Buying a home: it’s one of the biggest purchases you’ll make in a lifetime, so you might be feeling the pressure if you’re on a house hunt — especially in the current seller’s market. Amidst home mortgage shopping, busy open houses and nights spent refreshing Zillow, it’s important to remember that buying a home should also be exciting and fun. Just ask Shavez, Corbin, Dree and Craig.
These three home buyers and their families all had their own unique situations that made them decide it was time to move — and once they started house hunting, they each found a house that made a stressful process worth the wait.
When Shavez Samuels found himself surrounded by gifts from his first child’s baby shower, he and his wife knew it was time to buy a bigger place where they could grow their family. “We had a lot of stuff from the baby shower filling up our entire apartment,” he said. “Once we did start looking, we were thinking about what neighborhoods we wanted to be in, how many rooms we needed, all that good stuff. What made us fall in love with our house was the neighborhood, Beverly, which is outside of Chicago. It was close to family, work, good schools. Everything really worked out.”
Like many families shopping for a new home, Shavez was up against a competitive market where houses were selling for thousands more than the asking price — especially in neighborhoods like Beverly, where he eventually found a fixer-upper that could be remodeled to fit his family’s needs. “The goal is that when we move in, we don’t want to have to fix a bunch of stuff,” Shavez said. “When we were looking in Beverly, which can be a pricier neighborhood, we were looking at houses that weren’t super upkept. It would be cheaper to buy in and rebuild a little — it’s sort of an extreme makeover situation.”
Shavez and his family have a few more projects to complete, like building a deck in the backyard and adding an addition that will hold another bedroom. His advice to new home buyers? Stay the course. “Don’t give up. If you didn’t get the house you set your eyes on, you might find another house that had something that the original one didn’t even have.”
Buying a home: dream backyard
For Dree and Craig Stokes, finding a home in Los Angeles wasn’t exactly an easy journey. The couple and their two kids had moved three times within 16 months, and they were ready to break the rental cycle and find something permanent. “We wanted stability,” Craig said. “We thought, ‘We’re tired of moving and tired of renting. Let’s find somewhere we can be stationary, get our kids in school and feel like we’re settling down’.”
Dree and Craig looked at nearly 30 properties on their house hunt. As small business owners and parents to two young children, they had a lot on their plates in addition to looking at prospective homes. When they found a turnkey house that checked all their boxes, they were assertive in putting in an offer.
“Most of the houses here in LA were built in the 50s or 60s, or even earlier. They have a lot of character and a lot of charm, but a lot of things need to be updated,” Craig said. “Every house we saw had some kind of concession we’d have to make, especially with price, since there’s been such high demand and low supply. When we saw this house, the price was within our budget and it was larger than any of the other houses we’d seen, especially for that price. We were pretty aggressive putting in an offer, and we got accepted.”
Although the house Dree and Craig chose doesn’t need any major renovations, Dree has big plans for their backyard. “The way [the backyard] was landscaped is really cool,” Dree said. “I think a lot of people could easily envision where the pool would be, where they would grill out, how they could sit outside under some string lights. We want to add that pool and a sitting and entertainment area.”
Buying a home: dream scenario
Corbin Fromm and his wife Jesse were in an especially unique situation when it came time to buy: Their home’s sellers were Corbin’s parents. “As a little kid, I always knew I wanted to be in this area,” Corbin said. “And I always just loved this house. So, Jesse and I lived downtown Denver for three or four years. And then the opportunity came up where my parents were tired of maintaining a big yard [and house]. So, we’re fortunate to be in a situation where we can purchase it from them.”
Like in many other parts of the country, the Denver market is extremely competitive, with homes being purchased by buyers bidding thousands over the asking price. “During COVID-19, we moved in with my parents for a couple of months to save up a little bit more money, and never really looked at any other houses,” Corbin said. “I didn’t have to deal with the craziness that is the market, which was kind of nice.”
Now that the house is their home, Corbin and Jesse love sitting on the back deck that faces a golf course. And, they’ve given the inside of the house a bit of a makeover: “We took out all of the carpet on the main floor, put in tile and redid the kitchen,” he said. “And then we added a bedroom and a bathroom down in the basement.”
For Corbin and Jesse, one of the biggest assets on their home buying journey was their mortgage broker Jamie, who had helped Corbin with his accounting and management firm in the past. “She’s been awesome. She was helping us with our business, and then she changed over to the mortgage department. It was kind of a no-brainer to go with her because of how helpful she was the banking. She made [buying a house] as easy as it could be.”
Learn more about the home buying process so you feel more prepared entering the housing market. Our first-time home buyer's guide to getting a mortgage breaks down the journey.
No matter what your situation looks like, U.S. Bank mortgage lenders are here to help. Make an appointment to get more information on how you can kickstart your house hunt.