chase.

While this was all going on, we were going back and forth with our offer. We sent our final counter on Friday afternoon, and then never heard back again. Luckily, on Sunday afternoon when we were on our way home from the Ren Faire, we got a call from our realtor saying that our offer had been accepted (actually, she called with a final counter-counter-counter from the seller, but the final counter was actually exactly what we were trying to get to, so it was a no-brainer to accept).

For a while, things were going well. We signed the contract and put up our earnest money and starting going through the process with Chase. Our original closing date on the contract was Sept 25, since everything we’d heard led us to believe that it would take a least 6 weeks for our loan to go through all the process. One of the items in the contract was for the seller to pay all closing costs “up to $8,000” as that was the closing cost estimate from our first loan officer.

Then things hit their first snag. When our lender required a modification to the wording of the contract in order to do our loan, it was sent to the sellers to initial the change. We were then sent the same document to initial – and I noticed that the seller had crossed out part of the change – which would, in essence, mean that they would be paying about $3,000 less of the closing costs. This resulted in a spirited back-and-forth with the lawyers. Then it came out that if we would be agreeable to close in early September, the sellers would give in on the extra closing cost credit. Now, remember – the only reason we had put in the late Sept close was due to the bank. And the bank was now telling us that we could easily close in early Sept. So we agreed, and ended up getting our credit as well as an earlier closing. There was also some fun drama when our house inspection showed high radon and the sellers responded that they thought that was baloney, but they would pay us $1,500 to remediate it anyway.

It gets better.

Last Tuesday, I got a phone call from our realtor’s assistant. She was calling to inform me that everything was good to go for our August 29th closing.

Yes, August 29th. Of course, nobody told us about this. A few minutes later, my realtor called me and explained that the sellers really wanted to close in August, not September, and were willing to offer us $1,000 cash to do so. Again, our reply was sure, as long as the bank can do it.

The bank could do it. Carrie and I made plans to take off work on the 29th. We were all set.

Then, on Friday, our laywer tells us that the seller’s attorney will be out of town on the 29th…so they want to close on the 28th now. The whole thing was getting ridiculous (especially since every time these things happened, our laywer’s bill goes up, so that $1,000 starts to dwindle away). Even though we were upset about all of this, it ended up working out. So we are now closing today.

When I was thinking about what to put in this blog post on the train this morning, I figured it would mostly be about the house itself, with pictures and descriptions. I think that will be a separate post which I’ll either do later this morning or maybe this weekend (as soon as we are done with closing we are heading Up North for the whole holiday weekend).

I’m pretty sure that after all this, we’re not going to buy a house again ever. We’ll live in this house until we die πŸ™‚ Or move to Florida.

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~ by Matt Stratton on August 28, 2008.

25 Responses to “Our First Place”

  1. David and I had similar dramas when we bought our house! We also decided that we will never, ever buy another house. (Until we do…)

    Congrats! Now the fun part starts! :oD

  2. Wow, what an adventure!

    Congratulations! I hope it all goes swimmingly from here!

  3. Wow, what an adventure!

    Congratulations! I hope it all goes swimmingly from here!

  4. yeah, i think there’s always SOMEthing when buying a first home…

    we’re renovating rebuilding ours from the slab and studs out and we’re confident we will never buy another house again – we will only build!!

  5. yeah, i think there’s always SOMEthing when buying a first home…

    we’re renovating rebuilding ours from the slab and studs out and we’re confident we will never buy another house again – we will only build!!

  6. Congrats — in any case!! Hugzs!

  7. Congrats — in any case!! Hugzs!

  8. House-buying drama is a major suck-fest and a major and energy-suck. We hear ya. We bought our 20-yr home and barring any major career moves, plan to stay put here as well. Congratulations! Can’t wait to see some photos!

  9. wow, so this is the first time i’ve heard of a closing getting pushed UP. pretty much everyone i know who has bought a house has been eternally frustrated with the closing repeatedly being pushed back.

    in any case, CONGRATS! it’s all over! and you are homeowners! very exciting.

  10. Congrats on the new digs!

  11. I’m pretty sure that after all this, we’re not going to buy a house again ever. We’ll live in this house until we die πŸ™‚ Or move to Florida.

    Well, if you’re planning to move to Florida, there are definitely no condos available in Del Boca Vista.

    Congratulations on becoming a homeowner!

  12. I’m pretty sure that after all this, we’re not going to buy a house again ever. We’ll live in this house until we die πŸ™‚ Or move to Florida.

    Well, if you’re planning to move to Florida, there are definitely no condos available in Del Boca Vista.

    Congratulations on becoming a homeowner!

  13. Wow. . that even tops our story of the seller charging home during the inspection wielding a baseball bat to use on our home inspector.

    I hope the drama ends here and you two enjoy many happy years in this home. I can’t wait to see pictures!

  14. Wow. . that even tops our story of the seller charging home during the inspection wielding a baseball bat to use on our home inspector.

    I hope the drama ends here and you two enjoy many happy years in this home. I can’t wait to see pictures!

  15. But you never said what you had at Bob Chinn’s Nephew’s Place…

    The closing on our Wheaton house did not get moved because we had a brilliant lawyer who just plain did not allow it. I don’t know what he said to them, but it worked. That did not cost us anything, but probably because the lawyer is my cousin.

  16. But you never said what you had at Bob Chinn’s Nephew’s Place…

    The closing on our Wheaton house did not get moved because we had a brilliant lawyer who just plain did not allow it. I don’t know what he said to them, but it worked. That did not cost us anything, but probably because the lawyer is my cousin.

  17. We got the special of the night, which was king crab legs and steak. The steak was okay, but the crab legs were great.

    Remember – moving the closing was generally speaking okay with us (especially since it resulted in $1,000 cash, and yes, it was literal cash – on Thursday the seller’s attorney gave me an envelope with 10 $100 bills in it). In the end, it worked out better to move it to Thursday since it meant we could go Up North on Thursday night instead of Friday night and we got one more day of fun in the lake!

  18. We got the special of the night, which was king crab legs and steak. The steak was okay, but the crab legs were great.

    Remember – moving the closing was generally speaking okay with us (especially since it resulted in $1,000 cash, and yes, it was literal cash – on Thursday the seller’s attorney gave me an envelope with 10 $100 bills in it). In the end, it worked out better to move it to Thursday since it meant we could go Up North on Thursday night instead of Friday night and we got one more day of fun in the lake!

  19. the seller charging home during the inspection wielding a baseball bat to use on our home inspector

    Um, no, that does NOT top that story! Please share…

  20. Congratulations, Matt & Carrie! It’s so neat to read about your experience. Can’t wait to see the photos. πŸ™‚ Zoe

  21. Congratulations, Matt & Carrie! It’s so neat to read about your experience. Can’t wait to see the photos. πŸ™‚ Zoe

  22. Yea! You guys live sooo close to me! Did you know that there is a Coldstone on 53 (directly south of my condo)? Yummy! And that Family Video movie rental place is super cheap. You also can rent kid videos for free, so once those babies start coming…hehe….

    Oh and you can come over to my pool during the summer and get your tan on!

  23. Yea! You guys live sooo close to me! Did you know that there is a Coldstone on 53 (directly south of my condo)? Yummy! And that Family Video movie rental place is super cheap. You also can rent kid videos for free, so once those babies start coming…hehe….

    Oh and you can come over to my pool during the summer and get your tan on!

  24. Stupid me, I forgot to write my name on the last message.

  25. Stupid me, I forgot to write my name on the last message.

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