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    Our Housing Saga

    June 7, 2008 by Brandy Vencel

    I failed to mention that, on my birthday last month, Si made a very valiant attempt to buy me a house. I had joked with him {when he asked what I wanted as a gift} that he could either buy me a house or an anteater because I wasn’t going to tolerate these ants much longer.

    He went for the house! That just goes to show that he is learning to read my mind.

    We arranged with our realtor to visit said house on my birthday. We liked it so much, we called my parents and asked them to drive over and give us a second {and third} pair of eyes. And since the house met with our approval, as well as my father’s {he has good taste}, we made an offer that very day.

    Before I go on, I suppose I should mention that our offer was for one hundred thousand dollars less than the listing price. However, we felt confident that our offer was fair. The house had been sitting there for many months. It had been put up for auction at least once, but no one even showed up to bid on it. It had sat there ever since, listed with a traditional real estate agent, and no one had made an offer. And when we looked at the comps in the neighborhood {similar houses and what they sold for}, our offer was a little under the average, but nothing extreme.

    It was important that we not pay too much for the house because it sits on half an acre {almost} and is not landscaped. No sprinklers. No flower. No grass. Nada.

    The fact that the lot was practically vacant was a huge selling point for us. We have always had this dream of having a small fruit orchard, but many of the landscaped lots are set up in such a way that watering and caring for a number of trees would be inefficient at best or impossible at worst {at least without tearing out a lot of perfectly good plants}. The blank slate appealed to us.

    And the house itself was fine. Nothing fancy, really. About the same size as our current rental. Same number of bedrooms, one less living area. But it had this little nook area. It was tiny, but there was room to put an office. This was important because we have been hoping to have Si’s 21-year-old younger sister move in with us, and a place to put our office means there will be bedroom space for his sister.

    All of this was to say that it seemed perfect. And the fact that the house had been sitting there without offers seemed to scream that it was waiting for us.

    So imagine our surprise when we learned we were not the only offer that weekend! This was coupled with the fact that the house was again being prepared for auction.

    We went back and forth. It seemed clear that we were the better buyers, but not the highest offer. The bank {it’s a foreclosure…isn’t everything these days?} asked for our best and highest offer. We felt we could afford to up our offer by about $10,000. They came back asking for another $22,000. To which we politely said no, and didn’t they realized they already asked for our best and highest? We do not play games. We were quite serious about this, and we are quite careful with our finances.

    The bank said no, that our offer was too low.

    We assumed they would go with the other buyers {whoever they were}, but a week or two later, the house was still sitting there and not in escrow, so we asked our agent to make contact again. Again we offered our best and highest, and again we were rejected.

    The house entered escrow.

    Then, less than a week later, the house fell out of escrow.

    Our agent again made contact. And the bank, though unable to successfully sell the house at the higher price, insisted that our offer was too low.

    And perhaps it is a little low. We have knowledge that other houses in the neighborhood are currently pending. If these houses complete escrow and close sale, they will lower the neighborhood prices significantly. However, for now, our offer does look slightly low. And the bank considers the land an asset, while we consider it a liability since it represents a lot of cash that we will have to spend to make it function as a yard, a garden, and hopefully an orchard.

    {Did I mention we hope for contraband chickens?}

    And then there is the fact that, to some extent, it doesn’t matter what the house is worth. That is what got everyone into trouble in the first place. We offered on a house that no one seemed to want, which we wanted, and we offered the price that we could afford. What it is worth doesn’t matter. What we can afford does. At least, that is what matters when it comes to the value of our offer. And it seemed to us that taking the house off of the bank’s hands was better than having it sit there for them to pay even more electric and gas bills for, and eventually property taxes as well.

    The saga continues. The fellow at the auction company emailed our agent this week to let her know that the home is up for auction on Monday. Yes. This coming Monday. As in two days.

    At the last auction, no one even bid on this house. So, we are going with our agent to the auction in our next attempt to secure this house. Part of me is hoping we are able to get it cheaper than our original best and highest offer, as this would leave us more cash for putting in the yard, garden, orchard, and picket fence that is totally unnecessary but I stay up nights dreaming about because that is the sort of thing Americans dream about, right?

    But I digress.

    There is a reason I never blogged about this. I had this feeling it could turn into a roller coaster, and I didn’t want to take Afterthoughts along for the ride. We made an offer. We were rejected. We made another offer later. We were rejected again. Someone else bought it. Someone else failed to buy it. We made an offer. We were rejected again. We are told we might be able to pick it up at auction. We spend today preparing for said auction. We spend the next 48 hours biting our nails praying.


    You see why I kept it to myself?

    But now, if you have actually read this to the end, I ask for your prayers. We have, as all this has gone on, continued to look for houses, using both the Internet and real, live visits to homes. Nothing has felt like home the way this house did. Nothing had the potential for even beginning to fulfill our gardening dreams {which, by the way, are a way of cultivating our son’s obvious gift for all things green and growing}. If the Lord says no, we are willing to accept it, but we hope very much that He says yes.

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  • Reply Brandy June 9, 2008 at 2:26 am

    Ellen, To think you just decided to let go and stop looking! God works in mysterious ways sometimes.

    Lydia, Don’t feel the need to apologize on the review. You warned me that May and June were busy! And I completely understand. I do, of course, look forward to reading your thoughts when they appear on your blog.

    To both of you, Thank you for your prayers. Our realtor is a Christian, and wrote me an email tonight saying that she has already begun her intercession. A lot of folks are praying, and we appreciate every single one! 🙂

  • Reply Lydia June 9, 2008 at 1:37 am

    Wow! Sounds like an exciting and frustrating development in your lives. I am glad I read this today (Sunday). I will be praying for you all at the auction tomorrow.

    One other thing, I haven’t forgotten about the book review of “Culture Makers.” It’s just that this past week was the first I could even begin to think about writing a review for a book with the final wrap up of several other projects I had been involved with.
    I hope to get the review up some time this month. I have indeed been reading the book and my family has read a few chapters aloud together as well.

    Just thought I would mention that here.

    Hope you have a blessed and productive week.


  • Reply Ellen June 8, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    Oooh, oooh, this sounds exciting! We just found out today that we have the go ahead to start looking ourselves. Very frightening, and also exciting… We’ll be praying for you tomorrow.

  • Reply Brandy June 8, 2008 at 3:12 am

    Kansas Mom–I totally understand not wanting to move while pregnant! I have done this once before (with our second child), and I ended up packing these tiny boxes that were the size I could carry. It was less efficient, but it worked! For me, I feel like I need to move beforehand, or not move for about half a year. I have C-sections each time, and would be worthless for a move for at least four months after. So I am hoping that something turns up (my preference is this particular house) before the end of July. Yikes! I am feeling the time crunch a bit as I write that.

    Thank you for your prayers!

    I would love to hear about the house you were interested in. Taking a look inside never hurt, right? 🙂

  • Reply Kansas Mom June 8, 2008 at 1:18 am

    I’m sure you’ll find the perfect home, hopefully this one! It’s funny you should post this now. My husband and I drove past a house today and have contemplated calling the agent for a look inside. We’ve never even considered buying a house until this year and it’s still a little crazy to us. (I don’t really want to move any time soon given baby’s impending arrival, so we’re not really in the market, but this one seemed to fit our needs and we were intrigued.)

    God be with you on Monday!

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