Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Five Year Flip.

There comes a time in every renter's life when they consider buying their own property.

This "time in our lives" came pretty early, in mid 2009 at the ripe old ages of 21 and 23, Jesse and I got the itch to buy a house. 

{look at us so young and naive}
Overall the recession had been good to us (young, debt free students who hadn't the slightest idea what amortization or inflation rates really meant at the time), we had found our footing in a smallish community close to our home roots, and had built up a tidy savings from working and investments. But the thing about the recession is that it makes people desperate, makes them needy, and it makes the banks stingy, cold and disapproving.

Even though we were financially capable of affording a larger mortgage, the banks weren't too keen on giving one without some uncomfortable drawbacks (CMHC I'm looking at you) because of the financial climate. 

We faced the reality of most young first time home buyers: no one really trusted us even though we were good on paper and we had to settle on buying something smaller than what we wanted to "grow into."

Living in a community as small and remote as Red Lake didn't leave us with a multitude of options, and with only four major neighbourhoods to choose from, and real estate that moved faster than the speed of light, I'll admit we were a little stressed out about finding a house we liked and could afford before someone scooped it out from under us.

Enter this little nugget:

The house had been up for sale briefly in 2008 when we first moved to the neighbourhood. We walked by the house countless times pointing out little quirks of the property to one another, talking about how the street was so quiet and green. We even took Jesse's father for a house-drive-by over Christmas holidays '08, just so we could show it off. It quickly became "That House," even though we hadn't seen the inside of it. 

Shortly after ringing in the New Year (heeeeeey '09!) the For Sale sign came down and we had our first house crush broken. We assumed that someone had purchased it and thought nothing more of it, except perhaps for the odd wistful "what if we had bought that house?"

Fast forward nine months to September 2009.

 We had still been keeping an eye on the local real estate listings (though were frankly unenthusiastic about the whole thing), while growing more and more frustrated with our renting situation. As a young couple with a toddler, we just wanted our own space to grow and set down some roots, but nothing had really come into fruition.

I was in Halifax visiting my sister when I got the text message from Jesse

"You know That House that was for sale when we moved up here? It's listed in the paper."

Even though I was over 1300km away and we hadn't even booked a viewing, I knew we were going to buy this house.

Jesse booked a viewing while I was 16,000 feet in the air and I received the pictures after I landed in Winnipeg.

"I think we should buy the house." was his simple reply along with the visual evidence.

I'm not going to lie, my heart sunk a little after seeing a few of the pictures in the exact same way you grow out of infatuation in a new relationship and realize that this "perfect" person really does have flaws.

Within a week I had seen the house, and even brought my parents along for a second viewing. Within two weeks we had made an offer to the bank. As a foreclosure there were a few things we had to swallow, no matter how much we disliked them (the whole no plumbing thing sucked pretty hard), but in the end we felt like we had made the right decision financially, as well as personally.

It took four weeks exactly from the day our offer was accepted by the bank to the day we took possession and moved in.

Those four weeks felt like the longest four weeks of my life. 

Though we kept busy upgrading necessities to qualify for insurance before taking possession (plumbing, running water, disconnecting the wood stove etc), each and every day was a gruelling trial of patience. I can't even imagine what it would be like going through a regular 90day closing period. Though I wouldn't say the house is perfect, or even remotely close to "turn key possession" it's livable and that's what matters

Over the next 5 years we'll be slowly upgrading the necessities (new roof, better insulation, etc) as well as doing a little remodelling on a strict DIY diet to keep costs down while we learn about this thing called home-ownership.