You see, when we bought our first home in Pennsylvania in 1998, it wasn’t the home I had wanted. I had wanted an old home with lots of character. My then-husband wanted a newer home with vaulted ceilings. After discovering all the homes I loved were more expensive and smaller than the one he wanted, I eventually gave in.
When he wanted to move to Utah, three years later, he took a trip to find a house to rent but couldn’t find anything in Provo, so he suggested we buy. He showed me pictures of two homes and asked which one I liked better. Even though I didn’t love either one of them, he assured me it would only be for a few years and we would moving back to Pennsylvania, anyway (his mom was dying so we were moving to Utah to be with her). Almost 15 years later, we were still in the same home (and thankfully, his mom never died).
After our divorce, seven years ago, I stayed in our home for a year and half because I didn’t want to displace the kids. I felt bad enough that they had to go through the divorce and didn’t want to hurt them a second time by moving them out of their childhood home. But as time went by, I realized I needed to save money and moving to a rental made a lot of sense. Besides, the home held too many memories, and I figured a fresh start would be good. So, the weekend before my MBA residency week started, I moved across town to a rental on Grandview Hill—just 8 minutes from our home in the Riverbottoms.
This rental was actually really nice (as far as rentals go). It had plenty of room for the kids and tons of storage. However, there were a few downsides: I would have to maintain the yard, fix the plumbing, and handle any rodent or pest problems. We also couldn’t use the garbage disposal or have any pets. This meant we would have to give away our family cat (a story for another post).
A couple of weeks after moving into our rental, the pipe connecting the dishwasher to the sink flooded the kitchen and sent water down to the basement. For several days, I had to do the dishes in a tote in the backyard since I couldn’t use the sink. While I waited for the plumber, I felt really grateful for a dishwasher and a kitchen sink.
A couple of weeks later, I was studying late one night (or was it early one morning?), when I heard what sounded like scratching coming from a vent next to the kitchen table where I was studying. Thinking it might be my imagination, I sat very still to see if I could hear the sounds again. Soon, I began to hear a faint “squeak, squeak” coming from the vent. Yes, unbeknownst to us, the house was also being rented by a family of 6 mice. After a couple of weeks of mouse traps, I was able to solve the mouse problem just before discovering a spider problem. Fun times!
We had planned on staying in the house for only two years—just long enough for me to finish my MBA program. However, the housing market kept going up, and two years turned into four. While I was happy for the extra time to save for a down payment, I had been hoping to buy at the bottom of the market—not at the top.
Then one morning in July of last year, I had the impression to get on Redfin and look for houses. Since I had spent several months looking without any luck, I wasn’t really interested—especially during COVID. But here I was, at 7:00 am, looking at houses once again. Almost immediately, a house appeared in the search that had been listed 30 minutes earlier, that very morning. I contacted the agent, and after touring it an hour later, I knew I wanted to make an offer.
Never having bought a house before, I wasn’t sure what to do, but I knew making an offer was the first step (I had already been pre-qualified a few months earlier). As I said the words “I’d like to make an offer,” I could feel the adrenaline course through me. This was getting real.
I didn’t have an agent (I had hoped to save money by buying a home FSBO—For Sale By Owner) so I had to ask the seller’s agent what I needed to do. He explained I would need to get an agent or use him as my agent, and he would turn the listing over to his partner so he could act on my behalf (instead of the owner’s). I felt good about this and trusted him so that’s what I did.
When my offer was rejected by the owners (it was above the asking price), I didn’t want to make another offer since I was already at my max. I still felt good about the house and knew it would all work out if it was meant to be my house, so I patiently waited.
A week later, my agent let me know that the other offers on the house fell through and the owners had accepted my offer. It also may have helped that I wrote a letter to the owners telling them how badly I wanted their house. Hooray!! A month later, after closing, I was the proud owner of my very own home in west Provo. This was a very special and emotional day for me.
I added “Buy a home” to my List of 50 Things because I knew it would be hard to do and would require bravery on my part. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to find a house that fit my budget and requirements, but I knew if I didn’t add it to my list, it would be too easy to keep renting.
It’s now been a year since we moved into our home, and I still get emotional thinking about it. My heart is full of gratitude that I have a place my kids can finally call home. It’s smaller than the other homes we have lived in, but it fits our needs perfectly. And you know the best part? We can use the garbage disposal, we don’t have mice or spiders (well, maybe a few), and we can have pets!