I am a freelance copywriter who happens to work with many real estate agents. This is my experience selling and purchasing my third home.
House hunting when you feel under a time crunch is stressful. Add to that stress moving into an area we knew little about. We vowed not to let time play a role in our decision-making, but I can’t deny that it did.
How We Pinpointed Where to Buy
Being a little more educated than the average Joe about the home buying process, we used all the tools at our disposal. One app allowed us to search areas by drive time. That narrowed down our search area.
Like other buyers, we had a budget. I wanted a lower budget, the husband wanted a higher budget. That’s part of compromising. We settle on our acceptable range.
The final significant factor was school zones. The kid’s starting kindergarten in two years. We want him to have access to quality education. The school data you find online, even if it’s pulling from state test scores, is still somewhat subjective. I pulled rankings and data from three different sources, triangulated the schools, and created a list of top 30. It also pinpointed which school districts tended to have the best schools.
Armed with our drive time, budget, and school data, we pinpointed neighborhoods for our housing search. The vast majority of properties were located in the Worthington area.
Our agent used Homesnap to show us properties inside our criteria. From that, we narrowed down a list of top four properties. We kept updating our top four as we grew closer to our home date. Alan really liked one house at the top of our price point because of its location and its yard. I wasn’t sold.
We had a top four, but ended up tacking on another four. In total, we visited eight houses in one weekend visit. Alan’s top contender I really tried to like, but I just couldn’t. Something about it didn’t jive. It showed better in pictures than in person, the yard was smaller than I liked, and it just didn’t feel right. The third house I really liked and tried not to. My favorite layout had a horrible backyard looking at a loading dock.
Our agent was really flexible about us adding on a few homes to see at the last minute. We really appreciated him accommodating us.
All said and done, and found two homes we really liked. We didn’t expect this, but it happened.
Part of the challenge was wrapping our minds around the overarching style of Ohio’s homes in our price point, which is unlike what we experienced in Florida or Kentucky. I hate wasted space. Do you really need a sitting room in your master bedroom? No. Every room must have a purpose.
Basements, double living rooms, sectioned-off spaces, multi-story homes. It just doesn’t jive with my personal style, but nearly every home in our price point had this sectioned-off style with “formal” entertaining rooms.
Putting an offer
We favored one home over the other. It had a more contemporary layout without the weird second living room and larger closets. I didn’t like the price, which was on the very upper end of what I wanted to spend. The barren backyard would need work. But after a few days kicking back and forth, running numbers, weighing pros and cons, we put in an offer.
Unfortunately, we landed on the short stick of a multiple-offer scenario. Even though the home had more upgrades, was walking distance to the elementary school, and matched our style better, I wasn’t willing to budge on price.
In the meantime, the second house dropped its list price to the price we considered offering. Our real estate agent agreed that a full-price offer on this new list price was reasonable, so we wrote the offer. This second house had a less desirable layout, but a better backyard and some new features, including a new roof.
The sellers accepted our offer, with some contingency modifications, like an extended stay in the property and a different close date.
Within a week of listing our Kentucky house, we had a contract for its sale and a contract to buy our next home.