I can't believe Will and I have been homeowners for a full year already! It's crazy how fast time can fly (when you're having fun).
It's kind of funny to think back on the story of Will and I and how we got here. We met in college in 2011. It was my sophomore year and his senior, at some sort of sorority/fraternity function (I don't think it was actually a fraternity party the first time, but may have been, hard to say). We were friends all through college. One night during my senior year, I went to his house, off campus, where he was living with one of our now best friends and his fraternity little. I remember it was sometime in the summer because I had just finished my senior year (when I was an RA and living on campus for free) and had one more semester to go until I graduated - had to take a victory lap. He asked me randomly what my plans were and I said I was looking for somewhere to live. I didn't want to live on campus again and a lot of my friends had already graduated or weren't in the area. I definitely didn't want to move back home after being on my own for the last 4 years, even though I very well could have commuted from home, if needed. Will and our friend Ricky's 3rd roommate had just graduated, too, and was moving out so they had an empty room. I jokingly said okay great! I'm moving in! & Will said I could. We laughed, but then the next day I ended up texting them both and saying I was serious, so we made it official and I moved in!
While I can totally understand why people think something was going on (now) we were honestly friends and strictly roommates; both dating other people at the time and never really thinking about it as anything more... despite popular belief.
After college, I moved to Tennessee for work for almost 2 years, Will quit his job at the time, moved back home to his parents to study for his CPA and we saw each other once or twice when I was home in Maryland visiting friends, but didn't talk a ton outside of that.
The story of 'us' really didn't start until I moved back home to Maryland in 2016. Will asked me when I got back to go grab a drink with him to catch up. He invited Ricky, too, and the roomies were just going to hang out - totally normal. Last minute, Ricky wasn't able to come, so Will and I went anyway, just the two of us. The rest is history and we've been together since that day.
I tell the story because it's funny to think how quickly after that we moved "back" in together. I think from the outside it probably looks like we moved really fast and jumped in to such a big commitment really soon after starting a relationship, but honestly we were such good friends and already knew what it was like to live together, so it didn't seem like anything new.
We ended up signing a lease together with two of our good friends in Federal Hill probably 6 months after we started dating. In the 6 months leading up to that, I pretty much had been living in his house on a consistent basis, so it only made sense.
We rented in that house for 2 years and absolutely loved it. When it came time to renew our lease at the end of the 2nd year, Will and I made the decision to look to buy instead of continue renting. It was a hard decision to make at first because we had been renting in the city with friends since graduation and Will had been in Federal Hill for probably 4.5 years leading up to that. We didn't want to move out or away from our friends, but we also didn't want to keep spending money on someone else's mortgage and equity not our own.
In 4.5 years of moving to different properties with different friends and between all of the houses we've been to visiting people in the city and pre-gamming, etc. we knew what row homes in Baltimore looked like. When we first started talking about buying a house, I was leaning towards not buying in the city. I loved living here, but was really skeptical about how long we'd actually want to live city life, what the additional cost on city taxes was, school districts for the future, and honestly if I'd even want to buy any of the houses here solely based on what they looked like. From what I'd seen, I loved renting but didn't think I'd actually want to own one of these homes and didn't think I'd be able to make it my own.
In addition to that, I was really against living in the city because I knew I didn't want to be a landlord in the future. I wasn't into the whole argument that if we bought a house here we could rent it out in the future. I just did not want that hypothetical responsibility on my plate really any time in the future.
Around the same time that we came to the decision to buy, Will's firm actually moved locations, too. They ended up being within walking distance of our house in Federal Hill and Will wouldn't have to drive to work anymore, if he didn't want to. He was always the one who was pro-city living and the reason why we were entertaining that option first, but the move of his office definitely played a factor into our ultimate decision.
Spoiler alert if you haven't been following along with me for a bit: we did buy a house in the city.
We actually got really really really lucky when we found our home. For a few weekends before finding our house, we went to a bunch of different open houses to look around and check things out within our budget. I think we visited 25 homes in the city before we were going to give up and branch out to the county. The last house we had planned to look at for the day was an open house on Fort Ave. and that's where we met Alison. Alison was the sellers realtor, but hosting the open house for another one of her clients at the time.
