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This Is What Happens When a Photography Blogger Buys a House
Wow! It’s 2020 already! And time to tell you the story of what happens when the Photography Blogger looks at houses. You guessed it… she picks one and buys it! Most of you know that we recently moved. Here’s how the move came to happen, and some pics of the new place!
Last fall, Dan and I would spend much of our free time looking through houses for sale online. We were planning a move within the next year or two, so looking and scoping out what was available seemed like the right way to start. We assembled our lists of what we wanted and needed in a new home, and listed out the things that would make our dream house, well, dreamy for us. On the list were things like “open concept,” “attached master bath,” “a heated outbuilding,” “country living” and “within 30 minutes (max) of a boat launch.”
We broke our lists down into must-haves and negotiables. Dan was really hoping for soeme acreage. He has always dreamed of hunting his own land and tromping around in the woods. We have one 11-year-old son left at home, so I could get behind that. I would love him to have some years where he can really be outside and learn to enjoy nature in all of its glory. I mean, he loves fishing and swimming in the lake, so I know the potential to embrace outdoor living is there. But the reality is that he also loves vegging out on the couch with his technology. If we don’t get that boy outside a bit more now, then his life could very quickly be overtaken by sitting in front of a screen all day every day.
But back to our search….
We knew based on our lists that we would be looking outside of the Holland city limits. This made me very sad as you all know just how much I love my little town of Holland. We initially thought we would look on the North side of town because that would put Dan a bit closer to his workplace. He has plenty of years left before he retires, so knowing that he’d have the daily drive made the North side more practical.
Unfortunately, after many, many weeks of driving around the North side neighborhoods and countryside, we found very few properties available that stood out to us. We did find a very lovely log cabin home with a pool that was pretty close to what we were looking for. In fact, you can read about it in HOW TO HAVE AN IMPROMPTU OPEN HOUSE WITH STRANGERS. We were having a great time exploring our options and seeing what was out there!
Our first peek…
So, one day I saw a really pretty A-frame house pop up on the Zillow search that we had saved. The pictures were fantastic, and of course it looked amazing! It had very tall ceilings, a loft overlooking the family space, open concept, and an AH-MAZING master bath, complete with a whirlpool tub with seating for two!
On one of our random tours of open houses, we took a side route home so we could do a drive-by. We pulled up the winding driveway and took a peek. It was lovely from the outside, with giant windows that look out into the woods. There was even a friendly gentleman puttering around in the garage who gave us a little wave. We didn’t ambush him asking for a tour because that’s definitely not Dan’s style, but we liked what we saw from the outside.
A couple of weeks later, when we had just about forgotten about that house (around the time of the ambush openhouse), I saw the a-frame house would be open for a viewing on the upcoming weekend. The price was a bit high for our tastes, but we had been through many houses that were a bit high, so I really wanted to see this one to know if the inside was as darling as the outside. Dan and I made arrangements to head on over to take a look on a sunny fall Saturday morning. We knew this wasn’t the house for us, but we were looking forward to seeing it. We be-bopped in with happy smiles, ready to find all the things wrong with it like we had on all of the other openhouses we had been to….
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It didn’t quite go that way…
We strolled in and began wandering. Open concept? check. Woodsy acres? Check. Master bath? check. Under 30 minutes from a boat launch? Check. The further I made it into the home, the more I fell in love.
Dan decided he needed to take a cruise around the grounds, so while he wandered down the path into the woods, I took a moment to whisper a little prayer asking that God be clear to me about this house – that if it was truly not meant for us, that we find something wrong with it. Meanwhile, Dan was wandering the woods asking the same thing. Neither of us found a thing wrong with the house, other than the lack of a heated outbuilding. Virtually everything else on our lists was checked off.
Doing the math
After a thorough tour, we climbed into the car and headed back to town with nervous bellies while quietly contemplating. We had worked up a powerful hunger, so when we stopped for a bite to eat, both of us started jabbering about all of the potential of this home. Turns out while I was praying for clarity inside the house, Dan was getting his answer outside in the form of deer prints and a flock of geese flying over his head… A bird hunter’s dream. So we began doing the math to see if we could really make it work, all the while assuring one another that it was ok if this didn’t work out.
