Thursday, April 14th, 2016 • No Comments on Our House
Our dream house!
The story of our house…
It’s been over a year since we decided we wanted to move and started looking at houses. We began looking in South Carolina and from last spring until late summer, we thought we’d end up in Summerville, just outside of Charleston. But come last fall, realizing we’d miss the change of seasons (among other things), we changed our minds and started looking farther north in Virginia and ultimately focused around Richmond. I don’t know how many houses we’ve been in–probably over 50 in 2 states–and we’ve ruled out hundreds more online.
We liked one house well enough to consider making an offer, but the house sold before we could get a second look. We were quicker to make an offer on the next house we liked, but someone else beat our offer. The third house seemed to be a sure thing–on the market for nearly a year–and we made an offer last Tuesday. The owners bought it at the height of the market and wanted to go back and forth over what they wanted vs. what it was worth and what we were willing to pay. Had they accepted our first offer, or even the second, we would not have seen the fourth house. And while I liked those three houses well enough to be able to imagine living there, none of them seemed to be THE house. None were our house.
Jay found the fourth house last Thursday while we were negotiating on the third house. Since he was on spring break this week, we drove up to see it Friday morning. I had joked after losing the first house we liked before we could even make an offer that I need longer than 30 minutes in a house to decide whether I want to live in it the rest of my life. Turns out, I was wrong. We both immediately fell in love with this house and were ready to make an offer before we’d even seen the upstairs. I literally teared up at the thought of living there. We made an offer within 2 hours and signed the contract on the drive home (yay, technology). We were told there was another offer coming in and more showings over the weekend and they wouldn’t be deciding until Sunday evening. In the meantime, we sold our house Friday night after only 2 days on the market and amended our offer to sweeten the deal and hopefully beat any other offers.
It’s all happened very fast and it was an incredibly long and stressful weekend. But on Sunday evening right before we sat down to have dinner, our real estate agent texted, “Congratulations!”
We got our house. ❤
Monday, March 7th, 2016 • 4 Comments on House Hunt 2016: The Almost Perfect House
The house that got away?
House hunting is exhausting. It’s been one year this week since we first decided we wanted to move. That decision took us in the direction of South Carolina (the Charleston suburb of Summerville) for awhile. We made two house hunting expeditions in May and August, looked at over a dozen different model homes in several new communities and we thought we knew what we wanted. The houses were beautiful, the planned communities had all of the amenities any suburban homeowner could ask for, but ultimately we changed our minds and changed direction.
By fall, we were looking elsewhere for a house, and no longer focused on new construction. We have been inside around twenty houses in the past few months and looked at dozens more online. We have pre-qualified, we are preparing our house to put it on the market in the next few weeks, we are ready to get serious. And we almost found our house this weekend. Almost.
We went on a road trip yesterday to visit a couple of open houses, and added a third while we were already in the neighborhood. All were beautiful, but the first of three seemed… almost perfect. Of course, this was based on a twenty-minute viewing with two kids in tow– which is less than ideal for trying to make as important a decision as buying a house. “That’s why we left our rugrats at home,” said one woman who was also touring the house as she watched me get my energetic boys under control. I couldn’t have rolled my eyes harder. Leaving our kids at home isn’t an option most of the time and, really, I like seeing how they respond to each house. They’ll live there too, after all. Of course, after being cooped up in the Jeep for a few hours, they mostly wanted to run around and touch everything. Sigh.
So, this house. Oh, this house. The porch of my dream house. A very lovely house, well below what we’ve pre-qualified for and very reasonably priced. It is bigger than the house we have now but not so big we’d feel lost in it (like the second house we saw– with tons of space but lacking the room configuration we need). Many, many pros, from highly rated elementary, middle and high schools to a community clubhouse, tennis courts, playgrounds and swimming pool. Lovely, flowing streets, lots of green space, walking trails. Houses spaced far enough apart that you can get to know your neighbors– or avoid them. A partially wooded lot for exploring with a two-level deck for entertaining. Just minutes to all the places we shop and a convenient 6 minute drive to Starbucks, which is closer than I am now. Lovely.
Of course, as with any house that’s nearly 20 years old, there were some issues too. Minor things, things we could change in time on our own dime. Rooms to be painted, floors to be covered, an aging air conditioner that would need replacing sooner rather than later. A fence that would need upgrading so our escape artist dog wouldn’t run away. But, all in the all, nothing that was a deal-breaker.
We made the several hour return drive home, discussing. Pros, cons, timing. It’s really too early to make an offer– the best we could do is make it contingent on the sale of our house and hope they would be willing to wait until the end of June to close. Should we? Could we? It feels wrong to make a decision like which house to buy– conceivably the very last house we’ll ever buy– based on a 20 minute tour and a couple hours of discussion. I thought we should give it a few days. Maybe try to see it in private with our own agent in a week or so.
