Problem was, two other couples loved it too

The Patten family fought a bidding war and came out the victors--and owners of a $1.2-million home in Irvine.

A friend who lived around the corner discovered the privately listed home and knew it was perfect for Tim and Kathy Patten, both 44. The couple and their three children already called Irvine home. When Kathy went to see the house on Mother's Day, she fell in love with it.

"The price was high, but I walked in and had to have it," Kathy said.

She and her husband were taken with its setting on a quiet cul-de-sac, its 30-foot-high ceilings and a tropical backyard with a cascading waterfall, swimming pool and putting green.

The problem was two other couples also thought it was just perfect.

Although their real estate agent was out of town, the Pattens put a bid on the house that day. The next morning, they upped the bid. That night, their agent returned from vacation and went straight from the plane to the office to win the home for the family.

"My kindergartner schmoozed with the agent, too," Kathy says. "We lucked out."

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