House Hunters: The Portland Edition (update)

(You can read part one here.)

We bought a house. After three lightning-fast weeks of house hunting, we offered on a house and it was accepted. RAISE DA ROOF. Okay not really, let’s keep the roof in place until we get through inspections.

if you’re able to continue reading after my corny intro, here’s the brief story. I have to admit something to you: It was our second attempt. I didn’t write about our first offer because the whole thing (from first seeing the listing pop up to knowing we didn’t get it) happened in a span of 24 hours. We felt so dejected. So lame. Therefore, we immediately rationalized how it was not actually meant to be our house. You sort of have to to get over the grief. So instead of letting disappointment linger, you say well, it didn’t have a built in dishwasher anyway. Or, the basement was weird. I mean clearly, in hindsight, that was not our house.

This one is. I just know it. For the sake of simplicity (and privacy, this is a public space after all), it ended up being a race and in the end, we won. It was meant to be. Ours. The night we found out, we drank champagne to celebrate that someone took pity on us took us seriously enough to accept our offer. That alone is.. baffling. And… affirming. I guess we are cut out for this after all. Now we can take a deep breath and relax. Yay.

Next up: inspections. We are required to have several and possibly more if anything looks suspicious. That is slightly terrifying since the house is approximately… three times as old as I am. Just keeping things interesting around here.

Thanks for all the support.



House Hunters: The Portland Edition

Street Sign

Our names are Jaro & Julie and we are first time homebuyers. Cue Psycho music. Seriously, play that clip in the background while you read this post.

I wish I had exciting news (read: that we have actually BOUGHT A HOUSE), but I’d love to share our experience with house hunting so far. It is such an emotional, scary and overwhelming ordeal life event.

When we arrived here two weeks ago, I didn’t really have any context to this city. I had glanced at a map, Jaro had pointed out some areas he heard were nice (though he wasn’t that familiar either), we flipped through some listings on Zillow, but that was it. Probably not the most prepared I could have been, but I just wanted to get out here and see it for myself. I had never been to Portland before our move.

I hit the ground running with our agent after my bout with the flu upon arrival. He drove me all over the city, explaining the neighborhoods, showing me houses. It was helpful. Then, on my own, I’d just get in the car and drive around. Might not sound that thrilling, but remember, Portland is weird, so I was entertained. Plus, it’s really the only way to learn the layout of the city. After two weeks of house hunting, here are some things I figured out:

  • Portland is divided into four quadrants: NE, NW, SE, SW. It’s really easy to navigate. We decided very quickly that the west side is not for us, despite it being closer to Jaro’s office in Beaverton. Once you leave the tiny downtown, it has an overall suburban (sometimes rural) feel. Often times, homes are not within walking or even biking distance to anything. Convenience was an issue. It felt isolating. So, we are focusing our efforts on the east side. It feels more “us”. It’s the kind of thing you just know.
  • Once we narrowed down which side of the river we wanted to be, we got even more specific about neighborhoods. Being in or near an “anchor” neighborhood (read: most desirable), where there are good schools, green spaces, restaurant and shopping options, etc. is all very important to us. There are several areas that fit the bill nicely.
  • We are looking at detached houses (like, with a yard and stuff), and most houses are old. Don’t worry, this is something that excites us more than scares us. We both love vintage houses, with all the details and woodwork. While our darling little home will certainly have personality, it may be lacking in other areas like closet space, room size and amenities. Don’t care. We will love it despite these inevitable imperfections. We will have to compromise on some things. As long as we feel we are not settling, we’ll be happy.
  • But then we remember that we are trying to buy a house in January. In and around all the areas that we want to live, there is extremely low inventory because of the time of year. This presents additional challenges, and more pressure on us to commit.
  • You see, with these vintage houses, we are not the only ones that see their charms. If a house is in decent shape and in a decent location (not even necessarily great in either category), we can expect several offers on the table within the first 24 hours. During our first week here, we didn’t realize we would be battling it out, gladiator-style, with other buyers on every single property. We quickly learned we need to hustle. And then sit tight and cross our fingers. Hurry up and wait.
  • Okay, so homes get multiple offers. Guess what that also means? We have to be competitive and offer above asking price if we want any real shot at winning the house. There is a sense of panic and all of us buyers are scrambling, desperately, to be the winner.
  • As a result, they sell FAST. How fast? Try end of day that they get listed. Or maybe the end of the next day, if you’re lucky. That is just the market here right now, which is so anxiety-inducing. Cue nervous stomach aches and eyelid twitching (does that happen to anyone else?). Every day we wake up wondering, are we going to buy our home today? And then I want to pass out. Could happen. The passing out or the house buying. Or both.
  • I wish I had been counting, but I’ve probably seen close to about 25-30 houses since we arrived. Houses are much easier to view when they are vacant. Occupied homes are filled with so much crap that sometimes it’s hard to look past (not as bad as the horrid apartments in Stockholm though).
  • And finally, open houses are the worst. You’re in there with other buyers and the selling agent, and I feel like it’s as much about sizing each other up as it is about the house. And we all have to take off our shoes, and keep our comments to ourselves… it’s just awkward. And, if a seller even has time to hold an open house, it’s probably not that great.

Sounds intense, huh? I’m already tired. This house hunting thing is a lot of work. It’s not an episode of Property Virgins, that’s for sure. I wish we had time to mull over the listings, negotiate (down, not up) with the seller and enjoy this process, but that’s just not going to happen. We have been thrown into the lion’s beaver’s den. Portland, why you gotta be like this?

We are trying to make the best of it. Every day, we take a deep breath and check for new listings. We are trying to stay level-headed and reasonable about what is out there and our expectations. We’re trying to be patient. After only two weeks, I can say with confidence that we’ll know the right house when we see it. That is progress from knowing nothing a mere 14 days ago.

Right. So it’s only been two weeks. I need to chill, I know. But since I can’t stand our corporate housing and we haven’t lived in our own space since October, it’s constantly on my mind and I’m anxious. Blankets, people. I miss mine.

Can’t wait to update you once we find our little home. Any day now…


{image from our aimless wandering around Portland, at least it was sunny}