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Make a Plan, Then Execute

We all enjoy a good horror story, especially when it meanders through familiar territory. We issued a call for first-time buyer horror stories in the lead-up to Rookie Roosts Week. At stake— a $2,500 gift card to the home store of the national winner's choosing (standard contest rules apply). We're rolling out the first submission, to be closely trailed by the second. If you've had any degree of turbulence in home buying, they're sure to resonate. If you've yet to buy, then they're cautionary tales to keep in your back pocket. Stay tuned for a mid-day vote to advance one to the national round.

Although I am sure there is a steep learning curve for all first time home buyers, however, my husband and I make a good case for making the bottom of that curve even more steep. Our seemingly never ending nightmare of maintenance, privacy, and security issues boasts roots right back to our real estate agent. We had no idea what kind of home (or condo) we were even looking for and there was little direction provided to help us get to our ideal. Thus we went from touring "down to the studs" rehabs to ultra modernpenthouses and everything in between for about a year. As our agent was a "friend of a friend" we often felt guilty or bad for making requests or asking for guidance that I have since learned would be more than appropriate to ask for. After a year of aimless searching we finally found a 3 bedroom, 3 bath red brick bungalow that we thought was well-constructed and quite adorable. After our real estate agent told us, "You have to make a bid on it tonight if we really wanted it" and slapped four comps together in four minutes, we did what any shrewd buyer would do: make an extremely high bid right away. Reflecting back on our extremely trusting and nonchalant approach to finding and bidding on our home is perhaps the most scary
part of this whole story. So we overpaid in a low market for a cute place with a less than ideal location. But there's more. Given we had no coaching (shocked?) in the home inspection process we indicated 4 things on our list for fixing before we moved in. Yes you got that right, there were about 25-30 things we should have asked for but we were too permissive and afraid to indicate their necessity for repair. If you aren't frightened by our naivety at this point, you should win this contest!

Anyway, one of the things we and our trusty real estate agent neglected to point out was the lack of keys to locked doors. Yes, we didn't request that broken locks get fixed before we closed on a house. Can you guess what happens next? Well yes, our garage gets broken into Thanksgiving weekend - one month after closing.

Other fun things we didn't think about were... how close we really were to neighbors... and seeing in their windows... and not considering how comfortable they might be with leaving all their blinds open on those windows. Within a few months we saw family dramas, what's for breakfast, and were woken up to ear piercing infant-made screams because, well, some neighbors just don't close or obfuscate their windows IN ANY WAY. We whipped up a privacy lattice and some window screens of our own to help us feel like our little bungalow was more "ours." A fan helped to drown out noise.

One of the big, scary kahunas has also been the complete failure of almost all of our appliances and mechanics! Within a month our furnace busted, ice maker created a new Greenland in our freezer, and most recently (drum roll please) the transmission in our washer dryer gave out. So... remember that inspection list with 4 things on it? We sure do now.

Lastly, what would our first home horror story be without a tale of two critters? The day we closed and first moved into our new house we found that someone had beat us to the punch. Specifically, a colony of spiders in our basement. They were coming up through the pipes in the bathroom, nesting in the corners, and littered throughout the
guest room. The only consolation to this was thinking, well, I guess this is one way to get rid of the in-laws! The latest critter invasion came from above. Early one morning I was awoken to the sound of perhaps someone running back and forth on our roof. Since we had the garage break in, I thought "God no, are they now breaking in
through the roof?!" Panicked, I went to the window, opened it, and as I looked up and out I saw a mischievous little squirrel hanging from the gutter and staring at me bemused. I had to bust out laughing. Which bring me to the next point: what begins in horror just might end in humor.

After about 6 months of repairing appliances, installing locks, and a cold war with our agent that I doubt will end, we are starting to notice our horror subsiding. We are trying to accept mistakes made and move forward with our cute place (that we paid too much for). -ANON