Every house has a story. A story about how you found it, how you bought it, who used to live there and how they treated it, how you fell in love with it, fixed it up, became a home. This is the beginning of the story of our house.
It's a tight market in Charlotte. Good homes come on and sell within days. Like any prepared home buyer, we did our research. Keeping the mantra, "location, location, location" in mind, we scoured the market and hired a realtor far in advance of our actual relocation. We even upped our budget after two unsuccessful house hunting trips.
Then, our realtor sent us this listing. I immediately dismissed it. You see, we were coming to a new city, John was taking on a much different type of job, the kids were older - I didn't think we would have the time or energy to take on a fixer upper. And the listing pictures screamed project home.
But, as any good client should do, we listened to our realtor and scheduled a visit anyway. Driving into the neighborhood, John and I could not believe how close to the city we were, how huge and mature the trees were, how beautiful the other homes were. Then, we drove down the quiet caul-de-sec, pulled up in front of a home that immediately reminded me of our little English cottage and it all started to change. I no longer dismissed the property. But, a new fear sprouted. How could there be a house in this neighborhood that we could actually afford. What was wrong with it? What was behind those doors? Our curiosity was peaked and we couldn't wait to get inside.
Yeah, the outside was a little tired, the gutters were overflowing, there was a mildew stain running down the side of the house, the front awning was sagging, and the yard was completely overgrown, but behind the front door were high ceilings, huge windows, hardwood floors, thick moldings, built-in bookcases and shelving, a wood-burning fireplace, a great floor plan, 4 beds, 3.5 baths, and a kitchen bigger than I had ever dreamed of owning.
I wasn't sold at first sight, though. I still worried about all the work, the time, the effort and our budget. There was a lot of 80's decor to deal with and a pretty serious smoke smell, but, in the end, it seemed mostly cosmetic. So, we put some feelers out.
Turns out, the home was built in the 80's and had one owner, who had since retired to Florida. In the last 10 years he had only been in the house for about 30 days. But, he had left his sons to maintain the property, sparingly. The house had originally been listed for a few months and had taken a $50k price reduction over that time. The problem: the previous owner was a serious smoker and a bachelor. The house was covered in dark, eclectic paint and decorated with a lot of leather, the smell was overwhelming and the price did not reflect the updates needed to bring the house up to date. After limited interest (ie, no offers), the whole house was primed (Killz) and painted white, helping the smell to become much more manageable, but the owner had missed the selling high season. Then we came along. You know what they say, timing is everything!
We put in an initial low-ball offer and entered into what proved to be the longest and strangest negotiation period we have ever taken part in. Prices went down, then up, then down again. Personal items were thrown in and then taken out, appliances as well. We even walked away at one point, considering it a lost cause. But, in the end and to our surprise, we came to terms. Now, she's all ours and we can't wait to get started smothering her with our special style of TLC.
The moral of the story: always listen to your realtor and put in an offer, even if it is absurdly low, because you never know what can happen.
until next time,