We signed the contract today so I feel safe enough to write about it without jinxing anything.
The short version: The ATM machine wasn’t working, so we bought a house.
The long version (i.e. the version only our mothers would care to know): I should not be writing the long version with all the stuff to do with the bank and the lawyer and the realtor and the paperwork and the packing and the cleaning, but my fingers are itching to write the LONG VERSION.
The long version starts with an ATM. People always laugh when I start the story this way, because they are picturing hundreds of thousands of bills flying out of an ATM, of which I used to buy a house. STOP LAUGHING AND LET ME FINISH.
Just over a week ago, I went to the bank to use the drive thru ATM (I needed $20 to buy lunch, not a house, thank you). I drove up and the ATM screen informed me that it was temporarily being serviced. I was confused because it was 12:30 and the usual servicing time is 2:30-2:45. The little sign says so. I parked and went in the bank to use the ATM inside. On my way out I noticed a guy putting in a stack of newspapers by the entrance. This reminded me of how there are usually real estate guides there too and it would give me something to do while I ate my lunch. So I turned around and went back inside to pick up the for sale by owner guide.
See, the little details are important so you can understand (if you are still bothering to read this) the fateful chain of events.
I ate my lunch in the car and leafed through the guide, just to fantasize about owning my own piece of earth without neighbors on the other side of the walls who blast their music so that the walls vibrate and Steve sits there and fumes and we don’t go over to ask them to turn it down because it would make us feel like bitches. I saw a contemporary cape with dark brown wood siding that I gravitated to immediately. I liked the color and unusual shape. I never thought in a million years that it was conceivable or affordable but I wanted to show it to Steve anyway.
I showed it to Steve and he said something I never expected him to say. “I’ll call them.” Curious, but it would continue my fun little fantasy if we went and looked at a house like we were going to buy one. We called and the owners told us that someone was coming back to look at the house a second time, but they were willing to schedule a time to meet on Saturday.
The house is in Milton, 25 minutes north of Burlington and is situated across from the Champlain Islands. Milton is an odd duck town. It doesn’t have any real downtown or town center. Just a long main road with stores, places to eat and a couple pubs. Milton is sort of exploding into a new kind of town and its really not sure what to do because it still really likes NASCAR and having the highest rate of domestic violence per capita. And Burlington is like “Uhm…ye-eah.. why don’t you go ahead and become a good place to live because we’re overrun with these college kids” and Milton is clutching a Bud lite in his hand muttering “But-but I want to go snowmobiling…I was told I could snowmobile at a rea-reasonable volume.”
If you are confused, that was a reference to Office Space. If you didn’t get that, I don’t know if I can forgive you.
The road continues past Arrowhead Lake and the house is off the lake road along the Lamoille River. On the way there I said to Steve that we should look for coincidences and “signs”, such as things in common with the owners.
We met them, we saw the house, and the coincidences and signs were out of control. We came to see them like an older version of us and they saw us as a younger version of them. I didn’t dare to believe or to become attached to the place. I focused on finding things wrong with it. Even when we walked the land down to the river and Steve said, as the voice of reason and hope, “Sarah, the only way this could possibly be any better is if it were on a lake” I still pointed out one thing after another that was wrong or would go wrong.
The owners told us that if we made an offer that day, they would go with us and turn down all other offers. They did not want a bidding war. We had mere hours to decide. I am a person who spends hours looking around a store at all the different colors and sizes and prices of things before I make any decision. But the housing market in this county right now is a runaway train and there is no time. If we didn’t act now, it would be gone.
We went to Subway with our friend Cedar who lives in Milton and talked it over. I had a bit of a nervous breakdown, still thinking about the white walls and how it needs to be changed RIGHT NOW and becoming convinced that the other customers were listening to our conversation and WHAT IF THEY WANTED THAT HOUSE TOO?
We made our offer and the owners went with us, even though other people called and even though the other guy gave them a higher offer. They could have done this differently but they extended this out to us. I really appreciated how they valued selling their home to the right people and having more in the transaction than just money. I’m glad to be moving in feeling good about the family that lived there before- it makes it a positive place.
We went out that night for my birthday dinner and I absolutely could not focus. I was like a tightly wired bundle of anxiety.
Steve: So, Happy Birthday.
Me: I want to tear down the living room wall! I want to finish the basement!
We went back today and signed the contract. Once it was done, then I was free to fall in love with the house and the river. It is a peaceful place and I feel inexplicably blessed.
Now we just gotta sell this condo.
Feb 12th 2005Uncategorized