On the Road to Homeownership: Essay Contest Chooses Between Multiple Offers

This is the fifth in  a series of occasional articles as my wife and I confront the challenges of searching for a home in a real estate marketplace with a low inventory level in costly south Orange County, Calif, We hope  to finally transition from years as somebody else’s tenants to becoming participants in the American Dream of homeownership.

To pick up where I left off last time, our Realtor helped us locate a nice home, not far from where we rent now, with 1,500 square feet of living space and an attached two-car garage. The view of the Pacific Ocean, and the surrounding hills from the back yard were definitely worth the price of admission — or so we initially thought. Plus, it was a short sale.

The only downside to this place was that it has only two bedrooms, not three, the layout was not the greatest, it was attached on both sides to other units, and it needed a LOT of work. Having seen other homes in the community, we knew the price the bank had approved was seemingly a good deal, so we submitted an offer at the list price.

Our Realtor had asked the listing agent a lot of questions up-front when we first came to view the property, so we thought everything was covered. As it turned out, we were wrong. The seller, we later found out, was not being totally forthcoming with details. We did not know at first that the seller’s agent was also his tenant in the house. That led to the realization that the sellers were in reality real estate investors who were facing foreclosure and apparently had instructed their agent not to reveal these details until later in the process.

The sellers were having such a hard time deciding between us and another buyer that they requested that we and the other buyer submit essays as to why we want to purchase this particular house. That was enough to set my wife off as it was. Being a writer, though, I had no real concern over this so I accepted the challenge. And the seller apparently liked my essay better than the other buyer’s.

But that’s where the fun ended. After seeing a building inspector’s report and a termite inspector’s report done recently, it was obvious that this home was going to require a lot of updating and repair, and neighbors would have to be removed from their homes on both sides if we were to tent the home for termites as the report recommended.

We then decided to pass on this one and let the other buyer have it.

In the meantime the other home in the 55 and over community that was a little south of us came back on the market again after the investor who beat us out pulled out of escrow for some reason. We came back to the seller with a new offer ever so slightly higher than our previous offer. That offer was countered by the seller, and after a little back and forth we settled on a purchase price that was $30,000 below their original asking price. We are now in escrow looking to close on Jan. 4, 2013, if all goes well.

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Previous installments
On the Road to Homeownership: Another Chance
On the Road to Homeownership: Dealing With a Shortage of Supply
On the Road to Homeownership: The Search Begins in Earnest
 On the Road to Homeownership: It’s Definitely a Bumpy One

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