11.29.2017

OH HEY GUESS WHAT


So what are you guys up to these days?

Not much going on here. Same old, same old.

JK WE BOUGHT A HOUSE CAN YOU BELIEVE IT BECAUSE I CERTAINLY CANNOT.

I am a HOMEOWNER. I have the keys, papers, and empty bank account to prove it!

Do you want to hear the story? Of course you do. It's like a birth story, except there's no blood and guts and I can still sit comfortably.

Moving on.

Literally, because we're moving.

Ha.

It all started back in August. We were two years and three realtors deep in this house hunt that would never end. There was a trail of bidding wars and despair behind us. We were exhausted, weary, frustrated, and discouraged. We started telling people we would probably retire in our townhouse that still slightly smelled of pot from the neighbor who nearly made us lose our religion. We made friends with neighbors who would inevitably buy a house and move just as soon as we got to know them. ALWAYS THE BRIDESMAID, NEVER THE BRIDE.

Back to August. My mom was visiting. We had looked at a house prior to her visit that we really liked but didn't feel quite right about. It was the best option we had seen in many months and I had gotten myself a bit excited about the possibilities. Mostly because it had a barn, and well, a barn with sunflowers growing next to it can cover a multitude of sins. Mom and I had talked about ideas her whole visit. It was her last night, and we were sitting on the couch waiting for James to bring pizzas home. At this point I was checking Zillow more than any social media account, and a new house popped up. It was slightly further away than we were hoping for, but the second I laid eyes on it, my heart pounded. Ask my mom, I literally jumped off the couch I was so excited. I scrolled through the pictures: original 1960s yet monstrously large kitchen, built-in bookshelves, giant yard, shutters on the windows out front, attached two car garage, window above the kitchen sink, I was in love. James was minutes from home, but I still called him to scream about it. It checked off almost all the boxes.

His exact words were: "Wow, I guess don't know you at all. I thought you would hate this."

I mean, he had a point. The kitchen cabinets are the exact ones in my grandma's 1950s kitchen. They're ugly, but I'm not offended since her kitchen is one of my favorite places in the world. The walls were painted blood red and chocolate brown. The wallpaper in the bathroom was green. There's no dishwasher or basement.

Something about this house grabbed me like no other house had. It was like trying on my wedding dress and knowing it was THE ONE. Ridiculous analogy, but it's true. We set up a showing for 2 days later. In this market, that's risky business, but the tiny little town our house is in wasn't moving as quickly as the rest of the city and outlying areas. The house had a few other showings, but no bites. In Columbus and the surrounding areas, you can burn half your house down and throw up on the rest, charge a million dollars, and it will still sell in 2 hours over asking price. It's true. The fact that this house hadn't sold concerned and exhilarated me. James and I had previously decided we were done with bidding wars. That sounds foolish in this market, but we were done. We prayed very specifically that we wouldn't have to fight for our house and that God would make the way very smooth. No bidding wars, no overpaying.

So two days later, we went to see the house. As is rarely the case, it was even better in person than it was online. The kitchen had the exact same warmth and charm as my grandma's, ugly cabinets aside. It needs some TLC in the form of a few 21st century updates, but other than that it was in good shape. The yard is an acre and full of mature trees but with plenty of room for gardens and a swing set for Gracie. It's on a rural street with quiet neighbors and cornfields and horses across the street, and a nearby park and ice cream stand. Oh, and it's literally around the corner from some friends of ours. Sold. We couldn't have dreamed up anything better.

We submitted an offer the next day. The house was overpriced which is probably what kept people away, but we submitted a fair offer we were comfortable with. I doubted they would accept it, but I figured some negotiating would happen. The deadline came and went, and nothing. I was a wreck. Finally, they came back and basically said NOPE. Not doing it, not even negotiating.

I cried for two days after. I wish I could say I handled the disappointment gracefully as I had with some houses, but this time I felt like I was grieving. It was all very dramatic and I didn't want to move on. We were all surprised. We told them to come back to us if they changed their mind. Weeks went by. I kept tabs on the house online to see if it sold, each time bracing myself for disappointment. It never sold. The longer time went on, the more confident I felt they would come crawling back to us. Our realtor would occasionally check in to see if they were willing to negotiate, but they never were.

