Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Signed, Sealed, Delivered, It's OURS!

I've mentioned it a lot before, that our summers tend to be filled with a lot of ups and downs. One of the ups came in late July after my townhouse in Tallahassee had been on the market for just little over a week.

Having known how the market was, specifically how the Florida market was, the house had been leased since I moved to Montana in 2009. Itching to get into our own house because we were equally itching to expand our family, when the lease ended this year, Jacob and I decided it was time to bite the bullet, put it on the market, and see what happened.

The realtor I chose was recommended by the Property Management Company, Coastal Properties Services Inc. (Meg Hilaman with Coldwell Banker) and she was confident the house would sell in six months. A little over a week later, she told me there was a possible offer coming in, and thirty minutes after that, I had the offer in my hands and the go-ahead to accept it by all people qualified to solicit such advice (realtor and father).

By the end of August, the deal was finalized and Jacob and I were finally on-track to look for a house of our own. Unfortunately, our attempts sputtered and petered out more often than not, leaving us to respond to, "Isn't house-hunting fun?!" With, "No, it's not!" It is an....experience, that's for sure.

First, we had to learn the terms. "Contingency," is a not-good thing. And "Active," might be an out-right lie. More than once, we'd arrive at a place to view only to learn it had just been sold, some from our own realtor's firm (not dissing the company, that's just how hot the market is here; Montana generally avoids the shambles of the federal government). Second, if a seemingly great place is at an unbelievable price, there is definitely a bad reason why. A short driveway off a major highway, across from foaming reclamation ponds, and an active train-track in the backyard being one example. About 3-inches of separation between the foundation and wall being another, which is what lead us to another important lesson.

The pictures on the internet aren't worth crap. And it's not so much the pictures they are showing you as much as the pictures they're *not*. We saw a bevy of houses and discovered that as we looked, what was important to us changed or became more so. Some basements looked like there had been ritual sacrifices performed in them and/or hid several bodies (I don't even want to know what the floor-to-ceiling carpet-wrapped poles were for), and laundry rooms that looked like a step up from dungeons. Laundry already feels like purgatory, why does it have to look like it, too?

We put two and two together and quickly learned people who design houses are on crack. I was amazed at how many houses we considered to be possibilities that required piecing together bits of it to make a Master Bedroom (refer to my previous note regarding what was/became important). We found a particular set-up in which Jacob and I would occupy the entire basement as a sort of Master Suite (Laundry Purgatory included, of course) but discovered the house was on an easement with the electric company that essentially gave them complete control over the property, and had an electrical tower in the yard that Jacob was pretty sure would cause our future children to be born with three arms.

So after the creepy basements, the cigarette-smoker's paradise, the Master closet that was more a coat closet, the one we'd have to haul our own water to, the pine-wood-everything, the over-priced house that looked straight off a movie set, the one that was sold, the one that was rented, the one that was literally swarming with stink bugs, and after being sure house-hunting was going to be the true test of our marriage, we stumbled upon The One.

We were scheduled to see four homes with our realtor one Sunday and I had originally passed on seeing this particular one. But after the first three appointments left us pulling our hair out, we decided, what the heck. We were viewing it during an Open House so we were immediately turned on by the fact that no definite offers had been made.

When we walked into a house, we waited to see if we got that...feeling. The feeling that we just wouldn't be able to live without it. We had felt it once before but an offer was being made and accepted as we were seeing it for the first time. For me, The Feeling happened just as we walked through the door of this place; it was just what we were looking for, even if we didn't realize it yet (two and A HALF baths, why wasn't that on my initial criteria? Floor-to-ceiling wine-rack in a cedar closet, why didn't I demand that sooner?!). I could always tell when Zoey liked a house because she'd decide which room was hers and she did that immediately. We walked around several times, subconsciously not wanting to leave but we eventually told our realtor we'd talk it over and get back to her later that afternoon.

As we drove around the neighborhood, not wanting to let it out of our sight, Jacob and I had butterflies and hurriedly talked about everything we liked, things we didn't, and how those weren't on our deal-breaker list. Then I told him that when I was in the backyard with our realtor, I heard another car pull up with people to also look at the house. I heard a man say, "So you don't want to look at it, then?" Then all the doors slammed and they drove away. Jacob exclaimed, "That was God telling us, 'This is yours! I drove those other people away for you!'" As all this was taking place, Phillip Phillips' song Home was on the radio and, really, how could we ignore that?

We drew up the offer that afternoon, had an extremely nerves-ridden lunch at Beef 'O Brady's, and despite our realtor's prediction that the offer would come back with some changes, learned around 7pm that it had been accepted as is (new washer and dryer, and bar-stools for me, yay!!). The house "passed" inspection and things moved toward closing relatively smoothly. So smoothly, we closed and completely moved in the day before we jetted off on Thanksgiving holiday in Arizona.

For as frustrating as the actual hunt was, getting everything in order was rather painless. Things actually came together better than I expected, the cable company calling to ask if they could do my job four hours EARLY when moving day came around. Having time to go through everything and keep organized, I packed up our rental house that, come moving-day, required three trips. There was one glitch, however: the day before we could move in, the weather was in the 60's so, naturally, the next day it was 14-degrees and blizzard. But nothing could take away our warm, comfortable feeling of home...

Signed, sealed, delivered, it's OURS!!!

 Welcome home, kids!! (The dogs weren't nearly as happy about the flooring as we were.)

 Tearing around their new backyard.


The blizzard just got going as the first load pulled in. By the time this was all unloaded, there were several inches of snow on the ground but that doesn't stop Montanans.

I have to say, I lucked out in the moving department. A HUGE thank you to Meredith and her husband, Mark, for letting us borrow their truck and trailer while they were at work. And for texting me utility company phone numbers since I spent most of the day at the new house waiting for service men, running errands, and picking up lunch and dinner. Another MASSIVE thank you to Jacob's sister, Rachael, her fiancee, Todd, and Jacob's friend, Nick, for kicking some serious ass and getting everything done between 10:30am and 5pm. Truly amazing. The only other display of moving awesome-ness I've witnessed was when I moved into my apartment in Tempe with two trucks and four Mexicans. It took 30 minutes, including travel-time.

 Making forts out of the boxes is a dirty job but someones got to do it.

 Just what I need, another dog...

We spent one exhausting night in our new house then flew off to spend Thanksgiving with my family in Arizona for the following 12 days. To say it feels like we've been trudging through cement to get to this point (officially *home*) would be an understatement given that we felt this was "home" since the end of October. For finally being here, being able to live, and for so much more, we are so thankful, grateful, and relieved. We can continue on with our lives, in whatever way that means, with the most amazing sense of security money can buy (literally). As my good friend, Ali, and my mother taught me, everything happens for a reason. I wanted more than anything to believe that all of the road-blocks we encountered was just the Universe leading us to The One. We are so thankful to be right!