Just Moved: Jessica & Travis

How much does a home-to-call-your-own go for in these neighborhoods? This couple gives us the lowdown and a sneak peek at their new place.

Location: Jenison, MI (a suburb of Grand Rapids, MI)
2-story with basement, 3 bedrooms, 1.5 bathrooms
Square Feet:
Price Paid:
$149,900 (including seller paying closing costs)
The Deal:
$97/sq. ft.

About your home: It was built in 1964, with an in-ground pool, fire pit area, fenced-in yard and beautiful mature landscaping. “A previous owner was a high school principal, and he used to spend all summer working on it. I saw the house on GRAR (Grand Rapids Area Realtors' website), and we went to see it the next day -- we put in an offer the next morning!" says Jessica. “The day after we walked through the house, there were over 10 visits scheduled, so we knew it would go quickly."

When did you start looking (month/year)?

They started looking in June 2009, but stopped in September 2009 to get ready for their wedding! They started looking again in January 2010. “After a month of winter in our apartment with our new puppy, we were absolutely ready for more space!" says Jessica.

When did you close on your new home?

April 22, 2010

How many homes did you visit and look at?

At least 50

What was the hardest part about finding your new home?

“Coming to terms with what we could and could not afford. With the new home buyer credit, it seemed like the houses in our price range were flying off the market. It was a little stressful knowing that if we liked something and wanted it, we'd have to put in an offer right away. We even thought about building a new home and met with a builder a few times, but ultimately decided that path wasn't right for us. There seemed to be so many options, but nothing that felt right for us. I was worried we would never find our 'perfect home.'"

What was the best part?

“This sounds cheesy, but getting to spend time with my new husband! He works in a hospital, so he has some funky hours, and I'm a tax accountant, so I work a lot...we definitely appreciated that quality time of driving from house to house. And then in the house, we'd hold hands as we walked through it and try to imagine ourselves living there. We learned a lot about each other during the process."

Was it hard to compromise and find a home you both loved?

“There was one house he loved that I hated and one house that I loved that he disliked; we never seriously considered either because we both didn't love them. It wasn't hard to walk away from those because we had to find something that was truly ours. When we walked in our (now) home, we knew it was ours. We both loved it for different reasons, but we both loved it. It wasn't anything like what we were imagining our first house to be, but it is absolutely perfect for us."

Do you have any advice for Nesties who are still looking for their first home?

“First, get preapproved by a lender who is willing to answer a plethora of questions from you. It is difficult to start looking at houses in higher price ranges only to find out you can't afford them and to take a step down. Figure out what you can comfortably afford per month, not the highest amount you are preapproved for. Understand the different loan products out there such as FHA or Rural Housing Loans. Second, get a good realtor who has plenty of experience with first-time home buyers. Our realtor was amazing; she spent so much time with us and explained not only the home-buying process (how she makes her money, for example) but the different things to consider in the layout of homes or how much upkeep certain items in the house would require. Being a first-time home buyer, I would never have thought of these things. She made us see the potential in every house. Third, don't give up! You will find your dream house, and it will be worth the wait, no matter how long it takes!"

What's your favorite thing about your new home? What's unique about it?

“Our backyard! Our pool was a lot of fun over the summer. The landscaping is gorgeous, and there is always something in bloom and lots of greenery. Whenever we had friends over, we were almost always outside. Since the backyard is fenced, we can let our dog (Maverick, a Boston terrier) out to release his energy. We are on a corner lot and only have one neighbor; with the fence, we truly feel like we are separated from the rest of the world, and it is a great place to relax and 'get away.'"