Finding a Home in West Michigan is Tough
My wife and I moved to town almost 9 months ago. We love west Michigan and we've decided to call it home. However, finding an actual home has been a bit of an adventure.
When we first arrived in Grand Rapids, we stayed in the Courtyard Grand Rapids Downtown. It was a beautiful hotel, with great amenities, however after two weeks of living in the hotel, we started wondering why we couldn't find an apartment.
Let me back up here and give you a frame of reference.
You see where I'm from you could call 3-4 different apartment complexes, set up appointments, you go look at all of the different apartments, and then you discuss "Do we actually want to live in this or that apartment?" Weighing out the pros and cons, you leisurely decide what complex you'd like to reside in for the time being.
In Grand Rapids, this was not the case. We were met with "no vacancy" time and time again. Granted, we could have spent $1500 a month to live in some gorgeous apartments. However, that's like a mortgage payment for a $250,000 home. No thank you. Or, when we found an apartment that was reasonable, we would leave to talk about it in privacy, only to find out an hour later the rental was no longer available.
After venting to a coworker friend of mine he gave me this sage advice, "When you see a place you like you give them the money on the spot. You do NOT wait. You throw it at them if you need to." I laughed, he laughed. Then I thought, he's absolutely right.
His advice paid off, we found a place we kind of liked we gave them the deposit and first 2 months rent up front and moved in.
Time marched on. We are happy where we ended up ... but to be honest, the complex has its ups and downs.
Pro: we have a nice view.
Con: our neighbors are REALLY loud.
Pro: We have access to an indoor swimming pool and workout facility.
Con: there is a daily cold war over parking spots.
Pro: we don't have to shovel snow.
Con: someone keeps throwing cigarette butts on our porch (neither of us smoke).
Long story short (too late) the time has come for the McCart household to own a piece of West Michigan. So the search began again.
Now, unlike when we moved to town the lease on our apartment isn't up for another 5 months or so. So, we knew we shouldn't be in a rush to buy a house. We have the luxury of time and being picky this time. There is no crushing need of finding a place to live.
At this point, if I may, I'd like to brag on my realtor Jake Heglund, he's a rockstar. He took us from house to house really breaking down all of the pros and cons about houses and what not. For a first time home buyer we relied heavily on his expertise, picking his brain and whatnot. I told my wife later there were a couple of houses he could have talked us into, but he didn't. Jake is a good guy. (Disclaimer: I'm not getting paid nor compensated in any way for this. He's just a good guy who has made our lives easier.)
So, look (and smell) we went. We didn't have a crushing need to find a house. There was no point to frantically looking at every house that came on the market, but honestly, I think we did.
In less than a month we wanted to look at maybe 60 houses, we saw probably closer to 30 of them, because the housing market happens to be hot right now. Like REALLY hot. For example, there was a house the Lady McCart fell in love with at first (web)sight. It was under contract 6 hours later. Most of the other houses went in under 12 hours. It's pretty intense out there.
Some houses we actually looked at some were stunning, wonderful neighborhoods but way overpriced (only to us, I guess, as they still sold), others, were fixer uppers at a premium price (and still on the market). One place we really liked was in the (highly coveted) Forest Hills school district. So we put in a $2,000(ish?) over the asking price offer, only to be blown out of the water by a higher bid.
I'm happy to report this past weekend. We found 'the house'. At least we hope it's 'the house'. It's a nice starter home that has room to start a family and (possibly) build equity. Inspections are scheduled for Good Friday. Hopefully it's a good inspection and all is well.
I'm glad, and hopeful, to have all of this house hunting behind us for the next ten years or so. I told my wife I'm not sure how I will react to living in an actual house, as I haven't since I moved out of my parents' house.
I wonder how much money I've thrown away in paying rent. Ah, well.
If you would have told me a year ago, that I would be buying a home in West Michigan, I would probably have thought you were nuts. Funny how life works, I guess.
It turns out that we're not the only ones that had a problem finding 'the house'. FOX-17 reports that a ton of prospective buyers are having a hard time finding homes because there aren't that many and they're all selling so fast! This is a great thing for West Michigan, but man... it can make buying a house frustrating.