Saturday, November 19, 2016

House Hunting: The beginning

Our hunt for a larger apartment started when William was nearly one. That was two years ago. We weren't all that serious about it at that time and it was hard to find something we liked that we could afford. It was actually quite depressing. Shortly after that, rent in the city increased even more and a mortgage was actually looking like a good idea.

Over a year ago, a friend told us about a city program that provides interest-free loans and down payment assistance to families within certain income brackets. They also have "below market-rate" or BMR condos and homes they make available to these families. We took the class and it sounded like we might actually qualify.

The BMR program is quite complicated and I won't go into the details, but the important thing to note is that if you do actually qualify and meet the requirements to purchase a home, it's a lottery. So your number has to be drawn . . . imagine a bunny being pulled from a hat because that's what it seems like to me!

But our God is big and can pull houses out of a hat so we gave it a try! (I'll try to write more another time on why we refuse to leave the city when housing is expensive!) We went through all the steps and filled out the application for the BMR lottery on a three bedroom condo. It wasn't our favorite location but it was a brand new building and the program made it completely affordable! We couldn't pass it up. Well, when our application got into the hands of the bank to give us our pre-approval it all came to a screeching halt. We made $1000 too much to qualify for the program. I was heart-broken. My husband stood firm that everything would work out for the best.

So, then we had to wait. Wait for another condo to open up with a higher income bracket. And as we waited, and waited we started to see the silver lining of not moving to that new condo. It was on a busy street (the same busy street we currently live on), parking was an additional $100,000 for purchase, and the neighborhood left something to be desired . . . the list goes on.

Chris started looking into the down payment assistance program that was available for market-rate homes. We were drawn to the idea of a home because they typically come with a yard, a garage and laundry. The condos rarely come with all of those! He did a lot of leg work to figure it all out and it looked like something that could work for our family if we stuck to a budget!

When we found out I was pregnant with Stephen, we started looking more aggressively for our future home. Now we had a pre-approval from a mortgage broker and a realtor. This was feeling very "adult" for us. Every weekend we would go to one, two or even three open houses. We had a "tiny" budget compared to what houses sell for in this area so we got to see some really interesting places. And if the answer wasn't "no" for obvious reasons (the house was falling apart or was in the projects), then it was "no" because we really felt like that wasn't the right place for our family. We are a praying bunch and the Lord has proven to hear our requests over and over again. We believed we could be prayerful about our desires for our family's future. We did see some really great houses too but in the end we would have had to go over our budget and decided not to pursue them. Bidding wars are a real thing here and it is scary how much a home can cost!

And then Stephen was born and we took a break because naps trump all outside activities with a newborn. And when we heard that the city raised it's loan amount we leapt with joy and were given a new hope. This could actually happen. Right?

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