Friday, July 26, 2013

This Part is Pretty Good Too!

Well, I didn't expect to share the next chapter in my house hunting story so quickly, but here it is. I know I said the last chapter was the good part, but this part is pretty good too!

Yesterday, I went with Ethan, Allyson, Gentle, and her kids to look at a couple more houses. One was too small, and the other was a great size with a good floor plan, but needed too much work. Plus the kitchen wasn't very big.

I apologized to Kim, my Realtor. "I never expected to be so hard to please," I admitted.

"It's okay," she said. "We'll just keep looking. The right house will come up."

On the way home, I got to thinking. I had just increased my maximum by $5000 because I'd come to the conclusion that, in this neighborhood, there was no way to get a decent kitchen in my original price range. Cooking is about my favorite pastime, aside from blogging, so I felt that adequate counter space and cabinets were a must.

When I first found the house with the oleanders, I'd noticed another house a couple doors down with the same floor plan and a nice yard. I ignored it at the time because it was priced at $9000 higher, way out of my price range. But I'd been watching it online, and they'd recently reduced the price to just $2500 over my new maximum. Perhaps I could view it and offer them less.

My mom suggested the same thing just thirty minutes later. "Yes, I'm going to do it," I said. "I'll make a lower offer. No harm in trying."

As soon as I hung up the phone, I went online to look up the address. Guess what? That very afternoon they had dropped the price another $2600, putting it inside my price range! So maybe I could offer less and get it for what I'd offered on the other house. I set an appointment for 10:00 this morning and went to bed, but it was very hard to fall asleep because I felt dangerously excited.

This morning, though, I woke in perfect peace. I spent some time with God, praising Him for whatever He had in store for my family. I asked Him to help me keep my eyes fixed on Him, and not on a house. I told Him I really wanted this house, but asked Him to close the door on it if He had something else planned for us. "And please give Kim discernment and wisdom on what I should offer. I'll trust you to make sure I get a good deal if this is the house for me."

When we arrived, we were surprised to find the owner, Jackie, at home. She'd tried to reschedule for 11:00, but Kim hadn't received the message. Jackie smiled broadly and beckoned us inside. "You're welcome to look all around, but try not to wake my girls," she said.

We tiptoed around and tried to be quiet, but we kept exclaiming over things involuntarily. First off, out front there was a lush crepe myrtle abloom with purple flowers. It was perhaps the biggest I'd ever seen, taller than the house. This would be my view when I washed dishes at those lovely windows!

Next was the gorgeous fireplace with a marble surround. And then came the shiny stainless steel appliances.
Does this kitchen look familiar? 
"This house is the best out of all we've seen!" Kim said. "It's immaculate."

Before we left, Jackie asked if I had any questions.

"Well, here's a question not about the house. That futon in the garage... is it for sale? I'm looking for a futon for my son."

She waved a hand. "You can have it."

"Are you sure? It looks identical to one I saw online last night. I was going to pay $175 for it this afternoon."

"Yes, you can have it. In fact, if you buy the house, you can also have the refrigerator, washer, dryer, lawn mower, and weed eater. I won't need them."

My jaw must have dropped two inches. She'd just listed off my entire shopping list, every item I'd dreaded trying to find on Craigslist or at garage sales, which I loathe.

We all chatted for a couple minutes. I learned that she was newly single like me, and that she had two daughters and another on the way. The oldest was nine, and the youngest looked to be about two. (She was adorable.) They are moving to another town to be near her mom, who provides a lot of support for her.

We shook hands and headed out to the car, where I consulted with Kim. "What do you think I should offer?"

"Full price," she said without hesitation. "It's worth at least that much. If you offer less, someone else will take it."  Part of me wanted to argue; maybe God would bless me with a lower price. But I remembered how I'd prayed for God to lead her.

"Okay," I said.

As I wrote out the checks for the earnest money and options fees, Kim asked, "Do you think you could offer her some money for all of those things she's giving you? She's a single mom like you. Money's probably tight. It would bless her."

I wrestled with the idea for a moment. My money is tight! And she'd offered it all for free. Again, I remembered how I'd asked God to lead Kim. "How about $500?" I asked.

She raised an eyebrow.

"Too low?"

She nodded. "One... thousand?" I said, almost choking on the words.

