The Richmond House Buying Process

So today, we’re going to be talking about our Richmond house buying process. If you follow us all, you know that we recently moved back to Richmond, just over a year ago. So we just wanna talk about our process of moving and buying a place here in Richmond.

So we’ll do a series of updates. A lot of you are interested in seeing the before and afters of our renovation. But also, people in general, just had a lot of questions. So we just thought we’d walk through why did we decide to move, when did we move, how do we move, how we end up getting the house we did and so on.

Deciding to buy in Richmond, VA

Yeah, so to start off with, we put our house on the market at the end of 2017, we had someone that decided to buy it relatively quickly, but had a condition that she would move in, not until March, which actually worked for us because we still had things.. Laura was still teaching down in Newport News, and we had other other commitments that we had kept, through the summer.

So we sold our place in Newport News but we still needed to stay down there. So we ended up finding a friend of a friends place in Hampton that was available for us and so we lived in Buckroe Beach for a little while, as we were finishing our things up in the Hampton Roads area, and still trying to come down to Richmond pretty frequently to be able to look for places to move here.

Yeah, so every weekend we were either shooting the wedding or we were down and Richmond, looking for house.

Which got really crazy because the Richmond house buying process and market was just absolutely insane. Houses would go up on the market on Friday afternoon and by Sunday they would be sold. So we really had this super narrow window to be able to look at a place, put it in an offer/make a decision.

celebrating Richmond house buying process michael and laura photography

Our amazing Richmond realtor – Drew Harrell 

So it was just this insane turnaround. Luckily, our realtor Drew Harrell, we sing his praises like crazy, we love him, he was so patient and gracious with us as we looked at so many different places, and had this crazy schedule of living in Newport News, or Hampton and then having to come back to look for places. So if you’re looking for a realtor, Drew is your man.

Yeah, he’s awesome. So once we moved to Richmond, we actually spent some time with Laura’s parents who are in the Richmond area and we really kind of focused on trying to find a place.

We realized that being in Hampton just was not realistic for being able to actually find a place in Richmond. Because things were being sold so quickly we needed to be nearby. So luckily, my parents are amazing. And we stayed with them for a while as we were trying to find a place of our own.

The areas that we were looking at were obviously very popular as well. Being close to Richmond, but not actually in Richmond. Well, close to the city but not actually inside the city. They were just very, very highly desired areas.

Narrowing our search – Richmond house buying process

We had a broad area of where we were looking. Our only requirements really, were that we wanted a house, so we didn’t want an apartment or condo, or anything. We wanted a place that had a backyard for Tusker, and we were really hoping for three bedrooms, so something a little bit bigger than what we had but still manageable. And we wanted it to be in a fun location so we were looking in The Fan, in the Museum District, in Westover Hills, Forest Hill and then we put in a ton of offers in these different places. And then Drew, our realtor, really suggested that we start looking in the Bellevue area which is a really cool, little neighborhood in the north side of Richmond.

We went through four different cycles of putting in offers and not being accepted.


Rejected in these few areas before Drew really kinda said, “Hey you guys, you should probably look at branching out. There’s a couple of areas you may not know of, and the big one that he said was Northside, which is the Bellevue neighborhood.

richmond husband and wife new house photography

The emotional rollercoaster of a Richmond house buying process

I think really, at this point, I was getting so defeated because the crazy thing about buying a house or having to put in all these offers is that you have to go look at a place and like we said it, they were literally up on Friday, gone by Sunday, so you had to look at a place immediately decide that you absolutely loved it.  Michael and I were just sitting there envisioning bringing a baby home from the hospital in this house, spending years there, and just imagining our lives in this home and falling in love with it, saying, Okay, this is where we want to spend our lives. Then in less than 24 hours, be like, I hated that place. 

It was the worst. 

We didn’t want to live there.

It was not perfect.

So you had to just be convincing yourself that you loved it and then convincing yourself, “No, that was totally the wrong place” in the span of a weekend, which was just exhausting emotionally because we were going to so many different places at this point.

All the houses we were looking at, they weren’t all finished up.. some we needed work, they were all over the spectrum of where the house was in it’s condition.

Some that were renovated, and ready to move in, people had already put a lot of work into it, and some were just still in their 1950s..small rooms needed a ton of renovations to be able to really make it work for our family.

richmond family new house michael and laura photography

Getting beaten and rejected – Richmond House buying process

So in August, after seven cycles of looking for houses.

Not just cycles of looking at houses.  Seven cycles of putting in an offer, saying we fell in love with it, and then deciding, “no we hate that place” when we got rejected or our offers weren’t accepted.

