Mission freaking accomplished! We found ourselves a little dream home to call our own this spring in Madison, Alabama.
But whew buddy, this house-hunting trip gave me a few new gray hairs! I mentioned in my post earlier this week that Jamie and I were looking at houses through the lens of “Could we stay in this house for the next 20 years? Does it meet our needs now as well as the evolving needs of our family in the coming years?”
And this made things really, really obnoxiously difficult. We’ve learned that we just really don’t dig the whole buying and selling houses thing. They’re both hard, expensive, time-consuming, nerve-wrecking processes that we’ve done a few times now and are prettyyyyy ready to not do again for a good, long while if we can help it. We love owning our homes and think the headache is obviously worth it in the long run, but the before and after stuff we just do not dig. At all. We feel like we’ve had a heck of an adventure the last eight years running around and living in different states and homes, but now we’re more than ready to plant roots and stay a while.
Anyway, we agreed going into the trip that we didn’t want to convince the other that THIS IS OUR HOUSE if one of us found one we loved. If we’re going to stay here a while, we wanted both of us to love it and have all of the top things we each wanted. Weeks ago we made a long list and discussed at length the things we wanted and what aspects of a home were important to both of us. So going into this, we were completely on the same page and thankfully, we stayed that way.
So my mom picked us up from the airport on Saturday at 3:15 p.m. and immediately drove us to look at a few houses on our radar. We met up with our realtor Chelsea and looked for a few hours until the sun went down. We later enjoyed dinner and drinks with one of my best friends Amy and her husband Cole that night, which was a fabulous way to end a long day of travel and house touring.
Sunday morning we got right back to it. We did a combo of scouting out neighborhoods, running into houses under construction that were obviously open, and talking with agents in model homes. We also met back up with Chelsea who took us to a few resales.
I had done probably 40-50 hours worth of research on neighborhoods and houses online before we came so that we had every possible chance of leaving with a home under contract. By Sunday afternoon, we were feeling totally defeated, until we found this house…
…and we found it! We found our house! Or so we thought. My mom was with us at this point chauffeuring us around because we were getting so lost, and even she agreed that this house had everything on our list except for a neighborhood pool, but that was something that wasn’t a non-negotiable. We loved it so much that I took pictures outside of it, and we then got ready to figure out next steps. This was it!
Until we saw the schools. At some point my mom noticed that the schools that this house is zoned for were the schools all the way on the other side of town. The schools nearby are apparently so full that this new neighborhood had to be zoned for elementary, middle, and high schools a heck of a hike away. We loved this house so much that we actually drove from the house straight to the elementary school, and there was just no way we wanted to do this every day for their entire school career when there are many amazing schools closer. Of course the neighborhood could be rezoned at some point, but that’s a big “if”. With at least five elementary schools and a middle school and high school much closer to this neighborhood, the school thing was a devastating deal breaker.
So we called it a day. Mom called my dad and told him that I needed a margarita, so we picked him up and went straight to Casa Blanca where that margarita went down the hatch just fine.
I admittedly felt pretty disappointed Sunday night. We knew there was a chance going into the trip that we might not find a house, and if we didn’t find one, we’d have to move in with my parents for a while until we found one. Though I’m incredibly grateful for their generous offer to share their home with us for as long as we need, Jamie and I are hoping to minimize our time without our stuff as much as possible, for our sake and the girls’.
PS: Did you know that the military will put your stuff in storage for up to six months when you ETS and deliver it for free when you find your home?
So Monday morning (our anniversary!), we both took some time to clear our heads by doing our individual favorite destressors: he did a Crossfit workout and I wrote a blog post. 🙂 As we got ready to head out for one more day of house hunting, we talked long and hard about what we really, really truly want and need in a home. We reassessed the non-negotiables and talked about the things we’d happily let go if we found a house with all of the non-negotiables.
We had a list of five neighborhoods to go back and look at again, and we decided to run into a house we’d seen the day prior that’s under construction. Neither of us jumped up and down over it the day before, but after our talk that morning we realized that maybe we needed to walk through that house again.
