House-aversary #3!

We closed on “Our Dream Foreclosure” three years ago today!

then

Happy anniversary, house!

It was a CRAZY day. Six months prior, I had booked tickets to France to celebrate Jason’s 30th birthday. Our first leg – a red eye to London – left at 7:00 PM on July 17, 2009.

When we started looking at houses, we told our mortgage guy we weren’t in any rush. Besides, we still had several months left on a lease for a house we were renting. But we found “The Dream” faster than expected – and a little too close to our European departure for just about anyone’s comfort. Even though the house was a foreclosure, our deal went through really fast.

In fact, I’ve never blogged about that – so, here’s the story…

Jason and I had narrowed our house search area to a certain area… a triangle, actually…

If you’re familiar with Scottsdale, Arizona – the border on the left (to the west) is the Loop 101 freeway. The border to the south is Shea Boulevard and the border along the east, up to the north is Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard.

We had decided that was our “sweet spot” based on where we both worked at the time. That, actually, was our number one priority… limiting our commute times. We also considered where our friends lived, where our church is located and where we generally like to spend most of our time.

The problem was, a lot of other people like this area too. In order to get a home in this triangle, we were fairly certain we would have to make some major compromises on what we preferred – size, number of bedrooms, etc.

Little did we know we would find more than we ever dreamed of right in our Dream neighborhood.

(And, no, I’m not going to give you the exact location. Sure, it would be interesting if a random psychopath showed up at our door, but no thanks.)

So, back to the day we met “her.” It was a Friday and I had arranged to see three houses with our realtor over my lunch hour. These three homes were about a mile from my office at the time, right in our “sweet spot.” Jason had a busy schedule that day and wasn’t sure he’d be able to meet us. His office was about seven miles from the neighborhood we were going to look at. I met the realtor at the first house – and Jason pulled up at the same time. I was surprised and excited to see him! It’s so much easier to see houses together.

I was REALLY excited about the first house. It had four bedrooms, two baths and 1,700 square feet. It was all on one level and had a spacious backyard. The photos in the MLS listing looked gorgeous! We walked in and my love fest continued. I really liked the house and was choosing to ignore the obvious – and major! – changes we would need to make. The kitchen was in a really awkward set up, we spent several minutes plotting out how we would demo the current kitchen and redo it. Jason started scratching the house off the list. I was upset – a kitchen demo sounded like a fun project to me! The fourth “bedroom” was actually a den and right off the main rooms… that was a downer. However, the major disappointment was that the bedrooms that our future kids would take were right on the street – and even though it was a safe neighborhood, that was a concern for me. Still, I liked the house. Jason did not.

So, we followed our realtor to the next house. It was just around the corner. I was so-so about this one. I knew it was a foreclosure and the photos I had seen online were all exterior and the house looked sad. In person, it really wasn’t any different than I expected. When our realtor opened the front door, I was shocked by what I smelled – the distinctive scent of paint and new carpet. Fresh paint? New carpet? In a FORECLOSURE? What the what? Jason and I exchanged puzzled looks. Our realtor didn’t have an explanation. We started exploring the house, room by room – and with each room it got better and better. This place was blank slate. It had five bedrooms, three baths and 2,600 square feet – so much larger than the first house and the price was nearly the same. We started to get excited. This place needed some work too, but we were both enthusiastic about the projects. However, this wasn’t the first house we fell in love with and we knew if we liked it, other potential buyers probably did too. It had also already been on the market for several months – so we knew the odds were not in our favor. We asked our realtor to call right away to see if the house had any other offers.

None. Zippo. Zero. Not one.

High-fives all around! And a quick phone call to our mortgage guy – “Sorry, we lied about taking our time. We need to make an offer NOW!” We also told our realtor we wouldn’t bother seeing the third house on our list that day!

By 5:00 PM, we had everything together and our offer was in with the bank that owned the home. The bank was located in Philadelphia – a little fact that would be crucial later. We offered about $12K under the asking price, but offered to cover closing costs. We spent the next 24 hours in bliss. We were SO HAPPY.

