Sunday, October 23, 2011

This is My House

There are two questions I can count on being asked when I run into old friends/acquaintances I haven’t seen in a long time. “So, any boys I should know about?” and “Where do you live now?” Can you guess which question I dreaded answering? One might think it is the dating question, but no, it was the where do you live question. Surprised? In the 12+ years of the dating question, I have managed to come to terms with it, but having to tell people I live in the same house after 6 ½ years, renting… That was painful. You see I was only going to live in that house for one year. One year soon turned into two, two into five, and, and, and… I felt like nothing, nothing changed or progressed in my life. I was over 30 living Ground Hog’s Day, except I was getting older and the rest of the world moved on leaving me farther and farther behind. Every time I answered the question of where I lived it was a great reminder how I felt like I was getting no where in my life- and there was the proof.

But on July 28, 2011 things finally changed. I few pieces of paper to sign and I became a home owner- and nothing will be the same again.

I talked about buying a house for a long time but was extremely non-committal and honestly- not ready. Buying a home is a big step- end of story. And, buying a house as a single female poses a few interesting challenges. It is surprising the emotional ties connected to buying a home alone and the challenge to overcome- an actual grieving process many women find themselves going through as we come to terms with forging ahead independently. And for me it also meant committing to staying in Utah.

So I did what any religiously based person would do, I started to pray. I asked what should I do? Is buying a house the right decision for me? And then I waited. That wasn’t working so I prayed some more. A few months pass and I am still praying about it. You see I once had a friend talk about her experience in buying a house. She said it is a really big decision and should come with a really big feeling of this is right. I was looking for a clear yes- this is the right thing for you. But I wasn’t getting anything. Finally I got my answer, “you have good judgement and freedom to use that judgement- this is your decision - you decide.” No wonder I was praying for months with no answer- it was my choice. I decided I was going for it.

There is a quote I keep on my blog that always stood out as true to me although I had never specifically noted it in my life- that is until now.

"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness concerning all acts of initiative and creation. There is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now." Goethe

The story of my house is this quote fulfilled in my life.

Over the last year + I had 3 or so realtors I had “tried on”. But no one was working out for me. They send me their automatic lists of properties and show me a place if I asked for it. That is until Spencer came along.

Spencer Williams was referred to me by my roommate Anya- he is really good with first time home buyers she said. Ok, lets give him a try. Our first meeting was at his office where we looked at a lot of houses on the computer and made a list of some I was interested in looking at. Mostly he was trying to get an idea of what I was looking for. That was a Saturday. On Monday we went looking at the houses- and it was a typical bust. Granted some were closer than I had seen but I just felt wrong in all of them. We arranged to get together on Tuesday of the following week, my first day off after the upcoming work week. He said he had gotten an idea of what I was looking for and was going to research properties for me and come up with a list to see. Miracle! someone willing to do some leg work for me.

My grandmother Rachel passed away that week bringing my parents into town and all thoughts of house hunting out the window. Fortunately Spencer texted to remind me of our meeting and gave me the address of the first house. I meet up with him and he had already been in the house and said- forget it not even worth your time and I followed him to the next house. 982 E Montclair Dr. I still remember my thoughts as I first entered the house- this house is in my budget? I can afford this? You must realize the kind of houses I had been looking at and how discouraged I was. This house was open, with a large kitchen, most of the house updated, 4 bedrooms, a tall basement that you don’t have to duck to walk in, a garage, a nice yard, and the big picture window in the front room. The house was filled with light from all the multitude of windows. I felt I could be at home here. This was a house- the only house I had seen, I felt I could live in. it had everything on my little list that was half on paper and half in my heart. Some things don’t come with words. We went and saw the other houses on the list and nothing compared, I felt awkward and uncomfortable in them all.

I asked if I could see the house again in the morning with my parents before they left to leave town back to California. So at 8:30 am the next day I showed my parents the house to see what they thought. My mom loved the windows like I did. My dad had nothing but nick picky comments on the house. As we walked away my mom asked when I was going to put an offer in. I was somewhat surprised at this comment but I already knew in my heart this was the one. The comfort of knowing my parents had seen and approved of the house before I put an offer in was invaluable. This was the most difficult decision I can remember making and having them just barely able to see it was a miracle.

In fact many of the miracles of this house was the timing of everything. My timeline was I needed to be moved out of my old house before Oct 1st so I wouldn’t be locked into a contract. I was leaving for Jordan Sept 23rd for 2 weeks so I needed to be moved in before then and preferably much before then to be settled. It was June 29th when I first saw the house- and as we know just in time for my parents to see it.

Wednesday. I met with my loan officer for the first time- Holly Stirling. I decided to become pre- approved for a loan to help the offer process go over more smoothly. The whole time I still can’t get this house out of my mind and I am really starting to get nervous. What if I have actually found it? Yikes.

Thursday. I met with Spencer to put together my offer- in case I do in fact decide to send it in. Poor Spencer- I nearly had a heart attack when he started writing an email to their realtor with my offer specifics. He had to stop what he was doing- point out there was no subject line and it is a draft for when I am ready. Then he had to talk me though all the reasons why everything was going to be ok. He learned pretty quick that I need time to process everything.

