Life in Portland Blog

Home Buying, A Geek Odyssey, Part 5: The Thousand Backyard Stare

There's an old WWII saying for when battle-weary soldiers have acquired a blank gaze into an indeterminable horizon - the 'thousand yard stare'. With full and complete respect to our military, both past and present, I'd like to adapt this phrase in relation to Portland's current housing market: the thousand backyard stare. And I've got it.

It's been a while since my last confession, but that doesn't mean we've dropped off the real estate radar. Along with our 9-5 jobs, and a photography business on the side (wedding season is nearly over!), hunting for our home is exactly as several Urban Nest agents have described it - another full-time job on top of the one/s you already have. Finding the house online, visiting the house in person with our (amazing) showing agent, Ceil, making a fairly swift decision - "Do we want this? Can we live in this? Can we grow in this?" - discussing the Pros and Cons with our (amazing) agent, Rachel, writing up a thoughtful, competitive offer, waiting, waiting, waiting. And ultimately, in our case - twice, now - losing. It's so hard. It's okay, I can talk about it, though.

The first house we applied for was The One. We knew as soon as we stepped inside. We felt it. We could evolve in every direction in this house, grow old in it, raise kids, have guests. A large corner block in a rural-feeling section of Cully, with a bat box on the side - already prepped for our eventual Backyard Habitat! - a HUGE garage which would make an incredible, eventual ADU for my MIL, all these ideas popping into our heads about what we'd do, and where. Dreaming of the house, thinking about moving day. We made a strong offer - to the brink of our financial abilities - and waited.
And then, we didn't get the house.
Even with a great agent, a strong and generous offer, an emotional connection. Even at nearly 30k over asking. We were outbid, by someone with more $ and resources than us. It was devastating. And it took some time to bounce back. We're now trying to not compare every new house to This House, but then we found the second...

...which was a really, really cute house in Roseway. Eventually we'd admit to ourselves that it was coasting on pretty, and perhaps we were cutting ourselves short by 'settling' for the lack of growth opportunity (I was telling myself we'd live "creatively" to fit this diminutive house) and ultimately, we were dramatically outbid on this one as well. But still, each time, we were in second place. Our offers were considered as back-up. Which shows that we had a great offer, but it doesn't matter how great your offer is if your opponent (nemesis) has seriously deep pockets. And that's the nature of Portland's real estate market right now, and the reality for all the buyers out there, just like us.

How to not get dissuaded? How to soldier on with optimism and hope intact? Faith. Have faith in your representatives - who tell me (nearly) daily, "This was not the one. It will happen." And it will. This is not intended to be a negative post, nor is it meant to discourage those in our shoes. If anything, it should strengthen your resolve, and mine. Rachel pulled Wade and myself aside to reassess the situation, and our priorities.  To regroup, and take a breath.
We got this.