My Seattle Home Buying Experience

Ellen Tailor Home Buying Story

Every time I log on to Facebook, a new article pops up on my timeline about how hard it is to buy a home, especially in Seattle. I’m not just talking about Seattle proper. The ‘burbs are out of control, too! I’ve been a Pacific Northwesterner for almost five years and if I knew then what I know now, I would have bought a home years ago. Here’s my story…

While my mom was visiting last Fall, we started talking about rent and once I added everything up I wanted to vomit. Over the last four years I had spent nearly $80,000 in rent.ย Granted I wasn’t living in the slums however, I also wasn’t living an overly luxurious life either. At the time I was renting a 500 sq ft apartment that didn’t even have it’s own washer and dryer for $1900 a month. It all clicked.ย I was at a stable place in my career, had the financial means to do so and Seattle had long felt like home. Now was the time to buy.

As a single woman I never imagined anything to be more torturous than dating but lo and behold, house hunting was it. I went on date after date with homes. Some were an immediate left swipe. Others I saw potential in butย I knew I’d have a gut feeling when I found “the one.”

“The One”, or so I thought, was a 3 bedroom / 1 bathroom home that was a mere 900 sq ft. Needless to say, these rooms were not big nor did the home come with a garage. It was a flip so everything was brand spanking new and it even had a fenced in yard which was a deal maker for me and my dog, Charlie. I made myself physically sick and even shed a few tears when giving my realtor the go ahead to submit an offer. (I have commitment issues but that’s a story for another time.)

I pictured how I would set up my first home. I imagined my dog running around in a yard bigger than anything he’d ever known. I planned the house warming party. Then the phone rang. I was outbid. How could that be?! I put in an offer for over asking price! Come to find out that not only did I get outbid but the buyer waived the inspection and bought it for $351,000…CA$H! How was I going to compete with that?

This happened time and time again. I was entering bidding wars I simply couldn’t win. I walked into one particular open house where the listing agents recognized me. I’ve never been one to drop the, “Do you know who I am?” line but selfishly, I thought this would have guaranteed me a bidding war win. I was wrong. Even after offering $40k over asking price, I was still outbid. It’s a sellers market andย I was shit out of luck.

Simply put, I needed a place to put my money. It was no longer about finding my perfect first home. The magic was officially gone and replaced with anger and frustration not to mention a sense of urgency. My landlord, understandably, was putting the pressure on me to make a decision within a month on whether I was staying or going. There was no way I wanted to throw away another year of cash towards rent. Do you have any idea how frustrating it is to have thousands of dollars but no one willing to take it?!

I tossed my “want” list out the proverbial window and took a long hard look at what I needed. When my realtor showed me the place I’d eventually buy, I didn’t get butterflies, I didn’t have the “This is it!” feeling, it was just another building. I reluctantly told my realtor to put in yet another offer and prepared myself for disappointment. The home had been on the market for less than 24 hours and I found myself in another bidding war. No surprise. What was surprising was that this was a war I won!

For years I had imagined what it’d feel like to actually own my first home. This was especially sweet because I did it 100% on my own. (Growing up I pictured making such a big purchase with a husband but that wasn’t how my story turned out.) When I signed the closing papers, I wasn’t excited. I was relieved. Thankful that this horrible house hunt was finally over. Now don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love my place. I’ve come to realize it’s the perfect place for me right now. Will it be in 5-10 years? Probably not. But hopefully by then, this crazy housing market will calm down enough to make the second purchase the dream I’d always thought it’d be.

Do you have a similarly frustrating story? Any tips for those on the hunt?

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15 comments

  1. I hear ya Ellen. We went through the same thing 3 years ago in the burbs of Graham, WA. We eventually decided to to build because I wasn’t willing to settle and I was tired of being outbid.
    I’m happy for you and your decision although I’m sorry the pain and anguish you had to endure.
    From what I have seen on SnapChat, your new home is beautiful. Continue to enjoy it and make it your own.

    1. 3rd offer was the charm for us, and we got our DREAM home on the Eastside. Couldn’t have done it without our agent, he got us in to look at the house before anyone else (even tho it wasn’t a pocket listing or anything) and told us what we needed to offer to win, and he was right! He was right about the final price of the other houses we put offers on too, we just didnt think they were worth it so we lucked out. To all those still shopping, find the right agent who will treat you like their only client & knows the market, it will save you a ton of energy & time!

