The story behind the purchase of our new home is one of the craziest I’ve ever heard, and I’m still in disbelief that it actually worked out. It’s a rather long story, so buckle up if you’re interested in hearing all the wild details.
So it all started in July 2019 when we decided to sell our tri level house we’d lived in for the previous 4 years. The housing market was hot, so we figured it was the perfect time to sell. I was tired of living on essentially 4 levels (since laundry was in the sub basement) and knew I didn’t want to stay there forever.
The original plan was to find a cheap place to rent for a few years to save some money and then start shopping for my “dream house.” The only problem is that rent here in KC is more expensive than a mortgage and I couldn’t find any available houses to rent.
After scrambling to get our house on the market, we were then scrambling to find a place to live. We ended up in an apartment, which was less than ideal but seemed like it might be ok since I’d be on my own with the kids for 6 months and wouldn’t have to worry about maintaining a yard or anything house related.
In reality, it turned out to be a lot more inconvenient than I anticipated. Graham was almost 4 and Quin was 10 months old when we moved in. I found it challenging to get both kids and groceries in the apartment without leaving one of them in the parking lot. If one or both kids were sleeping in the car, that made it even more challenging. I know people do this all the time, but it was quite the culture shock of going from our own house and yard to this situation.
And even though I pride myself on being a minimalist, we were extremely cramped in this two bedroom apartment that cost $300 more/month than our house. Hindsight is 20/20 and maybe we should have waited another year to sell our house, but you don’t know what you don’t know.
So given all that it didn’t take me long to reach out to a realtor to start looking for our dream house right away. We moved in July and by September I was house shopping.
When I met with our realtor Rachel, I warned her that this could be a long game home search. We had some very specific requirements and didn’t want to settle for a mediocre house again.
I wanted a ranch style house with a walk out basement in an older neighborhood with mature trees and a shaded yard. I also wanted a main level garage and laundry.
Split levels are the norm around here and while there are quite a few older neighborhoods full of ranches, the most desirable ones don’t come available very often.
Early on we found one that looked promising in a little hidden neighborhood in the perfect location. I drove by this neighborhood nearly every day on the way to the gym and didn’t know it existed. It was so charming and we loved the neighborhood, but the size and layout of this specific house weren’t exactly what I was looking for.
Our realtor was amazing and decided to send out letters to every house in the neighborhood (about 20 older mostly ranch houses) to see if anyone else was interested in selling. In November, she got a phone call about another house that was getting ready to hit the market.
This is the house I now refer to as the mansion. My realtor and I went to an estate sale going on at the house to check it out. It was huge and amazing. About 3200 square foot. It was super outdated and needed remodeled but I was there for it.
We decided to put in an offer.
Unfortunately after some back and forth we were outbid by about $25k so that was off the table. I was really hoping the sale would fall through and was super bummed that it didn’t work out. It seemed so meant to be.
Another hindsight is 20/20 deal, it worked out that we didn’t get it. Not long after that I found out we couldn’t get our of our apartment lease early like we anticipated. So we would have been paying 8 months of double rent and mortgage and the house probably needed $50k of work. I still hope whoever bought it made it as amazing as I would have, but it’s probably for the best it wasn’t us.
So that’s all the backstory of this neighborhood. Ha. Hang in there, it’s about to get good.
After we missed out on the mansion, I was reeling from the disappointment. I was entering every house number in the neighborhood on Zillow.com to see the last time they’d sold, the interior photos and the price. Most of the houses had sold within the past 5 years or so years, which led me to believe they likely wouldn’t be for sale anytime soon.
Around December, the city took down a big privacy fence on the backside of the neighborhood to replace it. This was the part I drove past every day on my way to the gym. While it was down, I noticed one house was replacing some windows. I got excited thinking maybe they were making some improvements to sell in the spring. Yes I was grasping at every straw I could find. Haha!
I looked up the house number on Zillow and there was no listing information. So it seemed like this house hadn’t been sold before. This reinforced my excitement that maybe it would be for sale soon.
