How to Buy a House in 45 Minutes
Okay, not really, but that's about how long I've been in the house Boris and I are going to purchase on Tuesday. In actuality, we've been looking at houses online for almost two years. When we finally decided to take the leap to move to Vermont, though, we scheduled one whirlwind weekend of house hunting this past May. We saw 10 houses in two days. We flew in on a Friday evening and saw three houses as soon as we got in. We had real interest in the first house we saw, a completely renovated house on a mountain set on 15 acres. However, when we actually went through it, the house was close to the road and the lot was "L" shaped. Plus, what would Boris do in a completely renovated house? The next two houses that night were a bust.
We woke up Saturday morning ready to see seven houses and hoping that we could picture ourselves in one of them. The first house was set on a 5 acre lot with about 4 trees, and the house was about 100 feet from the neighbors' house. We're weren't buying land to have to listen to someone else's dog bark. Our house was the second house we saw on Saturday morning. The house is set on 21 acres in the woods. When I walked into it, I had the same feeling I had for the house we currently live in. I got the chills and butterflies in my stomach, essentially the same feeling you have when you first talk to someone you find very attractive. As we walked through the first floor of the house, I became more and more convinced that this was it - huge kitchen, cute little library, window seat (!!!) in the family room. Then we went upstairs. The dream quickly started unraveling. Both bathrooms upstairs were moldy and soggy and would need to be gutted. Some of the window frames looked completely rotted out and there was visible water damage on some of the walls. Finally, we went into the basement. Well, I actually only made it as far as the basement steps. Not that I planned to really use the basement, but that place was a dungeon, which also happened to be covered in beautiful broken up asbestos tile. I left the main house feeling depleted.
The house also has a separate three car garage, over which is an apartment.
It looks lovely, right? Well, it also needs a complete rehab, including a new roof and a new set of stairs and back deck. We drove away from the house after 45 minutes. I felt like I had just found out a terrible secret about my new boyfriend that I just wanted to pretend didn't exist. I think we saw six more houses that day, but none really made much of an impression. The most I can say is, boy did the architecture in the 80's and 90's suck. Also, all the properties we saw had more than three acres, but so many sat so close to a busy road. Why buy land if you're living on a highway?
We left Vermont on Sunday, thinking that we had not found our house and more than a little discouraged. I even told Boris we could back out from the whole decision to move if it didn't feel right anymore. For the next few weeks, we kept our eyes peeled for new listings. We both, however, unbeknownst to the other, kept coming back to our crumbling farmhouse on Zillow and gazing at the pictures. Something about this house had gotten under our skin. In early June, the sellers dropped the asking price $10,000. It wasn't much, but nothing new had come on the market and it sparked a conversation between the two of us. We realized that though this house would need so much work, we could get a house AND a rental property for under our budgeted price for a single house. Our hope had always been that we would be able to buy a rental property for Boris to renovate once we got Vermont, but buying this house would be killing two birds with one stone, and we could renovate it exactly how we wanted. The next day we called our agent and discussed making an offer. On June 13th Boris flew to Vermont for a day of inspections that included a general inspector, a mold specialist and a structural engineer. We signed the contract at the end of June and are closing this Tuesday.
Honestly, even looking at the pictures of this house, there are so many details I can't recall. Boris says the stairs to the upstairs are steep, but I can't picture them. I know the bathrooms all need work, but I'm hoping I'm not completely grossed out at the walk through. As someone who likes to plan and has a to do list for everything, not remembering these details and walking into so much unknown is almost physically painful, yet somewhere inside me there are still those butterflies. There are certain moments I picture my kids chasing chickens around the yard or tapping a Maple tree on our property and the it all feels like it will be all right. (In the next moment I imagine that a mountain lion has invaded our property and killed all the chickens, so when I say these moments are fleeting I'm not joking.) Since we've come this far though, all I can do it put my head down, press forward and find a little faith.