Selling Our Home During a Pandemic

Since buying a house was what prompted my blog in the first place, it seems only fitting that I take it full circle and tell the story about our experience selling our first home.

When I started this blog 7 years ago, my first post was centered around the process of buying of our first home together. Since buying a house was what prompted my blog in the first place, it seems only fitting that I take it full circle and tell the story about our experience selling our first home.

When we officially signed our contract to build a new house back in February (more info on that in a future post), we had no idea what was in store for us and the rest of the world in March.

March came in with a bang and the excitement of building a new home was quickly replaced with feelings of anxiety and fear from all of the headlines about COVID-19, death, and quarantine. March through May we worried about our timing, was this still the right time to sell our house and move into a new home? Would we lose our jobs? How could we possibly list and show our home while the world is closed for business and human contact is essentially cut off? I will say those first few months, we had no idea what was going to happen, but we continued to push onward with all of the preparations as if everything was still on track.

Prepping Our Home to List

Pre-pandemic, we had a list of contractors at the ready to help us check off all of the items in order to get our house ready to put on the market and we planned to list our home at the end of April. Fast forward to April and we realized it was not the time to list our home yet. We still had a lot to do to get the house ready and all of the contractors were closed for business. On top of that, the market was very slow and it seemed that people were hesitant to do the traditional showings due to fear of spreading the virus.

So, we did it ourselves…well, I should rephrase, Bryan did it all! From electrical work, to painting, to drywall, to power washing, to landscaping – and he freaking crushed it! At the time, we were both working full time jobs from home WITH the kids home from daycare which was closed. I still don’t know exactly how we did it all, and I may or may no have some sort of trauma from those few months, but we basically never slept and used anytime we could that was leftover from working and watching the kids to get the house ready to list.

Putting it on the Market

Fast forward to the end of May. Our awesome realtor, Drew, came to the house to ensure the house was ready. He helped us with last minute enhancements and repairs, took photos, wrote up our description of the home, and then BOOM the listing was live June 1.

To our surprise, there really couldn’t have been a better time to list. Because of the pandemic, there were limited houses on the market in our area and the interest rates were at a record low due to economic uncertainty. This creates the perfect market for sellers.

We listed our house on a Monday and by Wednesday afternoon we had 4 offers. I am so grateful the house went under contract so quickly because showing a home while all four of us (and the dog) were home 24/7 was near impossible. Trying to keep the house clean with a 2 and a 4 year old, lugging both kids and Rooney in the car every time we had a showing, and trying to pre-plan to go to a parents house to be able to be on Wi-Fi and work for the day was insanely stressful, and that is putting it mildly. Thank goodness it only lasted three days! We ended up going under contract and accepted an offer over asking price. I can’t stress this enough – if you are even thinking about selling, now is the time.

Moving Day

So a bit of a hiccup in our selling journey…we accepted an offer where the buyer wanted to settle a month sooner than our new build would be complete. What does this mean? Displacement. During a pandemic. BUT, we had a plan if this were to happen. My dad and step-mom SO graciously are allowing us to stay in their home in the interim and we are so so grateful.

Even though we have a place to stay, that doesn’t take away that we then had to plan (and pay) for a double move! We spent weeks packing as much as possible and about a week before the movers were scheduled to come they dropped off boxes and other packing materials and again we had those long sleepless nights.

I literally never want to move again after all that packing. My back, legs, everything was sore for weeks! This past Monday, the movers came and took most of our stuff to storage, Tuesday I spent the day making trips to bring remaining items to my dad’s garage, Wednesday Bryan got everything else, Thursday the cleaners came, and Thursday night we went to the house one last time to say our goodbyes.

The Final Goodbye and Settlement Day

I knew saying goodbye to our home would be hard. This was our first home. We were married in May and moved into the house in August. A few months later we brought our puppy, Rooney into our home. In 2016 we had Lucy, and two years later Conor. This house was where we became a family. These walls have seen it all, the highs and lows and everything in between. The memories we shared together in the house almost 7 years will forever stay in my heart and I thank the house for keeping us safe throughout the years.

