Buyers’ market? Heh. That’s what we were told time and time again going into this spring’s ordeal. And then what followed was eight months of house-hunting in a fifty-mile radius with a pretty generous VA loan working in our favor (we thought)—the point is, we were flexible, I’d like to think—and then we had a house one day, and the next day we didn’t.
We loved the first place with every ounce of our being. It was a relatively new home that was in pristine condition on a five-acre plot with a koi pond and beautiful landscaping and lots of trees for Ella to play in and a chicken coop and a huge detached, bricked workshop space for SVV to work on all of his projects (and leave me in peace inside!). Oh and a camel for a neighbor. It was Fate. We thought.
And then two weeks after the buyer backed out of the contract they called us again and wanted us to buy their house for the original contract. It was still our dream home, the only one we saw that just clicked right away. So we said yes.
Then they backed out again. And then as expected called us again two weeks later and decided they wanted to sell us their house once again. But this time for more than the agreed-upon price. We laughed and hung up on them. House-hunting is a tedious and emotional journey (not unlike being a Bachelor contestant as Chris Harrison would lead us to believe). I checked their MLS listing yesterday, and they’ve since reduced the price $75,000 from what it was in May—$40,000 less than we agreed upon in our contract. I have a mental image of them smacking their foreheads with their hands and commenting to each other how stupid they’ve been to give us the runaround (because they were).
But everything works out for a reason, right? (Geez, I really hate trite clichés. At least, in this case, it holds true.) Because had they not been so flighty, we would never have reached this point: in possession of a gorgeous old Victorian home that couldn’t suit us any better.
Yes, folks: We are officially homeowners! That’s something I never thought I’d be able to say, particularly after nearly a decade of living in some of the world’s most expensive cities (where, dare I share, I paid double for my share of the rent alone what our monthly house payment is going to be combined) and while operating under the title of “self-employed journalist” (which complicated things to no end). We also paid less than half of the price for New (Old) Dream Home—because yes, it was built in the 19th CENTURY—as we would have for Old (New) Dream Home, which was built in 2000. So sometimes patience and persistence reigns supreme, I suppose. We’re more of old souls anyway; this place just suits us to a tee.
It was no easy process, and had SVV not been so thorough and made a jiggity-jillion phone calls daily to the powers that be, I’m pretty certain we wouldn’t be in the possession of keys today. We thought that going through his bank, Navy Federal Credit Union, with whom he has been a customer for 14 years, was going to make the whole thing simple. (My naivete of being a first time homeowner is glaringly obvious like a third head, isn’t it?) Our loan officer was a hellion to work with, and in the end, we thought this was going to fall through, as well, as she clearly did not want to help us out and asked for a third extension on our closing date. But Tweeting and Facebooking worked in our favor, as Tony—our credit union supervisor in shining armor—came to the rescue and made it all happen just in the nick of time! And for that, we owe him. (Thanks, Tony! Bourbon’s on us next time you’re passing through Middle Tennessee.)
We’re pretty excited and are in for one wild home-renovation ride. We have some grand plans that include: replacing the siding and roof (spring), knocking out the hallway wall and building a dream attic bathroom like this one (sometime down the line), building a detached garage with carriage doors in the same style as the house (next year), a major kitchen overhaul (soon, real soon) and more.
But first, we’ll be hiring someone to replace all the windows in the house, while we paint the entire interior and tear out the carpet in the upstairs two bedrooms and hallway (update: carpet-removal accomplished tonight! woohoo!) and replace it with restored barnwood to come as close as possible to the original floors in the rest of the house. So our moving date is still a ways away, which makes my mom happy, as I’m pretty sure she’s not ready for us to go just yet (even though we’re still close enough to have a weekly dinner).
This is when it comes in real handy to be married to a guy who has worked as a contractor, foreman for a painting firm, carpenter, floor installer, electronics technician and much, much more. (Ladies, I highly suggest an application process and resume review before getting engaged.) We’ll be doing the majority of work ourselves, which means I’ll be trading in my sundresses for painter’s duds.
The house is a historic Queen Anne home that we only dreamed about owning out in San Francisco, but which would have set us back $10 million or so there; it’s in great shape for having been built 110+ years ago, and surprisingly doesn’t need a whole lot of work to make it liveable. All the improvement we’ll be making are more personal preferences. For example, this kitchen will soon have a gas stove, some pretty backsplash, a new floor and white cabinets. And we absolutely cannot wait to get our hands dirty with planting an herb garden out back and adding some beautiful landscaping flanking the sidewalk, as well as a white picket fence out front (could we be more of the American stereotype? no minivan, though…yet).
The house is just the perfect size for the two of us and Ella: 2,800 square feet, four bedrooms (one of which will be an office; the other two will be spares), two bathrooms, a dining room, a living room, a sunny kitchen nook, a basement, an attic, and complete with six functional fireplaces and a number of charming details.
While I don’t plan on turning this site into a homes or DIY blog in the slightest, I will document finished projects here over time. Any objections to that? If so, I must insist you come over for mint juleps on our wraparound porch, during which I just know I can convince you to change your mind.