How did you end up buying a condo anyways?
Updated: Mar 4, 2019
Gabriel and I bought our condo when I was 22 and he was 25.
I moved out on my own when I was 18 when my dad and I had a difference of opinion... on just about everything. Since then I have been on my own and was convinced I would be renting my entire life.
I hated the idea of making a commitment that big to something and losing the freedom of moving whenever and wherever we wanted to. Gabriel on the other hand was very insistent on settling and no longer having (psychotic) landlords.
We started house hunting knowing we wanted a condo or a townhouse. Some people dream of having their own house and big backyard- I can't stay that is our fantasy.
Actually,I have absolutely no intention of ever owning a house- having to cut my own grass or shovel my own snow, redo my driveway, change out my shingles, switch out my roof- I much rather pay a higher fee (HOA) and have my association take care of that for me. When we leave on vacation- we just lock our doors and leave worries of frozen pipes and other building maintenance behind. It fits our life style and I just cannot picture having my own house.
I work as a house manager / nanny and part of my job is to help get contractors out and bid quotes and present them to my bosses- my hair wants to turn gray when I see some of these outrageous numbers come through for things I dont have to worry about because I choose to live in a condo. Although it is true we have to follow a lot of rules and can't change as many things as if we had our personal house, I'll say almost 3 years have gone by and it's yet to be an issue.
I'm also extremely lucky because I'm married to a contractor and do not how to outsource a lot of the work/ repairs that come up.
Our house hunting journey was a nightmare.
We found a condo, were approved and were under contract to buy and renovate a 2 bed/ 2 bath 2000sqft condo. Our offer was accepted and as we were going through the loan process- I needed to update my current income to what was going to be anticipated for the upcoming tax year. I approached my then boss and it turns out his accountant made a lot of errors and it took us forever to sort it out. He ended up paying my taxes and my take home/ withheld had been calculated incorrectly which was great for me- who wouldn't want all their personal taxes paid by someone!?
But that meant my earnings for the upcoming year would be lower than what was assumed even with new raise due to know finding out there were no taxes being withheld from my end and my boss wasn't going to make the same mistake and pay all my taxes twice. The loan officers wanted to help us make this condo our reality and doing that we would have had to put down 28% for the loan to move forward- which would have depleted our construction budget and we would have gone "house broke".
We chose to walk away heart broke that after so much time and effort we had to leave our little place we thought was going to be ours. We brought all of our family to see this condo and to our surprise everyone was so critical and cynical we were buying a place we had to renovate- we were "too young to be investing too much into something that wasn't forever" it was so frustrating.
Half a year later we found a great foreclosed townhome. Once again our offer was accepted and were moving forward with the home buying process.
I spend a lot of time reading as much as I can to learn when I am not familiar with something and found out about the IHDA First Time Homebuyers grant here in IL. I also learned you could ask the selling party to help with closing credit costs (they don't have to agree but asking doesn't hurt!) Our real estate agent filled out paper work without asking for credits and the money for the grant had run out at this time. Something felt wrong in my guy but we were so ready to just close and leave our rental (lease was up in January 1- closing was December 21) so we wouldn't have to resign. I was on vacation in Poland trying to fill out paper work from across the globe and everything just kept delaying. We were running into problems left and right and still we wanted to move on. When we did the final walk through of the house the day before closing, G tried flushing all the toilets and drains as a precaution one last time. NOTHING was going down. Something happened. We ran to Home Depot got a toilet "snake" and called his dad. After hours of poking around they found someone tried to sabotage the sale and poured a bunch of concrete down the pipes and then toped it off with hundreds of bobby pins. We got a number to come out and access the damage someone caused since we out our offer down and they confirmed it and it was going to be a $4k repair. Horrified and now worried we were going to continue being terrorized because we bought the place- once again we walked away. Our agent was SO mad at us- constantly calling saying we were making the wrong choice, the pipes could be fixed, the value of the home would go up- it was clear he did not have our best interest at heart- he was more concerned about his closing check then he was about us as clients- being a first time homebuyer really is such a scary thing- you aren't sure who to trust or who has YOUR best interest up front.