Friday. I can’t get putting an offer on the house, TODAY, out of my mind. My plan was to fast on fast Sunday to be sure and put the offer in on Monday. The house had been on the market since October-what was the rush. But it kept coming back to me over and over. Until I called Spencer on my way out of town to Southern Utah for a vacation and asked if he thought I should just put the offer in today. So next thing I know I am telling him to put the offer in right now. I thought I was going to freak out after I did that- especially how much I had been stressing over everything. No sleep since I first saw the house. Any dozing I did do was interrupted with panics such as- there is no vent system over the range… But I had the opposite reaction. I felt wonderful. I was happier than I can remember- cloud 9. I felt a huge burden lift I didn’t know I was carrying and saw doors opening in all directions previously closed. Talk about a confirmation on a decision! Interesting I didn’t feel that way until after I made the decision and moved forward. I talked with a friend Andreas about how I felt as I drove down South. I was excited.

Friday pm. Spencer texts me- 2 other offers had been made on the house in the last 24 hours, I will tell you more when I know more. AHHH! What? Ok, now what? I get to Cedar City and meet up with Anya and her family and am having a hard time concentrating on things. Richard the III was a little hard to follow while trying to sort through the mess I had just walked into. Andreas texted me the most perfect words- Have faith, you will get the house. You had that good feeling for a reason. However hard for me to believe- it was comforting and hopeful. I referred back to his words frequently. And I realized, if I had waited until Monday to put the offer in, the house would have been gone.

Saturday. I learned I had until Sunday noon to change my offer if I so chose to my best. The owners didn’t want a bidding war- just a one time best offer. I spent the day half shopping with Anya at the outlets and half pondering over and over if and what to change my offer to. Once again, Andreas was an invaluable resource helping me ponder through and sort through things. Helping me discover the questions I needed answered to make good choices and be confident in what I was doing. In the end however, it was all up to me. What did I think- what was the house worth to me, what can I afford, what is strategic against the other bidders knowing nothing of their offers? I started to get a cold sore from the stress. That night I gave Spencer my new offer and once again- sleep was not found.

Sunday- 1am ish. I spent a while on my knees petitioning heaven. I really didn’t feel I knew what I was doing. Fast Sunday. I said I was putting the structural integrity of the house in Grandpa McOmber’s hand and the negotiations in Grandpa Peterman’s hands. They were the best ones I could think of for their jobs. After that a few hours of sleep were found and I trusted in whom I left the work to.

Monday. Anya and I got up early and hiked Angel’s Landing in Zion. We drove back to Orem to celebrate the 4th with Anya’s family. Soon after we arrived at her parent’s house, I received a text to call Spencer when I could. I was scared to call. I almost wanted him to say I lost the bid so it would be all over and I could move on and be done with the stress. But instead he said… “You are second, but they like your financial situation better so are offering you the opportunity to raise your offer 2K to match the highest bid and go with you.” True to form I told him I needed to think it over and I would call him back. I didn’t initially know what to do. I had already spent the last 24hrs thinking that I over bid myself and was stressed the current bid was too high already. 2K more? So I told Anya and her brother-in-law was there. He said they had a similar situation but they refused to up their price and they were still chosen. It is just a matter of how important financial security is to them. Immediately I felt calm and knew my answer. I called Spencer back and said- “My offer stands. They asked for my best and I gave it- there is no more. They have to decide what is more important to them.” That was the best I felt since I first heard there were other offers. And it felt really good to know I made the right move.

Tuesday. Getting out of my car at work I got another text from Spencer to call him. I always got nervous when this happened. I won. They ended up choosing me. He congratulated me on calling their bluff and I was speechless. I didn’t know how to react. I was happy but overwhelmed by the responsibility I now had on my shoulders. I think it was a really good thing Andreas had reinforced to me there are opportunities to turn around all along the way so I knew I had a out if needed.

July 5-28 There was nothing but bumps and bruises all along the way. It is a lot of work to get everything needed for a mortgage. I learned about electrical problems that needed to be addressed by the inspector- but I also learned the house was structurally in as good of shape as possible. (thanks Grandpa Mac) Then the appraiser came and valued it 15K under my price- meaning the banks would not finance it. This is 2 weeks or less before we are supposed to close. In the end- they were able to get the appraiser to come up 10 K and they agreed to fix the electrical. They also wanted me to pay closing costs since this is under the previous offer for the house. I said no- and they had to agree. (It is great being in a buyers market). All of this made more stressful because their realtor was out of town for a week making things back up to the last minute.

July 29th I closed on my house at - interestingly enough- the price of my first original offer. (thank you Grandpa Peterman) My mom was in town and able to be there to support me in signing my life over to the bank.

Aug 1st I received the keys to my house and brought over my first few things- a giraffe, toilet paper and my Costa Rica bowl to christen it.
I had the whole month of August to move in. My dad made a return trip and was able to help move the things I was getting from Grandma. I had family and Chris help me move into my house. I remember sitting in the chair in the front room not wanting to go back and be in the downtown house. I knew that was not my home- 982 Montclair was my home. It felt so good and right to be there. And so it continues today. I am still loving my home. It was the most stressful thing I have done but truly rewarding in everyway. I have roses I cut from my yard sitting on my kitchen table right now- I love it.

I am truly grateful for the many miracles that enabled this to happen. The timing was perfect- even with the gentle mercies of my parents being able to be here at just the right times. A great thank you to Anya for putting up with me in my processing of the whole event and her willingness to stay here and be my roommate. Thank you to Andreas who had the right words at the right time. Thank you to Chris for helping me with the big move. My brother Tim and Dad for helping with moving. Mom, Anginette, Andrea and the kids for helping clean the house as I moved in. And of course thank you to the heavens that opened and God providing the miracles to lead me to the ultimate success of being a home owner. This is the right place for me right now- and that is joy.

Andreas was right, I did have that amazing feeling for a reason.  And I was grateful for it because I may not have endured through it all without it.  And, Goethe was right- once one is committed- then the heaven open to prepare the way.