Timeline for buying a house

front of new house
We're buying a house.

This is the long tedious re-telling of the last month in home-buying, but I'm just putting it all out there before I forget. I'll write more later about all the emotional observations I've made about this process. If you're not into realty/home improvement stuff, you can just look at the pictures above and skip to the time line at the bottom.

It's just funny how things fall into place. Back at the beginning of March, Rich and I were driving back from his grandfather's funeral in South Carolina and were discussing our plans to find a larger house soon. We said we would start looking seriously when we got home. At that very same time, my father e-mailed us that he noticed a "for sale" sign in the yard of a house near them.

We called the number and walked through the house. It was listed at $310,000 and the owner (brother-in-law of the agent) was out of town getting treatment for lung cancer in Maryland. The house was built by the owner's father in 1947 and has some upgrades but still needs some others. We were intrigued and went home to discuss.

I called the agent Anne back and told her we'd like to come back the following weekend to take measurements and look at some construction ideas with my parents. Unfortunately, Anne called me back later that week to say that Barry had come home from Maryland because his doctor told him that they couldn't do anything else for him and he should make his peace and go home. A month before, he was so excited to sell the house when he thought he was going to get better and could get the money and move on. But when he pulled into the driveway and saw the for sale sign in the yard, all he could think was people would be tromping through his house and he just wanted to be left alone to die.

I told Anne that we totally understood and that we were interested in the house but didn't want to seem like vultures so we just hoped that things worked out for Barry and the family. That was Thursday the 13th and Barry died on Tuesday the 18th. We found out when my parents' neighbor asked them if they knew anyone who died on that street and mentioned his name. So we knew only because of the obituary and the network of old people in the area that read obituaries on a daily basis.

Unsure of what the protocol is for waiting to call back the sister-in-law/agent of the man who just died about buying his house, we decided to wait two weeks. On the day before two weeks, Anne called me to tell me they wanted to put the house back on the market. We made arrangements to come back and look at the house again on Wednesday (3 days ago).

That evening we went back to look around and measure. We brought my parents along as well to look at the house from a construction standpoint. While standing in the kitchen of the house, Anne asked that we let her know something by Friday. We went home to figure out how much we wanted to pay for the house.

On Friday, we decided to offer $270,000 and see what she would say. By that evening, Anne called back and told us all about how they had thought a lot about the pricing and blah blah blah and they wanted to counter $287,000. So then we went back and tried to decide how much we wanted to counter to that. The short story is that was painful and I felt nauseated for most of the evening. We countered with $280,000 and Anne gave me some line about them being "disappointed" that we didn't jump on the $287,000. But a few hours later she called back and split the difference with us.

So long story short (HA!), we just signed a contract for $283,500 this evening and will be closing within 30 days.

The room that in the diagram says family room is actually Barry's bedroom right now with a closet on that middle wall between it and the dining room. But we don't need a 5 bedroom 2 bath house if we have hardly any living space. So that's one major step is to move some doorways around down there to make the rooms flow a bit better. The upstairs will be more pricey as we need to create a master bath so that we never have to share our bathroom with anyone else and we can have two sinks. The other major drawback to upstairs is that it has knee walls (4.5 feet high) on the front and back of the house and that means a 6'5" man can't stand up straight while peeing in the toilet upstairs. So we'll be raising the roof (I make the Bobby Flay arms every time I say that) across the back to accommodate that.

The scary part is figuring out how much all this will cost and how fast it can be done. The short version of all this is in the time line below:

Monday, 3/3 - Rich and I are driving home from a funeral in South Carolina. Meanwhile, Dad sends an email that there's a sign out for a house near them. Thursday, 3/6 - We first look at the house - it's listed at $310,000. Monday, 3/10 - We schedule a walk-through for Saturday 3/15 Wednesday, 3/12 - Barry comes home and the "for sale" sign comes down. Thursday, 3/13 - Anne calls and cancels because Barry came home. Tuesday, 3/18 - Barry dies (we find out on the 20th when we see the obituary). Monday, 3/31 - Anne calls to tell us Barry died.

Wednesday, 4/2 - We go to walk-through the house again, measure and show my parents. Friday, 4/4 - We offer $270,000. That afternoon they counter with $287,000. Saturday, 4/5 - We offer $280,000. They counter with $283,500 with $2000 earnest money. That evening we sign a contract.

Whew. I'm exhausted from all this. I would make a horrible real estate agent.