Have you ever had something amazing happen to you? Something that you just couldn't wait to tell people about? But when you start telling people, you realize that the more people you tell, there is a greater chance that you forget who you told and who you didn't. We've been there, and for huge occasions in life, we want a way to share these moments with everyone: friends, family, and everyone in between! So welcome to "Milestones," the part of our blog where we share the stories of those "amazing moments." We won't use this section often, but when we do, you know it's gonna be a fun one! So without further adieu, this is J&A Milestone: Our First House.
Neither of us can point to a specific moment when the "House" bug bit us. Over the first 3-4 years of marriage, we were really happy and content in our current living situation; working our respective jobs, saving money, and overall enjoying life! However, when Andrea started to struggle with some health issues, we started to take a serious look at our finances, and the prognosis wasn't very promising. If we wanted to be serious about striking out on our own, in a place that we could truly call "ours," some things were going to need to change.
One of those first things was an additional source of income. We both love our other jobs, but we had to face the facts that our current incomes were not going to get us to where we wanted to be: a 20% down payment on a house. Now before you call us crazy, hear us out. We've both grown up with parents who taught us that saving for what you want is better in the long run, and we wanted to be able to get 20% down when we were ready to buy a house. And so, J&A Photography came into existence. Its main goal: to provide a third income for us that we could use exclusively for saving and buying a house some day.
Enter 2020. The year that no one expected. As March came and the quarantine begin, we began looking around at the walls of the place we had called "home" for the past five years and started to wonder, "What would it be like to actually own a home instead of merely staying in a place that you knew you were eventually going to leave? What would it be like for Andrea to have a place for her to create and design exactly the way she wanted it?" However, as March ended, we were still far from even considering looking at houses, still dreaming of the day that we could start looking for our "home."
And then, out of nowhere, J&A exploded. In a good way. A REALLY good way! Our business email, which had once been a wasteland of silence, was suddenly inundated with inquiries for weddings, family sessions, engagement shoots, and senior sessions! All throughout the summer, we booked session after session, and all of a sudden, the 20% down wasn't a dream...it was a possibility. So we downloaded the app that would eventually help us find our new home, Zillow.
The hunt began. At first, it was just for fun. We'd look for houses within our range, and then a little bit out of our range, all the while thinking that our big purchase would come in 2021, not this year. But then, in August, it happened. We started to find houses that we felt like we could make legitimate offers on. But we felt like every house that we inquired about had something wrong with it. The search continued, but it started to become a little discouraging as we weren't able to even see inside any of the houses were interested in. Finally, the last blow came when we found a house that we liked. A lot. We called up our realtor and asked to see the house as soon as possible, and we were quickly scheduled for a walkthrough that Saturday evening. But on Saturday afternoon, we got the news; the house was already under contract. We knew that we probably weren't going to get the house...but we would have at least liked the chance to put an offer in on it. We decided that the next house that we found we were at least going to make it inside to see it.
The Zillow app opened up that morning just like every other morning, with a few new houses in the area that had just come onto the market. And there it was. On the high end of our budget but still within reach. In the area that we were always hoping for. And best of all, just placed onto the market that day, still available, fresh for the taking. Our realtor, who was just as desperate as we were, quickly asked "If I can get you a showing this afternoon at 2, can you make it?"
A few hours later, we stepped across the "Welcome" mat into the room that would soon become our living room (although we didn't know it at the time). We loved it. Even though it was the only house we had gotten inside by this point, we just had a feeling that this might be the one for us. We decided to put down an offer and hope for the best. A few days later, our realtor wrote us and explained that they had countered with an opposing offer, and we had a decision to make: accept the counter offer or stick to our original. We spent the night thinking about it and praying, asking God for peace no matter what happened the next day. We told our realtor that we felt like God had given us a peace with our original number, so we wanted to stick with that. Four excruciating hours later, our realtor contacted us to tell us that "They did it! They actually accepted your original offer!"
And now, here we are, about a month later and just last night, we walked into our house for the first time, with the keys, and looked around at what is now ours. It's been such a crazy journey to get here, but ironically, we think that this story is only beginning. And if you are reading this, then we hope that you get to be part of that story too! - J&A