BND Magazine

August 10, 2014

The verdict is in: O'Fallon 2-story is perfect for young lawyers

Garrett and Amanda Fischer make buying a house seem easy.

The first weekend they looked, the young couple found what they wanted: an O'Fallon two-story that backs up to woods.

They and their real estate agent looked at the neat four-bedroom, fourth-bath, brick-front house on a Saturday in January, went back with their parents to the Sunday open house and put in an offer Sunday night.

"It happened to be good weather," said Garrett, 28, a banking and corporate law attorney with Thompson Coburn in St. Louis. "Our Realtor (Rachel Helbig Burkarth, of Coldwell Banker) warned us It was really, really busy. She hadn't seen anything so busy. She said, 'It's important to act quickly.' We believed her."

"We wanted our parents to see it," said Amanda, 27, a St. Clair County assistant state's attorney. "We were nervous."

They liked a lot about the 22-year-old house -- that it had a great kitchen with white cabinets, an island and stainless steel appliances, and a good-sized deck, a yard for their German shepherd mix Telly to run, a two-car garage and a finished basement.

"We knew we wanted a basement," said dark-haired Amanda. "I am really scared of storms."

Because of the high open-house traffic, they put a short time frame on their 7 p.m. Sunday bid.

"We had it expire noon on Monday," said Amanda. "We heard Monday at 10. They accepted our offer, but had a strange request."

The owners wanted to stay for a few months. The Fischers didn't move in until April.

It all worked out.

The former owners left a welcome gift basket on the kitchen table.

The spacious, traditional home gives the Fischers room to grow.

"It's definitely enough space for us," said Amanda, who grew up in Shiloh and graduated from O'Fallon Township High School. Garrett is from Collinsville. Both went away to college, but came back to attend law school at Washington University.

That's where they met.

"We started dating our third year," said Amanda. "We worked together on the law review. It just blossomed into more than friendship."

Their first real date? The Clayton Art Fair and out to dinner. They lived in Clayton at the time.

At their new house, they've taken on big projects and small.

"We did a large bathroom remodel that took a couple months," said Amanda. "We hired a contractor. Another big project was filling in a pool in back. We knew it probably was going to be more work to get it to function than it was worth."

They also worked on the yard, cutting down trees, and landscaping. And they've become skilled with the paintbrush and roller.

"I think we have painted seven rooms, and added wainscoting in the dining room," said Garrett.

"We are getting really good at painting," said Amanda. "I do the trim. He does all the rolling."

When they're not tending to their new house, they spend time with family and friends, and they've met their neighbors.

"Since we moved in, there are always people out walking," said Garrett. "The ones we have met are nice and welcoming.

"We spend a lot of time outside, going on runs, taking our dog on runs," said Amanda.

Garrett, who played tennis at Rockhurst, is teaching Amanda the game.

"He taught little kids a lot," she said. "He's pretty good at teaching me since I am at that skill level."

Why they chose O'Fallon: "It's a good location," said Amanda. "Both of us can get to work and both of our families are close by. I was familiar with O'Fallon from gong to high school here."

How they chose a Realtor? "We used the Realtor my parents had used," said Amanda. "They had a good experience with her. She knew the area and we knew someone who had had a positive experience."

When did you start looking? "We were looking online for a while. We were renting at the time. Once we started looking, we only went out and looked one weekend."

How many homes did you see? About a half-dozen.

Favorite room? "We spend the majority of our time between the kitchen and family room," said Amanda. "We always lived in an apartment. It's a refreshing change. You don't have to be careful about being too noisy. Just enjoy it. Do what we want."

First thing they bought for their house? "Probably a living room couch," said Garrett, of the beige/light tan small sectionals.

"We have been going slowly and picking things up along the way from friends and family," said Amanda. "We found a table at a garage sale. We stained it to match our furniture. I am not really crafty. It has tested our abilities. ... We had a lot of hand-me-downs from the apartment."

"I think every time we do a project, I learn something," said Garrett. "I'm not naturally handy but I'm learning. I've been watching a lot of YouTube videos."

Surprises in the home-buying process: "The closing process was very up and down," said Amanda. "There was always something the mortgage company wanted. We had to get flood insurance. ... There's a creek in back. That was really stressful. We didn't have to delay closing, but there were constant calls. We talked to our mortgage broker all the time."

Any tips? "Do a lot of research (online) before you go out looking," said Amanda. "It's overwhelming to look at all these houses and take everything in. Know your budget, what you want and what you can afford."

"We had a good sense of what we liked," said Garrett. "We kind of went with it."

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