House hunting

As I said the other day, our time at our little house is up. Our landlord’s kids are off to college, so they’ve decided to move out of their big house and into this smaller one. We knew it was coming, but it’s still kind of a shock. Both the buying and rental markets have gotten so hot lately that we decided we better try to buy a house before we get priced out of the market completely. Renting costs just as much, so we might as well try to get more house for the money.

Our only knowledge base for home buying is the midwestern market, which is waaaay different than the one out here, so we’ve had a pretty big shock to the system. Shock #1 is that we pretty much can’t afford a house in our own neighborhood. When we first moved 3 1/2 years ago, our neighborhood seemed kind of transitional to me. Nothing special really. But it has really improved as people got pushed out of the city and then out of Oakland into more distant suburbs. Now there are lots of young families vying for the few houses coming up on the market.

So that brought us to shock #2 — the price is almost never the price. People intentionally price their houses low, get a bunch of offers (sometimes a dozen or more), and then end up getting 10-20 percent more than the list price. Example: One house we looked at was priced at $430,000 and ended up selling for $510,000. It’s crazy! I mean CRAY-ZEE. There aren’t enough letters to describe the crizaziness.

Then there are other houses that need so much work they will end up selling for less. So it’s hard to know what houses to even look at.

There’s also kind of a routine where people have an open house on a Sunday, then another the following Sunday, then have an offer date like the Tuesday after that. I had it in my mind that if we saw a house we wanted we would just make an offer. But it doesn’t really work like that.

So anyway, we have looked at tons and tons of houses all over the east bay. We have some possibilities, but you kind of always have to keep looking just in case something doesn’t work out. It’s such a roller coaster of emotions. First you love a house, then you’re not sure about it. Then you love another house. Then you love them both. Then you hate them both. Or more likely, you can’t afford either. I still believe we can get a house in our short timeframe. I just want it to be the right one.

Did I mention my mom will be moving in with us? We finally convinced her to relocate from Kansas. I am beyond excited about that!