Three Years Ago: A House Hunting Story

On May 25, 2006 Sherry and I officially became homeowners. Yup, it’s been three whole years since we moved into our humble abode and we can’t believe how time has flown. Despite all that’s happened (renovations, redecorations, and even a backyard wedding), it seems too soon to be celebrating our third anniversary at this address.


In honor of our milestone, we thought we’d give you guys a look back at how we ended up here. Because as much as we think time passed incredibly quickly between then and now, wait ’til you hear how speedily our house hunting weekend – yes, one single solitary weekend – went. And we’ve peppered our timeline with some photos that we took during the first few looks at our home (FYI – all of our House Tour “before” photos are from our first walk-through or they day of our inspection).

February 25, 2006: Sherry and I ditch New York City and relocate to Richmond, VA in my parents’ minivan (full of only a few essentials) in search of a slower pace. We happily move into a one-bedroom apartment to get a sense of the city before choosing a neighborhood to buy in (watch a video tour of that apartment full of free hand-me-downs). We figure we’ll spend a year renting before taking the homeowner plunge.

March 18, 2006: I propose to Sherry on the top of a mountain after a 4 mile hike (Sherry always jokes that I really made her work for her ring). She says “yes” after a bit of speechless arm flapping. Our parents feel much better about the whole living together thing.


Mid-April 2006: Friends advise us that “it’s never too soon” to start house hunting, just so we can get a sense of what’s available and what we can afford. Sherry consults our bank to learn how much of a loan we’d be approved for… just in case.

Friday, April 21- 6pm: I come home from work to learn that Sherry has arranged for us to see a nearby house that fits our budget. We decide it’ll be good house hunting practice. We hate the house, but love the agent and ask him to help us find other options (that’s his backside below).


Saturday, April 22  – 8am: It’s raining, but that doesn’t slow us down. Armed with a bunch of listings, we begin driving around checking out neighborhoods to get a sense of what our money can buy (so we’re better prepared when it comes time to “seriously” look in down the line).

11am: Don’t like most of the drive-by options, but decide we should at least go into one for the experience. Our agent first gives us a tour of a recently renovated, two-bedroom. Neighborhood and location aren’t the best for us, but the inside is nice and new. We tell our agent that we like it, but don’t want to pay for all the renovation work that we could do ourselves (although we literally have zero experience). Agent suggests we see one other house which is a bit more of a “fixer-upper.”


Noon: At other house. Had driven by it earlier, loved the location but could barely see the darn thing through all the trees. Another couple is already there touring it. First impression: very outdated, the exact antithesis of the previously renovated house we toured. Walk through the humble brick ranch, laughing/cringing at several features. Love the backyard and the price (which is over 30K lower than our budget- lots of room for renovations…). Start to realize the house has potential. But we’re not seriously looking. Right?

1:30pm: Back to the apartment. Sherry professes her love for the house we just saw. She wants to put in an offer on it. I express my hesitation – we’re just looking right? Sherry counters – it’s only been on the market for two days. What if that other couple takes it? What if we never find anything else that’s a great deal in a great location. How does paying rent for a year when we could be paying down a mortgage make sense? This continues for a while. I start to see her point.


2:30pm: We call our agent and tell him we’d like to put an offer on the house. I pace nervously.

4pm: Agent arrives. We fill out paperwork. He leaves to submit it. My pacing continues. Sherry prefers to jump around giddily saying it’s gonna be great. “We’ll love that house and it’ll love us back” she promises.


Sunday, April 23 – 10am: Agent calls. Offer is accepted. Mix of disbelief and excitement floods over us. Did we really just buy a house? On the very weekend we started “casually” looking around? Start calling family and try desperately to explain our “guess what? we got a house” news in a way that doesn’t make us sound completely out of our minds…

Saturday, April 29th- 11am: Show my parents our future home. They love it so much they suggest that we get married in the expertly manicured backyard. We had already decided on an outdoor ceremony at a gorgeous stately tudor on a big grassy lawn, but this suggestion sticks in our heads and by the time we get the keys we’re sold on a backyard wedding at our new house.

Thursday, May 25 – 4pm: House inspection goes off without a hitch. All the financial stuff checks out too. Meet attorney for the closing. Sign a bazillion pieces of paper. Get keys handed over to us. Sherry & John Petersik = homeowners. Do the (seated) happy dance in the car.


