So you’ve lived in Seattle for 2 years now, and gee, rent is getting expensive. We should buy a house.
Then start neighborhood shopping. You fall in love with Ballard!
The second you realize a one bedroom condo is over half a million dollars with HOA dues that are half the rent you are already paying, you realize Ballard might not be for you.
Lather, rinse, repeat with Wallingford, Fremont, and any other neighborhood you have heard of.
You start looking a little further away from the city. It’s not too bad of a commute, right? Well.. Then you look at a traffic map. Yes, it is in fact that bad.
So only places with quick public transportation to Seattle! That way, it’s the best of both worlds! A little more space, but you still don’t have to drive to work.
Then you see the neighborhoods where the Link stops. They look great from the train! But the houses are older, there are fewer amenities that you are used to in the city, and it’s just not a good fit. They are also still crazy expensive!
Then, what luck! You find a house! Close to a bus route. Nice kitchen, and yard. You finally feel like if you lived there you could build a more permanent life. You work with your agent to carefully craft a fair offer.
And you get creamed by and all cash offer.
The first blow crushes you. You loved that house. It was the one you wanted to spend years in. You could see the garden in the back yard and a tire swing on the tree. You’ll never love again.
A week or two pass and you begin to start looking again. This time you’ll move faster, bid more aggressively. But know all the houses don’t measure up to your “Offer house”. There isn’t a garage for your car, no room an herb garden out back. The process begins to wear on you. What if you never find a house?
You begin to try and make compromises. You don’t need that third bedroom. Maybe you’re ok with an older place with some work, as long as it has good bones. Maybe, you’ll only have one kid, so you don’t need a 3 bedroom house. You can always move again if you need to.
Then, out of nowhere. Lightning strikes.
A house you love. This time you know what you’re doing. You bid the absolute most you think you can afford. You get your offer in quickly. You’ve done this before, surely this time, it will work out.
You wait in agony and excitement for the phone call from your agent. You’re sure it will come. They said they were deciding on an offer today.
But then, the dreaded text message arrives.
They went with a higher offer. Much higher. Nothing you could do.
This time, it’s less of a shock. Still crushing, but you were ready for it this time. You know you have to move on. And so the bargaining begins again.
The 6 stages of House Buying
- Neighborhood Selection
- Neighborhood Re-Selection (When your first choice was set aside only for the fabulously wealthy)
- House hunting
- Placing an offer
- Crushing blow to your self esteem
- Bargaining (With yourself, trying to lower your standard of living, or trying to convince yourself you have more money in your bank account than you do, or you can handle a bigger monthly payment)
In Seattle and I’m sure in many other “hot” housing markets around the country, you will go through these stages over and over again. Hoping each time you might get it.
As for me, we aren’t hurting for money. The two of us are ok. We don’t struggle to make ends meet. We both work and are extremely lucky to have more than enough. Should it be this hard?
If it is this competitive in our price range, what about people who aren’t so lucky? Will they ever be able to buy a house in Seattle? Do people looking at million dollar homes still lay in bed at night annoyed that the house they offered 2.5 million on sold for 2.8?
(This isn’t a post I should be writing yet, as we have not successfully purchased a house in Seattle yet, but I tried my best to sum up the experience)