Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Bloom or bust

On Sunday we walked for miles. We walked downtown; we walked the Mall; we walked Capitol Hill. The weather was undeniably early spring - flower buds peeking out to say hello, sun warming up the cool air, folks happy to be outside. We stood on the Capitol steps and looked out over the Mall and the Monument, and we smiled. We're trying to buy a house here for a reason: we love this place.

We lost another house yesterday. That's our fourth unsuccessful offer, if you're counting. Each of the four houses we've made offers on all sold in about a week's time, all higher than list price. For two of those we were booked as second place "back-up offers," and for both of those we offered more than the winning bid, but were passed over due to high-cash offers.

This house was sort of European-dreamy... right off a park, pastel with flower boxes, room to grow for as long as we wanted to do so, but a slew of DIY projects we'd need to take on to make it ours. We have no fear; we're ready to knock down walls. Or were. Our agent said the scene at the offer presentations yesterday was ridiculous: a gaggle of agents in the lobby of the building where one of the sellers works, a rushed offer coming in at the last minute, a decision made, and then a buyer's agent crying as he begged the sellers the reconsider his clients' offer. Saying the real estate scene in DC is high drama is an enormous understatement.

No tears on our part, though. Maybe we're too hard and cold at this point to care that much. The winning bid on this house waived all contingencies to get it, including an inspection and appraisal. For a house built in 1909. And in case you're wondering, you didn't just flash back to 2001 boom years - this is happening today, in a supposedly down real estate market, in Washington, DC. The last house we lost before this one had four offers all higher than list price, including ours, and hadn't even been put on the market yet. People are hungry for homes here; weekend Open Houses are shoulder-to-shoulder with people. There are no quiet offer negotiations, only instant bidding wars and large-scale offer presentations due to multiple offers. It's exhausting.

So these springtime flowers and the sun that's pleasing everyone - I get it. But just as much as enjoying the weather again, a new season assures me that more homes are on the way. We keep hearing that folks are holding onto their homes until spring is here, and fervently hope that's true.

There are so many more stories I could tell, by the way. The house with my favorite kitchen and the basement too short for T to stand up in, and the ensuing $100,000 estimate to dig it out a stand-up-able amount? I've got that one. The guy who shows up to all the Open Houses who's bid on 14 houses in the last year, and walked away from five winning bids, thus wasting everyone's time and making it harder for all of us? I could rail on him too. The winning buyer on the first house we bid on, who came in $20,000 less than our offer but did so with 80% cash from her father, and all the many and varied ways I hate her and everything she stands for? Yep, I have that rant in my pocket, too.

But for now, I try my best to shrug off the frustration, and we wait.


  1. As an attorney who primarily does real estate law, I am shivering with horror at waiving an inspection.

    I know it's ridiculously difficult, and you are fully aware of this, but I want to reiterate that it's not worth it to get swept into foolishness such as that! I am incredibly impatient, and thought I would lose my mind during our house search in teeny old Knoxville. I can't begin to imagine the insanity that you are dealing with, but I am fully confident that the perfect Maggie and T house will come!

  2. Sounds like someone needs to make a reality TV show out of the DC real estate market. Seriously! Stay optimistic, Maggie, and enjoy welcoming spring into the city you love.

  3. a crying agent!?

    NO INSPECTION?? either the buyers are idiots or just have way too much money. probably both.

    i definitely believe in the spring boom of inventory. and maybe slashing guy-who-bids-a-lot's tires on sunday morning? (kidding! karma and all that)

  4. The right house will come to you, you just have to be patient. We put in offers on 3 other houses, all under the asking because we thought they were asking way too much and then on a very unplanned trip stumbled across what is now our Oregon home and put in a bid for the asking price right then and there. The one that works out will be the one that was meant to be =)

  5. I'm with Samma - I cannot imagine buying a house without an inspection and appraisal. I'd smack my client upside the head if they came to me with a contract like that. I'm so sorry for your real estate struggles but I'm glad you're not rushing into any craziness like the idiot with the non-inspected house. I hope you guys find a great house that is perfect for you - and soon! You've waited long enough!

  6. Sorry for house woes. The market in dc sounds unreal - and sad that you got beat out by a lower cash offer. That's a bitter pill. Boo.

  7. No inspection?? That is absolutely insane.

    I'm sorry you're having such a tough time. And I would probably smack me if I said this to me, but... you will find the right house and it will be perfect.

    Thinking of y'all.

  8. More houses do come on the market in spring. Particularly houses of people with children, who arrange the sale now, then move once the school year is over.

  9. We just bought a townhouse in Woodbridge VA and right after we put our offer in 2 other offers were put in that same weekend. There was a lot of back and forth but fortunately we got it and had to pay the listing price. It was a foreclosure and therefore sold "as is" however we still had an inspection and appraisal because even though the bank wouldn't pay for anything that came back on the inspection we wanted to know what we were getting ourselves into. Good luck!!

  10. Good luck! You will end up with the most perfect home for you, and you will be happy that the other offers were turned down. I'm just sure of it!

  11. We are in the exact same boat. What kills me is that 20% down is a "low cash" offer!


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