"Yes, I think that's good."


Kim asked me to write a letter, which I thought was overkill since I'd already met the seller in person, but I followed her advice. I wrote a short letter explaining that this was where I hoped to start my new life with my children. I told her how much I loved the fireplace and that crepe myrtle tree. I wished her and her daughters many blessings in their move and ended with a postscript: "Allyson really hopes that squirrel she saw in the backyard comes with the house."

It was only about an hour later that Kim called, breathless with excitement. At the time, I was standing next to three good friends at the office, and they cheered as they saw me receive my good news.
I had to hold my heart because the news got better and better.

As I repeated the whole story, they were crying with joy and amazement. It turns out that Jackie needed a certain amount to get out of the house without owing money on the loan. My offer was just enough, but she was just squeaking by. The extra thousand was a huge blessing.

Jackie had turned down two other offers. She'd told her mom that those were not the right buyers, and she did not feel right about selling. She knew God would bring her the right buyer, and she needed to wait.

I covered my mouth when I heard that part. No wonder I'd felt such a connection with this young woman. She'd been obedient to the same direction I'd been hearing over and over lately: wait.

When Jackie met me and Allyson this morning--due to a "mix-up"--she recognized us right away as the buyers God had sent.

She sent me an email saying that she wanted to do anything she could to help me. She also said:
"I am so overwhelmed with thankfulness and your letter has brought tears of joy. Everything you mention is everything I love about this home... I know you will be happy as I was here!"... I hope you have a wonderful blessed rest of the day and tell Allyson she is too funny about the squirrel, and yes he comes too!!!" 

Now don't you think that would have been enough? But God wasn't through. After work, my lender called to go over the details of the loan and to lock in the new rate. I braced myself because I'd been wanting to plug my ears over the last few weeks each time I heard about the interest rate slowly rising.

Yep, you've guessed it. The rate actually went down, from 3.75% to 3.625%. Over the course of the note, that saves me over a thousand dollars. Plus I'm saving a lot more on three major appliances, a lawn mower, a futon, and a big-screen TV.

As I told God in the shower this morning, he really does go beyond the beyond. I fully expected Him to amaze me, and He did. I'm inclined to agree with my mom, who said tonight, "That's more like beyond beyond beyond."

That's the kind of God we serve.

P.S. The sensible part of me would have waited to share this news until after the inspection on Monday, but my impulsive side won out. How could I keep this news to myself? I feel pretty confident all will be well. We couldn't find any cracks, inside or out. To be safe, Kim is ordering a foundation inspection (free) ahead of the regular home inspection so that if there is a problem, I won't lose any more money.

Update 3/27/13: I felt drawn to the new house on my morning walk today because I wanted to see that crepe myrtle again. (And I hoped I might see Jackie in the front yard.) She saw me gaping at the house and came outside to invite me in for coffee. We talked for an hour and a half! She told me all about the kind neighbors on every side. It's going to be a great place to live.


hermajestysmom said...

I am so very happy you have just about completed this journey! God is good and you are one obedient servant. I am humbled by your posts and blessed by their message. Thank you for allowing me to journey with you! Bless all of you!!!

Sarah said...

Thank you, Ruth! I am honored that you would ready my stories.

Carmen Monrovia @ Churchill Mortgage said...

It's okay to look sift through hoices before making a final decision. I enjoyed reading your house hunting journey, Sarah! Patience brought you to your new house. Congrats!

Calvin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Calvin said...

Good things happen to those who wait. There are a lot of houses in the market; there's no need to rush in making decisions. Find the right one that can bring your comfort and peace. I'm glad that you enjoyed the entire journey and are now settled in your ideal place. Congrats!

-Calvin Mordarski @ CityBlockTeam

Jamie Hooper said...

I love this house, Sarah! I might be months late, but please allow me to congratulate you for your new house. I've seen your house tour already, and I wonder if you still plan on making renovations on it. Well, I'll be looking forward to seeing your updates in the next days. Congrats again! :)

Sarah said...

Calvin - Thank you.

Jamie - Thank you very much. Yes, I have a few things to do yet with the house. Next up is painting my bedroom a pale lavender. I'm debating about whether to attempt it myself or to hire a really cheap painter I just found out about.


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