We got home late, put the boys to bed, and continued discussing– missing The Walking Dead in the process. “Is it the house? Is it our house? Do you love it?” Jay asked the important questions and I hedged, giving him the pros and the cons (again) and saying, “Yeah, maybe, possibly, let’s wait though..” I could see us living there. I could see how I’d decorate the spaces, what colors I’d choose for the rooms. Was it perfect? No. Was it perfect for us? I thought… maybe. But still, there was time and we could keep weighing it, think about whether we want to commit so early. “Early” is relative, of course, since we’ve known we want to move for a year and looked at so many houses in two different states now. But still– we don’t want to move until the kids are out of school and shouldn’t it take longer to decide on a house than a quick viewing and a couple hours of discussion? I think so.
Turns out, it doesn’t matter. By 10pm last night, less than 8 hours after we saw the house, someone else had already decided to buy it. Jay checked the listing, and there it was. Pending. 4 days on the market and a 2 hour open house and someone had fallen in love enough to make an offer. And it wasn’t us. Should it have been? I still don’t know. I still feel like I would’ve wanted to look at it one more time, preferably without other people in the house and without having to keep a hand on each kid, and just feel the energy of the place. I think with a little more time, I would’ve decided it was the right house. I think. Maybe. I’m cautious like that– seeing the possibilities in anything, but wanting to be sure and not wanting to feel pressured.
And so we’re back to waiting for other houses to come on the market, as the other two houses we saw weren’t quite right for us, for different reasons. Three houses and one was almost perfect. Or maybe it would’ve been perfect after 6 months of living there and making the changes necessary to make it our own. I’ll never know.
I can’t really mourn a house I never had. I can’t really feel like I lost something that I wasn’t even sure I wanted. It’s a beautiful house in a beautiful neighborhood– a neighborhood we’re going to be watching closely for other houses to go on the market. Maybe the next one will be the perfect house. Maybe it’ll simply be perfect because we’ll be the first to say, “We want to make an offer.”
Thursday, December 31st, 2015 • No Comments on Fierce and Fearless in 2016
Here I go, into 2016 and adventures unknown. What I know is both kids will be in school at least 3 days a week until June 1, Jay will continue teaching middle school at least through June when he completes the requirements for his license and I will keep doing what I do best– write. What I don’t know is where I’ll be living after the school year comes to a close, as we will likely move before the new school year starts in the fall. I keep saying “likely” though I know it’s a near certainty, barring any unforeseen circumstances (which is nothing to scoff at, as I had several unforeseen circumstances in 2015). And so, with a move in mind, and changes I can only imagine, here are my goals for 2016:
Do my best to stay alive. This is last year’s “Drink more water” resolution, now with a lot more awareness of my own mortality and how quickly things can go from, “I don’t feel well” to “I think I have the flu” to “We weren’t sure you were going to make it.” So, with that in mind– and with the full knowledge that some health issues can’t be prevented, only managed– I will be aware of my health in 2016 and not take chances.
Find our last house. After almost 16 years in our current house, we’re ready to move on. But it’s hard, finding the right place to live (we’ve already changed our minds a couple of times) and the right home. I’ve said that I want our next house to be our last house– I want this yet-to-be-revealed house to be the home my children grow up in, the house we retire in, the place our kids return to for holidays and vacations after they’ve gone off to build their own lives. I want my dream house and I know no such thing exists, but I want to come as close to possible and begin our new life in our new home.
Make a few friends. I have friends of all backgrounds all over the world, but it’s hard to maintain in-person friendships when my job is fairly solitary and I spend most of my non-writing time with kids. With a new house comes new friends and I hope to find a few new friends who get me. Birds of a feather, as it were. Writers, creative types, dreamers who are still grounded in the real world, people with optimistic spirits and kind hearts. All the better if they love books and movies.
Write more, aim bigger. The bulk of my writing this year has been nonfiction– something I didn’t think I could write, much less sustain all year. I love it, but I miss fiction. And so, in 2016, I want to write as much NF as I did this year while also getting back to fiction writing. As far as aiming bigger– I want to pitch and submit to those dream publications, editors and publishers that are on my list and shoot for bigger projects across the board. Who knows, maybe 2016 will also be the year I finally self-publish something, which scares the crap out of me, but it’s good to be scared because it means I’m challenging myself.
Take care of myself and what I love. This goes back to #1, but it also ties into all the things that are important to me. My husband, my children. My true friends. My writing. My home. My pets. My causes. My heart. I need to take care of them all and not give my time and energy to anything (or anyone) that steals my joy, undermines my goals or hurts my heart (or the heart of those I love).
I’m going into 2016 fiercely and fearless– motivated, strong, loved, changed. It’s going to be a beautiful year. I’m ready.