“I’d never lived anywhere else, so the thought of leaving my family in Minneapolis felt like a pretty huge move.”
For Austin, moving away from the only place she’d ever called home felt like a turning point.
It was early 2016, and she’d decided to move to Denver with her boyfriend, Lewis. Despite her nervousness, they found a place to rent and both quickly found new jobs. Lewis—a trained chef—found plenty of work in the booming Denver food scene, while Austin landed a gig working as a childcare specialist for the State of Colorado.
After getting married in June 2017, they made the big decision to purchase their first home later that year. It was small—just 600 square feet—but they were frequent travelers and it was the perfect home base between big trips. By renting out their new home during trips, their house also doubled as an income source to support their adventuring lifestyle.
The pandemic hits
But like so much else in the world, everything changed when the COVID-19 pandemic began. In mere weeks, travel became an impossibility. Austin found herself working from home. On top of that, with COVID restrictions constantly changing, Lewis’ employment as a chef often was up in the air.
While their cozy home had worked great for their pre-COVID lives, Austin and Lewis quickly realized that it was simply too small for their new reality. Between them and their two dogs—Shandy and Daphne—their space felt cramped and confining.
But with the Denver real estate market being incredibly hot and financial uncertainty around Lewis’ employment, could they afford to make a move to something bigger?
Should we do this?
Despite the unknowns, Austin reached out to the person who’d helped them purchase their first home. Annie Collins, a realtor at Ford & Associates, was an old friend and had been a huge help during their first homebuying experience. “We thought the market was crazy then,” remembers Lewis. “Today’s market makes 2017 seem tame.” Annie agrees: “Today, if you’re not putting in an offer that’s $100k over the asking price, you basically don’t have a shot.”
As they started exploring the possibility of upsizing with Annie, they were forced to come to terms with the challenges they’d face. “We didn’t want to sell our current home first and be homeless or need to rent,” says Austin. “We had plenty of equity in our home and figured it would sell fast, but selling before buying felt risky.”
“The market here’s just so competitive. You have to bring cash to the table or you can’t even play the game. And for people in our age range, you normally don’t have much cash to bring to the table. How are you supposed to compete?”
For Lewis, the Denver housing market felt intimidating: “The market here’s just so competitive. You have to bring cash to the table or you can’t even play the game. And for people in our age range, you normally don’t have much cash to bring to the table. How are you supposed to compete?” Austin summed it up: “The Denver housing market is like Black Friday, every day.”
Starting the search
Despite all of the challenges, Austin and Lewis knew they couldn’t thrive long-term in their existing home. With Annie’s encouragement that it would be tough, but not impossible, they decided to move forward and start checking out houses in November 2020. Unsurprisingly, their experience was exactly what they’d expected.
“We probably saw twenty or thirty houses over a few months,” says Austin. “I think we put in nine offers, and we actually had a few accepted. The problem was that the market was moving so quickly, you felt like you had to put an offer in just to give yourself time to think about whether it was actually a house you wanted.”
Although they had a few offers accepted, they backed out after reviewing the results of the home inspections. “Each one had major problems that would have cost a lot of money to fix,” says Lewis. “With all the info, none of them felt like a wise decision.”
As they reviewed everything they’d experienced, they realized that their home sale contingency was holding them back. “The home sale contingency really hobbled us,” remembers Lewis. “We’d put together a good offer, but when the seller saw the contingency, our offer would go to the bottom of the stack. In a hot market like Denver, that just doesn’t fly.”
“The home sale contingency really hobbled us… when the seller saw the contingency, our offer would go to the bottom of the stack.”
It was at this point that Annie suggested they try using Homeward’s Buy before you sell solution.
“We were trying so hard, and I could tell Annie was also feeling frustrated that we just couldn’t get in the door,” says Austin. “She brought up Homeward as a last-ditch effort of sorts. She’d never worked with Homeward before, so we were a test subject, and it ended up being a perfect fit.”
Annie acknowledges that they were all skeptical at first. “We had a lot of questions and there was a ton of back-and-forth. We were all asking the same question: ‘What’s the catch here?’ But the Homeward team were really supportive, and once we understood the program they enabled us to move really quickly.”
The Homeward experience
Austin and Lewis were near their breaking point. “I remember saying that we would try putting in one more offer,” says Austin. “If it didn’t work out, we were going to take a break. The experience was just too stressful.”
After working with Annie and Homeward to get preapproved for the Homeward Cash Offer, they started looking at homes again. They found one they absolutely loved in late March. “It had more space, a guest room, a big yard for the dogs and a garden…it was perfect,” says Austin. “We decided to give it a go using the Homeward Cash Offer.”
They later learned that they were one of twenty-four offers on this particular home. To their shock, their offer was accepted!
“We think that Homeward’s Buy before your sell program was the key,” says Austin. “Homeward allowed us to bring a cash offer to the table, but the other important piece was that it enabled us to sell our home after buying. That meant we were able to give the sellers sixty days to move out at no additional cost. Since the family that owned the home had a young daughter, they were really attracted to that.”
“Homeward allowed us to bring a cash offer to the table, but the other important piece was that it enabled us to sell our home after buying.”
“It’s really hard to buy and sell in this market,” says Annie. “Cash really is king, because sellers see it as easy. Having options like [The Homeward Cash Offer] works like a charm in the right situations.”
The deal was finalized in mid-April and they moved into their new home in mid-May. They quickly listed their old home for sale and accepted an offer two days later, neatly wrapping up the whole process.
Putting down roots (literally)
“We love our new house. I think we say it at least once a week,” says Austin. “We now have an office, a huge yard for the dogs, a guest bedroom, and a garage. It’s changed our lives, really. We’re so thankful for Annie and for Homeward for making this possible.”
Lewis agrees. “I honestly don’t know if we could have stayed in Denver if we didn’t get this house. We love it here, but it’s so hard with the housing market the way it is.”
Austin and Lewis shared their story with the Homeward team from their car. Why? They were in the parking lot at their local Lowe’s home improvement store. “We’re so excited to be in our new home. We’re planting our first garden!” Austin shared. “Since Lewis is a chef, he’s always wanted to be able to grow his own vegetables. We can finally make that dream a reality.”
Lewis is ready to get his hands dirty and start growing fresh lettuce for salads and sides. As for Austin? She just wants to plant as many sunflowers as possible.
Who can argue with that?