Annie Price* called me a couple of weeks later and asked me to meet her at an address in SW Atlanta.

I drove to what turned out to be Annie’s new home. Almost. It was a three-bedroom, two-bathroom split level on a beautiful tree-lined street.

It only needed some minor work – a good steam cleaning of the carpets and fresh paint in the bedrooms. Otherwise, it was move-in ready. Her offer had been accepted by the sellers, and she was under contract.

“I have to tell, you, I was almost ready to give up,” Annie admitted. “I was going toe-to-toe with investors, and they were getting all the low-to-moderately priced homes. They were swooping in with cash and offering quick closings, and making it very difficult for someone like me to buy a home.”

I asked how she managed to find this gem were were now standing in. Annie said it was pure luck, and good timing.

“Basically, Mel (Annie’s real estate agent) and I put it an offer the day it went on the market. It was one of those rare homes that was owned by someone relocating who actually wanted an owner-occupant, and not an investor. The couple selling the place actually liked the idea that someone like me wanted to make it a home, and not a flip property. But that’s rarely the case in the price range I’m in.”

Annie had the keys and the alarm code, and was excited to show off her new home. She was more than a month from her closing date, but she’d come back with a measuring tape and a couple of paint cards from a local hardware store. She was already envisioning the placement of her furniture, the paint colors for her living room and bedrooms, and what kind of curtains she wanted to get.

“There is still a lot to do,” she said. “I have to get all my paperwork together for my down payment grant, schedule the closing, arrange for movers. I’m not going to believe it’s real until I have these keys for good and this is actually my home.”

Annie said Mel was on vacation at the moment, but would be back in plenty of time for the closing. I asked her if I could come back after she was all settled in. She said I had an open invitation.

“There are a lot of things I went through during this house hunting process that you would not believe,” she admitted. “The challenges are a lot more daunting that you could ever imagine when you’re sitting in those real estate classes and everyone tells you that free money is available, all you have to do is go get it. Yes, the money is available, but actually finding a house…”

Annie’s voice trailed off as she looked out her dining room window to the small back deck overlooking a cozy, fenced in yard, her expression a mixture of happiness and relief. Happiness that she had found a home she loved, and relief that the hunt was finally over. But there was something more about this entire process that she had learned that she wasn’t quite ready to share. I asked her what it was. Her response was simply a mischievous smile.

Perhaps, I thought, I’ll revisit Annie’s story sometime down the road. But it was time to close the book.

For now.

*Annie Price is a pseudonym. 

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