When we walked in, I wasn't immediately blown away by the home we stepped into. I didn't think it was going to be the one we said yes to and bought, but Alison greeted us and told us a little about the house anyway. Before we looked around, she actually asked me what was the most important thing to me in a house that we were looking for. This was definitely a different experience than we'd had in any other open house. A refreshing and welcomed experience that to this day I'm so grateful for.
We already had a realtor that we were working with; one of my really good friends and my roommate (before Will... lol) for 2 years in college; Talon.
However, I really have to mention Alison in this story and our overall experience with her because even though she wasn't our realtor, she set herself a part from all other realtors that we'd met in any open houses up until then. She genuinely wanted to help us, even though she wasn't representing us in the sale, and by asking what was important to us, she was helping to do a huge service to her other clients, too, because she could connect us to a home we may have missed to make that sale. It was smart, it made us feel important and heard, and it eventually led us to our perfect home.
She asked what was the most important to us and I listed off a few things. She was honest that the house we were in did not check those boxes and then told us about another home that was a few blocks away that she just got listed on the market THAT MORNING. She just went to see the house earlier that day since she was in the neighborhood so knew the sellers were around this weekend. She knew based on our conversation that even though I hadn't come across that house online (since we were probably out and about when it hit the market officially), the house did check all the boxes on general things we were looking for and went out of her way to text the owners for us. We didn't hear back by the time we left the open house, but while we were at lunch I got a text from Alison. The owners said they were home and they would be happy to let us come look at the house for a late showing!!!!!
At lunch, I was honestly feeling really discouraged because 25 houses hadn't been 'the one' and we were on a slight deadline with our current lease coming to an end. I wasn't going to go see the house Alison mentioned because I remember it had just started to snow and we were back on our street at a corner restaurant and I didn't want to go back out somewhere farther than we had to in the snow. BUT when she told me the address of this house we HAD to go. It was less than 1/2 a block from our current residence at the time and on the exact same street. I could park my car and walk and it just made sense to look at one more.
When we got there, one of the sellers let us in and let us take a look around. He didn't really bother us, just let us wander and take a look. He was super nice and told us that he had actually put all the work into renovations of their home, not even 4 years prior.
WE WERE IN LOVE WITH THIS HOUSE AND I COULDN'T STOP OBSESSING.
The house was a little over our budget, but we took the rest of the weekend to make sure it was the right decision before having Talon draft up an official offer for us.
Que the stress.
Since you already know the ending here, I will save you all the anxious details about home buying; negotiations, 2nd or 3rd competitive offers, appraisals, inspections AND not to mention MAKING SURE YOU ARE ABLE TO COORDINATE YOUR CLOSING DATE WITH THE END OF YOUR LEASE. etc. etc. (glad that's all over and glad I had such a great team with The North Star Team to get me through it all).
I will say; it was definitely a little bit of added stress for Will and I to be buying a home and not yet married and doing it all during tax season. It was tough for me to get details on loan information and things like that since I wasn't his wife and while he was in busy season and at clients, I was definitely the one running point on everything (since I could) on the back end with loans and paperwork. Just getting a "sign here" "initial here" from him when we needed it. But 10/10 would not recommend anyone doing that.
Nonetheless, we got our home. Our perfect home + our very first home.
I can't believe it's been a full year since we bought our house.
We got engaged here.
We'll plan our wedding here.
And one day, we might even start our family here.
It's incredible to think about how much can change in a year, but I'm so glad that life has led us here and there's no where else I'd rather be quarantined than right here.
Thank you to Will for giving me a dream home.
Thank you to Talon for helping us through this incredible process and for making sure that you fought as hard as you could for us to have this place as ours. Thank you for your tireless hours that you dedicated to us even while on vacation and my stressful calls in the middle of the night. You're such an incredible realtor and an even better friend.
Thank you to the amazing North Star team at Long and Foster for taking care of us like family and getting involved even in things that I know you typically wouldn't, just to help us feel more comfortable and be on our side. You truly went above and beyond.
Thank you to Alison for leading us home and showing us what it means to be in a competitive sales career and to still genuinely care.
& Especially thank you to all of our friends and family who in the last year have brought so much love through our door and helped to make this house our home.