Job opportunities in the Bay Area brought Kelsey, an engineer, and Lee, a software developer, to the Bay Area in 2016.
“There’s a lot we love here,” says Lee. “Wine clubs, good food, skiing in the mountains.”
They’d been renting a historic home in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and continued renting when they moved. They found a townhouse near downtown Livermore, where they enjoyed living close to restaurants and theaters, but wanted a yard.
“We’re excited to get a dog and it’s so beautiful outside that it’s a shame to be limited to a tiny patio,” Lee says. For now, they have a cat: Atticus.
When they started thinking about buying a home, a yard was at the top of the wishlist. Other things on the list included two bedrooms, one bathroom, walkability, a good kitchen for entertaining, a two-car garage, not too big to take care of, and not a lot of work to be done.
Style-wise, Kelsey says, “I went to school in Oregon, so my perfect dream would be a craftsman in California, where it doesn’t rain so much and where we can enjoy the sunshine.”
The key phrase that kept coming up: “Small but nice.”
Kelsey and Lee went to open houses for 18 months.
“Not every weekend. We weren’t hyper-focused,” Lee says. “We were just trying to get a sense for the market. In the first couple of months, it was just skyrocketing faster than we could save for it.”
He continues, “The real estate market in this area is sooo competitive. It’s just very expensive, very limited supply. Things go quickly.”
“We found a house we really, really liked but it sold for cash lightening fast,” Kelsey says. “So that told us to get our ducks in a row.”
In October, they noticed a plateau in the market and had saved enough money to feel comfortable getting serious.
Kelsey had noticed a Flyhomes ad. “All my friends who purchased homes in the last five years talked about how horrifying it was,” she says. “So I was intrigued by this company that was trying to make it easier.”
“I had been very leery of finding an agent that we thought was taking good care of us, and who had aligned incentives,” Lee adds. “We were really excited that there are companies looking for outside of the box ways to add value to the process.”
They talked with Russell, a Flyhomie in our San Francisco office, and soon started working with their Client Advisor, Eric.
“We loved that there were people who can show up and show you a house on short notice, people running the calculations to come up with a fair offer price, and the opportunity to do a Cash Offer or Guaranteed Offer, even though at the end of the day we didn’t end up needing that,” Lee says.
“Rather than having a buyer’s agent who was just interested in commission, we had a teammate,” Kelsey adds.
The Search: A Tale of Two Houses
In the same day, Kelsey and Lee toured two similarly-priced Livermore houses.
House One was larger than House Two, built in the 1990s versus 1926, had a decent kitchen, but lacked the charm factor of House Two.
House Two was closer to downtown, backed up to a park, and had the California cottage feel Kelsey and Lee wanted.
It’s also in a neighborhood Kelsey says they drooled over, “but the houses where you don’t need to lift a finger were 30% over our price range.”
Even needing work, House Two’s price tag seemed too high.
Lee says, “The first house was more modern, very suburban, didn’t need a lot of work. We decided to move forward with that one but the sellers just wouldn’t budge on price. They didn’t accept our offer and we knew we weren’t going to counter.”
During a break from work over the holidays, Kelsey walked past House Two and noticed it was still for sale. She still loved its charm and location, so she went home and started her own analysis on the worst case scenario of potential repairs it would need.
“We started running the numbers and Flyhomes helped scope out costs,” Lee says. “Kelsey spent a Saturday estimating what it would cost to repair the fireplace.”
After crunching the numbers, Lee continues, “We realized this could really work if the sellers would work with us on the price a little bit. We had underestimated what it would take to get into the first home and overestimated what it would take to get into the second one.”
Winning the Offer
With their sights set on House Two, Lee and Kelsey shifted their wishlist: They wouldn’t get a two-car garage and they had to become willing to accept a higher maintenance burden.
Surprisingly, the house had been on the market for about 60 days. The seller had already dropped the price. It was winter, which tends to be a slower time in the market. Plus, a two bedroom, one bathroom home isn’t typically what buyers in the particular area look for … it’s too small for many families.
“By the time Christmas rolled around, people had to be wondering why it had been on the market for so long,” Lee says. “Eric learned that there were no offers so we knew we could take our time a little bit.”
The lack of competition also meant that Kelsey and Lee decided with Eric to submit a traditional offer rather than a Flyhomes Cash Offer or Guaranteed Offer.
“The rebate that came with the traditional offer was nice,” Lee says. “Contingencies also played into it. We had this worst case scenario, so we didn’t want to waive appraisal or inspection like we’d do with the cash offer. With the age of the home, we wanted super in-depth information.”
Kelsey adds, “The house isn’t completely turnkey. There’s work that needs to be done. Luckily for us, people hear ‘knob and tube’ and run for the hills. It’s not that big of a deal to fix.”
“We put in an offer in the range Flyhomes suggested and the seller came down,” Lee says.
Kelsey and Leland won the home for 3% under list price and officially closed in early January. What a way to start the year!
With cat Atticus, they’re enjoying their new space in the neighborhood they love … so, time to get a dog to play in the yard? We say yes!
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