Warming Up

We have been living with my in-laws since January, when we sold our previous home. It’s been a really hard 6 months. Absolutely nothing has seemed to go our way in these few months. So when we went under contract on this house, I had a very hard time believing something wouldn’t go wrong. The seller is a bit odd- he’s very unpredictable, a little unethical, he lies and I think he has a touch of dementia as well. Not a great combo. Each week that went by, I held my breath for The Big Let-Down. News that he decided to keep the house or that he wants to renegotiate to a higher price. News that there were structural issues or that the house didn’t appraise and the deal would fall through.

I realize how impossibly pessimistic that sounds. I’m quite aware of how far I’ve fallen from my previously endlessly-hopeful self. But I think that is starting to change.

We are now 2 days away from closing and the seller has officially moved out. I went over to the house yesterday to try and match flooring samples. I had a key and I let myself in (with his permission of course). And there it was. This beautiful, empty home sitting before me. A home we have prayed for. A home that made me cry when I first walked in. A home we have agonized over. A home we almost lost to a higher bid. It’s lovely really. And in 48 hours it will be ours, Lord willing. I stood in the doorway and let it sink in a little bit. This house, this wonderful, quirky house is about to be ours.

For the first time in a long time, I allowed myself to warm up to the idea that maybe the winds are shifting. Maybe a stream of good luck and God’s favor is coming our way. Maybe things are going to be less hard. Or maybe not, but at least we’ll have a cute house to weather the storms in haha! 🙂

I would love for this house to represent a new chapter in our life. I don’t want to walk into it with armfuls of baggage. I’d like to carefully store those bags in the garage and walk into the house with a fresh sense of hope and a renewed perspective on life. If our old house represented the ICU ward of a hospital where we recovered (sometimes literally and sometimes figuratively) from the wounds of life, then I want this home to represent a retreat center.  A place of restoration, refreshment, relaxation, healing, inspiration, peace and wholeness.

And as I stood in the empty spaces of what will hopefully soon be ours, I was overwhelmed by the possibility of what could be as I picture us enjoying summer evenings on the patio and snuggling around the fireplace at Christmas. I finally let down my guard and allowed myself to indulge in the possibility that this house will be a place of comfort for us. It is evidence that perhaps the seas of life are getting a bit calmer.

Picture time! This was the first time I have ever been in the house alone. The first time where the seller wasn’t sitting around in his pajamas eating food and brushing crumbs everywhere (this was a For Sale By Owner situation, so he didn’t play by any of the traditional real estate rules like leaving the home for a showing or not getting in a fight with the inspector etc). The first time where I haven’t been distracted by his incessant talking to actually have a solid look around. The first time I’ve seen it empty.

Photo Jul 12, 2 36 04 PM
Looking down from the loft onto the main great room. Yes, that is shiplap you spy above the fireplace 🙂
Photo Jul 12, 2 38 18 PM
The master bathroom and closet have these gorgeous tiles with radiant heating underneath. That is going to feel so good in the winter!
Photo Jul 08, 3 00 09 PM
Our seller ripped out brand new white carpet and installed  navy carpet (with polka dots!) in the lower level of the home.  We want to replace that (obviously) and do hardwood. The wood in the rest of the entire house is solid strand bamboo and it is in fabulous shape. My attempts to match hardwood have been fun. In the 3 years since the initial wood was laid, the stains have changed ever so slightly and now nothing is a perfect match. I stalked  was able to get in touch with the prior owners and she graciously told me where they purchased the wood from so I think I’m getting closer to a good match. And if it’s not perfect, that’s ok too!

Photo Jul 12, 2 25 56 PM
Our precious patio. This spot sealed the deal on my love for this house!

Photo Jul 06, 5 28 42 PMI’ve been staring at various shades of white paint for a long time. I’d like to find one with just a subtle undertone of grey which would contrast well with bright white trim/fireplace/doors/kitchen cabinets. There’s not a ton of natural light in the house so anything we can do to brighten things up will help, like skylights and solar tubes (getting an estimate on those next week!).

We have our closing set at 11am on Friday, then we’ll grab lunch to celebrate before a few contractors come by for bids on flooring install and random jobs to be done. Our POD is scheduled to be delivered on Saturday. Can we just talk about what a huge surprise opening that thing is going to be?! David and I were in the hospital when the movers packed it and it was carried away, so I never supervised any of the moving process. To be honest, I still don’t know where our POD is being stored. All I know is that we will see it soon. It should be fun to rediscover our stuff after almost 7 months! Thank you Jesus that the end of our nomadic basement-dwelling life is near and that we are about to have a space of our own again. This is going to be a good good good weekend!

 

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Under Contract

The housing market in our new town is not for the faint of heart! We have spent the last 5 months searching high and low for a good opportunity. We’ve watched houses sell for 50k over asking price, contracts get signed within 4 hours of listing and inspections & appraisals waived completely(what??). We’ve seen open houses that are too crowded to even step in the front door We’ve lost a house to cash buyers and we’ve seen first hand how nasty things can get in a bidding war .

But God (I LOVE when I get to say that!) stepped in an intervened miraculously and directly on our behalf this week by providing an adorable bungalow that wasn’t even on the market! It was not easy to get, but we are finally under contract! Praise God!

