Over the past 12 years, my husband and I have bought two houses in Santa Barbara. Considering that I am a Realtor and this is what I have done professionally for the past 16 years, I wish I could say that both of our purchases had been easy. But if I said that, I would be lying to you.
I openly admit this because I think it is important to be honest about how hard it can be to purchase a property. I love what I choose to do for a living…most of the time. There are many times during the home buying and selling process when the process is not fun at all. Sometimes one party feels slighted. Egos flare on all sides, even agents. Financial realities are flushed out and loans fall through. Inspections don’t turn out well. Properties don’t sell right away. Replacement properties take long to find and rental housing is needed. A client has to sell to buy and that creates a weaker offer. Sometimes there are 20 offers on one property and sometimes my clients are not the winning bid. Couples divorce and I get calls to assist them with the settlement of their lives. Same for when clients pass away. It is not always easy, this thing called life.
In 2008 my husband and I bought our first house on the Westside of Santa Barbara. This was an off-market sale belonging to 3 siblings that inherited equal shares of the property. We sat down with our lender to figure out financially how to “cannon ball” into the deep end (as I often put it to first time home owners) and become home owners. This purchase would be a HUGE project but we loved the neighborhood. The size worked for our pre-kid existence. There was a yard for our dog, Lager Coltrane. The price was attainable and we had the time and energy to remodel and do a lot of the work ourselves.
The house was a wreck. Truly. There were 5 sump pumps moving water out of the crawl space below the home and you could look down through the rusty floor heater and see the water level. Every single system in the whole house, (plumbing, knob and tube electrical, except the roof) had to be redone. All 87 layers of paint, each telling a story of bygone popular color trends (Pepto-Bismol pink bathroom including pink toilet), had to be scraped. The avocado green carpet was threadbare and luckily covering the original wood floor that with a little re-finishing would look great. There was a fireplace. Those two things, the wood floor and the fireplace were the good parts.
The moral of the story is that we went for it and purchased a house that was within our financial means, on a street we liked, in a neighborhood that we loved, near friends, walking distance to downtown, a manageable size and an actual home. We worked tirelessly for months and months and moved in and ended up staying in that house for 9 years. We brought each of our sons home from the hospital to that house. We said goodbye to our dog at that house. We learned so much about life and financial responsibility and yard work and “adulting” in the little home that we absolutely loved on the Westside of Santa Barbara.
Was it a huge risk? Yes. Did we think that we should wait and remain renters? Well, one of us did and one of us didn’t at the time. Did we learn a lot? Yes. Was it at times stressful? Yes. Did we have to make some sacrifices in our lives to make this happen? Yes. Was it one of the best investments we ever made? Yes. Would we do it again in a heartbeat? Yes. In fact we did, 9 years later and that one was an even bigger cannon ball and an even longer story that I will tell you one day.
Please let me know if you are thinking about “cannon balling” into the Santa Barbara real estate market. Or perhaps you are reading this in another community and would like to contact the “Elizabeth” in your community. I can reach out to my referral network and match you up with a professional to help you explore your options. I wish I could say that every purchase is easy, but they aren’t and that is why a professional Realtor is your best bet to facilitate the process.