This is part of the M2M Series, The Big Move from One House to Another with Three Kids…Successfully: A 4 Part Series. To read the other parts, please click here.
I feel like I’ve been living this selling/buying/moving chaos for so long, I had to chronicle it for the sake of others…whether it is for sheer comical entertainment or the remote possibility that there might be some nuggets of wisdom to glean from it. Doubtful, but I’ll leave that up to you.
Our current home served us well for fourteen years, but we were ready to move on. And we were very picky in our must-haves for that new place.
The main reason we wanted to move was so my husband could get licensed to start his own nano brewery. In order to do that, we needed a detached shop or garage that would be used solely for the business. Of course, I didn’t want to go to all the trouble of moving unless our new place was also an upgrade from what we already had. Who doesn’t, right?!
I’ve always wanted a bigger piece of property for a kids/dogs’ play area as well as more potential gardening space, which is one of my favorite hobbies. A little bigger home wouldn’t be bad either, so each child could have their own room, my husband could possibly have an office that isn’t our bedroom, and I have always wanted two sinks and a big, soaking tub in our master bath. My husband also really loves one-level, ranch style homes for his poor knees and to alleviate my fears of becoming a widow when he goes on the roof.
Not all of those were deal-breakers, however, and the more my husband and I discussed it and saw the lack of options that existed in our small town (not to mention our shortage of riches), the more we knew we were going to have to make some compromises. One thing, however, we could not compromise on, was the space for the brewery, so we began to view each potential home through that lens.
The first prospective home was one that I had my eye long before we listed our home. It was in a different town, but had a huge, two-bay shop on 1.26 acres. The house was very out of date and would require some money and work to fix up, but still had great potential if the owners were willing to negotiate on price. So we began shopping around for lenders and got preapproved for our new mortgage with a great rate and solid idea of our “magic number.”
By the time we listed our home, this particular property had been on the market for over three months with what seemed like very little interest, but they had yet to lower the price. We believed it was over-priced for the work it needed and way over our budget. As such, we hoped that by the time we had an offer on our home, we could convince them to accept our low bid.
The following week, however, I saw another home online that was more in our price range. I immediately sent the address to our realtor and got a showing for the next day. At the time, we didn’t think anything of it and took all three kids with us to see it. Bad idea. It was CRAZY trying to wrangle them to follow us and keep them from playing with (or breaking) the homeowners’ stuff and terrorizing their pets. All the while, my husband and I attempted to judge if it was the right place for our family and our new business.
It occurred to me that house-hunting with kids is not awesome. Either we get a sitter while we look at prospective homes, and then spring on them that we are moving, thus incurring a roller coaster of emotions about leaving behind their pink walls or the precious backyard swing they never play with anymore. OR, we invite them along for the ride and in addition to chasing them around other people’s homes; for weeks we have to listen to “are we moving to our new house yet?” “Can we bring kitty?” and “I want the room with the green carpet!”
So, by the time we were ready to put our first offer down on the property with the huge lot and shop, we got a sitter for the kids so we could walk around it, inspect every nook and cranny and write up our offer in peace. I highly recommend it as the only way to do this with young kids.
Unfortunately, the owner was not willing to budge on price and our offer was rejected. So, back to the drawing board and back to trusting God with our future and praying for peace. We learned a lot about what we should do the next time we were ready to put an offer on a house. (Like, don’t ask people to come down $100,000 off their asking price…just a thought.)
Over the next three months, we looked at several more properties. A nice little place with a shop that would work, but the house would not. Another out-of-date, overpriced place with a shop and a seller that refused to negotiate on price. And a century-old farmhouse I had been hoping for months would go on the market, but was already pending by the time we could get a showing.
Then, there was the beautifully-staged pictures in a listing for a large house way out in the country, but when we drove up were shocked to see they had used decade-old pictures. In real life the front porch was falling off the house, multiple families were living inside and it had soiled carpets, holes in the walls, cigarette ash piled everywhere and a kicked-in front door!
I started to get disheartened. I scoured real estate apps every night and for weeks there were no new listings for us. At the same time, I knew we didn’t have an offer on our home yet, and I hated the thought of finding a place that we loved, only to be bumped by another buyer.
Finally, a huge daylight ranch home with no shop, but a lot of potential came on the market. We got a sitter and spent an hour looking the place over. My husband instantly loved it, but I didn’t. There was no garden, the yard was slightly sloped and needed new fences. The inside was more than roomy with a large downstairs and bonus rooms galore, but I worried about how much it would cost to put in a shop and the other fixes needed to make it livable. Still, we kept it in the back of our minds when we got an offer on our home the following week and pressed to commit to closing and possession dates.
Thankfully, our buyers agreed to give us one more weekend to look. I searched for new listings, hoping and praying to see something that would work. I saw one in a town over from us, not my preference, but not a deal-breaker either. We quickly got an afternoon showing for the next day, but had no childcare so we brought the kids with us and let them watch a movie in the car while my husband and I took turns looking at the house.
I love it. It was beautifully remodeled inside with a nice garden outside and a couldn’t-be-more-perfect spot on the side of the property to build a shop. But my husband did not like it at all.
I spent the afternoon miffed at him because I loved the granite kitchen countertops, the luxurious master en-suite and a garden I wouldn’t have to start from scratch. After a couple hours I cooled off and realized that he was right. The spot for the shop would work, but not much else. Even though the house was larger than our current home, the two living rooms were actually smaller. So we kept looking, knowing that if we didn’t find something before the weekend, we would be putting an offer on the daylight ranch we had seen a week back. And I did not want to do that!
Providentially, another home popped up that evening; a 1940’s one-level charmer on just under ½ an acre. I showed it to my husband and he wasn’t impressed. The pictures did not make it appear updated, and although it did have a detached garage, it was only three bedrooms and listed as 100 square feet, one living room and bathroom LESS than our current home. However, we agreed it was worth a shot and texted our agent to see it.
The next afternoon, again, with all three kids in the minivan watching a movie, we went to see the little house on the big lot. The home did feel small, but the kitchen, dining and living rooms were almost completely open-concept with updated features, and its two bathrooms were very large with beautiful soaking tubs. What made us completely stop in our tracks, though, was the amazingly huge, landscaped backyard. The freshly-cut lawn went on for what seemed like forever, stopped only by fragrant, blooming fruit trees, pots of flowers and an abundance of berry bushes. And, best of all, way in the back, was a large, freshly-tilled garden waiting for me!
Next to the house was a very adequately sized, detached garage that after some remodeling would work fine for a brew space. The lot also had two smaller sheds, a covered patio and three separate decks, but at that point the rest of the property could have been hideous. All I cared about was that gorgeous land! I wanted it and so did my husband. We discussed our offer with our realtor on the spot, giving the sellers their asking price not 24 hours after it was listed!
After writing up the offer we felt confident allowing our children to see the home we hoped to buy. We let them run around and squeal over the yard, where the doggies would live and who got which drawer in the bathroom. It felt right to bring them into the process, valuing their childish opinions so it could truly be a family decision where we were moving.
Another day later, the sellers accepted our offer without even countering! And just like that, within one week, we were selling our home, buying another and moving in 33 days!
—> Read Part 3: A Journey with Negotiations, Paperwork and Boxes here!