It is time to buy their first home. On Sunday afternoon, Jennifer and Carl connect with a wonderful agent. On Monday, they are preapproved for financing (even though they have cash for the purchase). They see the perfect house on Tuesday. It’s in an A+ neighborhood and has 3 bedrooms, 3 baths, views, parking, a gorgeous backyard and absolutely nothing wrong with it. Their offer is accepted on Wednesday. They close 7 days later, move in and live happily ever after!

Of course that NEVER happens. This is more like it:

1. Jennifer and Carl save for five years for a down payment.
2. Even so, their lender explains they’ll need some gift money to make it work.
3. Carl’s dad agrees to give them $50,000, after asking – five times – if moving back to Columbia, South Carolina would be so bad.
4. Jennifer and Carl search with their agent for 10 months.
5. Every property they consider receives at least 15 offers and sells for 50% over its asking price.
6. Carl carefully considers a job offer in Austin, Texas.
7. Jennifer wonders if she should have waited another year before getting married.
8. Their agent asks if they want to shift their search to the East Bay, but then notices a price reduction on a small 2 bedroom condo.
9. It doesn’t have parking. And it backs up to a gas station.
10. Carl says they may as well see it.
11. Jennifer stares a long time at the living room, trying to visualize where a sofa can fit. She decides on a loveseat instead.
12. Their agent tries to talk them out of writing an offer, because she worries they’ll never be happy with the gas station for a neighbor.
13. Jennifer and Carl agree that its proximity is value-added. Refueling will always be a cinch!
14. They write at 40% over asking, with no contingencies. 18 other buyers write offers, too. Their offer comes in second.
15. Carl says, “Well, at least we got close!”
16. Their agent suggests they accept a back-up position.
17. Jennifer finds herself crying during yoga the next day. She wonders if the house search has something to do with it.
18. Carl just wants her to be happy. He googles rentals in Austin.
19. Their agent learns that the primary buyers have withdrawn.
20. Jennifer and Carl are ecstatic at the news, until they hear the reason the primary buyers bailed: An additional $35,000 worth of pest control damage has been revealed.
21. “That’s not so bad,” says Jennifer, “We can sell both cars and use shuttles, MUNI and Lyft. We don’t have a garage anyway!”
22. They accept primary position.
23. The first appraisal comes in $25,000 too low.
24. The second appraisal comes in $10,000 too low.
25. The sellers won’t budge on the price because they have a second backup offer for even more money.
26. Carl’s stepmother says she’ll make up the difference.
27. But the lender needs a hard copy of Jennifer’s graduate-school diploma for final loan approval.
28. All of Jennifer’s possessions were lost in an apartment-building fire two years earlier.
29. University of Virginia wants three weeks’ written notice in order to produce a copy of a diploma.
30. Jennifer knows exactly why she is crying during yoga class.
31. The lender asks the underwriter for an exception.
32. While watching the Winter Olympics, Carl holds still-weeping Jennifer in his arms. Even the women’s curling finals can’t pull her out of her funk.
33. The lender agrees to an exception!
34. Loan documents are produced and signed.
35. Seller’s preferred movers aren’t available before close of escrow.
36. Jennifer and Carl have already given notice on their apartment and their movers are scheduled for the afternoon of closing.
37. Their agent has to be a beatch. “I’m sorry, but the sellers have to go,” she tells the seller’s agent, “And, no, we are not paying for three nights at Hotel del Sol. We have already paid your clients 40% over their asking price.”
38. The condo closes.
39. The sellers deliver it vacant.
40. Carl and Jennifer get their keys, move in and share a bottle of champagne given to them by their agent.
41. They live happily ever after until two weeks later when their water heater floods into the unit below.
42. They call their agent. Their agent calls a plumber. $1200 and one homeowners insurance claim later they start living happily ever after again until…

Cynthia Cummins is a Top Producer and Partner at McGuire. For info on SF real estate visit This article was re-posted at