Our Chicago house hunt feels like it’s been forever. In reality, it’s been about 18 months off and on, but we really got serious in January. I shared how we settled on our criteria to focus our Chicago house hunt. We found a house this weekend, toured and put an offer in. Here’s what happened…
First of all, let’s back up a second… Find a realtor you love and trust. I feel like it’s important to mention because I wouldn’t have known half of what I know now if it weren’t for our agent. We’ve been working with Brooke Vanderbok for years thanks to my sister-in-law. She’s in the top 1% of agents in Chicago, part of the TAN network (top agent network – I’ll tell you why this is important later), a super tough & creative negotiator, and an all-around good human (I’ll also share why this is important, too). Not sponsored at all, I just think she’s the best.
So, we got into the house one day early because there was a special open house for TAN agents only. [This is why it’s SO important to work with a top agent!]. With a crowded open house on a snowy April day, we knew there would be multiple offers.
The house was adorable! It was a little small but had an unfinished basement, which we could finish adding an additional 600 square feet. Adding value is important to us, so that was a big win! It had a super cute backyard, amazing deck, adorable porch, and open floor plan with 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms upstairs. While we loved multiple upstairs bathrooms, we’d ideally have 3 bedrooms upstairs. Overall, this house seemed like a great fit. Not super spacious, but totally doable! Oh, and it’s in a super solid neighborhood and feeds into a good school meeting our other criteria.
Seeing the potential and knowing the price, we thought it was a good buy. It’s important to share that Brooke coached us on how much particular renovations cost as has our contractor. So, Matt & I made a list of the updates we’d want to make and factored that into the total price of the home. We pulled together a competitive offer and Brooke shared it with the sellers.
Knowing the home was popular, they wanted to sleep on it and see if any other offers came in. Gosh, am I glad they did.
Why We Backed Out & Why I’m SO Thankful for Brooke
Our offer technically expired at 11pm last night. It’s not our first offer so we know how these things work… We connected with Brooke this morning on pricing because best & final offers were due around noon. Brooke methodically walked us through her analysis. After discussing the improvements, she coached us on the potential over improvement problem we could run into. This is why Brooke is an amazing human.
Most agents (in my opinion) try to get the sale. Brooke has worked with us for 18 months on this process and we were ready to go. She easily could have closed the deal if she wanted to. Instead, Brooke cautiously coached us on thinking through whether or not this is the right house for us.
Knowing it was 2 bedrooms upstairs and not 3 ultimately became a dealbreaker for us. While we most likely won’t have more than 1 child, many people do. Through our list of improvements, we would want the potential to appeal to the broadest set of buyers possible. Those buyers include families with multiple kids. So even though there was a bedroom on the main floor or the potential to add one downstairs, having only 2 bedrooms up (and not 3) was the dealbreaker. Moral of the story it was not a great match for the Herrmannitos.
Matt & I are feeling surprisingly refreshed about it. We both feel like the house is coming soon and we’re definitely ready to go when the right home lists. In the meantime, I’m focused on cleaning up our condo and putting extra things & all of the studio belongings into storage with MakeSpace, which you can get $100 off using code MAKER-GMP.
If you need an agent, consider contacting Brooke Vanderbok. She’s really made this experience so much better. You can always email her, go through her website or call her at 773-991-4895. I’m always happy to share more detail, too. Just email me or DM me on Instagram.
Affectionately known to her friends as Millennial Martha for her love of DIY and decorating, Jen can’t help but pour her heart + soul into everything she touches. She’s loved to entertain since acquiring a table and chairs, and giving gifts is one of her favorite hobbies. Jen is the creator of Girl Meets Party. Her dream is to share her passions with the world in hopes to inspire others by making the seemingly unattainable attainable.