Finding a house to live in is the most important thing to us after arriving in Michigan – not only because our household & furniture is scheduled to arrive here by end of this month (June 2016), but also because it is important to have a “real” place to live and an adress to put in applications or contracts. Our cozy apartment style room here at Staybridge Suites Novi is very nice and comfortable, don’t get me wrong….but of course it’s not a real “home”-place. For peace of mind and the sake of our toddler having the chance of “settling down”, visiting a realtor’s office was one of the very first things we did on the second day here in the US.
We decided to go with the company Real Estate One since they are covering all of Michigan, and after we met our realtor, we immediately clicked with her. She is SO lovely, and has already proven she doesn’t just want to put us in any old available house for the sake of getting a deal as quick as possible.
The way it works here, is that each realtor’s office has some properties they put online and know about/have visited before, but then they also have access to a whole “pool” of all the houses offered at the current time in this area/state. So some are offered by other realtors/companies and they can get access to showing those properties to us as clients, but havn’t been to see each house beforehand. Basically when showing those kind of properties to us, the realtor will also see it for the first time. There are some indications where the realtors can guess about the state of a property such as “no photos” or “only one photo of the outside of the house”, which could mean they are hiding something, but in general, it is always better to go and look at a house yourself – never go by JUST the pictures online.
This was a lesson we expected to learn at some point, and experienced full circle right away on our first trip house hunting. We wanted to look at 2 houses in West Bloomfield in particular, usually a nice area to live in and the neighbourhood seemed very well taken care of. Then we got to the first house and already noticed the outside was not what it seemed to be on the pictures – everything seemed run down. Stepping inside the full horror became visible. It was not taken care of AT ALL. There was left over something in the fridge (eeww!!), the toilet was nasty (brown..eeeewwww!!) and walls, windows and flooring seemd worn down badly. Everything was topped by the musty smell..Our realtor called it “scary” and that was exactly what it was…scary to be in, so I wanted to get out as quickly as possible and hoped maybe that was just bad luck. After all we didn’t think the first house we would see, would be THE HOUSE for us right away.
Off to the second house we went, and while pulling up in the drive way we immediately knew what the pictures online were in black & white. There was black mold all over the whole outside of this house already. Our realtor lady, lovely as she is, said she doesn’t want me to go outside and even near that house, because I’m pregnant and with a toddler in addition to that we shouldn’t be anywhere near that mold. So we drove away and were disappointed that BOTH the houses we looked had were in such poor, horrible condition. Our realtor lady was upset about that as well, so she stopped at the next Starbucks and offered us a snack while she worked intensively on her computer to find at least ONE nice home to show us that day.
And we found one…granted it was 400$ above our initial budget, but we just wanted to see the difference. When we got there I noticed immediately how pleasant the neighbourhood looked, with swings in front of so many houses, which tells me: ah, lots of children, good for a family like us with a toddler desperate to make friends. But when I stepped inside that house, it really hit me: I WANT TO LIVE HERE!!! Oh boy, what a difference those 400$ can be is also something we learned – it seemed like a thousand dollar difference. It smelled nice, clean, the layout was open and spacious, all appliances were either new or very clean and well taken care of. It seemed PERFECT for us and we were ready to pay that price to get the house. On the kitchen table we found 10 other cards from other realtors so we expected a lot of competition. Our realtor called right away the realtor from the “other side”, the one putting that house up for lease. After she got off the phone she told us there are actually only 2 other parties interested still and the “realtor from the other side” said she liked us better than them from what she learned about us.
We got our hopes up high, only to fall deep the next moment. That “realtor from the other side” called back after 30 seconds only (we were still standing in that drive way) and suddenly her attitude changed. She said that the price/lease for that house suddenly would be upped another 300$, because of those other 2 parties interested, and it might go up even higher. UGH, what the…..I mean, playing poker is one thing, but expecting us to be that naive and ready to throw whatever money at her is just nasty. She could have never called back the two other parties within 30 seconds after telling our realtor we would have the best chance at that house. To be honest with you, I don’t even think there really were any other parties, it was all a lie to push the price. She knew we have a little toddler and I am pregnant, so having the nerve to tell us the price is upped THAT much and will be even higher once she’s finished playing her game…that’s just rude.
In the end our realtor lady told us, if we were ready to pay that price the house was initially listed for (which was higher than our budget indeed but we saw it made all the difference), she could show us other properties where we wouldn’t have to play that nasty game of house poker that the “realtor from the other side” put us through. As I said, we clicked with our lovely realtor lady and we do trust her on that as much as possible, so we ended episode 1 of our house hunting mission and will meet up again this thursday to go look at more houses.
The perfect house for us – OUR HOUSE – ist still out there, I just know it.