A Chain Reaction
By that evening, we had realtor Sam Greenstein, of Coldwell-Banker at our home. He ran the numbers and assured us that this home was very doable for us. That started a chain reaction of phone calls and bank meetings and nerves that only those who have bought dream houses have experienced. Within just a few short days we had an offer in on the home and were waiting anxiously for an acceptance.
Once the acceptance from the sellers came through, then the bank work began in earnest. That is a crazy maze of emotions, waiting for strangers to comb through your every financial decision to literally pass judgement upon you. Wow! I have stress just remembering those long days and occasional inquiries about this or that from our bank man.
In reality, the process was quite smooth and (I’m told) went quickly compared to some. The waiting felt like forever and there was a standing question from day 1 of whether we would get in before Christmas.
A Little something about that offer…
You see, when we initially put the offer in on November 2, we wrote it with a requested closing date of December 28 and possession 7 days after close. That was undoubtedly the worst thing we could have done. Looking back, and knowing me, I can see how I was setting myself up for frustration with a move-in date just after Christmas. Unfortunately, hindsight is almost always 20/20 and I didn’t pay attention to my loudly objecting inner voice. I am still learning to listen and trust myself in these situations. It’s a lifelong process. Sigh. So, I shushed her, went with the plan presented to me, and then began navigating the next several weeks of the emotional roller-coaster style waiting game.
As the bank dug through our deepest, darkest financial secrets, we waited for the two agents to work together to come up with an actual close date, requested from us that it be as soon as possible, despite the dates listed. Of course, my dream was to be in by Christmas. One of the reasons I had wanted an open-concept home so badly is because of the size of my family. I have 5 children, four of whom are grown, two of whom have spouses, and one of those has a child. That equals, let me re-count, TEN people, 9 of whom are adult-sized, in one small space. And that number will only grow as the years march forward. So one more year of squeezing 9 adults and a busy, crawling toddler into a small living-space with bathrooms on other levels and a Christmas tree that blocks the view of everyone from one another, did not appeal to me. Especially when the carrot was dangling right in front of my eyes.
Feel-good Platitudes Be Damned!
Now, for all of you who would immediately offer all of the feel-good platitudes like “Well, at least you could have one last Christmas in the home where you raised your kids” and “It will happen. There’s always next year for your first holiday,” know this: THEY DIDN’T HELP!!! What I really wanted was for someone to just simply acknowledge that I had a right to be impatient! Of course I know all of those things, and I know people generally mean well by offering encouragement, but it doesn’t change that I was just excited and ready to start the new chapter. This type-A girl struggled mightily getting through those rough weeks. Fortunately, I did have a few friends who “got it” and rode the impatience with me (you know who you are, and thank you!).
The Best Christmas Gift…
Finally, on Tuesday, December 10, Sam, our very patient and hard-working realtor, called with a close date! After all of the waiting, stress, tears, laughter, and sleepless nights, we were cleared to close on DECEMBER 13!!! Only 3 days away! We cheered with delight and then proceeded to panic.
After all, I had waited to put up any decorations and held off buying Christmas gifts to prevent potentially moving them. This meant that we now had less than 2 weeks to move, decorate a home, and purchase and wrap gifts for 12+ people, not to mention bake cookies, sing carols, and attend Christmas parties! Holy crap! Can you say holiday pressure!?
Once we knew we would be closing in just a few days, the next question became that of possession. When would we get the pleasure of moving in to our dream home? Imagine my surprise and delight when Sam texted the next day, the day before closing, to let us know that the sellers were closing that very evening and would be handing over possession at the time of our close! Yahoo! We were actually getting in before Christmas!!!
Our BIG move!
So on Friday, December 13 (yes, Friday the 13th), we loaded our Christmas tree up in the back of our pickup, along with boxes of lights and decorations, picked Tucker up from school a bit early, and headed for the title office where we would close on this mighty large loan and take possession of the dream that it would encompass.
As soon as we completed the paperwork, we headed out the door to the new place where we put up the tree, made a pizza in the pristine oven (which is another story for another day), listened to Christmas tunes, and toasted the beginning of a new chapter of life, a life nestled among the woods. And yes, we even posed for our very first photo in the new house!
A Look Inside…
And finally we get to the fun part. Enjoy this little peek into my home… with my disclaimer that we do indeed live here, so there are a few piles and some general untidiness. Also, we are still sorting through 20 years of boxes of crapola from every nook and cranny of the old home. I like to call this “the de-crapping process.”