The One That Probably Got Away

I wasn't going to write about this---it seemed not so much tempting fate as jumping around with my arms in the air, shouting HEY FATE! OVER HERE!---but I find that I can't actually think about anything else at the moment, so consumed am I with the fact that we put in an offer on a house today. The house is wonderful and perfect. The house is everything we've been looking for and more.

Don't get too excited, though: we're not going to get it.

How do I know we're not going to get it? Well, the listing agent on the house pretty much told us we're not going to get it---or, rather, she told our realtor that if our bid was under a certain amount, that we "shouldn't even waste our time."

Okay, you're thinking, they were going to put in a really lowball offer. It's a buyer's market, after all. Makes sense.

But no! The real estate market in San Francisco is crazy---crazier even than Ramona Singer's runway walk (there has to be a YouTube video of that somewhere, right?) It's so crazy, in fact, that people here are still doing things that no-one else in the country is probably having to do: things like offering at full price. And houses are doing crazy things too: many of them are selling for more than they were listed at. It's like San Francisco real estate is that wacky second cousin of your mom's who never came down from the acid trip in 1967 and still thinks Jim Morrison is alive and well and walking around smelling of patchouli. 

The house we loved was priced at....well, let's just pretend it was $15. I'm pretty sure you know that the house wasn't really priced at $15, but it's not like I'm actually going to tell you what it was priced at, so let's just pretend it was $15. Well okay, we thought, $15 is in our budget. We could do $15. After a lot of thought and a lot of research and comparison, we decided to offer the full $15. The house was incredible, it had been on the market just a few days, and---if the Open House had been anything to go by---we knew there would be a fair bit of interest. We sat down and did all the math for the house being $15, and then---just in case---we did all the math for the house being $16 as well. We decided, well, okay, $16 would be our absolute top end; we just wouldn't feel comfortable going over $16.

Our realtor called the seller's realtor, because we wanted to gauge how much interest there was in the house. The seller's realtor told our realtor that, in her estimation, the house was going to sell for $25. If our offer was under $20, said the realtor? Well, that's when we shouldn't even waste our time.

Wait, what? On a house priced at $15? This isn't how it happens on House Hunters!

Needless to say, we decided that we bloody well were going to waste our time, thank you very much, and we filled out the reams and reams of paperwork you need to fill out to make an offer. Did you know how many reams and reams of paperwork you need to fill out to make an offer, by the way? They don't show that on House Hunters either---all you get is some polo-shirted couple grinning and clutching a pen. "Well," they say cheerily every time, each and every single time. "Guess I'm signing my life away!"

(I couldn't resist actually doing this myself, by the way. It seemed like one of those seminal moments, you know?  I explained to our realtor that I was only saying it because they always say it on House Hunters, and he gently told me that they actually say it when they're signing the purchase papers, not just making an offer. He promised I could say it then. If we ever got to that stage.)

So I guess now we wait. We wait for our offer---which is probably ludicrously lower than the SEVEN other offers the house apparently received and is at this current moment being laughed at uproariously by the agent while she rips those reams of paperwork to shreds---to be summarily rejected because we had the audacity to offer somewhere in the range of WHAT THE HOUSE WAS LISTED AT. I'm pleased with us though, for sticking to our guns and only offering what we could definitely be comfortable with, because yes, while it was a lovely house, it would have become gradually more unlovely if we'd been tempted to buy it for more than we wanted to spend.

Anyway, I'll keep you posted. Please cross everything you possibly can, even though I'm not particularly hopeful. My friend Alison reminded me that there'll be plenty more houses in the sea (to which my friend Hilary replied "Hey, cool, a house boat!") and I'm keeping as a consolation prize the fact that at least we've got to this stage, which means that if and when we have to put in an offer on another house, at least we'll be old pros. Plus, you would not believe how good I am at initialing pages now. I could win the page-initialing Olympics! I mean wow, the practice I've had.

Apr 16, 2010

Crossing fingers for you... but this post is hilarious!

Apr 16, 2010

Good luck good luck good luck!!!

(Hey Fate - look over there! A silly cat in a tree! - trying to deflect for you...)

Apr 16, 2010


Apr 16, 2010

Good luck, we went through this, all be it in the UK, 3 years ago & when you eventually sign the papers for your own home it finally feels like you're a bone-fide grown-up.

