My First Home Buying Story

/ Thursday, June 6, 2013

When I was younger, my family would go to the grocery store and I would pick up the free Homes & Lands magazines and dream. I told myself the day will come when I move into one of those beautiful homes they advertised on their glossy pages. I would spend hours looking at the pictures, admiring the million dollar homes, and reading the descriptions. I quickly learned quaint meant small & potential meant it needed a lot of work.

I graduated college, found a steady full-time job, opened a business, and dreamed a little harder. For the past 5 years, I went to open-houses on my own or with my friends who were realtors. I pre-approved for a loan, put bids down, and nothing happened. The market was crazy and looking back, I'm glad I didn't take the plunge. Before my father passed, I tried again with the intent of putting extra effort in finding a house to call my own. It was a buyer's market and with rates so low, why not? I started looking again and then my world stopped. With my father passing, priorities shifted.

My house search started again on July 23, 2012 when I saw an ad for a house in Burbank. I knew I had to act fast and contacted my friend/realtor, Doris. The house was on the market for a day and someone bought it immediately with cash. My heart dropped. We continued looking and found a house in Sylmar. I hadn't considered Sylmar before but after looking at this house, I felt it was a great buy and had tons of character. We opened escrow & after completing inspection, I didn't have the heart to go forward with the sale. There was so much work to be done. Although Paul would be the one doing all the work (he owns a construction business & does super amazing work), I just couldn't imagine us going through that. I continued my search and looked at dozens upon dozens of houses. The real estate market in Southern California is crazy! Low inventory & low rates mean greater competition. It took almost 3 months to find my home and another 8 months to close escrow. Why?

The house was a short-sale. A short-sale is not for the faint at heart. The banks work realllllly slow. I signed the offer while in China and prayed. Oh, and celebrated with a treat.

I had the challenge of working with two banks because the house had two liens on it. Fun, really. Months dragged on... we didn't hear from the banks for awhile even after daily phone calls from Doris & her team. I started looking again but my heart was attached to this house. Although I was not in a rush to purchase a home, I just wanted to move forward. Since time had passed and the market was in favor of the seller, the bank conducted a BPO and countered my offer. After carefully thinking it through and many talks with my mom, I accepted.

We opened escrow, completed the inspection, and I signed tons and tons of documents.

This dream of mine was becoming a reality. With all the hard work saving money, looking for the right home, and lots and lots of praying, I finally closed escrow on May 31st. On Monday, I took my mom & sister, Sonia Mae, to see the house for the first time and get my keys. It was awesome.

Seeing my mom so happy makes me happy, too...

Finding a realtor who gets "you" is so so important. Doris and I are sorority sisters & friends for years so I didn't hesitate to contact her when I started house hunting. I don't know what I would have done without Doris. She pushed my file along & was so patient throughout the whole process. One thing I appreciate about her the most is that she never, ever pushed me to purchase a home. When I was in escrow for the house in Sylmar, she encouraged me to find another home because of all the repairs that needed to be done. I appreciate her honesty and am so happy she is part of this story.

Purchasing this home on my own has been my biggest accomplishment to date. Being an unmarried, single woman trying to buy a house in Los Angeles is pretty stressful and I'm so happy the process is behind me. Do I recommend a short sale? I think if you are in no rush to purchase a home and are willing to patiently wait, I say do it. The amount of time I waited was worth the thousands of dollars I saved.

So, what's next? As you may or may not know, we are currently in the middle of wedding season. With no weekends off until mid-July and a list of updates/renovations I would like done, I am hoping to move in the end of August. In the meantime, I will be pinning my heart out. I'll share some of the renovations & ideas along the way.

Thanks for letting me share my story with you. xoxo



All photos taken with my lovely handy iPhone.


  1. Lizzi, congratulations! You've worked hard and you deserve all the good in the world. Thank you for the insight on buying a home and the process. Many well wishes and prayers.

    1. Thanks for all the well wishes & prayers! I appreciate it so much! =)

  2. This is such a monumental accomplishment, Lizzi. I know your house is going to be beautiful and perfectly YOU! Our house was a short sale too. I agree...short sales are not for the faint of heart. We dealt with two banks that dragged their feet, and we WERE in a rush. (We wanted to take advantage of two first-time home buyer tax credits.) Congratulations. Can't wait to help you celebrate!

  3. And, oh, your dad would have been proud...

    1. Thanks, Kat, for such kind words! I can't wait for you guys to see the place once it's done! =)


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