Buying my first house
In 2014 around the end of my sophomore year at Seattle University, I was living in an apartment in Lynnwood. Thinking if I lived outside the city, even though the commute would be less than ideal, I would save money by living farther out. About 8 months into my lease I went through my expenses and realized I was paying $12,000 a year in rent alone, living in an apartment that was adequate but not really where I really wanted to live. I didn’t like how that felt. I have lived in Seattle my whole life and there was never a question whether or not I wanted to stay. I did, and I still do want to live in Seattle. Being a full time college student and working multiple part time jobs was not the the time of my life, nor the ideal financial situation I wanted to be in looking at this new goal, but I was determined that this really was the best move for me based on these long time goals I had. Time to make the dream a reality.
Turning my idea into action
I found myself researching homes in the parts of Seattle I wanted to live. It was a hot housing market in 2014 and there were articles popping up in the newspaper all the time about how it was impossible to buy. Unless you were a cash buyer willing to pay more than market value, it wasn’t going to happen for you, they prognosticated. Well, I have always liked an opportunity to prove people wrong when I feel a challenge so I pushed forward. Fortunately, one of my long-time family friends, and now business partner, Kathy Moeller is a real estate agent and she started showing me houses right away. The very first home she showed me seemed perfect! It was a sweet two-bedroom, one-bath home in what I would call the Greenwood neighborhood on Palatine and 117th. My mom couldn’t believe I was seriously on the hunt for a house and the very first one could be the one. She ended up being right; it wasn’t the one. I made an offer that was rejected for a higher all-cash offer.
Dealing with rejection
Even though I hated thinking I lost out on my perfect house, I loved exploring different homes. The search continued, leading us to one that was elaborate in its finishes but everything was on a small scale, kind of like a dollhouse. Then we went to one that was only 3 blocks away from where my mom and grandma live, but it was a foreclosure, a total gut job, and I really didn’t know how I was going to manage spending so much money to buy the house (it was close to the top of my budget) and then figure out how to renovate it so it was livable. Nonetheless it was too perfectly located not to throw an offer into the ring.
I didn’t get that house either. Even though the rejection hit hard, I felt an urge of excitement to keep looking. We went to a few more houses that were ok but weren’t exciting enough for one reason or another to make an offer.
Then we came across a house right off 145th just east of Aurora in a cul-de-sac. It was HUGE and about $50,000 under my maximum budget. It was move-in ready, but potential updates could make it sparkle. We went to visit it often and even put in a low-ball offer. The sellers countered, but by that point I realized being so close to 145th street traffic wasn’t a good fit for me no matter how big the house was. The search continued. We had been looking for a few months and I was scheduled for hip surgery soon, so we were planning to take a short break in the search, but Kathy saw a house on Dibble that she thought I really should see. She was so right.
Finding the right fit
Kathy brought me to a sweet rambler on Dibble (how cute is that nameby the way?!). It was a 3-bedroom, 1-bathroom home sitting on a lot that was over 8,000 square feet — a rare find in Seattle. It was close to my mom’s and grandma’s houses, as well as close to school, work, and right around the corner from a QFC for groceries. Later I got a job as a cashier there and it was beyond convenient. I loved it! But I had had that feeling before and if I loved this cute find so much, I was sure others would too. Kathy showed it to me the day it became available so we had a few days to figure out a strategy before the sellers were going to look at offers. Our hunch was right on the money as far as the interest the house was generating. Many people were interested and multiple offers were submitted. Fortunately for me the sellers came back to Kathy and asked for our best and final offer which allowed me the opportunity to pool all my resources, making an offer slightly over my initial budget, and using my real-estate savvy great grandfather’s lucky number in the offer. That, combined with a sincere letter that I now know we call a “love letter” to the sellers, and I got the good news. The house would be mine. I could officially say, “I am a homeowner.”
On crutches as I healed from surgery, I celebrated next to the sold sign. It was the perfect house for me. I moved in, did some updates to really make it feel like my own, and thoroughly enjoyed my time there. Even though I have since moved on from that home, I still think about it often including how much I have been able to do because of getting and taking that opportunity to own my first house. I planned to live there many years and only move out if I found a forever home. I hope you will stay tuned for that story. And maybe you will give me a chance to help you write your story too.