It was everything I was dreading. The thing I was worried about the most happened. And yet I live.

I used a highly recommended inspector—one that my realtor said would do a bang-up job. He arrived before I did, so he had a chance to give it a cursory once-over. Right off the bat, he told me he was concerned about the foundation. Not a little concerned. A LOT concerned. As in—he hasn’t seen a house with those kinds of cracks…ever. He took me over the house, showing me the ceiling cracks, the corner cracks, the door cracks. Yeah, this house is a crack whore. (Sorry, couldn’t help it!) The kicker is that I had noticed them but the rest of the house looked so well kept and clean, if outdated, that I thought perhaps I was just over-reacting or making them a bigger deal than they actually were.

Thankfully Brian, being the decent human being that he is, didn’t charge me for his time or expertise. He was more concerned about a woman like me being taken advantage of and not being able to sell the house when my turn came, that he was more than willing to offer up his 40+ years of construction wisdom to help me. But I didn’t want to waste any more of our time, so we closed up the house and went on our merry way. (He even gave me a ride home—8 miles!—so that I wouldn’t be riding in the humidity for an hour. A thoroughly kind man.)

So I called my agent, gave him the disappointing news and told him to withdraw the offer. I’m not interested in a house that is going to give me that much trouble from the starting gate. And while I’m sad the inspection didn’t go the way I wanted it to (we were in the house twenty minutes tops, really), I realized I was more upset that I was losing out on the opportunity to move soon and start living the life I want to live rather than missing out on this house.

On the phone, my mom pointed out that I didn’t sound too disappointed, and the truth is that I’m not. The more I consider it, I think I made the best decision for me. So many people say that when they find The House they just know—that there isn’t any question about it. And I remember saying a month or so ago that I didn’t want to buy a house I didn’t love. I want to be CRAZY about my house, the same way I am about my man (or, let’s admit it—my cats). I liked this house, but I wasn’t in love with it. I want to WANT to live here for years, instead of thinking how it’s only my first home, etc. I want to talk non-stop about it to my friends and lay awake at night, dreading that somehow someone will beat my offer at the last minute, as opposed to calmly reading over the sales contract.

I’m excited to start looking again. I’ve already got one lined up for tomorrow that I cannot WAIT to see—which lets me know I’m on the right track. However, I don’t want to discount this experience—it was like a training course. It helped me to learn the process, so next time I’ll have more an idea of what to expect. I can have more confidence in looking and weeding out what I really want, and not being afraid to say “no” to something that doesn’t capture my heart. I want to walk into a house and know that’s what I want to be doing for the next few years. I want to look at a place and instantly see how to make it mine, instead of wondering how to force my plans and dreams to work in this space. Maybe that’s a lot of wants, but really—that’s what I’m spending so much money on.


Going Under Contract

I meant to write this over the weekend, at least on Friday when it still was so big and scary and big-feelinged. But then Jon left for a 9-day trip, I felt mopey, and I went to my mama’s house for some gratuitous molly-coddling.  BUT. I can still remember the terror of last Friday, so here’s the next step after putting in the offer…

They didn’t accept it. They countered, after two agonizing days of waiting for a response. I told myself I was expecting it– that they wouldn’t, by the laws of probability and common experiences, accept my first bid. They countered, with almost no concessions. But it still felt a bit like a slap in the face, honestly.

So I countered again, this time meeting them on price but not on conveyances and closing costs. I told myself sternly that if they didn’t like this one, I wasn’t offering again. I wasn’t going to play that game. So when their “Final Offer” (yes, I imagine it in caps like that) came through, it was all down to me.

I was the decision maker here.

My voice would determine it.

If we were to move forward, it would be solely on my shoulders.

Which honestly, it had been that way from the beginning, but for some reason I really felt it then. I completely understood how powerful my signature actually was. I learned how putting in that initial offer was just opening bat–it wasn’t the game.

When my agent gave me the specifics of the Final Offer, it was literally right before I went on lunch. I told him I needed a little bit of time before responding. What they were asking for wasn’t unreasonable, and I have the resources to make up the difference. It was the choice now laid before me that made me hesitate. I felt how very wide open the future was–and also how narrow. There was a feeling of needing to tread a fine line, of absolutely not making any mistakes. That’s what I was–what I am–terrified of: choosing wrongly.

If this wasn’t the right house and I said yes, was I settling? Was I just grabbing at the first decent choice to avoid a (potentially long) wait while I searched for another? What if I said yes and then two months later my dream house went up for sale?

But what if it was the right house? What if I declined their offer and moved on and regretted it for months, maybe years, after? Sure, it isn’t the house I envisioned myself buying. Like I said before, no gleaming floors or character-adding crown molding. But it does hit all the check-boxes on my ‘needs’ list, although only one of the ‘wants’. But I can make this little bungalow a magical place nonetheless. Dreams can be made reality, life can flourish here.

I spent that lunch hour talking to my mom, who is the wisest and most reasonable person I know. Besides, she loves me so unconditionally. I called her, saying that I needed her help making this decision, and she immediately told me that she couldn’t make it for me. But she asked me all the right questions:

Can you see yourself living there?

If you said no thank you, would you feel relief or disappointment?

Is this an investment you actually want to make?

And then she reminded me that even if I bought it and then discovered it really wasn’t or couldn’t be the place I wanted, I wouldn’t be living there forever. That’s the beauty of owning a home–you can sell it whenever you need.