Two months later, it was October and I was sitting outside a Macy's dressing room while James tried on clothes his mom wanted to buy him. I pulled my phone out, as one does in such a situation, and checked my email. An email from our realtor popped up. The sellers suddenly decided it was time to negotiate. They offered us a much lower price, but it was still slightly higher than we were willing to go. We had a number we wanted to stay underneath and that we felt the house was worth, and we would fight to the death on it. We wanted the house, but we wanted it on the right terms.

It should be noted that the week before, I finally told my Bible Study group about our house hunting saga. I asked for prayer, because 2+ years of this rollercoaster can really wear a girl down, and we had gotten new neighbors who liked to lift weights and loudly drop them and then vacuum from midnight-2am. There is something so powerful about corporate prayer, and I do not think it's a coincidence that we finally heard from the sellers a few days later. The next day I went back to Bible Study and told everyone what happened. The consensus seemed to be that we should accept their counteroffer and move forward. Even our realtor told us that, but James and I weren't so sure. The price still didn't feel right to us. We hemmed and hawed on it for a few days and finally decided to go look at it again before deciding what to do. Before we got a chance to do that, we got another email.

The house had gotten another offer. It sounded like the sellers had accepted, and it was a gut punch. I had been about to take a shower, and I just sank down to the bathroom floor and grieved for a minute over the house that we had lost again. Even though the sellers refused to negotiate for two months, I had never been able to get the house off my mind, and no other good options had appeared. I told myself it would never work out, but then I would see a picture of a kitchen that looked exactly how I wanted the kitchen in our house to look after a few improvements, and I'd save it just in case. We bought a new coffee table, and I went with a mid-century style (which I loved anyway) because I knew it would look awesome in a 1960s time capsule of a house. In the words of The Backstreet Boys: quit playing games with my heart.

To my shock, a few hours later our realtor told us the sellers wanted to give us another chance since we'd been working together for so long. They hadn't accepted the other offer yet. In a last ditch effort to entice us, they dropped the price again to the exact number we wanted. James was so flustered he drove home from work to talk to me about it and discovered I was at the library. I had just pulled in, and I pulled right back out and drove home as soon as he told me he came home to talk it over. We negotiated some closing costs, got exactly what we wanted, and verbally agreed to everything.

The next day, I had one giant panic attack. We hadn't seen the house in two months. I started to wonder if we were settling or losing or minds or WHAT ARE WE AGREEING TO. I was so excited we were on the brink of buying a house, but it suddenly felt so real I couldn't breathe. I do this with every big decision--I make it confidently and then have a panic attack a few hours later. I told my realtor I needed to see it one more time before signing the papers. The next morning I got up to get ready to see the house, and of course it was the morning Gracie woke up extremely sick with croup. She seemed ok enough to drive 45 minutes away, but she got worse and worse as the morning went on. I was such a nervous wreck over her that I could hardly focus on the house. Everything had happened so fast with the house, Gracie was struggling to breathe, and I was a stress ball on the verge of collapse. I walked around the house while Gracie dozed on my shoulder, and nothing would sink in. I had no idea what to do other than count the hours until her doctor appointment.

I finally sat down in the living room with my realtor for an hour and a half and asked him zillions of questions. How hard would it be to install a dishwasher? Replace the windows? Is the price right? IT IS SO QUIET YOU CAN'T HEAR A THING ISN'T IT MAGNIFICENT? The morning sun was pouring through the giant window in the living room, a combine was harvesting corn in the field behind the house across the street, and a vintage John Deere tractor lazily drove down the road. It was the most charming rural fall scene I'd ever seen. That changed it for me right then and there. My anxiety completely left and I was ready to sign the papers.

Later that day, Gracie grabbed her Jesus Storybook Bible. She opened it to the story of Joshua and the Wall of Jericho and handed it to me. It said: "So it was that God's people entered their new home. And they didn't have to fight to get in -- they only had to walk." In this market of houses selling in hours and bidding wars, we had the sellers fighting for us to buy their home. Two houses near it sold immediately the week before we went into contract with ours. God clearly kept this one safe for us. We didn't have to fight, and everything has gone so smoothly. I am so grateful. It's exactly what we prayed for.

Less than a week later was our inspection. It was a drizzly October day which is the best kind of day. I pulled into the driveway, and hand to God I almost cried when I saw our new backyard. Here, let me show you:



That's only part of the backyard. From the wall of windows in the kitchen, all I could see were green, yellow, and orange trees. It's exactly what I prayed for. The giant oak tree out front was just starting to turn yellow. The house was so cozy and it all felt so right I couldn't stop smiling.

