When we last left you, dear readers, we had viewed a home twice and ruled it out based on a lot of different reason. We were a little bummed, but then the clouds opened up, and the real estate gods shined down on us. May is the beginning of the flood of homes on the market, with everyone itching to buy a place and sell their old place in the span of 3 months, so their little kiddies don’t have to move during the school year. We knew that this was the golden time of home buying, but we were (foolishly) optimistic about starting our search ion February. We had seen slim pickin’s for the first 3 months of our serious searching, and then finally the real homes came on the market.
About a week after the King Street home disappointment, we started seeing listings that were actually interesting to us. Two of them took us to Kitchener, which was originally a real no-go for Dan. Let’s take a look at them, shall we?
This house came up the week after our King Street dilemma, and we asked Dawn to book us a viewing last Friday. I was working until 3:30, so it actually worked out kind of perfectly to go see it directly from work, because we got to see how bad the rush-hour Friday afternoon traffic was, and it’s real close to my work so I could test out a potential commute.
This house is in Kitchener, and so began Dan’s internal battle about whether this was too far into the city for his liking. Let’s recap some of Dan’s big concerns with overall house location:
- Close to 401 access for his work, as in, no more than 10 minutes of driving to get to the highway
- Close to stuff, so it’s walkable to things like a library or the bank
- Ne pas de barking dogs. Any barking dog is pretty much a deal breaker (this one is less reasonable)
- Reasonable travel distance to see his friends, who all live in Burlington and Hamilton, plus one in Guelph (holla, Tyler!)
Here is where you find the above home:
It’s definitely in Kitchener, but there’s very quick access to both the 7/8 highway that takes you to the 401 (more or less) and Homer Watson, which takes you directly to the highway. If you know Kitchener at all, you might know that this little stretch of Stirling Ave is quite busy. It’s a single lane in both directions, and when we saw the home on a Friday afternoon, it was pretty much constant cars driving by. Now, we don’t have children, and we don’t plan on having them, so is a busy street really that big of a problem? There’s also the backing out of your driveway every morning issue, and the fact that the home has a single driveway, so there would be the added frustration of the constant car-shuffle game. The overall location was good for me; this is about a 10 minute drive to work, and centrally located to get to lots of other stuff. Walkability is not great, but it wouldn’t be a long bike ride to get to all sorts of stuff.
Here’s some inside pictures to help round out your opinion:
Now, by this point in the game, you know we’re practically crawling over each other about that dining room. We LOVE a formal dining room, it’s all we really want. That kitchen is HUGE. The pictures don’t do it justice. The wall you aren’t seeing in the picture is floor to ceiling cupboards. For a relatively small house, this one has a lot of floorspace dedicated to the kitchen and dining room. I heart that kitchen. The back yard was nice, although it’s hard to tell from the winter picture, and you couldn’t hear much street noise inside or in the yard.
We hummed and hawed for a long time, and kept coming back to the idea of living on the busy street, because the inside of the house was so darn nice. I even went back to the neighbourhood the next morning at 8am (on a Saturday) to check out the traffic situation during a quiet commute time. There were still cars going by consistently, so it really made me wonder. We had ruled out a home around the corner from us on Eagle without even going to see it because we know Eagle is quite busy. This street is busier than Eagle by far, so we knew what the answer would be. Le sigh.
On Sunday night after seeing that home, more houses came up! I love May! There were two more in Kitchener that were interesting on paper, so we booked a day of viewings on Monday, when Dan and I were both off work. We saw a home in Preston first, which was such a dud, it isn’t even worth writing about, and then went on to a home in Kitchener, on Madison Avenue South. The Madison home is closest to the intersection of Courtland and Stirling, backs on to a park, and is directly across the street from a church. It’s closer to downtown, and a hop and a skip away from expressway access to the 401.
This beauty is move-in ready. It didn’t need a thing done to it, other than painting and decor choices. It kind of had to be move-in ready for the price – this one was listed at $250,000. That’s the top end of our budget, without any wiggle room for repairs or fix-ups, but the house looked like it didn’t need anything done. Great big driveway, with a garage/shed in the back, big kitchen (although not our style, it could be redone later), unique layout, and a completely finished basement.
Dan was hesitant about it because of the price, and a little bit because of the Kitchener factor (Dan has only really been interested in homes in Cambridge). I was interested, but we went to the next home on the viewing schedule and kept this one in mind. The next home was a big fat dud like the Preston home, and it’s barely worth writing about. There was a barking dog the minute we got out of the car, and the woman who was OUTSIDE WITH IT, didn’t do a thing. Hello, neighbour! No thanks. Everything inside was dated, ugly, or flat out in need of replacement. The price did not reflect these aspects (motivated seller, my ass), and we were happy not to spend any more time in there.
We waddled off to Starbucks to sit and consider what we had seen, and we came back to the Madison house. We wrote a detailed pros and cons list, comparing it to the house on Stirling that we really did like, except for the street. The result was that we wanted to see it again, to help firm up our decision. We requested another viewing from Dawn, and she told us that there would be an offer coming in on it that evening. We didn’t want to lose the first thing we were semi-serious about, so we pushed to get in to see it again that night at 9pm, before the offer would lock us out. My mom came with us as another pair of eyes, and we both felt good about moving forward with it. We sat down with Dawn at a Tim Hortons at 10pm, and completed our first offer.
There’s lots of signing to do (initial here, here, here, and here), and in this case, since it was a multiple offer situation, some hard thinkin’ to be done. We couldn’t go much over the asking price, but we needed to show the sellers that we were serious about it. We decided to go in at $251,000, with our two conditions (financing and home inspection), and the full requested amount for the deposit with the offer, $5,000. That’s high for a deposit when we look at what all the other homes we’ve seen were asking, but we have the money, and it might put us in a better position than someone else.
The offers weren’t going to be reviewed until 5pm the next day (!!). That part boils my blood a bit, because it’s obviously done that way to create a bidding war. By 10am the next morning, Dawn told us there would be a 3rd offer, and we both lost hope for it at that point. When 5:30 came around, Dawn wrote to us to say the sellers wanted everyone to come back with their best offer and fight for this house. For the sake of giving them something, we went up to $252,000, but we weren’t going any higher, and we didn’t drop our conditions. With a few minutes, we found out that the other two offers wanted to duke it out and go up by THOUSANDS over asking, so we backed out.
Now, because we had an offer in on a house, we kind of halted our home-searching mindset and ignored all of the new homes that came on that market in the almost 24 hours when we were waiting for an answer about Madison. A super cute one around the corner from Madison came up while we were in limbo, and by the time we asked Dawn to set up a viewing, it already had an offer on it. Our magical May house market is great for options, but terrible for giving you time to think.
Onward and upward! In our next post, you’ll find out about offer #2.