My realtor must have thought I was crazy, but she is the most dedicated realtor we’ve ever worked with. She sent another round of letters to the neighborhood then went door to door to see if anyone was selling and to specifically get some info about this house I was stalking that I knew absolutely nothing about.
After knocking on doors she found out the owner of the house was no longer living there and there were some renters in the house. She stayed in contact with one of the neighbors and soon found out there was a rumor the owner had been thinking about selling.
The next obstacle was reaching the seller. We didn’t know where she was living or how to reach her. Turned out she was from the same town as my realtor’s grandparents, and she was able to track down a phone number from mutual acquaintances. Then a game of phone tag ensued and a couple weeks later, they made contact.
After a super encouraging conversation, we learned the owner was very interested in selling. She was also really interested in us and our family and what we were looking for.
You guys, this is just insane. I basically picked a house off the street and a month later my realtor was talking to the owner about selling it. Oh and by the way, the windows were just being replaced because they needed to be. Not because they were planning to sell, haha!
So we waited a couple weeks more and the owner called my realtor back and told her she got her own realtor and would be selling. This was probably sometime in February. What the what? Is this really happening? The renters would be moving out in April and we could see the house after they moved out.
Fast forward through all the waiting and speculating and studying the outside windows of this house to try to guess the layout, and we finally got to see the house at the end of March, a little earlier than expected. I had my heart set on this place. My realtor and I were laughing about how awkward it was going to be if we went through all this and I hated the house.
We literally had no information about it other than that it was 1600sqft on the main level and what we could see from the outside. So I guess we knew it had a main level garage and a shaded yard and a sunroom.
When we finally got to see the inside, I knew right away this was my house. It has TWO sunrooms. Basically this house and I were made for each other. The master bedroom was roomy (kind of hard to find in older ranch houses) and the basement was finished with a second kitchen with awesome vintage appliances. The only thing missing from my wishlist was main level laundry, but then we found out there’s a laundry hook up behind the refrigerator in the main level kitchen, so score!
The other realtors told mine they’d be putting the house on the market to get the best price for it, so we were ready to give it our all. After we looked at it, the realtors told mine the owner wanted us to put in an offer right then. No one else knew about the house yet and this situation couldn’t get any better.
And obviously you know the rest of the story. A few days later we put in our offer and the owner accepted it. The owner is 87 years old and has owned the house (built in 1964) for over 50 years. I feel so privileged that she felt like we were the right buyers for the house she lived in most of her life. We’ve learned from neighbors and her realtors that it’s important to her that the house goes to a family who will love it (as opposed to just flipping it or something) and we plan on living up to that.
As much as I thought the mansion was meant to be, far more things lined up for this to happen. And it aligned perfectly with our apartment lease we can’t get out of early.
The house needs some updating and there’s a few things we’re going to do before we move in, so having the apartment for a bit longer works just fine for us.
I cannot wait to share it all with you. Some things will happen pretty quickly and some things will take a little longer. I definitely want to take my time and do things right to make this a home we can enjoy for many years to come.
I’ve got a separate post with a complete home tour and an outline of all our current plans to update things. Check that out here.
Overall we just thought this was the craziest home buying story. Definitely one to tell our kids someday.
I enjoyed reading your house hunting story. Loved how all the steps involved led you to the right choice in the end. Isn’t that amazing when life takes you on that wonderful journey? Doesn’t happen that often, but when it does, you just know it was meant to be! So happy for you and your family, and for the lady who sold you her beloved home!
MD Aslam says
So happy for you and your family, and for the lady who sold you her beloved home!
Realtor Louie Lopez is one of the top and best Realtors in Central Florida
Happy Hiller says
Thank you for sharing your story with us! I really enjoyed reading it!
Zoe Campos says
As you mentioned, my husband and I also wanted to find a cheap place to rent and sell our current home. He got this from his parents as a wedding gift but we eventually realized that it is too big for the two of us. It would be more ideal for us to find a smaller home that is easier to maintain and would cost less.
I am much happy for you and your whole family, and for the lady who sold you her beloved house!