we bought a house online

Sunkist Plot

it was fate, i suppose. we had viewed the house in november during the extreme low point of the housing crisis. the rep for the house didn’t want to deal with it in any way and shunned the inquiries of our realtor about putting in a low-ball offer. she said “get it when it goes to auction” but not in any helpful way. so we let it go… although i still thought about it a lot and wanted it very badly.

while we were in the UK for the holidays i showed our friends the online listing for the house. the view! the lot! don’t look at the house… john and andrea had bought a fixer years ago in brighton before it peaked and had experience in what to look for. i told them the rep didn’t seem very interested in selling the house. but i still pined…

when we got back the first week of january, we saw an ad in the real estate section of the newspaper for auction.com. we had never heard of it before, so alasdair proceeded to check it out.

our house was on it!

…and the bidding was going on at that moment with only 4 hours left to go. it was sunday. alasdair was going golfing. he said “go for it” so i had a nervous finger on the trigger for the next few hours trying to figure it all out and somehow place our bid. i was to keep alasdair updated by text.

(prior to this moment, i had a bit of aversion to buying online. i did it rarely and with trepidation. this purchase was big and not refundable.)

there seemed to be only one other bidder (who i later imagined to be the unhelpful rep for the house or fannie mae) so i tentatively put in our bid. the other bidder came back a few minutes later with a slightly higher offer.


alasdair was on the golf course with strict instructions to not bother him with this nonsense unless completely necessary. he had given me a cap for the bidding. we were still under that so i waited to see what the other bidder would do.

i abstained. for 2 hours.

i think i walked away for a while. or maybe i just sat there. i can’t remember those two hours.

with about an hour left on the bidding and no movement (we still hadn’t reach the listed asking price), i placed a slightly higher offer, which i think was $2K over the previous person’s bid, i.e., the minimum to raise. then i waited.

40 more minutes to close of bidding. i wondered why hadn’t i waited until just before the expiration time to place the bid? then i wouldn’t have to endure this anxiety for so long.

i debated to myself whether to raise again or not, if the other bidder outbid us again. maybe we should just walk away. not meant to be. but on the other hand, it was a bargain and still under what we were going to originally offer on the house. with all the work it would need, this was a plus. we were on a very tight budget and unable to get a fixer-upper loan. so we could only buy with what alasdair had scrimped and saved away for the past several years. i was leaning towards just walking away.

so i just sat in front of the monitor, fidgeting and not breathing.

then it was over. the other bidder hadn’t raised again. no fanfare. no giant pop up saying “congratulations! you just bought a house!” no nothin’.

a little while later, we got an email saying we had won the bid. but it was contingent on the seller accepting the offer. so i sent alasdair a text that we may have bought a house. i think he texted back “yippee.”

we did tentatively celebrate that evening and i wanted to drive by and see the house again. but we didn’t. we weren’t able to see it again until the offer was accepted and there was no turning back. no inspections, no returnsies.

after a few weeks of uncertainty, our crazy, low-ball offer was accepted. auction.com worked without any hidden, weird sub-clauses (their fees are stated fairly prominently). we were even able to pay our realtor a little extra for the time he dedicated to getting us a house within our difficult budget. and luckily, on closer inspection, the house had no ginormous problems. the foundation seemed good, and the roof is newish. and i’m over the fear of online shopping.

so now the house is ours, warts and all.


if you dare, go to auction.com

moss estate