Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Great House Fiasco of 2010, Part 4a: The Search is Over.

Our new house...in 72 days from now

I am the proud holder of two signed, official, attorney-reviewed contracts: one to sell my house and one to buy another house. I can hardly believe it.
Apparently a couple came through our house to see it while we were at church on Sunday as the new roof was being nailed on the house. I told the roofer to pay close attention to who they were, and he gave us the full report when we returned. "They stayed a real long time," he said, "and they walked all over the back yard." This gave me hope because in the seemingly hundreds of open houses and house showings I've been to, only a few times have I ventured outside, and they were only at the houses I was very interested in. Well, by Monday night we had an offer on our house from them. We spent Tuesday counteroffering a few times and by about 2pm, it was a done deal.

(Let me interject and say this: if one more person gave us this feedback- "Great house! Shows beautifully! Is on our short list! A real contender!", I was going to strangle someone. Seriously, at least four people told us our house was "on their short list." I told our realtor we were feeling like always the bridesmaid, never the bride. We would get so excited by the positive feedback and then we'd never hear from them again. The up and down emotional rollercoaster was killing me, and I started feeling like we'd never leave this house. I even got so crazy as to let my feelings get hurt... why don't you like my house? What's wrong with it? Why don't you want to buy it? I love my house! It's a great house! Sure, it's not terribly sexy, per se, but it's solid and strong and has sheltered us from many, many storms. And it has a new bathroom. Argh.)

So Wednesday dawned and we had two showings of very strong contenders scheduled for that evening: a house near my parents' development that we had seen online and looked very good and a house in my parents' development that was not on the market yet; we had been told it was getting ready for sale by our realtor, who know the owners, and we had driven by a few times to check it out and really liked it. (I swear that the first time I saw it, I had an emotional reaction to it, sort of like the first time I saw Dan, and my heart kind of fluttered a little.) Dan and I drove over to the first house, the one we had seen pictures of, with nervous anticipation. I had a strong feeling one of these houses would be The One, and was very hopeful that one of them would be The One since in about 78 days we would, essentially, be homeless. And I wanted to find the house that worth leaving our current house for.

And guess what? The first house certainly wasn't it.

It was okay from the outside. But as we entered and walked room by room, the negatives started piling up. Rooms needed painting. The living room floor was a different hardwood than the dining room and hallway. The kitchen was very cheap looking. The cabinets didn't close right. I hated the countertops. The back stairway had been refinished and done poorly. Upstairs, someone had put down hardwood floors and nail holes showed. The planks went in different directions in each room. And, in one of the final blows to the house, we walked into this eight-year-old home's main upstairs bathroom and found gray particleboard paneling on the walls.
With gold fixtures.
Yeah... I didn't get it, either.
So we went back downstairs and I stood in the kitchen, looked around, and imagined myself for the next 20 years in this space. And I said, "Dan, I can't do it. I can't live here." And I almost started to cry.
Our realtor quickly said, "Let's go see the next house."
On the way to see the second house, we started panicking. "I wasn't nervous before, but now I am," Dan said. "Stop saying that!" I told him. "You're freaking me out, man!"
And I could hear, in italics, the thoughts going through both of our heads: What if this house is bad, too? What have we done? Where are we going to live?
We pulled up to the second house, the one in my parents' development, and walked up to the front door. Our realtor opened the door, Dan walked in first, and I followed. And I swear, when I walked into the foyer, it was though the spotlight from Heaven shone down on us and the Hallelujah Chorus started playing in my head: it was awesome and I knew that we were HOME.
Dan darted off to explore the house like a kid on Christmas morning, and I just stood there, stunned, looking around, not able to move or take it all in, gasping and exclaiming and sighing and saying, "Oh my goodness! Oh my goodness!" because it was just quite possibly my favorite house I've ever seen. It was warm and open and friendly and beautiful.
So we spent the next hour looking room by room, top to bottom, and thoroughly fell in love. It is a 12 year old, four bedroom, two-and-a-half bathroom colonial that is .5 miles from my parents' house with a two story foyer, a vaulted ceiling in the family room, and plenty of living space for all of us. The kitchen, eating area and family are all open to each other and spacious. The bedrooms are a good size, there is a first floor study, and the basement is framed and ready to be finished. There is also plumbing in the basement to put in a full bathroom. There is a deck off the family room, a deck off of the basement, which is a walk-out, and a hot tub outside. It is on a cul-de-sac, which reminds me of the house I grew up in and loved, but the backyard is large and completely private. It is full of nice touches and good finishes and whoever picked the paint colors knew what they were doing. The only thing we have to do to it is change the kids' bedrooms from blue- they have three boys- to the colors the girls pick out.
Dan LOVED it.
We couldn't believe we could live in a place like it.
Our realtor very wryly smiled and said, "Hmmm... I think I'm hearing offer talk."
So, the next day we put an offer together, they counter offered, we counter offered, and they accepted. Done deal. We close at the end of June.
Today and yesterday I have spent mortgage shopping, talking interest rates and closing costs and loan to value ratios and amortization tables and basis points and terms and locking in and extensions. Our current house was inspected and did fine. A lawyer was hired. An inspection of the new house was scheduled. The girls were re-registered to their new elementary school. Property Disclosure Statements were written and reviewed. Good Faith Estimates were gathered. And meanwhile, regular life went on: the kids and the house and the cooking and the laundry and the cleaning and everything else.

I am exhausted but extremely happy.

More than once in the last few months, I have thought to myself: What are we DOING? Maybe we should just stay here. Where do we belong?
And this house was out there, all along, just patiently waiting for us to find it.


Claudia said...

Cheryl, Dan, all:

This is the most beautiful house I have seen. And your description of the house ... It seems to be meant for you and I congratulate you for being proud new home owners.


Em said...

I do love a story with a happy ending and a big back yard......

Anonymous said...

C and D and M and J and A-what an exciting time in your lives! We couldn't be more pleased for you all (AND US!). Love, Mommy and Daddy