Okay, before you start singing Rocky Top, let me be the first to say Go Dawgs! (I'm only kidding. Well, kind of. It's hard to tell a joke over written words).
While yes, I live in Knoxville, and yes the words, "home sweet home to me", are from the famous UT fight song (I WAS born and raised a Tennessee fan after all), these words ring a different meaning to me today.
And that's because......
We just closed on our first house! We are over the moon excited and thankful that our home search journey has come to a close because let me tell you, it's been a much more difficult journey that I could have ever imagined.
The reason I haven't posted a new blog in the last month is due to us *finally* finding a house, making an offer, having an offer accepted, doing all the necessary steps to get to closing, all mixed in with a week long vacation. Honestly, I needed a little break from my website and time to focus on this huge transition and time to relax while on vacation. BUT, I'm back, ready to share a little of our home buying journey with you today and to tell you to be ready for more content in the coming weeks (including some home design tips)!
So let's start at the beginning. We went through the pre-approval process in early March (right before COVID and quarantine season took over) and all was well. Fortunately, some coworkers hooked us up with a wonderful realtor and Mortgage guy. (If you're in Knox and looking for someone, let me know!) Shortly after being pre-approved and meeting with our realtor, we started looking online (well, I'll admit, I was already looking) and making requests to tour homes. Around this time, COVID really began to ramp up and we were under the stay at home order, making it not ideal to begin to look at houses.
As we waited, we noticed several houses go on the market and sell quickly while we felt like we were missing out on opportunities. A few weeks later, we were finally able to tour our first few homes and let's just say, keep your options open and don't settle. Buying a house is like finding your wedding dress: you just want and need that "moment" of certainty that this is the right one. And so the search continued.
In the midst of this home search process, Taylor and I both faced job uncertainty where we honestly didn't know if we would receive another paycheck. It became one of those things that we were so confused as we felt this was the right time to buy a house (as we had prayed for months on this), but our current situation said otherwise. We took a leap of faith and decided to continue searching, relying on what we felt the Lord was pushing us towards and fortunately, both of our jobs were able to remain stable enough to continue the search.
In early May, we found the most beautiful house, reasonably priced, great size, with all the bells and whistles of what we wanted. Not knowing what to do, we decided to go for it and make an offer. Little did we know the house already had 6 other offers, only 6 hours after being on the market. We prayed that if it was right, it would work out, and I guess it wasn't the right house for us because the next morning we got the call that another offer had been accepted. After this rejection we began to notice how houses in the area would hit the market in the morning and be pending by the afternoon. As silly as it sounds, it was hard to think that we it would ever be our turn for an offer to be accepted.
Our realtor encouraged us that the right house would come at the right time, and we agreed, but it was still difficult. With the continual rollercoaster of emotions with our jobs and house searching, we weren't sure what to do. After offering on the first house, our realtor informed us the house next door would soon hit the market and likely would be in our price range. I found an old listing of the house and fell in love, thinking it would be the right home.
Weeks passed and we still hadn't heard anything on this home we had been waiting on, so we did what we only knew to do: keep looking. We found another house that fit almost all the things we were looking for and decided to make an offer. Again, it didn't work out. At this point, I realized house hunting felt like job hunting: the feeling of never being good enough or having the right skills (or in a house case, the right offer) to be picked. I honestly wanted to give up at this point. We had looked at over 15 houses, made several offers, and nothing seemed to work out.
And one day, we were finally told the house we were waiting on would hit the market. We were able to tour the home and offer on it before the house was even listed. I wrote a personal letter to the sellers explaining why we wanted this house, that we had been waiting for it to hit the market, and that it was the home we had been dreaming of.
The following day, I received a very sweet message on Instagram, who turned out to be one of the sellers on the home, telling me how moved they were to read our letter and pick us to be the next occupants. I immediately called Taylor and began bawling.
Over the last month, we've taken a lot of steps to close on this house and move out of our apartment, and I'm relieved to say this process is finally over. Never would I have imagined this process being as difficult and long as it was, but I am beyond thankful the Lord picked this house out for us.
I know this post is long and doesn't offer much deep spiritual insight, but I wanted to share our journey in case in your in a similar process, or heck, even in a situation that's making you feel the way I did. Home buying had a lot of parallel feelings to when I was job hunting, dating, etc. It sounds weird, but we can face many different situations and feel the same way.
So here's what we learned:
Know what you need and don't settle. We knew there were a few key things we wanted in a home: a garage, yard, front porch, fireplace, and at least 2 bedrooms. (Can you guess what wish list items were mine?) At times I felt silly when we toured a house and I didn't have that *feeling* of being at home or it didn't have the things we wanted. I prayed so much during this process that if I needed to let go of things on my wish list, that I'd have a heart change. That didn't happen. I fully believe the Lord knew what we wanted and needed and what would make us feel at home and honored that.
You and your wallet (likely) aren't Chip and Joanna Gaines. Yeah. This one was tough for me. After watching all episodes of Fixer Upper at least 2 or 3 times, I had to come back to reality multiple times that we weren't going to move into a perfectly renovated home modeled from Joanna herself within our budget. I also had to come back down to earth multiple times that I couldn't be too picky on what I wanted. There were some basics, yes (and I stand by when I say don't settle), but nothing is going to be perfect. There is wisdom in balancing what you need and what you want.
Ask questions. If this is your first home purchase, you're likely not going to know what to do most of the time - and that's OKAY. Ask your realtor and mortgage person any questions you may have during the process. There truly are no dumb questions, and it's better to know something upfront than be surprised later (especially if it's a money thing).
Be patient. It Will happen. Like anything in life, we often have to wait. As I mentioned earlier, home buying gave me weird deja vu to other seasons of life. It's no coincidence that we go through similar seasons throughout life, especially if they are seasons that are hard for us to grasp. Patience is especially hard when you notice everyone around you getting what they want, often seeming easier for them than you. (I mean, HELLO, I can say this happened in my wait for the right guy, job hunting, house hunting, etc. You name it, I could look at 5 or more people seemingly get what they wanted when I didn't).
Trust your gut, but most importantly, trust Jesus. I like to think Jesus has given me the gift of discernment because I have no trouble KNOWING when something isn't right. What's more difficult is knowing when something IS right - often because I get stuck in my own head about things. If you prayerfully seek wisdom in this process or any process - you won't miss it. Again, there were so many times I wanted to throw in the towel or try to rush things by taking matters into my own hands, but when we toured our now home for the first time, I knew it was right because I prayerfully sought Jesus through it.
Now, enough blabbering from me! I hope this encourages you in some way and stay tuned for another home buying journey update!