July 14, 2017 Family Household Living Simple Living Well Personal Finance 49

Yes, you read that correctly, we found our house on Craigslist….

…just writing that title makes me feel soooo #millennial

Let’s back up a little.

The Cross-Country Move

In mid-July 2016, Mr. Adventure Rich received a job offer in northern Michigan.  The offer was a big blessing.  It was our chance to move back closer to our extended family and move to a lower cost of living area.  While we both knew it would be a hard offer to say “no” to, we decided to give it a weekend and use a the long road trip through California’s Central Valley (en route to a wedding) to discuss our options and confirm that we were somewhat sane in uprooting our life and moving across the country.

Our trusty Penske.

Spoiler Alert:  Mr. Adventure Rich took the job and we moved to Michigan!

At the time, we were living in a cozy little “gatehouse” on the property of Mr. AR’s former employer (a small college -campus) in southern California.  Since we were not renting or owning our house, “all” we had to do was pack up and go!  Cue a month of frantic decluttering, wading through boxes and goodbyes to our friends in the area.

Arrival in Michigan

AR Jr. checking out his new home during the flight to MI (Mr. AR was driving cross-country with my dad)

Due to the hurried nature of our move, my parents generously offered to put us up in their home for a few months as Mr. Adventure Rich started his job and we looked for a place to rent or buy.  This allowed us to focus on the move and getting settled in our new situation without the additional stress of finding a place to live from 2,300+ miles away!

The Search

Part of our yard.

We arrived in Michigan in mid-August and began to search for a home immediately.  The market was hot and we began to see houses pop up and disappear quickly.  We were prepared to buy a house in the under $250K range (well under what we would “qualify for” in the banking world!).  We decided to look in an area closer to town/a bit farther from Mr. Adventure Rich’s employer for a variety of reasons, including proximity to schools/kid activities, social life and a good church in the area.

Honestly, Mr. Adventure Rich and I went into our home search with an open mind.  We were prepared to look both at “forever homes” as well as “starter homes” or “home for now, future rental” situations.  We did not have many requirements for our home and were willing to look both at new constructions as well as old fixer-uppers.  My biggest concern boiled down to finding a home that I could easily work from home in, preferably with a dedicated room with a door I could close when I “arrive at work” each morning.

Despair

Path through the woods.

After about 2 weeks of searching, we felt discouraged.  I know, I know, two weeks is nothing, but we were beginning to feel like we were wasting our time searching the listings, creepily driving past houses and chasing down “For Sale” signs.

One house was wayyy too big.

Another was too far from town.

This one is too far from Mr. Adventure Rich’s employer.

That one is already under contract.

This one is in a dumb looking neighborhood.

That neighborhood is too nice (we’ll never keep our lawn that green!).

We were in contact with a local real estate agent and long-time family friend who sent us possible houses and began to help us with the search, but we were still coming up dry.  She also warned us that everyone was looking in the area we targeted, so we needed to be prepared to see houses that sell before we could make an offer.  Oh joy.

Craigslist? 

Old sheds near the house.

I distinctly remember the puffy white clouds drifting across the blue sky as we drove towards town.  After a long few months of interviews, packing, moving and settling in, Mr. Adventure Rich and I were exhausted, exasperated and ready for a break.  AR Jr. was with his grandparents and we were heading out for a quick late summer date night… local microbrew + ice cream.

Mr. Adventure Rich and I decided to stop talking about the house search for the evening once we got to town, but that didn’t stop us from discussing our failure to find a house that felt “right” during the 20 minute drive!

Mrs. Adventure Rich:  I just don’t think I’ve seen anything that I like or that is in our price range yet.

Mr. Adventure Rich:  Me either, and we’ve looked everywhere!

Mrs. Adventure Rich:  Maybe it’s time to just look for a rental.  We can move out of my parents’ house, get our own place and try again in a few months.

Mr. Adventure Rich:  Sounds good.  Haven’t you been browsing rentals already?