As I mentioned, we went to the house one last time to say goodbye. The kids were having a hard time with the move. The first night at my dad’s they were unsure why we weren’t sleeping in our beds anymore and crying because they couldn’t understand why we couldn’t go “home”. Going to the house provided the closure we all needed. Seeing the house empty helped me realize that while it was a wonderful home to us over the years, the real magic was what was inside of those walls. It was us, our family, that made that house a home.

I wanted to create one last memory in the house before we left for good, so after the kids went screaming through the house checking out the emptiness and hearing their echoes bounce off the walls, I had them check the freezer. I had ice cream waiting and together we sat in the middle of the living room on the floor and said our goodbyes while having an ice cream party.

The next day was settlement day, and in true quarantine fashion, we sat outside the settlement lawyers office on a picnic bench, signing our papers in masks. I wish the new buyer a wonderful journey ahead as she gets to start her own story in the house. We handed over the keys, and off we went!

It is such a relief that the selling process is officially over. It was overwhelmingly stressful, but in the end we had limited hiccups and made a decent profit on the house. And now, all we have to focus on is the fun part, MOVING INTO OUR NEW HOME! I will be posting about that once we get into our new home. Currently we are looking at an August 11th settlement date, so stay tuned!

xo, Jen

Almost Time to Sign on the Dotted Line!

It’s moving week!

As promised, this past weekend was spent packing! Luckily with my work, I have off every other Friday so the 3-day weekend was VERY helpful. Knowing we would be looking for a house within the year following our wedding – we decided that all of our AWESOME wedding gifts would just stay in their boxes. This was such a good idea in hindsight (though hard because I wanted to use all the new stuff) because packing things that are already in boxes is so much easier then wrapping them all up. Though we are just starting out with little to no furniture – we are going to have an amazing kitchen thanks to our wedding gifts so I think we will just live in there most of the time!

Other than packing – I also managed to restore a piece of furniture! It has been something I have wanted to start for a long time, and with my dad’s instruction while doing this piece, I think that I can tackle many more projects in the future. The piece I restored was an old medicine cabinet that came from my great grandma, Nonna’s house. It has been inside of my dad’s house for a long time and with time comes discoloration. Bryan and I sanded it down and then repainted it with a fresh coat of white paint and cannot wait to put it in our guest bathroom. I am so excited to continue to learn how to restore furniture.

So what is on the schedule for the rest of the week? Well, tomorrow we will be doing a final walk through of the house. I am so excited just to see the house again since it’s been a month since we saw it last. I will be taking some photos for my “before” pictures too while we are there because come Thursday there will be our moving stuff everywhere in boxes and it will no longer be a fresh empty house. Thursday is settlement day! We will be meeting with our attorney after work to sign the papers, hand over the checks, and get those keys in our hands! Once settlement is finished, we will head over to the house with my dad to unpack the first round of boxes and then Friday while Bryan is at work I will start unpacking! Then, the weekend will be used for all the heavy lifting – our furniture! It will be a tiring rest of the week, but all I can think about is how exciting that first night we stay at our new home will be for us!

Still, keep your fingers crossed for us that there are no surprises these next few days with the walk through and settlement!

love & lots of whit – jen xo

6 Things I Learned about First Time House Hunting

Here is a quick list of a few things I learned while we searched for our first home. Like I said previously, I was CLUELESS about house-hunting before we started. Thanks to our realtor, lender, and friends who have recently bought their first home – I now understand it better. This is just a short list of my advice to anyone else who will be looking for their first home soon. If I were to make a true list of everything I have learned along the way – it would literaly take hours to write out!

1. Be realistic in how much you are willing to spend a month on mortgage. Do not even walk into houses that you know are out of your budget. Try to stay as far from your absolute max as possible to ensure that you can still live comfortably.

