In February our executive assistant, Emma Dunn, closed on her first home. Check out her experience as a first time homebuyer.
I am not buying a home
When I was being hired by Jesse last July, he told me that I would purchase a home within one year of being on the Pickett Street team. I think I looked at him with a lot of skepticism, so to be polite I said, “Okay, sure, we will see what happens” when I probably meant to say “Nope!” Starting a new job seemed like enough to focus on for the next year anyways. At the time, I was living in a beautiful apartment in downtown Bothell with one of my girlfriends. I was within walking distance from great restaurants and the Burke Trail, I was close to my family and friends and was therefore totally content paying rent. Why would I want to change that?
Besides, the home buying process never really made sense to me, let alone the mortgage process. I always looked at having a mortgage as a burden and in all honesty, I thought the only way I was ever going to buy a house was with cash. I was so closed minded to viewing real estate as an investment and that paying a mortgage is better than paying rent, so all I saw was additional stress and a loss of money. If only I had put two and two together in that moment and told myself, “Oh hey, you’re actually going to learn about these processes as you learn to do your job, so keep that thought at the forefront of your mind and be open.” Needless to say I missed the mark on that one.
Starting the Process: Duplex vs. Single Family
Come October, I am about 3 months into my new job and I actually have an understanding of these processes! Who would have thought! I decided to give this “home buying thing” a shot and figured I would get to it once the market settles down a bit. After all, the last 3 months were filled with incredibly low inventory and our buyers were entering a very competitive and stressful market. Even though I watched Jesse and our buyer’s agents successfully navigate the market and win for their clients, it was an extra layer of stress I didn’t need. Therefore, it seemed safe to start the mortgage process and just see what I was pre-approved for. That way, when the market calmed down and deals weren’t escalating $100k over list price (though something we love to see for our sellers!), I would be ready to go and start actually looking at homes.
Well, December rolls around and the seller’s market is thriving more than ever and I was still intimidated to enter it. However, I was finally up against a deadline since my lease would be ending in February, so it was time to get serious and start figuring out what I truly wanted.
Originally, I really liked the idea of purchasing a duplex, where I would live in one unit and rent out the second unit. That instantly covers half my mortgage and I would only need to qualify for one of the units, which increases my purchase power. However, there was a big red flag with owning a duplex: I would be a landlord and would be responsible for fixing anything wrong with the units. I quickly realized that I was not ready for a duplex. Besides, I was now starting to experience the low inventory component of our current market for myself and trying to find a duplex in my price range and in the areas I wanted was out of the question.
I shifted my focus to purchasing a single family residence, but I didn’t really have an idea of what I wanted. I ideally wanted to be close to work and my social circle. I knew I didn’t want to deal with stairs in a townhome or crazy HOA fees with a condominium, so a rambler seemed like a safe place to start. However, how was I going to make any of that happen? The market was crazier then ever, inspections were being waived, sale prices were skyrocketing, listings were pending in less than 24 hours at times, and I would be up against better and aggressive offers. I was starting to feel really discouraged and I think Jesse could see it.
Overall, Jesse kept a very hand-offs approach with me until I actually found a place I wanted. This is by no means a representation of how we work with our buyers, but since I work in real estate I didn’t need him to send me listings. After all, I still needed to dial in my priorities and figure out what I wanted. When I found something I thought I’d like, I’d send Jesse the listing and he would say things like, “There is a rental cap, you can’t rent this out in the future” or “I don’t like the idea of you paying huge HOA fees” and “Think about your commute to work, do you really want to go on I-5?” With each listing Jesse brought something to my attention that I would have never even thought to look out for. Rather I knew it in the moment or not, because let’s be real this process can be a blur, Jesse was helping me focus my needs and wants.
One Friday in late January, I came across a listing that had been on market for 13 days. It was a 3 story condominium with a 2 car garage, no rental cap and really low HOA fees. I thought, “How in the heck is this still on market?! There must be something wrong with it.” I figured there was no harm in going to see it, so I grabbed our showing specialist and went to look. Within 20 seconds I was smitten – just absolutely in love with the condo. A little ironic since I originally wanted nothing to do with a condo. I quickly texted Jesse and said I wanted to make an offer and we planned to chat in the morning.
Jesse calls me the next morning with a ton of information. I thought we were going to do a little checkin and make sure it was actually the one for me. But no. Jesse had done his due diligence for his client by contacting the listing agent and learning everything he could about the condo. There was currently one offer above asking on the table, but the other party was trying to change loan types from FHA to conventional, which is why the home had been on market for so long. I was already up one advantage here since I could put 20% down with a conventional loan. However, if my offer was accepted, I had to have a full inspection. As someone who really does not enjoy home repairs, the home had to be in good standing. Worst case scenario, I would lose my earnest money and we would start again, but Jesse would make sure this was a priority in my offer.
We were originally going to play it safe and write the offer at asking with a small price escalator. We agreed to this plan and Jesse went off to write the offer. A little later he calls me and tells me that he changed his mind and that he recommends writing it for $5,000 under the asking price. This seemed risky in our current market and I was worried that the agent wouldn’t even consider my offer. However, Jesse has a secret skill of predicting the future. He told me that if we went under the asking price, the listing agent would counter us at full price, and if he did, this would guarantee that we had a better chance of getting him to agree to the inspection. This seemed like a logical and strategic game plan and because I trust Jesse’s knowledge and experience, I agreed.
All of this of course came true, and even though the listing agent pushed back about the inspection, Jesse fought for me and reminded the agent of how much smoother our transaction would be since my offer was so clean. By Sunday morning I was pending and 25 days later I closed on my first home.
My two cents
Even though I work in real estate, that did not take away from my experience as a first time home buyer. I still felt all the highs and lows that any buyer goes through. No matter how easy and smooth your transaction is, there is always a bit of stress that comes with buying a home. It is a really big decision, but when you have the right people in your ring, that decision is a lot easier. I was lucky that I had the emotional support from my family and that even though Jesse is our lead listing agent, he went out of his way to work with me as a buyer. I can say that it was really awesome to experience the same level of care and attention that all our clients receive when working with our team. That truly might have been my favorite part. Looking back, when Jesse told me I would purchase a home within a year of being on the team, I should’ve responded with, “Ha! I’ll do it within 6 months.”
Curious about buying a home? Reach out today to schedule a complimentary consultation. We would love to be a resource for you.