Homebuying: 2012 Chicago-style

by Gina St. Vincent Null

Should you buy a fixer-upper that’s a great deal, but spend more time and money at Home Depot? Or pay a little more to move in and enjoy your home right away? Perhaps, build a new house? These are the questions hopeful homeowners are asking themselves.

Recently, I worked with a young couple who had very a realistic vision of what they wanted in their home, were open minded about different locations, and had the means to spend a fair amount on their purchase. They soon found out that they were not alone.

Every Saturday morning, we would meet up to visit the newest listings. Many times we found ourselves following the same Realtors house to house. Who would have thought that during these tough economic times, there would be many others looking for that perfect move-in ready, 4 bedrooms, 2.5 bath, 2-car garage home in suburbia priced under $350k?

After a few months, we found a great house they both loved, but the deal fell through. We looked here, we looked there, but nothing was catching their eye quite like the house they first put an offer on. What to do?

So, I put on my thinking cap and expanded our search area a little more. The perfect house that matched 99.9% of what my clients were looking for pops up. Quick, hurry let’s go see it! “Too many showings to count!” says the listing agent when calling to schedule our appointment. We go see the home. Yep, it’s exactly what the clients are looking for. It’s time to write up a full price offer and submit it.

“What do you mean that it’s already sold? It’s only been on the market for less than 2 days? Did I mention, FULL PRICE OFFER?” I reply to the listing agent upon hearing that the beautiful and perfect home is already under contract…for over list price. Ouch! Seriously? Houses are having multiple offers and selling above list price? Who would have thought?

We take a minute to mourn the loss of this home. What shall we consider next? New construction! Who wouldn’t want to live in a nicely staged, new home, right? It would be so nice if you could just purchase the model and be done, but the next best thing is designing what you want your new home to look like. My clients were offered great deals and specials, but quick, you need to sign before the end of the month and quarter.

After giving the idea of new construction some thought, my clients decided that wasn’t best option for them. They were looking for something tangible, something they could see in the here and now. Time to look at new listings again; surely this time around we would find what they were looking for.

Our journey took us to a new area to look at a new selection of homes. By this time, my clients were getting frustrated. We had looked at around 56 houses!

One day last week, we went to see some “fixer-uppers”. Perhaps we could find a lower priced home that needed a little work. The husband found a “great deal”. Surely his other half loved it just as much, right? WRONG. The wife did notice the “awesome potential” it offered, but after we discussed the price on this house added with the cost of working on the home to update it, they quickly realized how expensive it would be. It was time to move on again.

Then we found this incredible house: 4 bedrooms, 2.5 bath, 2-car garage in suburbia priced under $350k that had only been on the market for 2 days. Quick, let’s go! They LOVED it. Bring the parents to see it. Awesome! Let’s write up an offer!. We start our offer at 89% of sales price. Not too bad. We go back and forth for a little while. We’re still not seeing eye to eye on price. Ouch. Another agent expressed interest in writing an offer.

Not this time. My clients decided to come up to sellers’ last and final counter offer, which happens to be the same price as what they paid for the house in 2005. This is a great deal for my buyers. There is nothing for them to really do but unpack and enjoy once they close. Good things really do come to those who wait.


Gina St. Vincent Null helps clients find homes for sale in Wheaton, IL and surrounding communities in DuPage County Illinois.