30 days in the offering and closing, but almost two years in the talking and planning and dreaming!
It sounds like it should be an epic movie, but it’s actually much simpler and paradoxically, more complicated than that. Robert and I bought a home. Our first home. We have a real, honest-to-goodness grown-up mortgage (our first payment is due in six days) and we’re experiencing all of the joys and frustrations and anxieties and expenses that come with being homeowners. We’ve actually lived in the house just over a week. It looks like our apartment has exploded inside this house. We’ve done just enough unpacking to keep functioning (most of the kitchen, bathroom, and master bedroom are unpacked) but we still have a long way to go. Boxes outnumber people and pets.
When we were searching for a house, I’m happy to report that Robert and I had very similar ideas of what we liked. We wanted an older home in an established neighborhood. We wanted at least three bedrooms and two bathrooms. It could have been a half-bath, but come hell or high water, we needed two toilets. Also, we wanted a house where it had been remodeled, yet it hadn’t completely lost its charm or character. Neither of us wanted a generic house or a house that would become a renovation project. Robert was flexible on area; he just didn’t want to live anywhere that was too rough-looking. The neighborhood didn’t need to be Highland Park, but it needed to be a place where we could walk the dogs without wearing body armor. It also needed to be closer to work and have a decent yard for the dogs. Of course, I had long dreamed of moving back to Fort Worth. I haven’t lived in the Fort Worth city limits since 2001.
Looking for an affordable house in an established neighborhood sounds like it should be easy, but I suppose it depends on what your definition of “affordable” is. I had accounts with Redfin, Trulia, and Zillow (note to future home buyers: Redfin has the most up-to-date listings) that sent all kinds of listings to my email addresses. We were pre-qualified for up to $170,000, but I knew we weren’t going to spend nearly that much on a house. The west side of Fort Worth (at least, as far west as Ridgmar Mall) is quite expensive; you have to move far west to get something more affordable, and at that rate, we might as well have stayed in the mid-cities. The east side of Fort Worth has some lovely spots and is closer to work, yet it also has some very rough spots and its well-kept houses are sometimes few and far between. Another challenge we faced was that we were buying at the end of the busy summer season. Much of the home inventory had been picked over.
We finally struck gold when we looked in the South Hills and Wedgwood neighborhoods of Fort Worth and found many beautiful homes in our price range. Even better, the homes were exactly what we wanted: older, established, mostly remodeled. Most of the houses in this area would be convenient both for work and for getting to my parents’ home in White Settlement. We put in an offer on one house that we fell in love with, but the seller had just accepted an offer from another buyer. We spent a week as the backup offer, waiting to see if the first buyer would back out. At the very last minute, they didn’t, so we were out of the running. We looked at several more homes until my curiosity was piqued by a three-bedroom/two-bath home built in the late 1950s. The home still had a lot of its original charm, yet the bathrooms and the floors had been updated. It had foundation issues in its past, but the foundation had just been repaired and it had a lifetime transferable warranty. The house was conveniently located near some fairly major thoroughfares (Interstate 20 is close by), yet the neighborhood was quiet. I liked the house immediately; Robert took some convincing. We returned to the house almost three times and it just felt like home. We made the offer and ultimately closed on the house 30 days later.
So, we’re here. The house matches our requirements. Our work commute is shorter by about 10-15 minutes, depending on what time we leave. We can meander through the back roads or take the highways. Sometimes I come home by the back roads.