the one that got away


if you’ve been following me on instagram, then you may already know that my little family recently started the process of hunting for a house. for nearly 10 years now, brendan and i have always lived in relatively small apartments in urban areas, and never even dreamed of owning a home. but since having a baby, moving to redlands, and falling in love with the community here, we’ve gotten more serious about finding a place to call our own. we currently live in a cute little rental, but we don’t have much of a yard, and it was never our intention to stay here for very long. we live in the historic district, surrounded by darling craftsman-style bungalows, cookie cutter victorians, and charming spanish-style villas. it is just about impossible to keep myself from daydreaming about living in some cute little vintage house as i go on walks with adam around the neighborhood. (i even started posting to instagram with the hashtag #housesofredlands.)

so after casually looking at the real estate listings for several months, i finally laid my eyes on this charming 1920s beauty. the house is on a ridiculously idyllic tree-lined street only a short walk from the historic downtown. when i saw the listing, my heart began to pitter-patter and i did my best not to get my hopes up too high. but if you’ve ever been on the hunt for a house, then you know how quickly you begin to imagine yourself living there forever. it was the perfect house. tons of vintage charm with the original bathroom mostly intact. the kitchen was redone in the ’70s, but it was nothing that a few coats of paint and a new countertop couldn’t fix. and beneath all of that dirty old carpeting was the original hardwood flooring, just waiting to be revealed. just the type of fixer-upper that can easily be restored to it’s original charm by someone with the vision to do it!

but alas, it really was too good to be true. we were outbid without a chance to counteroffer and the house is now pending. i can’t help but find myself hoping that the sale will somehow fall through and we’ll get that call. but i know that it’s been long enough that i need to let go and continue searching for “the one.” but the whole process is much more emotionally draining that i ever thought possible. there are so many factors out of our control. we need to be patient since those barely untouched gems don’t pop up often, and even then, there may always be someone willing to put in a higher bid.

do any of you have tales to tell about your search for the perfect home?

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  1. I’m sorry, Erin. :( I totally get how emotional it can be to seriously house hunt. I can’t imagine how stressful and competitive it must be in California, especially an area has quaint as this one! We bought out house two years ago. It went on the market on a Wednesday, we saw it on Thursday, and had to make an offer on Friday because someone else was and we had to compete. It was very scary, but things worked out. Thankfully I hunted for months and we discussed our needs enough that when the perfect place came along, we knew and were ready to pounce. You’ll find the place eventually. Good luck! <3

  2. ugh! that home is so beautiful and i was really rooting for it to be your home. house hunting can be heartbreaking, but also SO fulfilling once you find the right place (and I do believe that, at least with these things, everything does happen for a reason). there will be an even more perfect place for your family to grow into. i believe it.

  3. Just keep plugging away at it, and saving, and when the timing is right, you will find your dream house. My husband and I looked for about two years here in the Bay Area, then he got laid off a year ago. In that time, we just kept on saving so we would have a strong down payment (it’s all about MONEY of course, and the more the better). Now that he got another job, we are itching to get back in the market. Hopefully for us as well as you, it’s a plus that we like houses that have a lot of “potential” that we can redo to our own taste, etc. Also, apparently it helps to send a cute “personal story” letter with your offer letter, and a picture of your little family! Since we don’t have kids, we just did the cover letter once, but it didn’t work out. :-( To put it in perspective, said house went for 100K over asking. :-( It’s tough out there but your time will come. Good luck!

  4. Hi Erin,

    I bought a house in Redlands a year ago off Center Street. We started looking a few weeks before Thanksgiving, and I think, due to the time of the year we just got lucky. They say less people are looking around the holidays. We put a bid on the third house we looked at on a quick weekend trip (we moved from SF) and didn’t hear anything for two weeks (even though our offer stated they had 7 days to reply)! The day after Thanksgiving we got a counter and the negotiations ensued. The house appraised for under what the sellers (the sellers flipped the house) initially asked which helped us with our second counter offer but the process is never smooth and they refused to take care of getting rid of an attic full of rat droppings! We closed a month later but it was stressful none the less. I still look at all the listings and there is short supply of charming, modest homes in this area. I see prices have moved up a little but I’m curious if homes are still appraising for under their selling prices and if people are forced to buy above the appraisal because of the market. Then its a shock to see a home get flipped right back onto the market! The whole process can be overwhelming! I agree with Kati and her comment to keep saving, too! Hang in there and stick to your guns.