While desperately trying to know my own mind and heart, I considered another option–what if I just waited a bit longer, saved up more money? After a few minutes of reflection however, I rejected that idea. In all likelihood, my yearly salary won’t be changing very much. Sure, I could squirrel away more money, but I wouldn’t really qualify for more from lenders. And interest rates will probably never be as low as they are at this point in my life. Besides, I do not want to be paying Julia’s (my fabulous landlady) mortgage for much longer–I’d rather pay my own and get it back someday. I want that clothesline and sewing room NOW.

That entire lunch hour, I was as nervous as when I put in the initial offer. I felt I was on the precipice of the rest of my life. I was teetering. Which way would I go–which was the right way to go? But as soon as I made the decision to accept the offer and move forward, my heart lightened. There was no more agony or stress, no more worrying about how correct my decision was. I may have not chose best, but I’ve since learned–there is no right or wrong. It was my decision to make, and the power was in the choosing. Having decided that this house will bring me happiness, it will, because I have declared it to be so.

The greatest part about all of this is the support and love and excitement I’ve received. From family–who are just so excited to see me get what I want they offer their vacation days to help me install gutters and wainscoting. From Jon–who is so proud of me for chasing my dreams he promises to help me every weekend (well…most of them). From friends–who can’t wait to help me paint and want to know when the party is and take me out to dinner because it was My House Day. I’ve tried so hard to not let myself get all worked up about this–I don’t want to get giddy until the keys are in my hand, or at the very least, until the week of closing, when I’ll be so sick to my stomach I won’t eat. So thank you all for getting excited for me. It makes the whole process more real. It gives me affirmation I didn’t know I needed.

So there you have it. It didn’t get any easier after putting in the initial offer like I thought it would. Inspection is tomorrow. I’ve been worried about that all weekend, but I’ll be there, camera in hand, so don’t worry. Pictures are coming soon.

big girl time.


i am so sick to my stomach right now.
I’m putting in an offer on a house today. MY FIRST HOUSE. Yes, to buy it. Yes, by myself. No, I do not have pictures (just yet). 
I have never quite understood why brides cry, why they’re so nervous. What is there to be nervous about–you’re about to commit to spending the rest of your life with your best friend! Why would that possibly be an occasion for tears?
However, after the last 24 hours, I have a new respect and appreciation for your nerves. I am about to commit my paycheck for the next (ostensibly) 30 years to a space, approximately a quarter acre in size. You are committing your hearts, bodies, and minds for (ostensibly) the next lifetime to another person. So yeah, your tears are totally understandable now. 
This was something I thought I was prepared for. Something I dream about every day–what gets me through the moments of two 17 pound cats tearing through 400 square feet, running in circles. It’s what I cling to every time I have to put coins in the laundry room. When my garden failed this summer (not enough sun, too much heat, no water) I told myself that in the fall I would have a fantastic garden to make up for it. I would plant so many carrots, beets, squash, kale, lettuce, garlic, onions and cilantro that failure would be a distant memory. Watching design shows was torturous–“one day i will have chevron wallpaper” whispered my achy little heart. I have been longing for this for months. I have been dreaming of this for years.
Suddenly, I’m rethinking my decision to move out of my adorable, perfectly-designed and too-small rental apartment. Suddenly, the feeling of homeownership isn’t one I’m looking forward to anymore. Mowing the lawn!? For some reason, lying in bed last night, THAT is what my crazy head focused on. “Oh my gosh, now I’m going to have to mow a lawn!”. Sprinkler systems? The thought almost sent me over the edge into hysteria. How in the world am I going to water a lawn? Oh right. With a sprinkler. I know it’s crazy–it doesn’t sound remotely scary by the light of day.
Even now, my heart is racing. I’ve just sent over the offer, and I’m scared something is going to go wrong. I feel like crying, my stomach is tight, and if I even begin to consider paint colors I get a hollow feeling in my gut. I keep asking myself, “Do I even want this? Am I sure this is the right house for me? Am I settling?” 
No, I am not. Sure, this house is not the dream house I pictured in my head, with a wrap-around porch, gleaming hardwood floors, and cozy window-seat reading nooks. No, those cost about triple what I can afford. But this house DOES offer so much else of the right things, so much potential to create and grow and change. I DO want this. I just want it so badly I’m afraid the bottom is going to fall out from beneath me. I’m scared that someone is going to start laughing and tell me the joke’s on me–that in fact I don’t have enough money to afford this and I should just quit trying to be an adult, to just go about my business, back to my safe life where I don’t have to worry about exploding water heaters or city taxes. 
But take heart, readers. This is normal. Or so says everyone else who’s done this. I laid in bed last night tossing and turning, my head spinning and my brain running a million miles an hour. I finally got up and watched Frasier for a hour or so. Which is something I’ve never done as an adult–I’ve never admitted defeat and watched the telly for anesthesia. So I knew something was seriously, deep-down gettin’ to me.
I want that big backyard. I want to build my own firepit, maybe a outdoor brick oven. I want to add crown molding and chair rails and IKEA-hack built-ins in the living room. But this is too big of a heartbreak to risk talking about. 
It’s like when you have such a big crush on someone. You want to hold it close to you, this fragile delicate thing. It must be protected and barely looked at–it is a feeling so deep you cannot smile. I spoke so freely of a church turned house, because that was something I honestly did not think I would pursue. It was a lovely dream, a physical collection of beautiful moments. But this is real. There are lenders involved, I have a realtor (an HPU alum! Recommended by my college mentor!). There are credit inquiries, employment verifications. I will pay a man to crawl around the attic and inspect the wiring. Maybe I’ll get color swatches from Lowe’s or Home Depot (only if it passes the inspection). I am not going to get giddy about this thing until the keys are in my hand. And then, just try and stop me.