The story as to how we got this house is so circuitous and random, it could only be a God thing. Last weekend David and I went out of town to hang out with friends at their ranch in the mountains. It was supposed to be a relaxing 3 day trip enjoying their family’s log home and 5,000 acres of peaceful forest.

1 day into our trip, our friends randomly came down with the stomach flu. They begged us to leave so that we wouldn’t get sick. We were so disheartened! We were looking forward to a weekend away with our wonderful friends and couldn’t believe that less than 24 hours after arriving, we were driving back home.

We got home in time to stop by an open house that was going on. We really liked the neighborhood and the house itself was pretty cute too. As we were looking around, a neighbor walked over in his sweatpants and came up to us and introduced himself as Mark. He had mustard stains on his t-shirt and it looked like he hadn’t shaved in a few days. But then he said some beautiful words: “hey guys, I’m thinking about selling my house in a little bit and it’s in better shape than this house that you’re looking at, would you like to come see it?” At first, I thought maybe this guy was an axe murderer and we should decline the offer. But we were desperate, so we agreed.
The second I stepped inside Mark’s house, my eyes welled with tears and I fell in love. It’s precious.
We spent 2 hours talking with him on his delightful back patio. The more we talked, the more we realized that there was actually potential for a deal happening. He told us there was another couple interested in the house as well(he also snagged them at the open house), so he needed to talk with them and gauge their level of interest. We went home, called our real estate agent and had an official offer submitted to him in less than 24 hours! That’s when things started to get complicated. 
The other couple also submitted an offer, which was almost identical to ours. What ensued after that was a week of back-and-forth negotiations. Each day that went by, we became less and less confident that Mark would accept our offer. We knew the other couple had been looking for months for a home and they were dead set on getting this house. Eventually they submitted a counter-offer that we could not beat. 
But on Easter evening, we got an email from our agent saying that Mark had decided to go with us and wanted to move forward. What?!?! We had been expecting to hear the exact opposite. Why in the world did he go with our lesser offer?
Yesterday, after he had signed our contract and the deal was done, David and I had the chance to talk with Mark on the phone. He said, “I’ll be honest Becky, the other couple had a much better offer. But you and David are caring people and I wanted this house to go to a good couple with kind hearts.” I was speechless.
You see, Mark is sick. He has prostate cancer. A few days back I felt the Holy Spirit prompt me to write him a quick email to see how he was feeling and to say just say we were praying for him. I can’t help myself, these days my heart is drawn to anyone who has an illness, chronic ailment, pain or difficult health problem. I’m sure it’s because of all the troubles we’ve had, but I can’t stop myself from caring. He said that email is what made all the difference. Also, Mark said he’s felling better. The doctors gave him a really good prognosis this week. I’m in awe.
God performed a miracle out of the stomach flu, prostate cancer and a nice email. What a bunch of random circumstances He used to bring about His plan for our next home. Almost as if to say “see Beck, I can do anything. I can bring you a home out of the stomach flu. I can make miracles happen, even if the odds are stacked against you and there is no logical reason why something should turn in your favor. I defy odds and I will never betray your trust.
To be perfectly honest, we needed a miracle. Our spirits have been low and discouragement has been running high lately. We have felt hopeless, disheartened, upended and very confused these days. Between David’s health stuff, my health stuff and our nomadic lifestyle we have been quite weary. We were almost getting to the point of regretting the sale of our house, even though we clearly heard God tell us to sell it. Thankfully God stepped in at just the right time and we are left humbled and so very grateful.
So let’s chat about the house, shall we?
It was built in 1978 and definitely has a quirky, funky feel to it. It’s so different from the “traditional” homes David and I had been looking at. It has a bunch of different levels, unique angles and windows, an amazing loft (my favorite!) and a beautiful backyard that backs up to a big open greenbelt that makes my heart so happy. And it’s right across the way from a private lake that we have access rights to. Wooop! 

The interior was updated by a previous owner who was a general contractor. He installed a new furnace + air conditioner, new windows, hardwood floors, updated all the bathrooms, poured new concrete, new landscaping, new appliances, backsplash in the kitchen and heated tile in the master bathroom (can’t wait for that!). He worked so hard to put in all this new stuff and then he took a job in Denver and sold his house to Mark. 



It’s smaller than our old house, which is perfect because we were looking to downsize! The neighborhood is older and very established. It’s a quiet area with lots of big trees and bunnies hopping around. It’s right in the heart of town and within walking distance of Trader Joe’s, Starbuck’s, Chick fil-a and Panera. Yassss! 🙂
The only downside is that we can’t close until July. Mark needs to own it for 2 years in order to avoid capital gains tax. So we shall patiently wait and spend the next few months thanking God, saving our pennies and thinking about what kind of patio furniture we should get.

Cori and Tex, if you’re reading this, we are so very sorry that you guys got the stomach flu…but we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for sending us home and sparing us. You are welcome to stay with us anytime, we’ll probably name a guest room after you for your involuntary participation in helping us get this house. And if would be helpful for us to get the stomach flu so that you can buy a house, we will gladly repay the favor 😉