    Best of Luck,

    1. We’re renting a place right off Center St. I bet we’re neighbors!

      I’m super bummed because if we had just bid a little higher, I’m sure that house would have been ours. Our real estate agent felt confident that our above-asking-price bid would be enough for us to get it. But lo and behold, someone put in a higher bid and the seller didn’t even ask for a counter offer! Our guess is that the buyer must have been paying in cash from a previous home. We totally would have offered more if given the chance! And I agree, there aren’t a ton of cute options on the market at the moment, especially because we want a vintage house that hasn’t been renovated. The only houses I see lately are listed quite a bit above market value and they just sit around for months. But if they are priced to sell, they go in a matter of days.

      We’re seeing something pretty promising tomorrow morning, so I’ve got my fingers crossed! The lucky thing is that we’re not necessarily in any sort of rush, so I know that if I’m patient the right one will come along. Thanks for the words of encouragement!!

      1. Ugh, I hope the one you see today has similar bones and potential! I have to say, the San Gorgonio house would have been perfect with the hardwood hiding under the carpet, the square footage and that great big garage space! Our place didn’t have too much of that builder grade remodeling done that sucks out the original character of older homes. Our’s was built in 1939 and looks like a mini ranch from the outside but more bungalow on the inside. The first place we looked at was a total fixer and tiny, but an adorable Victorian doll house on a great lot. In retrospect fixing all the problems that house had may have been a nightmare! We saw our place the day before it hit the market (total luck) and it was move in ready.

        We are totally neighbors! We live on the corner across from the funeral home. Good luck and have fun with the hunt!


        1. we’re right off center and grant! and omg, the house we saw today is amazinggggg. we put in our offer already, but i’m not holding my breath because it’s a short sale. but oh man, my fingers are crossed. it’s totally better than the san gorgonio place! trying to maintain composure, haha.

          despite all of the heartbreak over the last place and the hand wringing over this new one, it’s still been fun to start dreaming about a place we will soon call home!

  5. ugh that really sucks, it is a beautiful house. Hopefully you’ll be able to find something just as good, or better soon! Keep us updated on your house hunt, I love seeing other peoples houses (which sounds kinda creepy).

  6. Uhuu, it’s such a beautiful home; I know exactly what you must have felt! We don’t have houses like that here in Germany, I’m afraid, but I do so very much love the charm of sth. like that. I’d even have left the kitchen as it is! <3 !

    Don't give up and keep searching, please. One day sooner than you may think you'll finde the (not too) perfect place for you and your little family, I'm sure.

  7. I usually don’t comment, but I just went through the exact same experience and thought that it might help to know that others can completely relate to how you’re feeling. My boyfriend and I are in our late 20’s and bought our first home in November, near San Luis Obispo. It was SUCH a stressful process, I had no idea it was going to be so heartbreaking. The market was crazy, with very little inventory and houses getting snapped up within a day of being listed. It seemed like so many buyers were coming in with cash, which we couldn’t compete with. I noticed a lot of the older houses that we looked at were in such terrible condition that they would need a complete renovation, which we couldn’t afford, or had been “flipped” with builders cabinets and very cheap and generic upgrades. We wanted something that was in good original condition, that had vintage charm or that we could renovate to our tastes without paying the higher price tag for the so-called “upgrades”. We were barely outbid on SO many houses and I was beginning to lose hope, but we finally ended up with a 1970’s ranch house that was in great condition, it has most of it’s original light fixtures etc, and I truly feel that it was meant to be! I actually drive by some of the houses that we were outbid on and think “Thank goodness we didn’t end up getting an accepted offer on that house!”. I know that it feels discouraging, but you will find the perfect house, just hang in there and don’t lose hope!

    1. ah, we are in the exact same boat as you were! this is really nice to hear. we’re very discouraged because we’re competing with investors and flip companies for old, original or barely renovated homes. the worst is when you see a charming old house pop back up on the market a few months later with the ugly builders cabinets and glossy granite countertops. i can’t even look at them once they’ve been flipped, it’s just heartbreaking. but it feels like we can’t compete with companies (or families) who can pay cash up front! it’s crazy because we’re only putting in bids if we can pay a 20% down payment, so it’s certainly not for lack of funds. it’s just rough out there! but we’re gonna keep trying, and it really is stories like yours that are helping me to keep going right now!!! thank you!

      also your house sounds amazing! congratulations on getting it, i can only imagine how fun it is to finally walk in that door!

  8. I’m sorry this happened to you. I totally understand your sadness. My husband and I searched for a year for our dream house. We found the perfect place, a cute colonial home with real oak wood staircase! We were also outbid. We later bought a cute little home, but part of me still dreams of the one that got away :(…I’m sure you will find another wonderful place that you can call your own. Good luck :)

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