I love the saying, “Life’s full of disappointments, but it’s not what happens, it’s how you deal with it that matters.” To me, those are some of the truest words ever spoken and it’s something we can practice every day. In fact, that saying was the main thing on my mind over the last few months as my husband and I attempted one of lives most stressful situations: buying a first home.
When we saw the house online we couldn’t schedule a showing fast enough. We looked at the pictures over and over and already started planning paint colors. We called our lender and asked for a pre-qualification letter because we were that sure we would put in an offer after seeing it and didn’t want to waste any time. The day of our showing we were so excited we arrived a half hour early and just sat looking at it, planning our future. There it was. Cedar siding, two acres, trees, grass, a green house, a garage, a dog run, fenced area for livestock, an office and three bedrooms for our small but growing family. It was perfect. The inside was just as perfect with simple touches like a wood fire stove for heating and large windows that filled the house with sunlight. We confirmed what we already knew. This was our house and we needed to put in an offer. We had lunch with our realtor, signed all the papers, filled out the contracts, ate, and said our goodbyes with big smiles on our faces as we anticipated the closing on our first home.
Sadly to say, it all went downhill from there.The next few months were filled with stress, angst, and frustration. Something would go right and everything would be perfect, only to days later have everything go horribly wrong and be on the brink of ending the contract. We couldn’t understand why it was so difficult but everyone kept reassuring us that home buying it stressful and that “once we get into the house it would al be worth it.” And we agreed. We kept fighting and going through the steps as they came but everything was falling apart. Our realtor kept missing important deadlines, our lender kept disappearing, leaving out important info and only two weeks before closing we ended up switching lenders.
But the damage was done. Our new lender was awesome but there just wasn’t enough time to make up for all the wrong information the other lender had provided. Tensions continued to rise and holidays passed without being able to celebrate the way we wanted or spend any money because we were in so deep with the house. My husband’s work started to suffer because he had lenders and underwriters calling him at work saying, “we need this info within an hour or your not getting the house.” Our normally peaceful home became full of stress and the only topic ever discussed was “the house”. We came to a crossroad, you know that final moment when you have to decide, “is this worth it?” We spent so much time thinking about how we’d feel if we didn’t get the house but didn’t think about how we’d feel if we did get it. So one day, after months of agony, my husband came home and I guess we could just read it on each others faces so I asked, “If we DO get the house, would you even enjoy it anymore?” He seemed surprised and admitted that he had been thinking the same thing all day. And there it was, after all the inspections, contracts, classes, lenders, prayers, and tears, we both just couldn’t take it anymore. We decided then and there, if the underwriters call tomorrow and need anything else, we’re going to call it quits. We had been told for weeks, “we only need one more thing” only to be contacted the next day with requests for more. So after being told earlier that day, “we only need one more thing” yet again, we decided that would be the last time we did it. The next morning I got the call, after everything our dream home was resting on 4-6 words. “Yes you got it” or “we only need one more thing”. Then it happened. “We only need one more thing” and it was final.
After that we cancelled the contract, got our earnest money and our lives back. I cannot even explain how bittersweet it was being done with the house. I’m sure there are many reasons why it wasn’t meant to be that we’ll never know and that’s how life is a lot of times, but we did come to find out that there were things that would have needed to be done that would have cost us a lot of money. After working with our new lender we also discovered that if we save money over the next year, that we’ll be able to afford something a little higher in price but with better interest rates, home owners insurance, etc. It also inspired us to start budgeting and taking control of our finances. It’s very common to spend large amounts of money on things like Starbucks, without even realizing it but with budgeting you can get ahold of your finances and know where every dime is going and make it work for you instead of against you.
Once we started budgeting and seeing where our money was going we started thinking about what was important and what things were worth spending money on. We decided to sell our very expensive truck for one with a monthly payment which was a forth of the cost and put the rest of what we used to spend in savings. And wonderful things kept unraveling from there. All in all, it was a fantastic learning experience. It was mind numbing and soul crushing at times but through it all we kept in our minds that “it’s not what happens but how you deal with it that matters” and that we as a family come first. The house wasn’t benefitting our family in the way that we hoped so in the end it was best to walk away. There are plenty of things in life that will happen if you force it, but in my experience that doesn’t end well. We could have forced the house but we truly feel that there’s a really good reason it didn’t happen and that maybe it would have been worse then we can even imagine. It’s hard to see something so seemingly perfect and put so much time and effort into it and walk away but life has been so much better since we did. We could be disappointed and let it ruin even more of our time but instead we’re choosing to be excited about what the future has in store and be prepared for a better first home when the time comes.