Sunday, January 27, 2013

We bought. A house.

SURPRISE! Against all odds (more on that later), we managed to convince someone that we are responsible adult-ish people and that they should give us their money so that we can live the American dream...or something.


We decided to get serious with our house hunt once I got a job at Dreamworks in Redwood City and my commute went from 30 minutes a day to 2 mind-numbing, eye-bleeding hours a day (NPR is my hero). Boyfriend still works at Pixar, so we decided that the Peninsula area would be a happy middle location, commute-wise.

Of course getting serious meant coming up with our "must-have" and our "would-be-nice" lists. Behold (green means our house is rockin' it!):

  • Good location
  • Safe neighborhood
  • 3 bedrooms (at least)
  • 2 bathrooms (more rare than you would think)
  • Backyard
  • Lots of natural light
  • Good flow
  • Spacious kitchen

  • Attached garage (accessible from interior)
  • View of bay (Boyfriend would put this in the "must-have" list)
  • Architectural uniqueness
  • Wood floors
  • New windows
  • Easy yard access
Most home-buyers have to compromise on at least one of their "must-haves", and for a while there we were certain it would be that 2nd bathroom. Luckily, no compromising was done here! And no more waiting for someone to get out of the shower before using the toilet in the morning...or...ever.

Anyway, enough chatter. On with the tour!

LIVING ROOM: That's the front door there. We've already painted this room the same warm gray we had in our Oakland house because every. single. room. is beige. We had to convert at least one of them.

Thing #1 we fell in love with. Wow, look at all that natural light.

Standing next to the fireplace looking toward the dining room. The door on the far left leads down to the attached garage and basement.

Door to the garage/basement.

KITCHEN/DINING: Our small dining room (or I guess it would be a breakfast nook?) with a door leading out to the deck. 

Thing #2 we fell in love with was the spacious kitchen. We will eventually do a full gut in here including taking down that wall separating the kitchen and living room. It's going to look amazing!

And of course Boyfriend, the family dishwasher, is extremely pleased with the Bay view from the sink.

DECK: View towards the kitchen door and backyard. We want to extend this deck to wrap around the back of the house and add a staircase down to the yard.

View toward the street.

 And thing #3 we fell in love with, the view toward the VIEW!

Can I get a hellyes!?

Ok let's go back inside. The house has three bedrooms. I didn't get a picture of the smallest room, but it basically looks almost exactly like the future guest room.

Why yes, that is a missing closet door shhhhhhhhhhhhh....

BATHROOM: This is one of TWO bathrooms in the house (so happy). It will also need to be gutted, but for now it is adequate and feels twice as big as our bathroom in the Oakland house. I really enjoy being able to dry off without hitting the sink with my towel or dipping it in the toilet. #itsthesmallthings

MASTER SUITE: Yep, you read that right. SUITE, betches! This means we have a bathroom IN our master bedroom. High five.

View toward the closets/bathroom.

MASTER BATHROOM: Again, future gut job. We have plans to expand this room into that weird nook in the bedroom (where those banana boxes are above). We also want to wall off the closets to make one big walk-in.

I have no photos of the downstairs garage/basement area, so here is a video I took during the open house which also takes a quick look at the yard. The basement has a total of three small rooms and a "common" room. The 2-car garage has a storage room off to the side. Yeah, it's basically a 2nd house down there. 

And in case you were curious about "Part 1", which is a video of the upstairs, help yourself: 

It's SO weird to think that less than two months ago, all these strangers were nosing about the house and putting offers in on it, including ourselves! I hinted at the beginning of the post at the unlikeliness of us actually winning this house. The sellers received no less than 10 offers, three of which were higher than ours (we offered $25k OVER asking), and one of which was $75k over asking price!!! Yes, I'll wait while you pick your jaw up off the ground. For those of you who don't know, this is unfortunately the trend in the housing market right now. Numerous offers, most between $20k-50k over asking price, and many of those offers being all cash. This means that first-time home-buyers like ourselves are continuously losing out to higher, more appealing offers. In fact, Boyfriend and I had already put an offer in on another house, which was rejected, and we weren't very hopeful at getting this one either. 

So how did we win it? We almost didn't. The day after putting in our offer, we were notified that we were in a three-way tie for backup position (next in line in case the first offer falls through), and that they were going to accept that super high offer as the primary. We increased our offer slightly to hopefully secure backup position, and to our surprise, they came back to us saying they had changed their minds and accepted our offer! Why?!?! Well, we had written a super sappy "love letter" to the sellers, who had grown up in the house and had inherited it from their late parents. We talked about how much we adored the house, and how we could see family and friends there, spending time in the yard, starting a new chapter together, etc., etc. Ok, not just "etc.", it was a damn adorable letter if I do say so myself. And apparently they thought so too, because they were so moved by it that they decided to pass on the higher offers and pick us. We still can't believe it. 

At this point, I want to put in a plug for our ahhhhhmmaahzing Realtor, Patti Brennan. She encouraged us to write the love letter, always had candid straightforward advice, and guided us through one of the most stressful processes ever (the actual buying-of-the-house process). She rocks. She really does. 

CA Realty
Pearson Properties 
4341 Piedmont Ave.
Oakland, CA 94611
M: 510. 501.1596

Yay! We just moved exactly one week ago and we LOVE it. Love. Love it. We've got so many project ideas, and I'm happy to report that even Boyfriend is excited about (most of) them!
But the first one is definitely going to be the dog run. Muddy puppies do not for a happy home make!

Thanks for stopping by. Cheers!


  1. Congratulations on your first home purchase! I'm looking forward to hopefully seeing the execution of your plans. =D My husband and I have been remodeling our first apartment in our spare time, too; I'm excited to find even more inspiration here. Take care and best wishes. :)

    1. I'm so glad you consider me and my blog a source of inspiration. Thank you once again for stopping by!

  2. i was just chatting with chris at work - so excited for you guys!! we just got an offer accepted, too (INSANE) and it needs about the same amount of remodeling as yours...SO EXCITING. and you've inspired me to start blogging--with upcoming baby and house, probably a good idea.

    anyway - can't wait to see how this progresses! i'll be following!

    1. KELLI! Thanks so much! And congratulations to you as well! Just getting an offer accepted seems like half the battle these days. You've got some stressful times ahead of you though, so best of luck with that. Here's hoping inspections and appraisals go smoothly and that you'll be moving soon :) I can't wait to see your blog, as I'm sure you'll do some amazing things to the house.
      Also, CONGRATS on being preggo!!!

  3. I just wandered over here from Apartment Therapy, and I cannot tell you how comforting your home buying story is! My boyfriend and I just started looking, and the hunting process can be so discouraging. Homes are still going over asking and we are already super-nervous about spending this much money on one thing. Glad to know it will happen for us eventually! And I am off to write a love letter to potential sellers now as well!

    xx, Katrina

    1. Hi Katrina!
      I'm glad you found some solace in our story :) The process really is very discouraging and I actually thing we got incredibly lucky. I have several friends who, during their hunt, put in offers on 10+ houses and were rejected every time. In this market, a house will almost always go for more than asking, so my advice is to shop well below your max price so that you can make a competitive offer. And of course the love letter doesn't hurt either! Good luck to you both and thanks for reading!