Purchasing a home during a pandemic
As you all may have heard my husband and I are officially homeowners. I cannot believe that this time has come. Two years ago my husband and I started down the path of home-ownership. It was a tough decision because we loved living in our condo downtown. Not only did it benefit both of our work, me being a blogger, and him being close to work, but being close to the beach was hard to give up. However, it was a goal that I know both him and I wanted to complete before we were thirty. I’m not going to lie, it was something difficult to do, not many young adults own homes in their twenties especially in Chicago because prices for homes can be quite expensive. Yet, through extensive saving, and gracious family members, we were able to make our dream happen.
As I said our search started two years ago but sadly we decided, after searching for a while, that we would have to wait another year before being homeowners. I mention this because I want you to know that saying, “maybe next year,” isn’t a BAD thing. Buying a home is a big commitment and at the time I was so upset that it didn’t happen. However, it’s okay to take your time and make sure that the home you decide upon is the right place for you and your significant other.
After a year of laying low and enjoying our beautiful condo we decided to try our search again. The first step is finding a real estate agent that you truly trust. We talked to a couple, and they were all great, but they didn’t seem to fit us. That is when we met Alicia Kuzma. They say you can tell a kind person by just speaking with them. Although we hadn’t officially seen Alicia both my husband and I could tell over the phone that she was the perfect realtor for us. Not only was she a great listener, but she also treated us with so much kindness and respect. A lot of realtors that we spoke to didn’t seem to take us seriously, partly because of our budget and because of our age. It is something that we became used to because it was a predisposition that we just couldn’t seem to shake. Alicia saw past all of that, she saw us, a young family looking to start a home and life together. That was the difference, that is why we decided to move forward with Alicia.
We contacted Alicia at the beginning of the year because we wanted to give each other enough time to look before our lease was up (which was in May). During that time we were both traveling for work and we expressed that to her. However, she was still amazing at sending us places to look at so that when the travels were over we could go and visit some homes.
We started in a neighborhood that we believed would be the best for us. We thought that they were safe, close to work, and a place that we would be happy living. However, after viewing some of the homes in these neighborhoods, we realized that they didn’t match up with our vision that we had for ourselves. Another helpful tip for first time home buyers is it’s OKAY to say no. I had to tell myself that several times because a couple of times I felt myself being okay with settling simply because I wanted to find a home already. Never settle, you deserve to find a place that makes you feel butterflies when you walk inside. My husband and I also had a bit of conflicting views on what we wanted. He wanted a bit of a fixer upper, I wanted something completely move-in ready. This is a normal conflict that happens to spouses because everyone has their own definition of what they dream of living in. My husband came from living on a farm in a home that his parents pretty much built from the ground. He was taught that if you fix something yourself, or build something yourself, it becomes that much more special. I came from a suburb and both my parents could barely change a light-bulb. Therefore, I had a different idea of home.
The key to success is compromise. We decided that we would find a place pretty much move-in ready but if it needed a fix, like the basement needed some work, we would consider it.
We voiced our opinions to Alicia and she came up with a solution, maybe we try a new neighborhood. She knew we wanted more bang for our buck, but didn’t want to compromise on safety. Therefore, she sent us more homes, in a different neighborhood, and both my husband and I instantly fell in love with a place we didn’t even know existed. For safety purposes I will not let you know what neighborhood it was, but, just know that sometimes you have to get out of your comfort zone. Trust your realtor and allow them to give you suggestions because without this change of location we would have never found our perfect home.
There was a house, a two bedroom, one bathroom, Georgian that I fell in love with in pictures. It was owned by a family, well decorated, and just screamed home from the pictures. Alicia immediately hopped on getting us a viewing. I believe we went the next day to see the home and as soon as I stepped inside it all hit me. This could be my home. I was attracted to the openness of the home, the amazing updated kitchen, and the deck that led to the back yard. It needed some updates, but overall it was such a beautiful starter home. What packaged it all together was the fact that you could feel the warmth inside of the home as if the family spread love all throughout this place and I loved that feeling. Both Patrick and I loved this place and we started the process of putting in an offer.
Putting an offer is possibly the scariest thing you could ever do. There're many emotions that go through your mind, excitement, fear, and the nagging feeling of letting go because at that point it is out of your hands. We had an issue with our pre approval letter because the home was a bit more than we initially got approved for. Sadly, we ended up losing the home because our loan agent at the time didn’t get the new approval letter over to Alicia in time.
This is where I am going to be real with you all. This process is hard, especially when your whole heart and emotions are involved. It’s difficult to say good-bye to a place you could truly see yourself living in. It’s hard to sometimes let go. However, through prayer, speaking with family, and the kind words from our realtor we had to accept that this home pretty much wasn’t meant to be.
I am not going to lie, it was hard looking at other places after losing what I thought would be my dream home. Every other place felt inadequate. I couldn’t help but compare every other place to the one that I feel in love with. It felt like going through a break-up dating other people but nothing compared to the love, emotion, and peace that you felt in your breakup. I literally felt scared from losing that place. This emotion is okay to feel. There will be days where you want to just give up altogether and just say, okay, maybe next year. I thought about that several times afterwards. However, my husband’s encouragement mixed with our realtor’s understanding, is what made me want to continue on.
