After three years of looking*, we finally found a house we liked - no, scratch that, loved. We jumped for joy. We discussed it at length. We mentally arranged furniture, giving away our kitchen table happily because the black granite breakfast bar was worth the pseudo-sacrifice.
Our realtor came over the next night, and we spent four hours with her learning about septic systems (ick), the implications of getting one's water from a well (no fluoride), and tree ordinances (can't cut 'em). We read a mountain of seller disclosure forms about things like whether or not the house contains any lead paint (doesn't know), or asbestos (doesn't know), or if the hot tub works (it doesn't).
We made an offer. We celebrated.
We were declined.
Not even countered, but just flat out declined: the seller's realtor informed us that no one in their right mind would accept an offer that was contingent on the sale of another house.
Okay, but as these people are willing to part with this house - my dream house - in the first place, they are clearly insane, so what's the problem?
The problem was that there was another offer that was not a contingent offer.
Sadly for the seller, that was the first clue: apparently the buyer, who didn't have a house of their own to sell, isn't really into owning houses - they just like making offers, something they have done quite a few times recently. So when the seller countered their offer, that buyer just walked away, something they have also apparently done quite a few times recently.
And the seller came back to us, and we thought, awesome! And we made the very best offer we could afford to make, very close to the asking price, because having lost our dream house once, we weren't going to lose it again. We waited optimistically for their reply, mentally re-arranging furniture and debating the relative merits of various paint chips to pass the time.
Our realtor called within hours of our signing the new offer to let us know there was yet another offer on the table - also not contingent. Our offer was being used as leverage to negotiate with the other prospective buyer, before it expired.
Our hearts fell a little bit, but we held on to some hope, because the first buyer walked away, so another buyer possibly could do the same - in the end, the house wasn't actually sold. But we tempered our hopes this time, by reminding ourselves that even a dream house has its flaws:
"A double oven is a fire hazard, really."
"The barn probably had rats."
"The property was so big, you'd never get to know your neighbors."
We didn't want to be disappointed if the realtor came back and told us they'd accepted the other offer - which, a day later, is exactly what she did. So we mentally returned the fire extinguisher to the store and stopped mentally choosing names for the barn cat we were going to adopt from the shelter, and got on with life.
My husband took a long bike ride. I took a long nap. And Emma got an invitation to go to a movie with her friend, whose mother kindly came to our house to pick her up, and then backed right into our neighbor's pillar. That's the seventh time in five years, for anyone who's keeping count**.
*But who's counting?
**But who's counting?