We already knew some of our neighbors and shared the exciting news with them. On Sunday, they called to let us know, “By the way, there was an open house at ‘your’ house on Saturday.” They had walked through and loved the house too. Our hearts sunk. An open house? Our offer was in before the open house, but not before the bank closed in Philadelphia on Friday (a three hour time difference from Arizona). We went from euphoric on Saturday to depressed on Sunday. Surely, the open house drew in more offers – and on Monday morning, they would all be at that darn Philadelphia bank. We kicked ourselves for our lowball offer and were resigned to the fact the bank would likely pick the highest offer and go from there.

On Monday, our realtor confirmed our suspicions, the open house drew in several additional offers. All we could do was sit and wait. She told us it would likely take several days. We began licking our wounds.

Imagine my shock when about an hour later, our realtor called me back. The bank honored ours as the first offer and were countering us! Their counter was just $5k over ours, and they offered to cover closing costs. What the WHAT?! YES! We accepted without hesitation and started our happy dance.

now

Later, we found out that the house sat on the market for six months without one offer. So, the bank fired the realtor and hired a new one. The new realtor took it off the market for a couple of weeks – repainted it, put in the new carpet and added appliances. Seriously! In a FORECLOSURE. Apparently, the family that lived here before liked bright, ugly colors, had six kids who ruined the carpet – and had stripped the place of appliances before they high-tailed it out. So, the new realtor painted over everything with simple white, replaced the carpet with an inexpensive beige – boring, but new – and grabbed some appliances off Craig’s List (basically, just for appearances).

The home was put back on the market THE VERY MORNING we went to see it and we were the first people who walked through. We had NO IDEA at the time.

This house was meant to be ours.

After we accepted the bank’s counter offer, we went by for another lunch hour visit that Monday. I arrived at the house first and stood in the driveway, waiting for Jason and our realtor to arrive. Suddenly, the garage door started opening behind me. I whirled around to see a sweaty man with a camera. “What are you doing in MY house?” I demanded. “Your house?” the man chuckled. “I’m the realtor trying to sell this place. I’m taking new photos for the MLS listing.” “Well, don’t bother,” I told him. “We just bought it.” He just started laughing. Apparently, it all happened so fast – the bank had not even told the seller’s agent yet.

So, three years and multiple sweat equity projects later…

Not to mention our major life changes… Kenton’s birth in May 2011 and our upcoming baby #2 set to arrive this October.

We are so blessed and love living our life within these walls.

About Michelle Fortin

Michelle Fortin is a follower of Jesus, a wife and a mom. She's also an award winning broadcast journalist and public relations professional. Michelle spent nearly a decade working in television newsrooms across the country, both behind and in front of the camera. Training future broadcast journalists in her faculty associate roles at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University and at Arizona Christian University was a cherished focus of her post-TV career. Today, she maintains a roster of public relations clients focused on empowering fellow “momprenuers.” She also serves as a speaker for various women's and mom's events. Michelle received her bachelor’s degree from Biola University and Master of Mass Communication (MMC) from Arizona State University. She and her husband, two young kids and English bulldog call Scottsdale, Arizona, home.

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3 Responses to House-aversary #3!

  1. Kim@NewlyWoodwards July 17, 2012 at 9:20 am #

    Why a great story and happy housiversary. Forevlosures are so crazy. We have bought three of them an every one of them have been totally different experiences. And none were as fast as your process. Hurray for your home.

  2. Mandy Mattos July 19, 2012 at 10:03 pm #

    Michele, I so appreciate you sharing this story. As we wait & prepare for God to bring us to our own “dream” house next spring/summer, I was so inspired by the story of your dream & how it came to pass. By making right, solid decisions & being patient, we are trusting that God will work out all of the deals for our new to us home & the process will be a blessing to us & a testimony to others like yours was. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Phoenix house auctions August 6, 2012 at 1:38 pm #

    That is a great story. Buying your first home is a trying and long process. That breaking line between settling and your dream home is a fine line. It is great to hear someone who finds their dream home puts in an offer and gets it nice a smooth. Unlike my process of losing 2 houses to bank delays and other bidders. Congratulations and I really enjoyed your blog.

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