6pm: Like two crazy people, we begin shuttling whatever belongings fit in our tiny Nisaan Maxima from the apartment to our new house (we don’t have the patience to wait until morning when we’ll have a UHaul). We have officially begun “moving in.” That night is spent on an air mattress in our soon-to-be master bedroom even though we have a perfectly serviceable bed back at the apartment. Why shouldn’t we sleep in our new house?

Friday, May 26 – 9am: I leave for work. Sherry pushes all of her meetings and conference calls until next week and begins decorating (she claims she can’t  sleep let alone work until she gets to repaint a few rooms). She hasn’t stopped fixing things up since (1094 days and counting)- and I’ve gotten in on the demo/reno action quite a bit since then as well.


That’s my cousin in the photo above helping Sherry paint our living room (the first time around). That was taken the Sunday after our closing (the only reason it wasn’t on Saturday is because we were in New Jersey for a wedding that day, but we drove home that evening- through the night- just to get back to our new house and whip out our paint brushes the next morning).

So that’s the story of how Casa Petersik came to be. We’d love to hear how you guys found your current homes. Was it a long process? Or a whirlwind like ours? Either way, we hope you’ve enjoyed celebrating your homeownership milestones as much as we have. Happy anniversary, house!


  1. Anna says

    I loved reading this post. We’re in the middle of buying a home, and this post just clicked. Our new home (*hopefully*) is a bank owned property (foreclosure), so everything won’t happen as fast as it did with you guys, but we have our fingers crossed!

  2. Babs says

    I love your story! I think it’s great you guys knew you had found the right place when you saw it!

    My fiancé and I are closing on our first new house this coming Friday and we couldn’t be more excited! We put an offer in on the second place we looked at. Sometimes you just know when you know :)

    It was a bit of a struggle in the beginning because another couple put in a better offer than ours 10 minutes after we signed the seller’s counter! Because of that, the sellers (at first) refused to do ANYTHING we asked after the inspection, hoping we would walk away. Ugh–talk about stress! But we knew this was the perfect place for us so we dug our heels in, and the other couple eventually withdrew their offer :)

  3. says

    We found our house on the same day we were “just looking” too. Although, we already knew the neighborhood and had walked through it about a year prior (it’s a tiny little neighborhood). I had remarked how much I love the look and feel of the neighborhood but figured it was way out of our price range so I never really thought anymore about it. About 11 months later, we went out looking, just for fun and went back to that same neighborhood and toured a model home. That’s when we really fell in love with it. Signed the papers to build three days later. Never even looked at any other neighborhoods. Twelve months after that casual “I wish we could live here” remark, they poured the slab for our soon to be home!

    Nine years later, we’ve been married in this house, raised a child in this house and had far more good times than bad here. The longer I’m here, the more sure I am that this is the perfect house for us. Sometimes you just know where you’re suppose to be. Even if it all looks crazy from the outside.

    Congratulations on your three years!

  4. Stephanie A. says

    My fiance and I just moved into our first house a few weeks ago and we, too, were just “casually looking” when we found this one. It was the first house we looked at and we only looked at like 4 total. It needs a great deal of work, so it’s a good thing I found this blog :)

  5. Aimee says

    We found our house in just a weekend too – actually just a day! We thought the first day out would be to just see what inventory was on the market in our area/price range. For our budget, in the neighborhood we were looking it was townhome after townhome. . .and then there was one single family home – which we absolutly fell in love with. It needed some help, but the idea of having our own free standing home was so exciting so we put an offer in on it right away. We’ve been here for almost a year – working on project after project (we just gutted our kitchen this weekend!)
    Thanks for all of the great ideas!

  6. Renee says

    My husband and I started looking at houses in late March, and found a house on our second outing. Unfortunately the offer was rejected and the house taken off the market (the owners’ job transfers were canceled the day after we put in the offer). We stated looking at houses again and found a 3000 square foot foreclosure in our price range, and in remarkably good shape. We put in an offer, and so did two other people! Our realtor was wonderful and suggested an “acceleration clause”–which basically says we’ll top any other offer by _____ amount to a certain amount. They didn’t even look at the other offers! The inspections went fairly well and we closed on time this past Wednesday. We moved our futon out there and have been spending the weekend cleaning and prepping to paint (the walls are orange and green)!

    You two are an inspiration, thanks for sharing everything with the world!

  7. Maggie says

    Thanks for such a great post and pictures!

    We bought our house in April of 2007. We picked the neihborhood my hubby grew up in and then looked for what was in our price range. We probably looked at 20 houses. My hubby made spreadsheet comparisons for prices and features. Our realtor added our house to the list after it was reduced a 2nd time. Afer a quick walk through there was an Open House and nobody came except us – we talked to the previous owners for 2 hours! It was love.

