House Offer Number 4

We’ve reached our penultimate offer, which I thought for sure would be our final offer. I was certain this house was The One.

Offer Number 4: Bernard Basement Bar

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Location: North Park. This house was south east of the property you saw yesterday, and it made a world of difference in how we felt about the location. It doesn’t seem like much, but 0.6 miles vs 0.4 miles to the train is a big difference when you’re trekking in Chicago weather. Bernard is a lovely street with well-maintained houses. It has a great neighborhood feel, with a new public library to the north and a quaint pedestrian bridge to the south. I would have crossed the Chicago River every day on my walk to the Kimball Brown Line stop.

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Why We Made an Offer: We loved this house. We didn’t have to talk ourselves into it: it simply had what we were looking for, both practically and emotionally. It was far from perfect — it reeked of smoke, the garage was falling down, they hadn’t done any major updates (roof/electrical/pipes) — but it was special in a way that made the flaws worthwhile.

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Most of the bungalows we saw had cramped floor plans, but this one felt spacious. It did have the traditional formal dining room, whereas we were hoping for a more open kitchen/dining area, and that’s one of the things I think about now to mitigate our disappointment.

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I didn’t expect to love the vintage bungalow aesthetic, but it was an appealing balance of historic character and a few modern cosmetic updates. Most notably, the kitchen had been renovated in the 90s — obviously not my style, but very clean and generally well laid out.

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There were three rooms upstairs that would have been great for guests. For our day-to-day lives, though, it was an overabundance of space for a family of two.

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I don’t have any photos of the best part: a vintage basement bar, complete with pool table. I’m sorry I failed you on that front! I usually don’t take pictures when we tour homes because I’m too busy asking questions and inspecting everything. I think this is the right way to tour a property, but the wrong way to be a blogger.

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Listing Price: $349k (Link to Redfin listing)

Our Offer: We initially offered $345k, hoping that the smoke, dilapidated garage, and lack of major updates would discourage other offers. In any other market, that would have been a strong offer for a house in this condition in this part of the city. But Chicago’s current market is inflating prices. The seller’s agent asked all bidders to submit their best and final offer. We raised to $360k and threw in a personal cover letter to the seller as a Hail Mary. Our agent responded “If someone trumps this, nothing you could do. Nice job of stepping up!” That made us feel good, and that’s what saves us from having any regret with this property. We did what we could, and offered the most we could given the amount of work needed.

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I want to give props to the seller’s agent, Carmen Rodriguez. She was the best we’ve encountered: she kept us informed at every stage of the process and we were never left wondering what the status was. She even emailed Seth after we lost the house, saying “This was a competitive process and my client did spend time to carefully review and consider all components of each offer she received. Your clients’ cover letter was, in particular, very well received. As it stands, she selected another offer that had a combination of sale price and terms which better suited her situation at this time.” That really softened the blow.

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I received the Redfin update yesterday that the property had sold for $362k. That doesn’t mean if we had thrown in an extra $3k we would have won the house: the price likely was renegotiated after the inspection, and the buyers had more appealing terms (e.g. a larger down payment). So, no regrets! Especially since we close on a house tomorrow that we are just as excited about.

See you tomorrow afternoon for our fifth, and final!, offer.

7 thoughts on “House Offer Number 4”

  1. Marti, thank you for this! We have already put in two of our own “best and final” offers that have been passed over, and the process has been completely demoralizing. We are so worried about over paying in this market too. Your series of posts this week is helping me feel better about our process, and I’m excited for the reveal tomorrow! Glad you guys found something you love!

    1. Oh, that makes me so happy! I know that most people are reading for vicarious enjoyment, but I had also really hoped that it would be helpful for a few people in the same boat. It’s such a stressful market, but it can be conquered. Hang in there!

  2. Also not pictured is the awesome gardening nook in the interior passageway of the basement walk-out to the back yard.

    I think this was the second basement pool table that we saw among the houses we’ve toured that would have been part of the sale. And the… 6th or 7th basement bar?

  3. I’m loving these posts! My husband and I are not in the market for a new home, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting one. It’s so fun to read about your experiences!

    1. I just read your recent blog post – I love the phrase “least objectionable house with the best bones.” That’s definitely the best way to approach real estate!

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