Apr 16, 2010

I'm proud of you, too. Owning a house is an expensive proposition -- well beyond renting -- and even if you paid $16 for the house, your expenses would likely end up being around $20 anyway. So if you paid $20 and ended up with $24, including expenses, you'd be kicking yourself in the ass.

It'll happen. You'll find the right place.

Apr 16, 2010

Good luck. And yes, definitely budget for expenses that would bring the total up to $20 or so...I hope to sell my house soon and move from god-awful MD to sunny and OLD FL. It's quite a process, being a seller or buyer or both! If this one doesn't pan out, you will find a house that is out there, just waiting on you!

Apr 16, 2010

Good Luck! I've got friends and family in SF, and have heard all about the trials and tribulations of apartment/house hunting.

Maybe the other 7 offerers(yes, I know that's not a word) will suddenly get a job offer and have to move to Tokyo. All 7 of them. Or hit by a streetcar- those things are dangerous, right?

Apr 16, 2010

We made offers on FOUR HOUSES before we found our house. And really, in retrospect, I am so so so glad I don't live in homes 1-4 now.

House #5 was the best of the bunch, even though it took forever to find.


We did the same thing this week... we got out bid. I guess we'll have to keep looking. Good Luck!

Apr 16, 2010

Oh my god! Good luck you guys. I'm sending you house warming wishes!

Apr 16, 2010

Ok, Ramona's walk? Was she for real?? I mean did she really not know how ridiculous it was?

P.S. Fingers crossed for you guys!

Apr 16, 2010

A friend of mine from college decided to move away from San Francisco because she and her hubby kept getting outbid by investors. She said she didn't stand a chance.

FunnyGal KAT
Apr 16, 2010

As an old pro myself (I've put offers in on four houses and bought two), I will tell you that, if you think it takes a lot of paper to put an offer in, you won't believe what it takes to actually buy the house. I think getting the keys is the reward for having your hand fall off from signing your name 80 bajillion times.

Good luck!

Apr 16, 2010

this is exactly the reason (along with commitment issues) why I am too afraid to even look in NYC - the market here has not figured out the whole real estate slump thing.

Apr 16, 2010

A week ago you didn't know this house existed. Next week they'll be another one you don't know about today. So, good luck and I hope you get the house! But remember there are a lot of other house (boats) out there.

Apr 16, 2010

Buying a house is simply stressful. My husband and I looked at houses for over a year before we made our first offer. Then the selling agent used our offer as leverage and it went to another buyer for only $1K more! Real estate is a crazy business. But it is a huge step to make an offer! A few weeks later, we bought a fixer with a bigger yard in the same neighborhood for much less money. It all works out in the end. :-)

Apr 16, 2010

Good luck to you guys! My in-laws just sold their house in San Francisco.

They priced the house at the lowest amount they would be willing to accept (they're ready to be out of The City and wanted to get the house sold) and they were prepared to have the house on the market for a few months.

Lo and behold, a mere week after the house was listed, they had three offers -- all over asking price. They accepted the offer that was $200K over asking. $200K!!!!!!


Apr 16, 2010

I live in Orange County and House Hunters isn't at all representative of our housing market either. Every time one of those buyers bids 10,15, or even 25 thousand below the asking price, I want to die of jealousy. That just doesn't fly out here...

Good luck with the house search. As much of an emotional roller-coaster it is, it's still kinda fun to look and dream, bid, and find.

Locusts and Wild Honey
Apr 16, 2010

Hey cool! If you buy a house boat, we'll be neighbors.

I'm crossing my fingers and toes and frantically checking your Twitter feed for updates.

But if you don't get this one, I'm sure it's the old door closing/window opening thing.

Hey, that's a very apt adage!

Apr 16, 2010

So it's possible that the other people who wanted to offer were all in the same boat - they wouldn't have even looked if they knew that the minimum bids would be at $20. So maybe they all did the same as you, and you'll get it because you have a cute accent.

On the other hand, I have been house-hunting a few times, and I know that the brain has a tendency to glom onto some particular house, and prevent you from considering that if you don't get it, there is an even BETTER house out there just waiting for you. So keep your brain flexible.

