Terrance and Andrea Hudson’s journey into their first house began with Burger King and a game of kickball.
It was the summer of 2010, and the two were working as therapeutic support staff at a summer camp for kids in Pennsylvania. Grad school at Indiana University of Pennsylvania awaited both that fall. During a kickball match, Terrance walked up to Andrea, enamored. “I thought she was cute,” he says. “So I asked her out.” Out for, well, a Whopper.
“I figured if she could, say, appreciate going to Burger King and just kind of hanging out casually, she might be the one,” he says.
And she was. The couple married in Pennsylvania on July 18, 2015. Academic dreams at Penn State University followed, with Terrance, 34, finishing his doctorate in education. Andrea, 27, had a tenure-track counseling position waiting for her.
Yet, in 2019, family tension popped up: Terrance’s 74-year-old mother was diagnosed with dementia. Terrance yearned to be closer, and Andrea obliged.
Like tens of thousands of couples that year, the Hudsons decided it was time to own a home. After all, they had a 1-year-old daughter, Vinnie, and wanted to build equity. By February 2020, they were pre-approved. They had assessed and gotten gigs in Cleveland’s academic job market: Terrance at Cleveland State, Andrea at the Louis Stokes Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The first week of March, after a bid on a 10th house, the Hudsons received a verbal acceptance.
But, after all that, the world was about to break.
“I kid you not,” Andrea says, “like, 24 hours later, the loan companies came in and said people were no longer allowed to close on their houses until after they started their new jobs.”
Thus began the Hudson’s search, in the most difficult housing market in the 21st century, where sight-unseen was normalized, as was waiving inspections, and where starter homes were going for $30,000 above market value (and bought in cash). Throwing in the towel, they rented a 1,300-square-foot home in Westlake.
COVID-era chaos gradually seeped in. That June, Terrance’s mom moved in. Then, that fall, Andrea became pregnant with their second child, Silas, which further postponed their search for a home. “I didn’t think I could manage both,” she says.
But they had found Jaclyn Gannon. A lawyer-turned-agent with Howard Hanna, Gannon briefed the Hudsons in the seller’s market toolkit. “This is a pretty difficult housing market,” Gannon told the Hudsons. “So the minute we find a house? We have to act on it; we have to hop in the car and go.”
Gannon helped the Hudsons take a cautious middle path: bending to the demands of the market and yet still fulfilling their needs — like Andrea’s two baths, or Terrance’s basketball hoop.
By the time they had resumed their search in the fall of 2021, the Hudsons knew to look only at houses listed under $250,000, not to waive inspections (do an “inspection for knowledge,” which doesn’t press the seller to fix any repairs) and not to instantly fall in love with any of the 40 homes they were shown.
“Houses were just continuing to be well overpriced,” Andrea says. “And the expectation is that you’re going to bid thousands of dollars over, and there’s going to be …”
“It was less options,” Terrance says, completing her thought. “The inventory is so low, there may be two or three houses that would pop up per week.”
This March, after being shown a dozen houses, Gannon reached out to Andrea with a two-story bungalow on Goldengate Avenue in Rocky River. Besides Terrance landing a job teaching history at Rocky River High School, the Hudsons felt an affinity for the West Side identity: good schools, quick access to I-90 and, as Andrea says, “not the city city, but close enough to downtown.”
Still, they worried about Rocky River prices. But, to Andrea’s shock, the bungalow was a nice anomaly — just $1,000 under their max price of $250,000. “It checked all of our boxes,” Andrea recalls. An offer of $255,000 was played.
On March 25, Andrea and Terrance were on their nightly walk in Westlake when they got a text, “Can you call me now?” Andrea brushed it off, thinking Gannon’s message signified a ninth failure. Why wouldn’t it?
An hour later, the couple got a text from Gannon: “I think I have a spot for the hoop.”
“We got the house,” Andrea recalls. “And I cried.”
“We hugged the kids,” Terrance says. “I was more relieved than anything.”
Although they could not move in until late May — they added a delayed move-in, due to the sellers’ new build in Florida — it’s why the Hudsons believe they scored their sale.
Above all, Andrea says she and Terrance have learned empathy for anyone on the buying end.
“However many years down the road, when it’s time to sell, I will pick the underdog,” Andrea says from her living room. “If we don’t absolutely need the extra $30,000 cash? Oh, I’ll pick ‘us.’”
Dig in to this year’s ranking of Best Places to Live and to find out how these Cleveland families found their dream homes.