Mrs. Adventure Rich:  Yep.  Craigslist has a few options, I’ll search some more tomorrow.

Mr. Adventure Rich:  Craigslist?  Have you checked for any houses for sale on Craigslist?

Mrs. Adventure Rich:  ….

Damn that man is a genius.

So I logged on the next day, searched houses for sale and there it was.  A 3 bed 2 bath house nestled in the wooded back portion of a 10 acre property.

In autumn glory.

This cannot be real.

I quickly texted Mr. Adventure Rich and we decided to drive by the house after work.  I impatiently tried to focus on my projects as I waited for Mr. AR to get back to my parents house and pick me up.

The Drive-By

We drove past the property and saw…. This:

Our driveway. From the road, you see even less!

A black top driveway leading to farmland? Our dream home? Paradise? A dump? We couldn’t really tell since the driveway arched up over a hill that blocked our view.

In order to not be the creepy nosey weirdos, we decided to drive past the driveway 5 times and NOT drive into the property.  There was no “For Sale” sign and we began to doubt if the house was even for sale anymore or perhaps it had already been sold.

Summer shade.

The next day, I called our real estate agent and told her we’d like to take a look at “this house we found on Craigslist”.  Surprisingly, she didn’t laugh (at least, not to our faces…) and tried to contact the current owner.   Interestingly enough, he was a bit gun shy about working with a real estate agent (hence the “for sale by owner” on Craigslist) and didn’t readily give her much information.  He had only posted the house on Craigslist due to the fact that he did not want to work with a real estate agent on the sellers side.

After a week of trying to help us, she called me and told me to go ahead and see if he would show us the house without her there.

First Impressions

I called the number on the Craigslist ad and reached the owner.  He let me know that the house was still for sale and confirmed a time to visit that Saturday afternoon.  I don’t know why, but I was nervous about giving a good first impression… maybe this whole “for sale by owner” deal made me think I was going in for an interview or something, but I dressed nicely and we drove over.  We arrived promptly, bringing my parents along to see the house with us.

Our driveway.

We were stunned.  The driveway alone nearly sold us.  Lined with mulberry trees, the driveway split two big fields in the front and led to the back portion of the long, rectangular property where the house is located. I will spare you the play-by-play (maybe I’ll write about it later), but to cut to the chase, we loved it.

The house was decorated very, um, quaintly?  Chicken figurines lined the windowsills and pink tin dolphins leaped across the wall.  Yikes.  But the bones were (and still are!) so beautiful.  Wood trim everywhere.  Gorgeous big windows overlooking pristine fields, forest and yards bordered by farmhouses, cows and horses.  We were in love.

Neighboring cow farm.

We finished the house tour and headed outside.  The outdoors upstaged the house by a long shot. The 10 acres laced with evergreens, maples, poplars, lilac bushes and apple trees.

The wooded yard behind our house.

At one point, as we traversed an old logging path through the woods, my dad leaned over and whispered to me,

“The property alone is worth the price.”

He was right.  Luckily, we like the house as well, but if the property alone was selling for the same amount, we would have deemed it a fair price… especially as recovering Californians 🙂

The Offer

Daydreaming during the inspection.

By Monday morning, we had submitted our documents to a local bank for pre-approval and asked for a rush processing.  We set up time to come back to the house on Thursday with our real estate agent and asked her to bring along any necessary offer documents.  The owner met us Thursday after work and showed us around one more time.  We made an offer on the spot ($220,000 to be exact), he accepted, and we have lived in our home for the past 9 months… and we’re lovin’ it!”

And that is how we found our house on Craigslist!

Anyone else have an “interesting” house purchase story?  Any other Craigslist gems out there?  Or are we crazy to have bought our house off of Craigslist???

 

Always an Adventure,

Mrs. Adventure Rich

p.s.- Yes, I know, I’m glazing over all the juicy details about the numbers and buying process, but I’ll save that for another time.