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. 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. 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 but 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 and 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?