Where oh where to start this story…
Back in July, B and I looked at the foreclosures in our neighborhood and made a decision. The first week of August, we put the town home on the market. Why? According to the real estate websites we looked at, there were roughly 9 homes in a three-street radius of us that were in pre-foreclosure. When we spoke with a realtor, she said that the market for our neighborhood probably wasn’t going to be changing any time soon—meaning we would be dealing with the same market scenario a year or two from now as we are right now. We’d be competing with foreclosures no matter what. The realtor advised not doing anything more to the town home, or we wouldn’t get our money out of it. Scratch the plans to replace the kitchen countertops, to screen in the back porch, to replace the laminate wood flooring in the living room or the carpet upstairs. Add to this an hour-long commute for B, and we decided that enough factors were there. It was time to go.
It was time to find the home that we can invest in for ourselves, where we can do whatever we like without risk of pricing ourselves out. For a neighborhood that was stable. For something longer-term.
Later today, we’ll sign the papers to hand over the Russian Space Station to a new owner. I’ve gone back and forth about writing an über-long post detailing all the insanity that it has taken to get here. About how we took a chance when signing the papers to put the town home on the market and opted out of the home warranty that is offered while your house is on the market. About how this came back to bite us in the rear not once, but twice, first when the regulator at the street died and sent the water pressure skyrocketing, breaking the hot water heater and flooding the storage room—an hour before a showing—or when the top of the AC unit literally cracked in two a few days before the buyer’s inspection was scheduled.
I could have written about how my father had a massive stroke two weeks after we put the town home on the market, and I left for a week to be with him, leaving B to handle the house and our day-to-day lives on his own. About how two weeks after that B’s grandmother ended up in the hospital overnight due to chest pains. (Side note: Both are recovering slowly but surely.)
About how crazy the selling process was, about how buyers tried repeatedly to low-ball the H-E-double-hockey-sticks out of us because of those foreclosures. (Irony: Appraisers don’t use foreclosures to determine the value of a home, but some buyers use them to determine their comps.) About how halfway through all of this we almost took the house off the market and decided we’d ride this thing out for another 5 years, even if we did desperately want a garage to throw all these tools in and a kitchen where we can update the countertops without fear we’ll never get the value back out of it.
But we didn’t take it off the market, because in the very week we were contemplating doing so, we got an offer that stuck. It wasn’t perfect, but it was doable. Our realtor thought that it honestly wouldn’t matter if we waited two years or not, this was as good as it was ever going to get. So we took it, and here we are.
The town home is a mess right now. There are boxes everywhere. B and I tried for two solid months to find something that was a fixer upper closer to town that we could invest in and make our own. What we found was that there was very little middle ground: Lots of fixer uppers, but nothing that was priced as a fixer upper. Full price for a place that needed all bathrooms and the kitchen to be gutted? What’s that, the basement has water issues but you want full price for it still? The deck has a carpenter bee infestation so great we can watch the bees fly in and out of the holes they’ve burrowed every few inches, but you won’t negotiate for the $15,000 it will cost to repair it? We walked away from countless homes that had these circumstances. We are willing to show something love, to make it our own, but only if we know that the financials are there to support that investment.
Finally it got to the point where we were under contract, to close in three weeks, and we needed to find another home. We put in an offer on one that we’d really liked from the beginning, and got it. It’s not a fixer upper, but that’s okay. In a lot of ways, it reminds us of the Russian Space Station, with a garage for all those tools we’ve accumulated. We can do what we want to it without fear that we’ll price ourselves out of the neighborhood, and that’s a liberating feeling.
If all goes according to plan, we’ll move on Saturday. We’ll have a new home to settle into. We’ll pass the keys to the Russian Space Station on to a new family, who will make it their own. I hope they love it as much as we have.
After the move, we’ll be back with photos and our DIY plans for the new home. We’ll start another journey together. I haven’t been able to cook since we packed up the pots and pans, and I’m itching to get back into the kitchen. It’s my favorite time of year, with its fall vegetables and crisp night air and the occasional prospect, even in the Deep South, of a warm fire and cup of hot chocolate. Food and home and life. There’s more to come, very soon.