Dec 4, 2014

Our new-to-us house story

I promised you I'd tell you the story of how this upcoming move came to pass, so I'm back today to share it with you.

We've been talking about moving to a larger house for a while now, probably since Amelia was born. We were comfortable in our home with the three boys, but a fourth child changed things a little, and the fact that she is a GIRL changed things a lot. To be clear, many families larger than ours live in less space than we have today, so I have no right to complain. And yet.

If the means are available to allow us to move beyond two bathrooms, we decided that if we could find "the perfect house" for us, we would move. Mind you, I wasn't sure that would happen, since we wanted to stay in our school district and there are precious few homes available even to LOOK at that fit our needs. See, I sort of have this three-square-mile radius in which I'm willing to live, and I'm not leaving.

Have I ever told you how I grew up? I was born in Hartsville, S.C., and I lived there until I was 3. Then I lived in Southport, N.C., from ages 3 to 8. Then we moved to Marietta, Ga., for two years, then to Raleigh, N.C., for four years. We then moved back to Marietta right after I turned 14 -- the summer before I started high school.

You wonder why I am the way I am? I WENT TO THREE DIFFERENT ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS. Moving regularly was a bizarre, uncomfortable experience for a fairly introverted child. When I came to college in Birmingham, I moved with one purpose: To Live Here Until I Die. Like, that's my plan. When I met Grayson and we started getting serious, I said, "Don't ask me to marry you if you want to leave this city. Because I'm not going anywhere. Ever."

I wasn't kidding. When I moved from Samford to my first off-campus apartment, that was a one-mile move. When I moved from my first apartment to my second apartment, that was a quarter-mile move. When Grayson and I moved out of that apartment to our first house, that was a BIG move: FOUR MILES. From there to our current house, one mile. And from here to our next house, less than a mile.


But my desire to stay right here in our tiny neighborhood has limited our ability to move over the past couple of years. Not to put too fine a point on it, but since January we've looked at exactly three houses. (Well, I'VE looked at three. I didn't even bother taking Grayson to the last one ... it was a non-starter.)

But the story really begins back in August, when I was CONVINCED that I'd found "the" house for us, except that it was way overpriced for the condition it was in. (Please enjoy how I just said, "the story really begins ..." as I opened my ninth paragraph. YOU'RE WELCOME.)

Anyway, we'd heard that the sellers weren't willing to negotiate much, and we waited a little while to make an offer. In the meantime, I went back to see it two more times. Once we did make an offer, it was much lower than the asking price -- because we factored in all the work we'd need to do on it. It had been vacant for a couple of years but was full of all sorts of junk, and we could see evidence of termite damage and roof leaks. SOUNDS LIKE A WINNER, RIGHT? But the layout was different from any home I'd seen anywhere, with two large bedrooms on the main level and three upstairs -- perfect for our kids to be upstairs and for us and visiting family members to be downstairs.

We negotiated back and forth for a week, but the sellers finally walked away mid-process, realizing that we weren't going to be able to come to terms. I was disappointed. Strike that, I was DISAPPOINTED. Short story long, I moped around for like a whole month. I looked at two more houses but even though they were in much better condition, they were priced higher and not laid out well for our family. I just wasn't interested. Why uproot everyone if not for an improvement over where we are? Nope.

So you know I just went to Hilton Head. Well, while I was there Honor asked for the full update on my house-hunting adventures, so Michelle and Anne Marie got an earful, too. While I was in the middle of my story, Michelle interrupted and said, "I'm just gonna stop right now and pray that God softens those people's hearts. That He'll change their hearts and they'll realize that their house is the house for you, and they just need to sell it to you!"

I thought that was incredibly kind of her, since she barely knew me, and I was truly touched. I WAS ALSO HOPING SHE HAD GOD'S EAR.

For the rest of the Hilton Head trip, we really didn't talk about the house. But GET THIS, INTERNET. Two days after we got back -- not even a full 48 hours later -- I got a text from my friend and real estate agent Susie saying that the sellers had reached out to her to say that they wanted us to know that they weren't trying to be difficult, but that they just needed to get a certain amount out of the house.

I texted back and told her that we just couldn't and wouldn't pay that price for it, but I suggested a compromise that I hoped they'd consider. I literally forgot about the text and therefore was completely SHOCKED TO MY CORE when she texted back a mere hour later to tell me that they'd accepted and just wanted the offer in writing to move forward.

WHAT THE WHAT?! Forty-five days before, we'd gone through days and days of formal back-and-forth in paperwork only to end in heartbreak, and all of a sudden, a couple of informal texts and it was a done deal?

Apparently so.


So the deal is, we just had the inspection (which resulted in a 72-page report), and we are moving forward with the deal. We are set to close on December 22, and I am hoping and praying that it goes through with no snags. We have a lot of work to do on it, and we're not sure how much of the house we'll need to clean out. (Did I mention there's a smidge of junk in it? Keep in mind, I took these pictures while it was in "show condition," not after we'd signed the contract and they were packing up to move.)

Just a piece here and there. Might have been a line or two in the Inspection Report about areas that were "inaccessible for inspection due to junk piles."

But many parts of it are lovely, such as the breakfast nook:

Over the next several months I look forward to sharing more of it with you. It's going to change a LOT, and I'll probably be quite consumed with the renovation, so I'll appreciate your patience around here.

Thanks for being excited for us!

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