We viewed a couple other Georgians after that. I knew that I loved that style of home because it had this old elegance that I became drawn too. The European architecture is something that I have always found fascinating so I swear we viewed almost every Georgian that came on the market in that location. Alicia was on top of sending every place our way and taking us to viewings abruptly after. I have never met someone so accommodating basically catering to our schedule. We had found two homes that seemed to catch our attention but after discussing with my husband we decided to put another offer on a home that had such a beautifully renovated kitchen. This kitchen was so beautiful y’all that it made me want to cook everything under the sun inside of it. It caught my husband’s eye because the upstairs needed a bit of a renovation so he focused on that project. Sadly, that place ended up not going through and at that point the world seemed to flip upside down. It was a week before the lock down, that is when we found out that we didn’t get that house either due to the owner wanting to stick to the originally listing price. Reality, set in. We knew as a young couple that we had to stay within budget. It is so important to stick within that budget and be realistic - something that my husband is much better at than I am. I mourned the loss of that place and once the fear of Covid-19 started creeping in I thought: wow, this is it. There’s no way we will find a place now.
I remember distinctly getting the text from Alicia. It was on a Friday I was at work and it was right after my boss basically told everyone that we would start the process of working from home. The text said to check a listing that she sent that immediately had come on the market that day. I remember being exhausted, scarred, but something inside me said: try again. I remember looking at the pictures of this home and immediately felt drawn to it, without thinking I told Alicia we had to see this place immediately. She arranged the viewing that day. In fact, right after work we all drove out to see the house.
I remember driving up to the house and telling my husband wow, I really love this place. Not only was it a Georgian that looked so well kept but the neighborhood looked so family orientated as well. I remember waiting outside on the driveway telling Alicia “Alicia, this could be the one.”
Have you ever felt this feeling of home, of familiarity, even without being at this place before? That is the only way I could describe what I felt entering this home. There was love there, kindness, and this sense of peace that I adored. It helped meeting the owner, someone who had built that house up himself. You could feel his love for his family, for his accomplishments in the home, and he expressed he wanted the next owner to love this place as much as they did. I didn’t want to leave, I wanted to stay right here in this home, because in my mind I knew this three-bedroom, two bath, Georgian was my forever.
We put in an offer that night and Saturday, the next day in the evening Alicia sent over a text that literally changed our life. The owner had accepted our offer!
That was step one completed and excitement is literally an understatement. Both my husband and I felt sheer and utter bliss. Afterwards, Alicia walked us through the entire rest of the process which became a lot more difficult because of the shelter in place. We had to do a home inspection quickly and luckily we had no issues doing so through the shelter in place. However, due to the banks being closed and people working from home the process of everything took much longer than expected. Make sure if you are looking to purchase a home start as early as you can because it’s always better to have more time than none at all.
The process already takes a bit but due to Covid-19 it takes even longer. We were supposed to close April 30th, 2020. However, despite both Alicia and our amazing loan agent trying everything they could we couldn’t officially close until May 1st, 2020. Luckily, our condo manager allowed us to stay an extra day without any repercussions.
May 1st, 2020 my husband and I drove up to a building and I remember thinking : this is so much different than how I expected it to be. I couldn’t even go in to sign everything with my husband because only one person was allowed in. Our agent, who has always attended the signing wasn’t even allowed in due to the regulations with social distancing. It was a bittersweet process but through it all I couldn’t help but think how blessed I was for this to even still happen despite all the odds against us. When my husband came out with paperwork to OUR new home I couldn’t help but cry from happiness.
We met Alicia at our home and she handed us the keys and I couldn’t think of any other person fit to do so. I said this before in my stories but I will say it again. Alicia became so much more than just our realtor, but she truly became a part of our family. There’s a difference between working a job and putting 100 percent effort in. She went above and beyond for us and because of her we found a place that will impact our lives forever. I do believe that God allows you to meet people for a reason and she truly became an angel to us through this difficult process.
Another difficulty we had to face purchasing a home during quarantine is moving. Patrick and I didn’t want to put anyone from our family in danger. Therefore, we anticipated moving by ourselves. It was difficult because as you all probably know I cannot lift very much myself. Therefore, after discussing that day we were lucky to have two friends (who wore masks and we wore masks) come to our aid. It’s a tough decision to make but something you truly need to think about if you purchase a home during the quarantine. Is there a right or wrong answer? No, there isn’t. You have to do what is best for you and come to that decision yourself.
It’s officially been two weeks since we moved into our home. Even as I write that it brings tears to my eyes because I never thought it could happen. I remember starting this process two years ago with a dream and hope of finding my forever home. All the tears, hard work, rejection it was all worth it because we ended up finding a place that was perfectly made for us. I wanted to create this post and document this process because I want young people to not be afraid of purchasing a home. Yes, it’s hard work, yes it’s a lengthy process, but IT CAN be done. You might say, is it even possible to look for homes during a quarantine, and I can truthfully say yes. This world is different right now but that doesn’t mean that you have to give up on your dreams.
When I posted my stories about purchasing a home during Covid-19 I read so many amazing stories of people going through their own hardships. Stay strong and believe in yourself because if it is meant to happen nothing, not even a pandemic, can stop you.
I want to give another huge shout out to all the people that made this possible for us! I want to thank God, who truly kept us sane and humbled through this process. I want to thank our families, both Patrick and I are truly lucky to have had such amazing people to walk us through this process. I want to thank the amazing, talented, and kind Alicia because she truly was a light shining through for us. Lastly, our loan officer Marta, who Alicia introduced us too. She truly worked so hard to also make this all happen.
I wish you all the best luck in purchasing or searching for a home during Covid-19. If you are looking for a realtor please see Alicia’s information below, you honestly couldn’t find a better person to assist you.
Thank you to all who read our story. I cannot wait to read all of yours. Remember, stay safe, stay optimistic, and keep smiling.
Until next time love bugs.