As Kevin and Rachel McDonald’s first child, Brooklyn, approached kindergarten age, they joined other buyers and investors trying to buy in summer 2013.
After spending entire weekends viewing homes, and even placing a few offers on homes before they could step in the door, the McDonalds ended up finding an Alpharetta home with the floor plan and features fitting their family.
Getting settled in a school district by August was crucial for the couple. “We were under a major time crunch to find a home before school started,” said Kevin, 30.
The young family lived in an apartment on Roswell Road in Sandy Springs as they welcomed a second daughter, Kayla, and as Kevin attended Emory University School of Law. Then they moved to be near family in Gwinnett County while searching for a home with at least three bedrooms, a laundry room upstairs, dual vanities in the master bathroom and a finished basement.
The surprises they encountered during their house hunt with Adam Ailion of Re/Max Greater Atlanta included being part of a frenzy of north Fulton County buyers also facing a start-of-the-school-year deadline. The McDonalds recognized they were at the tail end of the buyer’s market in that area, with home prices still relatively low and interest rates low, Kevin said.
“The issue we ran into was a really low inventory. Homes were staying on the market for two to three days before going under contract. While we were thinking about it, it would go off the market,” he said.
The market was so competitive that couple ended up putting bids on homes they hadn’t even seen. They began looking at homes the first weekend in June and knew they needed to be under contract within a month, in order to close before the school year began. The couple used Zillow.com — even on their cellphones and iPads while driving to view homes — to view color-coded ratings for top schools based on factors such as test scores.
The couple looked at 15-20 houses per weekend. Some newer homes had little yard space; other potential problems included being near major roadways or having power lines in the backyard, they said. They put offers on several homes, including foreclosures.
The five-bedroom, three-and-a-half bath home, built in 1990, offered everything they wanted: the laundry upstairs, double sinks in the master bathroom, a finished basement, a fenced backyard and a two-car garage. The floor plan also had a living room and family room, which serves as the girls’ playroom.
Rachel viewed it right when she got off work, noticing the potential in the home, which smelled like dogs and was cluttered. They put in the bid before Kevin viewed the property. “We knew we may not have the luxury of waiting a few days,” he said.
The McDonalds closed on the home on Aug. 9, and Brooklyn started school three days later. “We were up against difficult circumstances. Ideally you wouldn’t be in a rush,” Kevin said. “We ended up with something that fortunately we love but at the same tine we were in danger of settling on something because we didn’t have much of a choice. That might have happened if we didn’t find this.”
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