  2. Sounds like you got to spend a LOT of time with your Realtor finding your new home! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Anyway, I’m sharing because what you said about not having *that* feeling about the place makes me sad. It’s the biggest purchase you’ll ever make! Hope you can get settled & make it yours. You deserve to have *that* feeling every time you walk in the door. If not, values are soaring & maybe consider turning it into a rental property in a year or two – then finding yourself the right place ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. This is exactly what happened to me! We looked diligently for almost a year
    It probably took me a month before i made my first offer, because i to was looking for that perfect home. When i put my first offer in the house was actually under my budget, so my realtor sugested putting my top which was 4
    30k over and writing a letter. I did that and someone came through and offered 790k on a 3 bed rambler! Wth. Of course with an appraisal contingency. After that for a few months i compared everything to that house while still getting outbid on others. About 7 months in i through out owning a house with a backyard to i will take anything with an attached garage and 2 bedrooms, and that’s what i got! Although it was not my ideal it is perfect right now.

  4. Very similar experience buying our first home back in February. We fell in love with and made offers on 2 homes, just to have an inspection go horrifically, and a seller deciding last minute to pull their house off the market. Everyone said “don’t fall in love” but how could you NOT picture yourself and your stuff there? We finally upped our budget and settled (or so I thought) on the house we ultimately ended up buying. After all is said and done I’m so happy every other house fell through! I love our house and wouldn’t change a thing.

  5. Ellen, My husband and I put in our 5th offer last May. It was our last resort (shortsale) after being outbid on every other offer.we were running out of time and our lease at our old place had already expired. The owner of the place we were renting was pressuring us to move so they could remodel and rent it for more. I finally found this perfect home in Lake Stevens where I want to send my kids to school. It was listed way under the value of the home so we put in an offer. I knew going into it that it was a short sale and it could take some time to close, if we weren’t out bid again. Within a week, the seller had accepted our offer and as far as we knew, it was off to the sellers bank to get the selling price approved. Long story short, the listing agent LIED to us. The house had not even been approved for a short sale yet! In the end, we got the house after waiting 5 months and negotiating with the bank on the price, and it is everything I ever wanted for my family. We finally moved in right before Halloween. As I look back on the experience, I think to myself that there was a reason I got outbid on the other homes. There was also a reason I stuck it out with the short sale. There were many tears shed but I wouldn’t go back and change anything. My family is happier now than I could ever imagine. I definitely learned my lesson as far as how the housing market works.. I will know what to expect next time for sure! The best part of it, in less than a year, we already have 40k in equity from the value of the home going up!

  6. Hi Ellen. Congrats on your new house and I’m glad that everything worked out for you in the end!!

    My fiancรฉ and I have somewhat of a similar story. We just recently purchased our first house in January and the whole process was horrible!!! I was so excited when we first started but that “magical” feeling quickly faded. We were on a tight timeline as the place we were renting was being sold so we didn’t have much time to search for “the one”. Like you, we had to throw out our wish list and just focus on what we actually needed. The market was cutthroat and most houses that were in our price range would have 10 offers by the end of the first day that the listing went live. For the house that we did end up buying, we literally had to wait in line outside the door for over an hour just to view it. We had our offer submitted less than an hour after the showing and eventually, after getting into a bidding war, it was accepted. However, the heartache didn’t end there. The sellers were extremely greedy and an absolute nightmare to work with. It got so far that we had to line up an attorney and we almost filed a lawsuit against them for breaching contract. Fortunately, everything got resolved and we closed, even though it was weeks past when we had to be out of our rental. Thank goodness that our landlord and the buyers of that house were so understanding. As I look back now, it still makes me sad that an experience that is supposed to be a huge stepping stone in life, was absolutely nothing like I envisioned and hoped it would be. However, I couldn’t be more grateful that every day we get to come home to a place that is perfect for us and that we get to call our own.

  7. So I live in Tacoma… Our frist home is still my home today. I was pregnant and wanted a home bad.. Looked at 3 homes picked on and only $50.000. My kid are grown up. And is enough house for me

  8. I would love to see your man friend cooking in the kitchen on your snapchat again I love your snapchat stories

  9. It was one and done for me. I wasnt even looking yet,but one day a friend shared the listing for his house on Facebook and the rest is history. Not my dream home but it was a perfect fit at this point in my life, and definitely a great investment. The house has been appreciating like crazy!

    Sorry your process was so frustrating but I’m glad you found a place. Now comes the fun part, making it a home. ๐Ÿ™‚