In 2018, Lola was living in a two-bedroom Seattle rental house when she started thinking about buying a condo at the suggestion of a friend. Her mom agreed that investing in real estate would be a great idea because Lola planned to stay in the States, having moved from China to study construction management.
Lola likes to do her homework and with something as big as buying a home, she dug in to learn all she could. The first task was choosing an agent.
With a goal of finding a home for herself and her Labradoodle, FC, she went to Redfin mixers and talked to several traditional agents as well.
Then she saw an ad for a free homebuying class from Flyhomes and decided to attend. She was open to working with a newer agency like Flyhomes because she believes it’s time for the real estate industry to change and she’s interested in startups.
At the Flyhomes class, Flyhomie Chase brought in homemade food to share.
“It was really startup style!” Lola says.
She chose to work with another agent, but he got promoted, so he couldn’t work with her after all. So, she decided to revisit Flyhomes. That’s when she met Wendy, one of the company’s earliest employees. They clicked because of Wendy’s succinct, easy way of communicating.
“I liked her way of analyzing,” Lola says. “That was very important for my decision making process.”
As a first-time homebuyer, Lola assumed a condo would be her best option. Doing more homework, she started reading Seattle Bubble to learn about the local real estate market. That got Lola thinking that a house might be a better choice for her than a condo.
When she and Wendy discussed what she wanted in a home, they agreed a house was the way to go.
That way, Lola could have her parents visit, and have more room for friends. Plus, the market at that time wasn’t as strong for condos as it was for single family homes.
She also likes the idea of being able to make changes to the home if she wants to.
“Your creativity is a little contained in a condo,” she says.
Lola’s real priorities are architectural details, in line with her background in construction management. She knows how to read inspection reports, has taken real estate courses, and pays a lot of attention to how homes are built.
Her take on the phrase location, location, location?
“It’s wood ceiling, wood ceiling, wood ceiling!”
She wanted to be near the light rail and was open to many locations. Wendy suggested looking in Columbia City as homes in the south end of Seattle tend to be slightly more affordable … and the light rail is there!
Her first pick style-wise would be a Northwest contemporary home built in the 1950s or 60s.
“But the choices were very, very limited in my price range,” she says. “So I started to look into craftsman style.”
She spent the summer of 2019 going to many open houses and eventually started touring with Flyhomes tour agents one on one.
She also worked with several different Flyhomes Client Advisors as Wendy’s role shifted, eventually taking her to southern California to lead our California-based team.
The first offer she made was one that Wendy knew she was unlikely to “win” against the competition, but Wendy suggested moving forward to get a feel for what it’s like to make an offer in the market.
“I was very emotional the first time,” Lola says. “It was an unforgettable experience. Each time, I was still nervous but became more mature.”
Over time, Lola made seven or eight home offers. She kept notes about each one on a whiteboard, tracking the relevant info and the outcome.
She continued to broaden her options based on what she was learning about the market and about what was important to her.
“I wasn’t practical at first,” she says.
Right before the pandemic, she made an offer on a house in Judkins Park that she really liked, but the seller chose another offer.
During summer 2020, Lola noticed that prices were up from when she started looking seriously in summer 2019.
In Seattle, the pandemic led to a steep drop in the number of listings at the start of the typical peak season. With buyers competing for the homes that were available, sellers gained confidence and started listing homes with higher prices. (See our market updates for details.)
Other than prices, Lola didn’t feel much impact on her search from the pandemic.
“There were a few weeks when you couldn’t tour,” she says. “I loved going to open houses and with the pandemic, I needed to tour one on one with an agent coming to meet me. That’s the biggest difference.”
One Friday, she made an offer on a house in Columbia City, her eye still on south Seattle neighborhoods. That house ended up selling (to someone else) for $140,000 above list price.
Feeling defeated, Lola turned back to looking at listings on her phone. At this point, she was aware of every house for sale in her price range.
She had noticed one in Ballard that she felt sure would sell for above her budget … but when she looked again after not getting the Columbia City house, she saw that it was surprisingly still listed, even though its offer review date had passed.
So, Lola and her Client Advisor, Mehar, kicked into high gear. When she toured the home, she liked what she saw.
“Landing in Ballard was never my intention,” she says. “In retrospect, I’m super lucky.”
The house is quirky with architectural features that Lola loves, like an exposed brick wall and kitchen cabinets from 1925. She also liked the range and the yard.
Mehar and Lola submitted a Flyhomes Guaranteed Offer with an inspection contingency. Waiving contingencies is one way to make a strong offer, but in this case the timeframe was so short that Mehar recommended keeping the contingency.
The offer was accepted!
She and FC moved into their new home in August 2020 and they’re both enjoying exploring their new neighborhood.
“Every time I walk the dog, I’m constantly surprised by the location,” she says. “I didn’t know it was walkable to so many places. There’s no light rail, that’s one sad thing. Oh, well … it’s coming in 15 years.”
Congratulations, Lola. All of your homework paid off!
Ready to start your story?