2. If a nice house comes on the market – it is NOT going to last long. If you are serious about seeing the house go that same day in order to make sure you don’t lose the house before you even get to see it.

3. When making an offer on a house – be realistic. If it has been on the market a while, you may be able to give a lower offer. On the first house we bid asking price a few days after the house went on the market and we were still outbid.

4. Don’t be afraid of fixer uppers. Realstically, if this is your first home, you aren’t going to be able to afford that dream house you have in your head! As long as the house is in a decent neighborhood (and if the price is right) then it might be worth it to offer a lower bid and use the money you saved towards fixing the house. On the other hand – if the house seems like too big of a project (especially as your FIRST home) then it probably is. We visited many houses that would need work – but in the end the house we chose was move-in-ready, and honestly for us that is the best solution because we both have very busy schedules.

5. Location, Location, Location – when buying your first home, make sure you check out the neighborhood facts and crime levels. When you go to walk-through the house also observe your neighborhood to see if it seems like a good fit for you. If you notice trash in your neighbor’s yards, loud noises/music, yapping dogs, etc. – though you do not notice it now, it might become a problem when you move in.

6. The settlement process takes a long time. Like I said in my last post, we are still waiting to hear if we officially have the house. After talking to our lender yesterday, we found that we might not know officially until a few days prior to settlement. Though we are confident that we will get the house, it is still a bit frustrating not knowing OFFICIALLY if we should start packing our things!

love & lots of whit – jen xo

Do you have any advice for first time home-buyers?

Home is where one starts from.

Our story starts when my husband Bryan and I first met.

As the title of my first blog states – Home is where one starts from.  I believe that this is true, though I would like to add a bit more to it!

Our story starts when my husband Bryan and I first met.  The chapters started slow, but by the time we reunited and started to spend time with one another and start dating – the story started moving at lightning speed!  After only 8 months and 26 days of dating – Bryan proposed.  On May 11, 2013 we were married and our fairytale English Garden themed wedding was a day we will never forget. You can watch our wedding video below made by my talented friend Chris Roederer.
Our Wedding Day

After our wedding, we had the most amazing honeymoon in the British Virgin Islands.  It was the trip of a lifetime and we will always remember our honeymoon as true paradise.
Room with a View

Sunset in Paradise

And now is where HOME comes in.  After two months of being married – we decided to start the house-hunting process.  We initially didn’t intend on buying a house until about a year after we were married, but we quickly realized that interest rates were on the rise and in order to guarantee a lower rate – now was the time to act.  House-hunting was a whirlwind of mixed emotions.  As first time home buyers – it’s safe to say that I was literally CLUELESS about the whole process.  We quickly learned our budget and found it hard to find something decent in our area and in our price range.  Being in Maryland – the cost of living is pretty high.  Several times during the process we day-dreamed of moving south where our budget would buy us a much larger home – but with our jobs, family, and friends here, we knew we couldn’t leave our hometown.  After many home tours of the good, the bad, and the downright disgusting – we finally made our first bid on a house that was in our dream neighborhood.  Sadly, we were outbid but that is when we heard the best piece of advice – which at the time sounded cliché.  The advice was that everything happens for a reason, and if it is meant to be – it will happen.  We were very discouraged but only a week later a house popped up on our lists after a previous prospective buyers’ finances fell through.  We looked at this house that same night, and had won our contract on it by the next day.  Needless to say, we were SO excited.

That is where the present comes in.  It is almost as if we are at an intermission in our story.  The contract is ours, but now we are waiting on the final paperwork and loans to be approved.  Our tentative settlement date is August 22.  We are positive that this is what that advice meant; this house is larger and newer than the other we placed a bid on AND less expensive.  It is also the nicest house we have seen throughout the entire house-hunting process.

We are very hopeful & will keep the updates coming!

love & lots of whit – jen xo