We've been looking at houses for a couple of months now. We've learned that we can afford adorable if it's in wrong part of town, or we can afford a fixer-upper in a better neighborhood. We've debated about buying a home that came with an attractive price tag but needed every appliance, new carpet, paint and perhaps even a kitchen remodel. We've walked away from homes that were mechanically solid but just didn't have any charm or personality. We've learned that pictures lie in ways we could not imagine, from making rooms look enormous to hiding the true state of disrepair.
It's been frustrating.
Flash has accompanied me on many drive-bys, nearly every walk through and has even sat (reluctantly most times) and looked at realtor.com with me, searching for new potentials. He's often disgruntled with me for referring to a house as "cute" and doesn't get nearly as excited over charming quirks and personality as I do. We've drug my sister and Bear to a few, even a couple of which I think they thought we were crazy not to buy.
We've debated what our compromising points are going to be. Will we have to just accept the fact that Flash will attend the other high school in town? Will we have to survive Michigan winters without a garage? Is there no hope that we can have a three bedroom? Will we just have to buy something that needs work and hope in a few year's time I have more money to make improvements?
In most cases, we have driven home from our searches discouraged, defeated, silent. I have said to my Realtor more than once lately, "Maybe this just isn't our time to buy."
Maybe we just need to wait. Wait until I have a full-year job or at least a full-year salary. Maybe we need to wait until we've somehow, miraculously doubled our savings. Maybe, despite being a buyer's market, it's just not our time to buy.
And so I kept praying and looking and convincing myself it's like dating and you just have to keep yourself in the game and God will bring the right one along when it's the right time. And so at least once a week, we drag ourselves out to torment our Realtor once again and look at properties.
And in all my searches, I kept seeing this one listing online. My Realtor never sent it to me in her listings, although I never really questioned why, it seemed to be obviously outside of our school district and due to a college tuition incentive program, we desperately need to stay within the confines of our district. But yesterday, after finding out the house I was most recently full of hope for had a tiny eat-in kitchen along with a few other disappointments, I went back to my search and pulled up the familiar listing one more time just to look. I don't even know what made me do it, but having found a document for our school district that lists every street and address that's in the district, I decided to look, just to double check. And from what I could tell, it seemed as if it was saying this address was IN our district. Only because it was on the East side of the street, but it seemed to suggest I might have hope. I shot an email to my Realtor and made a call to the central office where a wonderfully nice woman confirmed that this address was in fact in our district, only because it was on the East side of the street, and only because it wasn't three houses further down.
The trouble was, my Realtor couldn't find a listing for it. She couldn't find any information at all. Other than the listing on realtor.com, it would seem the house didn't exist. She looked at the listing agent's contact information and shared with me that the area code was from the East side of Michigan. She thought perhaps there was an error with the listing and that it really wasn't in our town after all.
It's hard to ride the rollercoaster, but my day was filled with such ups and downs. I finally went to Google Earth and visually set my eyes upon the house IN my town and called her to confirm. She was just in the process of calling me to say the listing agent had returned her call and we could get in to see the house that evening.
I was over the moon. I knew better than to put my hopes in information and pictures from the listing, but this house at the very least promised nearly every single thing we were looking for and I found it hard not to get a little excited. I called my sister.
She was quiet on the phone when I told her the address and said I was sending her a copy of the listing. She said, "Hang on, I don't want to say anything until I've seen the listing" which worried me. As it turns out, my sister has been in the house. She and Bear used to know the previous owners and knew that he had done a lot of the work on the house (including building the garage and refinishing the master bedroom and bath) on his own. He wasn't exactly known for thorough, quality work. But, it was worth a look, we agreed.
And so we went. We looked at a couple other houses first but then made our way over. The neighborhood was one we had been delighted with. It's basically living in the next town over (a better town) and still attending our schools. It's much closer to church and to a lot of our new friends from there. The street was quiet, and kids were out walking and playing in their yards. When we pulled in the drive, Flash said, "This is a nice house!" A curb-appeal comment we had not made very often in our search.
As we entered, my Realtor unlocked the door and entered first and had already turned around to speak to me as I crossed the threshold, "This is really nice, Eliza" she said. And it was. It has three bedrooms, including a beautiful master suite. It has two full bathrooms, a rarity in our price range. It has a fireplace in the living room, a gorgeous deck overlooking a nice back yard. It has an updated, tastefully decorated kitchen and a living room full of arched doorways, cove ceilings and classy decor.
We made calls to my sister to arrange for them to come look at it later the next night, and we spoke with our Realtor about the next steps in the process.
As we pulled out of the driveway and made our way back down the street, Flash let out a little "Whoo yeah!!" in the car. Unsure if he had his ipod on or what the outburst was all about, I asked as much. "That was a cute house, Mom!" came his enthusiastic reply.
It is indeed, Flash. And maybe, God willing, it might just be our cute house.