We have a lot of work to do and a very long list of renovations, like rip up the carpet in the kitchen and bathroom. People were wild in the 1960s, putting beige carpet in the kitchen and then trying not to spill marinara sauce on it. We need to paint, replace flooring, take wallpaper down, change the light fixtures, add a fireplace, paint the kitchen cabinets, etc. I will need to start blowing into a paper bag if I continue that list right now. We haven't even moved in yet and we've already had to call a plumber. The house plus the holidays plus sickness had me crying in the paint aisle at Lowe's last weekend because every shade of yellow is EXACTLY THE SAME. I have never been so thankful to cry over paint colors or hand over large sums of money. We'll be moved in just in time for Christmas, and honestly I could not ask for a better gift or better end to the year.

Oh! And then there's the whole thing about a producer from HGTV who contacted me in the midst of all this and told us they want to film us on House Hunters. And we said yes. Then we said no.

But that's a story for another day.


(I've been keeping a lot of secrets!!!!)

10 comments:

  1. Wow what a yard! So glad you will have a house for Christmas! What a blessing and answer to many prayers. And House Hunters!

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  2. All I can say is, PRAISE THE LORD who chooses to abundantly bless us. I'm so excited for your family and even though I'm a couple thousand miles away, just know that in my heart I wish I could be there helping you strip wallpaper. Because that ish is gross.

    YOU HAVE A HOME!!

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  3. THIS WAS AN EMOTIONAL ROLLERCOASTER. I honestly yelled in my house by myself this morning when I saw your instagram post, I was so excited. And now seeing that yard I think I'm going to pack my things and moved into it. I have a tent, and I won't vacuum at midnight.

    Seriously though, I'm so so happy for you guys. I can't wait to follow the renovations!

    Also, how dare you drop that HGTV bomb there at the end with no further information. I'll be needing that STAT.

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  4. This is just perfection. I'm so so very happy for you. My goodness it sounds like a rollercoaster and heart-stopping couple of months but now it's done and you get to move in!
    Renovations are their own rollercoaster but honestly they are a much more fun kind of rollercoaster to be on. The home I was born in, the same one Angel and I later rented from my parents for a couple years was built in the 1890s...I have a fondness for old houses with all sorts of quirks.

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  5. I am so, so thrilled reading this. There are horses across the street?! It sounds like it could not be more perfect. Also, I am so glad to have a friend with a 1960s style home when pretty much all you see on social media these days are giant new homes with open floor plans and vaulted ceilings and ALL WHITE EVERYTHING. If you need tips or a sympathetic ear to talk about wallpaper removal, flooring, painting, I'm your girl. ENJOY!!!!

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  6. AAAHHHH!!!! I am so, so thrilled for you!!!!!!!!!! This is an awesome story, and God is just the best. I love how He works things out so beautifully!!! That sounds like such an epic home and area. Now I'm pretty sure you need to tell us all the House Hunters story, because I for one am extremely curious ;)
    And if you ever figure out the fascination that era had with carpet, let me know!! Our house was built in the 50s but has since been renovated so we have no carpet, but my parents' house (which they bought from the original owners a couple years ago) still looks the same way it did in the early 70s when it was built. WHY WOULD YOU EVER CHOOSE TO CARPET THE ENTIRE BATHROOM?!?!?!?!?! I cannot comprehend how they, who presumably had little kids then grandkids traipsing through their home, thought that was a good idea. (my little brother had the flu over Thanksgiving break, so hearing my mom go through the ordeal of cleaning vomit off of shag carpet in the bedroom and a plainly carpeted bathroom had me questioning the sanity of putting carpet anywhere!)

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  7. Your back yard is incredible! I'm so excited got you guys and can't wait to see more of the place.

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  8. This makes me so happy and excited for you!!! Buying a house is the most exhilirating and terrifying thing ever. The whole time we were signing papers, I felt like I was going to throw up. Our realtor, contractor, mortgage broker were all looking at me like I was nuts, like "Shouldn't you be excited?" But it was just so overwhelming!

    There is no feeling like finding YOUR home and I'm so stinkin' happy for you guys <3

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  9. pretty sure i actually whooped for you when i saw your instagram post about this...no seriously i did. i only know a fraction of what you guys must have been feeling, and even with only that, i am so elated on your behalf!!

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