House Update

I feel like it's been forever since I wrote anything here. Oh, that's right, because it has.

I'm writing this from my hotel room in Brno, CZ. I'm traveling for work, but I've been missing my family and since the time difference isn't conducive to phone calls I thought I would write about our home situation instead.

Before our old house was even officially on the market we made an offer on a house. Built in 1991, great neighborhood, good floor plan but it needed some light cosmetic work like painting the cabinets and replacing the countertops. The major drawback was that the current owner has major allergies/asthma so several years ago they ripped up all the carpet upstairs and laid cheap laminate floors. I have no problems with using laminates or engineered hardwoods, but this stuff looked and felt like plastic. Not good. To Steven, bedrooms need to have carpet to feel cozy and homey, so that meant we'd have to drop $3-6k on day one to re-carpet the whole second floor.

But remember how I said our house wasn't even on the market yet? Well, financially we qualified to carry both mortgages for a few months so we boldly made a non-contingent offer but planned to walk away from the new house if we didn't have an offer or contract on the old house within 30 days. At the last minute we heard from a buyer who was "putting together an offer" but they couldn't get their shit together and nothing ever materialized, despite their realtor stringing us along for almost 2 weeks. We tried to get a 3 day extension on our due diligence window to see if this buyer would ever come around, but in the end we walked away and all we lost was our due diligence money, which is a small amount in the grand scheme of home buying. To get back on the practical side of the fence we agreed not to look at any more houses until we were actually under contract.

About a week or so after we walked away from our first new house, we got an offer and our old house is now under contract and the closing is Friday. As in 2 days from now. I've wanted to write about it sooner, but I was always worried about jinxing it, partly because the buying side had been so chaotic at first. This buyer made an offer the day after their first visit to the house, the negotiating period was quick and painless, and everything has gone very smoothly, so there was no need for me to be worried, but it's been a relief to have a reliable buyer after the first non-offer made us want to pull our hair out.

You may be wondering why in the world I'm in Brno when my closing is 2 days away. Yeah, me too. But this trip has been booked for months, and I can't exactly reschedule international flights without costing my company huge amounts of money, so here I am. My husband, Saint Steven, is home with both kids, and dealing with most of the moving stuff by himself. The movers came last Thursday to get all the boxes and furniture, which he had to supervise on his own, and he's done the bulk of finding and booking movers and storage units. Luckily neither one of us is needed at the closing (our realtor will go in our stead) so the only real "chore" on his plate this week is feeding, dressing, bathing, and entertaining the kids. Also luckily, we have lots of family nearby so he's got a good second string line-up.

Once we had the old house under contract we were ready to start looking again. The first new house was still on the market, but the sellers were pretty pissed at us for asking for a due diligence extension so decided to look at other houses in case they wanted nothing to do with us and our new offer. I found two older houses, very similar to the one we'd walked away from, and they were nice but they weren't THE ONE. I wasn't writing love songs and doodling my new address on my notebooks. We also looked at a townhouse in a new-ish neighborhood. We walked through the house but I wasn't crazy about the double-height living room. Good for you if you like them, but I hate them. Yes, hate. I was just being nice before. Our realtor found out that the unit we walked through was built for spec, but there were other unfinished units available. We came back, saw a model with a second floor bonus room over the living room and we were smitten. Well, I was smitten but Steven needed some convincing. I finally won him over when he realized that if we bought new and I got to pick all the finishes, he wouldn't have to hear me whine about countertops, cabinets or floors for the next 6 years. That and townhouses have these lovely things called HOAs that do all of the exterior maintenance which would save us time, hard work, and space in the garage that would have been devoted to yard tools.

So we signed on the dotted line, picked our finishes, and rode off into the sunset. Except for a minor skirmish over the water heater. Do not tell 2 architects you can't change something and then blame it on the permit. Trust me on this. But other than that we're very happy. I love the finishes we picked (dark wood floors, white kitchen, gray tile in the master bath) and our job-site superintendent seems really easy to work with. According to our contract we only get 3 construction meetings, but the super doesn't care if we come every day (which we will) as long as we wear a hard hat (which I think we can manage). We will get our official closing date once the house is dried in, but right now we're on track for January 15.

Those of you that are good at math may have noticed that January 15 is more than 2 days away. You got me. We will be homeless for 2 months, but Steven's grandparents (the same ones that watch our kids when we're at work) have taken us in. We've turned their upstairs into our own little suite, with us grownups in one room, the kids sharing the other room (Luke in the bed, Josie in her crib) and all 4 of us sharing the guest bath. Our hosts' master bedroom is on the first floor so it's the perfect set-up. We'll be on the cramped side, and I'm bummed we won't be able to decorate for Christmas, but it could have been much worse. Thank goodness we're not paying a billion dollars a month for a short-term lease apartment. Our TVs and a few other electronics went into their basement where we can make sure they're dry, but everything else went into a storage unit. While we were doing our pre-market decluttering we had put one batch of stuff into a POD in our driveway. In the end we decided to consolidate everything into one large storage unit and give back the POD since we would be paying a premium for the convenience of having an eyesore in someone's driveway. The movers took everything out of the POD when they loaded up the house so it was a quick and easy process.

Or so I was told, I was out of the country.

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