Andrew and Adrienne Greenwalt knew from the start that they wanted to live in West Hartford.

After taking a job at Pratt & Whitney right out of college, Andrew, 29 an engineer, rented an apartment there and liked the town's many amenities. City living didn't appeal to the couple, nor did they want to live in a rural setting, like West Simsbury, where Adrienne, 26, had grown up.

But even in a tepid economy, they soon learned, the competition for homes in their $400,000 price range can still be stiff in sought-after towns like West Hartford. The owner of the first house they bid on rejected their offer. Then they bid on a second one, only to get beat out by another party offering cash. The couple's attempt to buy a third house also ended in disappointment. Their offer was accepted, but the inspection turned up problems, and they had to back out of the contract.

Finally, on the fourth try, things went the Greenwalts' way. At the end of June, they closed on a three-bedroom, 1.5-bath bath colonial on the northwest side of town. They paid $365,000 for the property, $4,000 less than the asking price.

The couple decided to buy after Adrienne, a nurse, got a job at Hartford Hospital. They met at Tulane University, were married in 2009 and had been renting in New Haven for 11/2 years while Adrienne completed a nurse practitioner program at Yale.

"I was getting tired of commuting to East Hartford," said Andrew, a Louisiana native. "We were ready to have a home."

Must-haves for the first-time home buyers included a minimum of three bedrooms, a modern kitchen and a nicely landscaped yard, Andrew said. "Good bones" were another requirement, in case they wanted to update or add on. They also did not want a fixer-upper, and the house had to have at least a one-car garage, he said.

The 1,744-square-foot house they bought was well kept by the previous owner and move-in ready, Andrew said. It was built in 1951 but looked like new construction, he said. The house has a spacious master bedroom, finished basement and a nice backyard with a big deck. A family room off the kitchen has wrap-around windows and two skylights.

"We love the whole thing," Andrew said.

West Hartford is a place they can raise a family and where the home they bought would likely hold its value, Andrew said. The house was one of about 40 the couple looked at during their roughly three-month search. Nestled in a hilly subdivision near Norfeldt School, it had been on the market only two days when their broker, Rob Giuffria, took them to see it.

"West Hartford is doing extremely well and is more stable than some surrounding towns," said Giuffria, president of Prudential Premier Homes. "There is not much available under $425,000, and when a house comes on the market, it sells quickly."

— Loretta Waldman, Special to The Courant

SOURCES: Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development; Connecticut Economic Resources Center; The Warren Group.

20 LOSTBROOK ROAD

BEDROOMS: 3

BATHS: 11/2

SQUARE FEET: 1,744

LIST PRICE: $369,000

PRICE PAID: $365,000