Two weeks ago, my husband and I found The Perfect House.
It had everything we ever wanted and then some.
Gorgeous hardwood floors,
The prettiest kitchen I might ever cook in,
High ceilings in every room,
And the original wood pocket doors when the house was built in 1913.
I was already envisioning our future children opening up presents around the Christmas tree in the living room. I’m pretty sure this is what it looked like when I walked in:
There was no question – we were going to fight to get this house.
And after a small bidding war, we came out on top, and the house was ours!
We finished the inspection, scoped the sewer, and compromised on what the seller was willing to do.
We were on the journey to close!
Did I mention The Perfect House was in a transitional neighborhood?
It is… and transitional neighborhoods come with risks.
We had looked at CrimeSpot maps over and over to make sure this neighborhood would work for us.
The area wasn’t the greatest.
But our street was safe- or so we thought.
We settled on inspection items Thursday night.
On Friday at 5AM, ShotSpotter (the software they put in rougher neighborhoods to pickup gunshot sounds) picked up 1 potential gunshot a few streets over.
Okay, that’s a bit scary- but the warning comes with the caveat that it could just be a car backfiring.
And who really expects gunshots at 5am on a Friday?
Then ShotSpotter picked up 13 shots two blocks from the house on Saturday at 7PM- and then police found shells and were looking for victims in the area.
I didn’t sleep all night.
This was The Perfect House.
This was supposed to be our sanctuary. The place we were going to raise our kids.
How can I raise our kids in a home where there are gunshots going off two blocks down?
And then I got one more warning Sunday at noon.
2 shots directly in front of the house and someone needing medical attention.
If it was a normal Sunday morning, I would have been writing in the bedroom facing the front window.
I could have seen exactly what happened from my office.
I panicked. I cried. I said my prayers that we could get out of our contract and texted my realtor.
And then I cried some more.
All of the dreams that I was holding for that house went up flames.
And we could be forced to keep the contract moving and buy the house. Neighborhood violence isn’t a valid reason to break a homebuying contract.
After the longest 3 hours of my life, our realtor had negotiated with the seller, and they were willing to let us out of our contract.
They were going to keep most of our earnest money, but we would be out and done.
I have never felt so relieved in my entire life.
We lost $2,000 and our dreams, but we were safe.
That was all that mattered to us- safety is non-negotiable and being able to make that choice for our family is a huge privilege.
Do I regret anything?
I’ve lived in a house that I don’t love for 6 years.
And I have serious anxiety.
I know that I can’t live in a neighborhood where there is a strong risk of gunshots going off at any given time.
I can’t risk my life, my husband’s life, or our future kids’ lives.
I can’t be afraid to walk outside my front door everyday.
But I don’t regret falling in love with The Perfect House in the Wrong Neighborhood either.
It showed us what we really wanted and let our dreams run wild.
But it also showed us where our priorities stand. And we’re not settling for “good enough” this time.
So what’s the plan now?
We found another house, and we’re under contract again.
It’s not The Perfect House, but it’s The Darn Good House.
And the best part is that it’s in an amazing neighborhood.
One where I can walk around on my own without feeling unsafe.
The house checks all of our must-have boxes (even if the kitchen isn’t straight out of a magazine), and it’s a nice upgrade from what we’ve had.
And for now, that’s all we really need.
I will anxiously await the inspection, knowing something could go completely wrong and we could back out (easily and legally). But we know what we’re getting into this time- and that’s worth all the money in the world.
Wish us luck – maybe the second time is the charm!
If you’re looking to buy a new house
If you find yourself in the same spot we were in
Here’s Apartment Therapy’s guide to rescinding your offer when you’re buying a house. It gave me some piece of mind this week!