Homebuying experience: Level 1
Buyer outlook: Determined™
Home: newly renovated slice of heaven complete w/ pool & porch
Location: Los Angeles
Biggest obstacle: Getting a seller to say “I do” before they did.
When Jeff and Judalina initially embarked on the search for their first home in the summer of 2017, they had no idea what was in store for them.
With their wedding day right around the corner (and mortgage rate hikes looming in the near future), the couple was eager to seal the deal on their first home. At the start of the new year, they resolved to double down on their house hunting efforts. After submitting their first offer, however, the Los Angeles-based home buyers realized that might be easier said than done.
“Sometimes, it’d be like, ‘Great. We made the cuts to the next round. There are only eight other offers,’” Jeff said. “Then they’d say ‘What’s your best offer?’ And “We’re like, ‘Um, we gave it to you.’ That was pretty sobering.”
Every home they liked had multiple offers – most in the double-digits. They found themselves on the losing end of bidding war after bidding war after bidding war.
“We started to learn that the listing price is almost never the true price,” he continued. “That’s just a starting bid, and it’s going to be like 50, 60 or $70k over that.”
Calling in the big guns
Eventually, Jeff and Judalina found Open Listings. After being paired with their buying agent Sarah and having resources like the comps tool at their disposal, the offer process began to look less and less like a lost cause.
“We started to go through the process with Sarah, and that was so helpful to have her as a resource,” Judalina said. “We could get on the phone with her and say ‘We know the house is listed at X price.’ And she would say ‘Yes, but looking at the comps, realistically you can expect that it’s going to land in X arena.’ And so she could help us to formulate our offer based on that.”
In addition to helping the pair make more informed offers, Sarah also helped Jeff and Judalina walk away from an offer after an inspection yielded some less than desirable findings. Though walking away from an accepted offer was disappointing, Jeff and Judalina learned that, sometimes, things happen for a reason.
“It was an emotional rollercoaster.”
That same day, a home the pair had lost in a previous bidding war came back on the market. Luckily for Jeff and Judalina, Sarah had kept a watchful eye on their past properties. They were able to quickly submit another offer on the home, and, much to their delight, it was accepted.
“Later that day, Sarah emailed us. The house we saw two weeks ago – the one we loved – it fell out of escrow because of financing. So we circled back that day, put the offer in, and the very next day the sellers accepted. I joke that we bought two houses in three weeks,” Judalina recalled. “It was an emotional rollercoaster.”
Life in the dream home
Now that they’re officially moved into their new home newly married couple and their dog couldn’t be happier with the property as well as the Van Nuys area as a whole.
“All of our neighbors are lovely,” Judalina said. “They’re all very young parents and families. They’re super friendly. They introduced themselves immediately – brought us wine when we moved in. We have such a sense of community there already.”
The best part? That’d be the front porch.
“It’s a front porch like I used to have growing up,” Judalina said. “Now we’ll go outside after a long workday, have a beer or little LaCroix and sit out on the front porch while the dog runs in the yard. We see all the neighbors walking by and we wave and it just feels like something you couldn’t get in L.A.”
Sharing the wealth
Now that all is said and done, Jeff and Judalina have made spreading the word about Open Listings their mission. Dubbing it “the perfect home buying tool for Millennials,” the pair have already shared their homebuying secret weapon with many friends and coworkers.
“When I recommend it to people, I know that most of them are already looking online for their properties,” Judalina said. “They’re already hands-on. They’re already actively running their own search and I say ‘You’re already doing it yourself, so why don’t you just follow the DIY all the way through?’ Then you get the bonus of having this extra money to invest in yourself and in your house.”
And that’s just what Jeff and Judalina did with their refund. After covering all their closing costs, the couple’s commission refund also allowed them to pay for some renovations and splurge on new furniture.
“It’s not intrusive. It’s not pushy.”
When discussing his experience with the service, Jeff is sure to point out that the refund doesn’t mean Open Listings buyers are on their own.
“When you need help, then you can take it. You can also take the reins as far as you can possibly take them. We could just go to an open house ourselves or if we wanted to schedule a private tour, they'd have someone show the house,” Jeff said. “We really liked that freedom and independence.”
According to Jeff, that’s just what home buyers need in this digital age.
“I think in the old days before the Internet, before you had all these apps, obviously having a real estate agent was huge because you couldn’t just drive around aimlessly. You had to have someone to give you all the information and show you the house,” Jeff said. “But now, by the time we go to an open house, we've seen the 3D, 360-degree video tour, all the photos and we know exactly what we want. We know within five minutes of walking into a house if we like it or not.”
Not as scary as it seems
In addition to recommending Open Listings, Judalina has some other advice for future homebuyers: don’t be scared.
“I wish we had bought earlier,” she said. “I think we were scared, and we didn’t need to be and now that we’ve gone through the process with Open Listings and have seen how streamlined and simple it can be, I wouldn't be scared about doing it again.”
Buyer stories are based on interviews with Open Listings customers. Participants in Open Listings buyer stories have been compensated with a $100 gift card for their time. Their quotes have not been altered, except for brevity or grammar.