Apr 16, 2010

$15 can buy you 15 houses here in Detroit! We even have Trader Joes!

operation pink herring
Apr 16, 2010

You're right, though, even NOT getting the house is progress. We had several perfect houses snatched out from under us while we slept on it, and those experiences were totally heart breaking and frustrating and perfect preparation for signing offer papers on the hood of our agent's car after spending 15 minutes inside a house he wasn't even planning to show us. It just happened to be around the corner from another house we were looking at and he half an hour to kill before his next appointment showed up, and by god, we snatched that house away from that poor couple while they slept on it.

Apr 16, 2010

Fingers crossed so hard for you! It IS a crazy market, and one of the things that makes it crazy is that some realtors are filthy liars who lie. We were told our house already had a buyer, that there were several other above-offer bids on it, blah blah blah, and guess who got the house (for under list price)? WE DID. Offers fall through, people lie; I have hope for you!

Apr 16, 2010

so ramona's walk: I had no idea what you were speaking of. I youtubed. I found: I think that she is at the end, if that is who you are talking about? hilarious!

Good luck with the finding of the right house!

Apr 16, 2010

We have been SF renters for over a decade, but finally dove into the real estate market last fall. And now, six months and eight offers later, we're on the verge of closing on a place in Oakland. I fell a little bit in love with each of the others, and there were definitely moments when we wanted to throw in the towel -- this market can be very disheartening, and my midwest-dwelling family still can't quite wrap their heads around it -- but persevere. We're pretty dang happy we did. :)

Everly Optimistic
Apr 16, 2010

I so understand. We live a little North in the Sacramento area and have been looking for a house for just over a year. We have come to realize if they are asking $15 and you offer $15, they will counter-offer you at $20. If they even waste their time counter-offering. Or even responding to your offer. We have at least three offers that we offered the exact or more than on that have waited to hear on for over 6 months. Really. Happy freaking house hunting!

P.S. House Hunters just makes me angry now. It's a show full of LIES!!!

Sarah Ashley Williams
Apr 16, 2010

Hey! I think this is more of a case of HGTV's" Property Virgins" than "House Hunters" Have you ever Seen property Virgins? After discovering this show, it became my new love and stopped watching House Hunters because Property Virgins is so much more enjoyable. Please sign up to be on "Property Virgins!"

Apr 17, 2010

I think Vancouver is the SF of Canada, the prices went down to just slightly unreasonable a year ago and now they are back up by 20%.

Good luck! I always get competitive and way to attached to homes while house hunting! Good job sticking to your budget!

Apr 17, 2010

think positive! and i agree with everyone else above! there is probably another house out there for you. and hopefully in the right price range for the both of you! good luck!

Apr 17, 2010

Yikes! We moved from the bay area to the valley 2 yrs ago so we could afford our first house. We talked to a lender today and hear back Monday if we are approved(which looks hopeful). We put a deposit hold on a brand spanking new beautiful house that is under 200k. We don't have to worry about being outbid thank heavens. I almost passed out at the lender's office and she kept asking if I was okay and if I needed water. I hope I hold up under all the paper signing when this becomes more official. I can't imagine the stress of the bidding wars. My fingers are crossed for you! And us!

Apr 17, 2010

I work in the mortgage industry and let me tell you it is SOO refreshing to see someone actually buying something they can afford. Too many people don't realize how expense things are and end up with too much house. GOOD LUCK. and remember, if you don't get this one, you are just one home closer to THE Home.

A. Marigold
Apr 17, 2010

Good luck!

Apr 18, 2010

I hope you get it! somehow.

And Jim Morrison is walking around, alive and well (he's my dad) ... and probably smelling patchouli because my mom makes him (:

Apr 18, 2010

Hope you win! Maybe the seller will just somehow like you the best and that will make it all worth it...and the rainbow unicorn will prance across the Golden Gate Bridge...

Hey, crazier things have happened.

You might just get your $15 dollar house after all.

Apr 19, 2010

Oh I'm sending good thoughts your way for this journey (as they say in SF). We bought two houses in Oakland during our Bay Area stint. (Here's our lovely realtor by the way.) We couldn't afford SF itself at the time, renting was enough of a roller coaster ride there. And we do know a family who lives in a Sausalito houseboat so don't rule that all the way out.

Apr 20, 2010

My husband and I just bought a house (outside Boston, where there hasn't really been a slump), and were shocked, SHOCKED, at how much closing costs were...we knew that they'd be a lot of money...but weren't prepared (well we were prepared in that we had the money...) for them to be $ keep that in mind for cash you need to have on hand as well.

Good luck with the further hunting!

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