Forward a few months later, I went to an event with my then nanny kids (to be honest I wasn't even supposed to go, it was a last minute mix up!) and was seated by one of the moms from my kiddo's class. I asked her what her job was in small talk and she told me she was a real estate agent and we clicked. I told her all about our bad luck and she agreed to help us and it couldn't have gone any better. If that isn't fate then I'm not sure what is- Danielle was so attentive to detail, always on time, and bring extra information to give us a better understanding of the buildings and areas we were looking at. She had absolutely the best mortgage company she connected us with and Bernard knew his information inside and out- he was so knowledgable and understood how to help with IHDA (and more!) and went out of his way numerous times to make sure we were getting the most help. We set an offer with Danielle for a condo and got beat by $100 over what we presented but she suggested we go look at the foreclosure a few floors up. We did and if it wasn't for her we wouldn't be living where we are. She help us set an offer that brought asking price down $8,000. She also got the bank to agree to help with 3% closing costs and we were accepted into the IHDA grant and were given $7,500 from the state of IL to put toward closing costs. In total we received $11,325 toward closing costs that didnt even come out of our own pocket. Bernard and Danielle also recommended a fantastic lawyer, Greg, who was able to fight on our behalf and drop the closing price even further. All we had to pay was the earnest money- and even that got returned to us at closing. Everything went so smoothly- we decided not to tell our families until after the purchase. This whole process became about everyone else but us. It had to change. We were going to be the ones living there and paying the mortgage- no one was going to help us with any costs- we had to be prepared and willing to do it on our own- and I am so glad we did. Now we live on a golf course in a beautiful tiny quiet community, close to shopping centers and work, and in a. place we are truly happy in. In our hunt we went from 2000sqft to 1350sqft but it's perfect for US!
At each time when life felt "unfair" and the world felt like it was fighting against us - nothing was working out, I know realize God was shutting doors on the things we thought we wanted to bring us to a place to find what we NEEDED. I wish I trusted more and wasn't as narrow minded as I was. In the end everything worked out and we had a wonderful team supporting us each step of the way. We honestly couldn't have done this without them!
So when it's your turn to buy- make sure you find people you feel comfortable with and confident in- and dont be afraid to let the people go who aren't helping you. This a a BIG commitment and costs A LOT of money! You need to feel safe and secure! Make sure you look into all your options and see if your state offers any grants for first time home buyers- I had to take an online class and complete a test to pass- a few hours of my time but the reward was worth it! Who wouldn't want $7.5k knowing you would never have to pay it back- the only terms being your home had to be in a specific county and you had to agree to live at the address for a minimum of 5 years? Always take your chances- you never know how much you could save. Or other agent did not think our offer would be accepted asking for closing credits so he acted on our behalf and chose not to include it in with OUR offer and at the end of the day it would have been OUR payments- not his!
Getting the amount of help we did from outside sources helped us save a lot of money and put it toward renovations- at first we were asking everyone for help and options but once again the situation took a critical turn- certain people felt like we were investing too much into something they don't see as a "forever home" for us and were very outspoken about the choices we made. Although we realize we may not live here forever, we will live here until our needs change- I am not compromising what I want for my OWN comfort, elegance, function, and feeling of "home" because I'm looking years ahead to what someone may or may not like about my home when I sell and the return "I'll never get back". I am all for advice- but there comes a time you make your own choices and don't ever feel bad you are living your life by your own guidelines instead of somebody else's. There's a reason so many types of homes and products exist- everyone has different taste!
After we moved in and got settled, I joined our condo board having absolutely no experience- and now I know why God paved the path he did for me- I took a step back from college to figure out what I wanted to do with my career and after this I realized I really do love real estate. I never want to be the kind of self centered agent that I had to put up with in the past and was further inspired by my position on the board to continue to look further into a career in that path. I finally found something that makes me happy and would have never come to this conclusion if everything had not happened. "God will wreck your plans before your plane wreck you" and it couldn't be any truer. I finished my brokers course through CRS (mention me if you ever plan on signing up- they have a referral program!), now I am studying to test to get my brokers license and the pursing other courses further until I get to the position I want to be in!
Isn't it funny how life plays out?
Please feel free to ask any questions! I'm always here!
The Everyday Girl