So we pulled up and saw that the workers were pouring all of the concrete for the sidewalk and front yard walkway. Crap crap crap. We need to get into this house in order to eliminate it! How are we going to get in?! So we drove away, but then turned back around and decided to try walking around and going through the back door. The workers didn’t say a word to us, and we just acted like the house was already ours. Jamie said he was impressed with my confidence. 😉
We prayed the back door was unlocked, and sure enough it was. We did a slow walk through and both smiled, realizing that this house might really, truly work. I think one of the problems when we looked at it the day prior is that we had a hard time visualizing everything because it’s still very much under construction. No cabinets, flooring, fixtures, anything. We just couldn’t see it, but now we could.
But there was one more house we wanted to see that our realtor had sent us that morning. So we met her there and realized that we loved that one too. It also had everything we wanted/needed, but had a few small things that made it different from the one under construction (the one we were looking at was the neighborhood’s model home that they were now selling).
So now we’re in a pickle. Same price. Same square footage. Both have the non-negotiables. They were clearly very different though. We loved them both and knew we needed to decide immediately if we wanted to move forward that day with going under contract. We had a flight the next day at 6 a.m. and wouldn’t be back until we moved, so we needed to do this ASAP or wait until the beginning of April. With two houses on our hands that we truly loved, we found ourselves listing out every pro and con that we could think of.
This debate was a good problem though. We didn’t feel like we were rushing because we’d been working our absolute tails off before and during this trip to find a house. We were so thrilled we’d actually found two incredible options!
For about 10 minutes though, Jamie and I were split. He was leaning toward one and I was leaning toward the other. This is where our realtor came in. She helped us list out the pros and cons of each that we were thinking of and suggested that we go back to the house under construction so that she could see it. So we headed back, and it took all of five minutes for Jamie and I to decide 10000% that this was our house. No doubt about it. Ahh! I literally did a toe touch in the garage as we left because I was just so unbelievably happy, and so was Jamie!
It’s now about 11:30 a.m., so we needed to act immediately. Our realtor got in touch with the seller’s agent who asked if we could get together with her the next day to pick out the rest of the finishes for the house (HOW FUN!) We told her that we’d already be on our way back to Kansas, so she packed up her stuff and all of us drove immediately to the design center for the next couple hours to pick out countertops, flooring, our master shower walls and flooring, and paint colors.
Our realtor Chelsea also flips houses and has THE BEST design eye I’ve ever seen (she’s basically North Alabama’s Joanna Gaines as far as flips and design go), so I fully trusted her help through rapidly picking all of it! Unfortunately we missed being able to pick out the cabinetry, hardware, and light fixtures, but that’s okay!
After we left the design center, we took a quick break for a speedy lunch and then went back to sign a load of papers and pay some moolah. Once we left, we went back by the house to walk through one more time through the lens of “This is really going to be ours!” Look how happy Jamie is that he’s really going to get the 3-car garage he’s been dreaming of. 😉
When we got back to my parents’ house, my dad had brought out some champagne for the four of us + my grandmother to celebrate our big day!
They toasted us, we hung out for a bit, and then Jamie and I were off to The Melting Pot to celebrate so many things – our 7th wedding anniversary, finding a new house, and his new job. What a life.
We’d been craving The Melting Pot for a while, so indulging and celebrating is exactly what we did. We were equal parts on cloud nine and friggin’ exhausted. Ha! What an insane weekend it was.
Our home here in Kansas isn’t under contract yet, so it’s semi terrifying that we could easily lose the house in Alabama. The seller’s agent said that as long as our home here is under contract by March 15th we should be good to go with the house in Alabama, so hearing that offered some comfort that we have plenty of time for our house to sell in Kansas. There’s peace in knowing that the entire situation is basically out of our control at this point. We’ve done everything in our power to get this house ready to sell and everything in our power to find our perfect Alabama home, so whatever happens from here is out of our control.
But seriously, we love this house in Alabama so so so so much. It’s crazy to think that the next time we see it, it’ll be all finished and ready for we four DeSpains + our furry little guy to live in and love and make a lifetime of memories in. So stinkin’ happy!
12 Strong Giveaway Winner
Congratulations Marianna! You’re the winner of the 12 Strong giveaway from Monday’s post! I sent you an email with info for getting your prize. 🙂