200 homes later, teacher finds right one in Acworth

Casey Payne attended Kennesaw State University for her bachelor’s degree and continued renting in Cobb County when she landed a job as a first-grade teacher at Smyrna’s Norton Park Elementary School.

Once fiance Parker Stiles got a job in the same area, she decided to buy a home. They plan to get married in June 2016.

Payne, 24, talked about the four-bedroom home she bought in Acworth, assisted by Eric Baker with Keller Williams Realty First Atlanta.

Q: Why did you decide to buy?

A: I've lived in this area for six years now, and other than freshman year in the dorms, I've been throwing away $1,000 per month on rent. When I found out Parker was going to stay in the area, it made sense to start building equity. Although my lease wasn't up until June (2015), it was more important to start searching in March and close on a home in April than wait.

Q: What were your priorities?

A: I wanted the home to be in a good area and in a neighborhood I knew. I wanted a three-bedroom home and a grocery store nearby. I couldn't pass up this two-story home with a backyard. One day, we'll want dogs and kids.

Q: How did you find this home?

A: I found this on a website that Eric sent me. I clicked "no" on more than 200 homes before I saw this one. The pictures got me, and it ended up being a mile from where I used to rent another house. When Parker and I saw the house, the sellers still had their furniture there, which made it easier to picture. I liked the colors and vibe and put in an offer that night.

Q: How was the offer and closing process?

A: I'm definitely a negotiator, but when you really want something, sometimes the price is worth it. I didn't want to take the risk and offered the asking price, which is also what the appraisal said. I happened to know someone who knew the people who lived there and that they were ready to get out of the house. It worked out for both them and me.

Q: How have you decorated?

A: We're big into hunting and have animals around the house, such as mounted deer and ducks. We also have a rustic look with a lot of wood crates and vintage windowpanes. It helps that the kitchen, living room and dining room are one big room, which creates a welcoming environment. Growing up, I lived in homes where rooms were closed off and you were either in one room or another, but here, you're talking with everyone no matter where you are in the room.

Q: What’s a tip for first-time buyers?

A: Don't take the first bite. For me, the first house wasn't the best house. You're so excited to buy a new home that you think everything could be "it," but once you get that gut feeling, you know it's the right house. Wait and be patient.

At a Glance

Casey Payne’s home, built in 2013, has four bedrooms, two-and-a-half bathrooms and 2,200 square feet. Homes in the Keeneland neighborhood in Acworth range from the low to high $200,000s.