you cant always get what you want

September 28th, 2007

You can’t always get what you want

But I guess it is true, if you try sometimes you might find, you’ll get what you need.

Last November we started house shopping. We’d just had a baby, and we lived in a 800 sq ft 2 bedroom apartment that was bursting at the seams with two adults and two kids. We knew we were going to have to look long and hard to find the right house. We had a very tight and strict budget we were sticking to and the houses in our target price range and size in decent condition moved rather quickly even in a slow market.

Well, within a few short weeks of searching, we’d found two houses we really liked. Then one was sold before we could decide to make an offer on it. So we knew we should act on the other house, and we did. We made an offer. We were first-time homebuyers and this decision had taken up a lot of our time and effort and we had a lot of emotions tied to it. We waited for the sellers to respond, and when they did, it was nothing like we expected. The sellers actually didn’t really respond at all – the house was being taken off the market because a lien had been put on the property by a creditor.

This of course was a circumstance completely out of our control. There was vague talk that the lien might be resolved and the property may become available again. We waited about a week to see if the status would change, and it didn’t, so we started the hunt for a house all over again.

I was…. cranky. I’d been rather objective about everything until the moment we made the offer. I knew I shouldn’t fall in love with any particular house, and I’d been good… until… we made the offer. Our offer was below asking but we had been willing to go up to the full asking price if we needed to in a counteroffer so I guess my brain hadn’t allowed the real possibility that we wouldn’t get the house. Especially by circumstances we had no control over and no way to rectify. But we got back on the proverbial horse and started looking all over again. We’d looked at basically every house available in our price range by this time, so we made a list of the ones we could reconsider and also branched out to ones priced a little above our maximum price, knowing that we may be able to offer low.

But I was still cranky. I’d pictured myself in the first house we made an offer on. I’d seen us and our belongings and where they would go, cooking in that kitchen, the kids playing in the backyard….

When we looked at more houses, we found another house *almost* in our price range that fit all our criteria. The first time we looked at it, I was still mentally comparing everything about every house we looked at to the house we didn’t get, and nothing ever measured up. But this house almost did. It had potential, and it even had a few features that the first house didn’t have (a bathtub in the master bath, walk in closets, and a sun room). But still, it was missing the walk-in attic for storage the other house had, and still… as I said, I was cranky.

But then the next weekend, we went to look at the new house again. And with a little space and a little time away from the house we tried to get… this house started to look even better. I was becoming more objective about it all and I really could see how this house could meet our needs. I wasn’t attached yet (and that’s a good thing) but, I was interested. We ended up looking at it a third and final time, and then making an offer on it for about 15% below the asking price. This time, I didn’t start picturing myself in the house the moment we made an offer. We couldn’t afford this house at its full asking price, and that kept me from getting too attached.

But this time, karma was on our side. They countered back a number above our offer but within our budget, and we accepted. We bought a house!

Looking back on that now, almost a year later, in most every way this house we bought is actually a much better house for our needs than “the one that got away”. I actually see that house we didn’t buy quite often because it is in the same neighborhood as the one we ended up buying, and each time I see it, I realize a little more that the house we bought is the right house for us, not the one we “almost” bought. And now that I can look at things a little more objectively (or maybe I’m now biased towards the one we actually bought…) I can see many more positives to the one we bought compared to the one we didn’t. Oh and the house still hasn’t gone back on the market officially (we did see it listed on a for sale by owner site, but there is no for sale sign outside the house…) so it may still have that lien on it. That’s just our speculation, but we’re glad we didn’t try to wait any longer for the owners to resolve it.

You never know what else might be out there when you focus on just one thing.


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15 Responses to “You can’t always get what you want”

  1. You have a great perspective! It’s always important to keep an open mind!

  2. I had a simmilar experience where I wanted one house and was not able to buy it because we got outbid – but we did buy another house in the neighborhood. I see the first house sometimes and am glad that we didn’t get it. It is in lots worse shape than the house that we are in.
    I am glad what worked out.

  3. Thanks!

    I only got my great perspective through being forced to. lol

  4. We had an eerily similar experience.

    We made an offer and it was accepted. We paid for a new carpet estimate. We were there.

    Until we were informed the previous ‘owners’ were under water. The deal collapsed. (Bonus: we had to pay several hundred dollars in title search fees anyway!)

    As it turns out, a huge outlet mall was soon built just down the road from the house we ‘lost’ and we found a great home.

  5. I am not a home owner but I like this story a lot. I think the concept of getting your heart set on something can be carried over into other financial situations (or any other life situation). Think of when you lusted over an outfit or maybe a stock purchase. Later on, you’re just thankful you didn’t pull the trigger! Opportunies pop up just like kleenexes so I’m learning to practice patience :)

  6. It feels crazy at the time but in the end, it’s the house you got that counts, isn’t it? :)

  7. @mariam – so true, things similar in nature happen in all walks of life all the time!


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