    My favorite story about the house is that before the previous owners (who lived happily here for 30 years) the house was owned by a minister and there were prayer meetings in the family room. Well my husband and I met after church services on Christmas Day in 2005 and for the last 2 years we have hosted an Adventures in Faith Book Club in our family room. So I feel like the house is living it’s destiny too! :-)

  8. Angela says

    Happy Anniversary!

    I love looking at the before photos and was wondering if you could give us more. I noticed in one of your DIY articles there were photos of the rooms as a work in progress (i.e. sunroom). I think seeing how far you’ve actually come and that it didn’t happen overnight can give hope to the rest of us.

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Angela,

      Other than checking out our two spreads in DIY magazine (there’s one more to come…) which you can click on at the bottom of our About Us page, the best way to check out what our rooms looked like mid-makeover is to go back through our archives to see our old formal dining room that’s now a third bedroom, our old kitchen, our living room with green paint and no dining room in it, etc. We started this blog over a year and a half ago so we’ve certainly covered a lot of the metamorphosis. Happy hunting!


  9. Ryan says

    We found our home in 2004 just 2 weeks before our wedding and 1 week before a major hurricane hit our area (Hurricane Ivan) We fell in love the moment we pulled up. The exterior is my most favorite color ever and is the perfect style that we wanted (a beachy cottage craftsman style) The interior needed work but we got to it as soon as we closed (three days after we returned from our honeymoon). We’ve now replaced all the flooring with Travertine, gutted a bathroom completely, remodeled the kitchen, and loved every minute of it!

  10. says

    Happy House Anniversary guys!

    We looked for our first house for quite a while. We actually put an offer on one that got out bid by someone else. (this was about 4 years ago) I was looking online one day and found the perfect house, I called our agent, she took us to see it. (we were the 3rd set of people looking at it at the same time) We loved it, put in an offer (along with 5 others) and we got it!

    Then 2 years later we sold it on craigslist (it was listed for less than a week) to move into our new-construction dream home.

  11. says

    This makes me feel better. My husband and I have been in our house 5 months and we still have a long way to go!

    When we got married we were living with his brother and his brother’s wife. We thought we could stay there for quite awhile, but quickly realized it wouldn’t work because tension was mounting. When we discovered that we weren’t quite as welcome as we thought we were, we moved in with a friend from church and decided to take the plunge and look for a house after only a month of marriage.

    The house we found was our second try; the first one was lovely too but it had hurricane damage that the owners refused to acknowlege. But I’m so glad we ended up with the one we have – it’s much more my style.

  12. Erin says

    Our experience was a whirlwind too! My husband and I weren’t even planning on looking for a few months because he had some major deadlines at work that kept him there late and on the weekends. But he stumbled across a home on Zillow that had recently been drastically reduced in price, putting it in our budget. I said it wouldn’t hurt to look, just to get a sense of what we would be seeing when we started looking “for real.” We looked, we loved, within a week we were in contract and now it’s ours! We didn’t even look at other homes!

  13. maryAZ says

    Happy Anniversary! We are moving to Memphis in a month & haven’t found anything we love yet, (we visited for a long weekend a couple weeks ago) so we found a house w/ a 3 month lease-which is good in that we can get “the lay of the land”! I think we are having a hard time looking past all the stuff people have in their houses….have they not heard of staging? Clean up a little clutter & I bet they could get a sale! We also have a great house here in Phoenix(it sold in 3 weeks-for full asking price!), so it is hard to see potential…how do you get past expectations?

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey MaryAZ,

      I think the key to really seeing the true potential in a house is to ignore all the things your mind tells you to pay attention to. Paint colors don’t matter, wallpaper can be removed, bad carpet can be pulled up (hopefully to reveal hardwoods underneath), etc. Instead, look at things like layout, how you’ll use the house (if the master’s alone on the first floor and you’re about to have a gaggle of kids it might not be practical), how much space you have in the backyard, and other things you can’t change. We also gave location and school district a lot of weight since no matter how much you fix up a house, those things can’t be altered. Hope it helps! Happy hunting…


  14. Kristen says

    My husband and I had put in an offer on another house already when I discovered our now home online. I threw a fit about how much I liked this one better. We were at a friends house, called our agent, and headed out here that night.

    After some interesting developments, and a LONG time waiting, we moved in in December :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *