Yesterday I discussed why I chose to buy a condo right now, as opposed to waiting until I had a little more money saved up. I hemmed and hawed over the decision for about a week, but once I made the choice to buy, I wanted to start looking for my new home right away. I found a realtor easily through a friend, and he and I quickly started the hunt for my first place.
One major obstacle to looking for a condo was actually one that I put up: I only wanted to buy in one very small geographic area, basically within about a mile radius of my current apartment. I know this is almost foolishly restrictive, but I live in a really great neighborhood and my intention was to stay, even if the condo was very small. My realtor tried to convince me to broaden my search, but I stood firm. Using my specified location as his #1 search criteria, my realtor did a really great job of finding several options:
Option #1: A garden-style unit in a great complex. Pros – low condo fee, very bright and home-y. Cons – no dishwasher, very out-dated. This one was basically right on budget.
Option #2: Third-floor unit in a very large complex. Pros – amazing kitchen, condo fee includes all utilities, very peaceful location, below budget. Cons – horrible carpeting, so-so view.
Option #3: Eighth-floor unit in the same complex as #2. Pros – very large and remodeled bathroom, beautiful wood floors, condo fee includes all utilities, amazing view. Cons – sub-par kitchen, over my budget.
After several visits to all three condos, I eventually decided to put in an offer on #2. The drawbacks to the place were mostly fixable, and it was affordable, so I decided to go for it. The seller and I went back and forth several times in our negotiations over price, but eventually we settled on a mutually-beneficial number and everything seemed to be going great.
Until the home inspection.*
I know what you’re probably think: oh no, something was seriously wrong with the condo and the seller refused to fix it. Actually, the inspection turned up nothing major. But something happened while the inspector was conducting the inspection that stopped me in my tracks….
While I was waiting with my realtor in the seller’s living room for the inspector to finish up, I was suddenly hit with the stench of frying food. It was a powerful, strong odor. In fact, it was unnaturally strong. I live in a large building now and frequently get a whiff of what my neighbors are cooking, but this scent was so strong it was as if the food was being fried in the next room. The inspector actually came out of the bathroom and grimaced at how strong the smell was.
And right then, I got a sinking feeling in my stomach; I knew that there was no way I was going to be able to live with smelling other peoples’ food (or worse, cigarette smoke) every day if the stench would be that strong. After a sleepless night, I made the difficult decision to void the contract.
I knew that I was doing the right thing, but I couldn’t help feeling crestfallen. I’d gotten so close to buying, and to have it fall apart was a serious disappointment. My realtor recommended making a low-ball offer on the eighth floor place, which I agreed to, but the seller refused to budge. I was at an impasse and was starting to feel seriously discouraged.
But then, through the magic of real estate, another condo in the same complex as Option #1 came on the market. The price was right, and it was much more updated than the first one I’d seen there. My realtor and I went back to see it twice in two days, and after the second viewing I decided to put in an offer.
Eventually, this condo would become mine, but there was still so much to finalize. Tomorrow I’ll discuss the bumpy path to closing the deal on my new home!
*If you are considering buying a home, my #1 piece of advice would be to get a home inspection. Even though it’s a fairly pricey out-of-pocket cost to have the inspection done, it’s so important to know what’s going on below the surface in a home before you commit to it. Tune in tomorrow, because I’m going to delve into more detail about this!