And I feel like it’s worth mentioning these seven offers were all way above asking. We knew that the Richmond market was crazy. Drew advises us a lot on how to put in an offer and so we were really putting in great offers especially as we’re getting further along. And I was getting more and for exhausted at the process, I was just throwing in a couple of extra thousand.

We were getting beaten out by these all-cash offers, by people who were waving inspections and waving all kinds of things that we weren’t really okay with.

Coming from a condo in Newport News, that was built in the early 2000s, to of area that houses that are over 100 years old. You’re not expecting to wave all these inspections and things.

A totally different market.

Because the market was so hot, people were just saying I want the house, here’s a bunch of extra money and I don’t care what is actually wrong with it, which is kind of crazy.

Yeah, it was absolutely nuts.

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The perfect Richmond house

In August, we were driving to a house that we thought for sure that this was going to be the house, and on the way there we passed the house we are currently in.

So after looking at that house, you put in an offer, the highest offer we ever had. I think it was 40 over asking, we waved everything off, we were like, “This is the house for us”. It had a garage, it was pretty amazing.  Three bedrooms, recently renovated.

It was beautiful.

It was a gorgeous house and it’s like two blocks down from here.

But we didn’t get it. And in hindsight it’s probably for the best.

Because we put in an offer way too high.

Again at this point, I was just devastated. “I just want somewhere to live”.

So we found this house that we were just like, “Oh my gosh, it’s perfect”. This garage was like, it was Michael dream. It was just perfect for all of his projects. There were just these nice big bed rooms, it was totally renovated, the kitchen was beautiful. We were just like, “this is it”. Let’s just throw everything we got at it, and the fact that we did not get that house was insane because we put in this crazy offer.

Our competition in Richmond

Drew made a really good point that we were in the same market in the Richmond house buying process, or looking for the same thing, that recently retired couples were looking for. So new families and recently retired people are looking for the same thing, a smaller house, just outside the city, somewhere fun, but still just outside the city, in a cute neighborhood. So we were up against these people who had paid their mortgages off in full and had the full cash to be able to buy a smaller place.

Cash is king.

So we didn’t get that house, we were devastated, but it worked out in the end.

celebrate new house richmond virginia husband and wife

A quick look

On the way back from a wedding in West Virginia, we were driving there. We’d actually dropped by this house just before we went to the wedding because it didn’t really have a very big open window for when you could go and see it and the open window was during this wedding, that we were shooting in West Virginia. So we wanted to see the house. So we drove by early and they wouldn’t let us see it.

There was a miscommunication of whether it was available or to see or not and we ended up not being able to see it, but we drove by it and it was just adorable.  So the whole time we were out this wedding this weekend, I was just so bummed that we didn’t get to see it and luckily, Drew set up a time for us so that on our way back from this wedding, we just left a little bit early and on our drive back, he met us at the house to be able to see it right before they closed for offers.

It was a private showing at this point because it wasn’t open for the public, at this point, so the couple made the exception for us to be able to come by and take a look at it.

Really it was the least ideal situation, ever, for seeing a house. It was pouring rain. We only had 10 minutes to be able to walk all the way through the house and make a decision.

Let’s just do it – Deciding on a house in Richmond

It was really crunch time, but again, I was just so overwhelmed with this process, I was at the point where I was just like, “Let’s just put in an offer, they’re probably gonna say no, anyways.” And Michael really was seeing the potential of the house as we were walking through it and he… Well, really every house, we went to, he was like, “We could knock down this wall. And we could re-tile this”. So I was emotionally, broken. Michael was his usual completely optimistic self. And so we went ahead and we put in an offer.

It was actually the lowest offer of all of the houses.

It is only a two-bedroom, which I saw super skeptical about. We wanted to have a baby right away, we would be growing out of it. But we decided let’s just go ahead and put in an offer. The only offer that we put in that wasn’t way over asking. In fact, it was at asking.

The call – We got the house

When Drew called, I just remember his tone of voice.  He made it sound exactly like we hadn’t got it. We thought we shoot! We should have just put a little extra up in front and would have gotten it, but we got it!

It was super quick.  Like the whole Richmond house buying process was.

Drew called really late. I was up walking the dog and Laura was asleep. I woke her up after Drew told me, and she liked didn’t believe you.

Because of the whole crazy process, but we got it. It was so exciting and just honestly really nerve-racking. We’ll show you the before pictures and you’ll understand why. Because we knew we had a lot to do to it. But that is for another post.

Yes it is.

Alright, well that’s the Richmond house buying process.

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