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How to Buy a House in Six Days (Without Even Trying)

Day 1

Go to the two open houses you’d planned to visit that day. You are continuing your mission of “just seeing what’s out there”.

On your way to the second house, pass by a sign for another open house, just one street over from where you are headed. Decide with your husband that you might as well check it out, since you’re in the area anyway.

Leave the second open house. Agree with your husband that, while you’re both interested, the house isn’t compelling enough to even consider putting down an offer. Plus, you know it’s under-priced to provoke a bidding war, and you refuse to play that game.

Walk to the “mystery” open house.  You do not recall seeing it in your regular MLS searches, so you presume that it’s a) over budget; and/or b) not what you’re looking for.

Arrive at the mystery house. As you walk up the wooden staircase and through the front door, fall deeply, helplessly in love with it. Try to ignore the voice in your head telling you that it’ll be too expensive so don’t get your hopes up.

Tour the house.  Fall even more in love. Begin not-so-subtly hinting to your husband that this is the perfect house for you both. Chat with the real estate agent and learn that it just might be within your budget, after all.

Leave the house, every cell in your body pinging with excitement, because you know that this is Your House.  Text your real estate agent as you walk away.  Tell her that you LOVE THE HOUSE and you WANT IT. (Yes, you must use all caps. That’s how it works.  The caps are everything.)

Ask your husband what he thinks. As usual, he is being more realistic and logical about the house: how much will the mortgage payments be; the house could turn into a money pit because it’s so old; etc. It drives you crazy, even though you love him for it. (Not for the first time, you are grateful to him for keeping you grounded.)

Day 2

Your agent sees the house. She declares that in her 30+ years in real estate, she has never seen a house like this. Having known you for almost your entire life, she goes on to say how much this house “fits” you. She informs you that if you want it, you have to make offer on that day: otherwise, you’ll risk getting caught in a bidding war.

Knowing your husband’s reservations about making an offer, you craft a carefully worded, balanced, reassuring e-mail to him. You address each of his areas of concern, and explain how you plan to mitigate each one.  Three finely-tuned paragraphs later, you click “send”. (Not for the first time, you are grateful for your academic training in the art of making persuasive arguments.)

A few minutes later, your phone rings. You see your husband’s number flashing on the screen. You answer, fully expecting an equally well-reasoned argument for not moving so quickly on the house. The conversation takes about five minutes.  The gist is, “Sure, we can go ahead and do this.” (Not for the first time, you are grateful for the depth of his belief in you.)

E-mail your mortgage advisor, tell her you’re about to make an offer on a house, and ask her to start preparing the paperwork right away. Pretend that it’s not at all strange to be asking this when you haven’t contacted her in months.

Meet your agent at home around 8:00 that evening. Discuss your options, sign papers, and write the biggest cheque you’ve ever written in your life. (Not for the first time, you are grateful to your aunt for the very generous wedding gift she gave you last year.)

Wish your agent luck as she leaves to present your offer to the seller and their agent. Wait for her to call you.



Answer your agent’s call about one hour after she left. The seller wants to negotiate. They are “playing hardball”, since there’s now another offer on the table.

Negotiate with the seller.


Retract your offer. As much as you love the house, you know you’ll start to hate it if owning it stresses you out.

Prepare for bed. Try not to think about how much losing the house hurts.

Answer your agent’s call at around 11:30 pm. Feel your heart begin to soar as she explains that the seller has changed their mind and will accept your offer if you raise it just a little bit.

Discuss with your husband. Flip a coin to help you decide. (Yes, you must flip a coin. That’s how it works. The coin is everything.)  When the coin lands on the “no” side, your immediate exclamation of “Shit!”, tells you what you really want.

Discuss with your husband some more.  Agree to accept the seller’s final counter-offer.

Wonder how on earth you’re going to be able to sleep now, since it’s well past midnight and your mind is racing.

Day 3

Move through the day in a fog.

Panic when your agent informs you that she needs to have your deposit money today. Although you and your husband transferred the funds the day before, they won’t actually be accessible until the next day.

Just as you are resigning yourself to losing the house, and trying to ignore the heartbreak you’re feeling, your mother steps in and saves the day. (Not for the first time, you are grateful to have parents who are willing – and able – to help you out when you need it.)

Try again to sleep at night. You can’t, though, because you can’t stop thinking about all the wonderful ways you and your husband can remodel the house to make it truly yours.

You’re also worried about whether you’ll be able to satisfy the conditions you placed on your offer in time for the seller’s deadline, which is only three days away.

Day 4

Continue moving through the day in a fog.

Send some e-mails, arrange for a home inspection on the house you almost maybe own, have several conversations about it with your agent, your husband, and your parents, etc.

Continue redecorating in your mind. (Not for the first time, you are grateful that your parents raised you on a steady television diet of Debbie Travis’ Painted House, Trading Spaces, etc., and renovated various parts of the house several times over the 15+ years you lived there.)

Continue not being able to sleep.

Day 5

Have the home inspection. Walk around with the inspector and pretend you understand what he’s saying, even though you can’t because you are so unbelievably exhausted.

Leave the inspection, pleased that so far, there were no unpleasant surprises. Hope that the inspector’s full report confirms this. You eventually learn that it does.

Send some more e-mails, have some more conversations, etc.

Continue not being able to sleep. Worry that your mortgage will not be approved, even though your advisor has repeatedly assured you that it will be. Your two-years-and-counting of precarious employment are weighing like a stone in your stomach, even as you recognize that “precarious” for someone like you is different from “precarious” for someone in a position with less privilege and access to resources.

Day 6

More fog. You can’t even discuss the results of the previous day’s election, even though it means that your job now has a better chance of becoming more secure.

Wait to hear about whether your mortgage was approved.



Speak with your advisor. Try not to blame her for the fact that her computer crashed and she has been unable to access your mortgage documents. Wait for her to call you back.


Panic when you receive an e-mail from your real estate agent with a document that needs to be signed by you and your husband, witnessed, and then scanned and e-mailed to the seller’s agent today. Otherwise, you could forfeit your offer.  Leave a frenzied message on your husband’s office voice-mail.

Spend twenty minutes trying to figure out how to solve the problem of getting your husband to sign the document and send it back to you: not only does he work uptown, his office is in a secured area and he will not be able to scan the document. (Not for the first time, you wonder if your husband is secretly a secret agent.)

Moreover, if you wait for him to finish work and meet you at your office, all your colleagues will have gone home, and there will be no one around to witness the document.

Check your shared calendar, to see exactly when your husband finishes work that evening.

Learn that he took a vacation day today. Which means that he’s at home.

Call your husband and tell him to meet you at work right now.

When he arrives, he signs the document, then you sign the document, then your colleague witnesses it, then you scan it and e-mail it to the seller’s agent.

A few minutes later, the agent confirms receipt and congratulates you and your husband.

The house is yours. Completely. There was no bidding war, and the final price was well below asking. (Not for the first time, you are grateful to the Universe for delivering when it matters most.)



One comment on “How to Buy a House in Six Days (Without Even Trying)

  1. […] The next day, the person who’d made an offer on our condo changed their mind. There were only four weeks left before the closing date on the house we’d just bought. […]

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