Thursday, March 14, 2019

Buying a Home - from A-far!

Buying a new home is challenging, even if you are moving next door! When you are planning to move halfway across the country, over 1,200 miles away, the challenges multiply! Here's how we did it!

It was finally House-Hunting Time!! When we moved to the South many years ago due to my husband's new job, it was always the plan to eventually move back to the North. Unfortunately, house hunting wasn't going well. My husband had been looking online for prospective homes and property for countless years, and now was the time to really get serious about finding a new home. We both had our "Saved" homes on Zillow. We had gone on an "informal" house hunting drive with our son Joshua and wife Natalie, as well as 2 scheduled house hunting trips with a realtor when visiting with the family up North.

Our "Must Have" list included:

  • At least 10 acres, mostly wooded
  • At least 4 bedrooms, 5 preferred
  • At least 2 bathrooms
  • Large, updated, kitchen with more counter and storage space than current kitchen
  • Large Master bedroom on the main floor
  • Large Master bath with shower and 2 sinks
  • Great School System
  • Distance to nearest Walmart - 20 minutes or less (my list)

House hunting is tough! Here's the "Negatives" about some of the houses we visited:

  • Too small
  • Too much cleared ground
  • Not enough bedrooms or bathrooms
  • Master on second floor
  • Tiny kitchen
  • Too close to other houses
  • Too far from "civilization", and Walmart (my opinion)
  • Outdated; too many renovations required
  • Bad school system
  • Trash dump nearby
  • Really bad smells from housed animals
  • Too close to the highway
  • Etc. The list goes on and on!

The home that most closely met our list of "must haves" was pulled from the market! This happened the day that we were planning to go for a second visit. We were so disappointed. We started our long return trip home the next day, rather dejected. House-hunting would have to wait until our next visit to Joshua'a, or so we thought. Joshua and Natalie had graciously suggested that they could preview homes we would be interested in. Many thoughts were going through our minds. We talked at length on the way home. When would we be able to house hunt again? Maybe we should buy property and build? Building a home was a scary thought, especially from so far away, but it was still a possibility at this point.

After we arrived back home, the "Online House Hunt" resumed. There was one home on Zillow that had really caught my eye - a log home! For countless years, my husband and I had talked and dreamed about someday living in a Log Home. Could this be the one?

I viewed the home online again, and I liked it even better. I showed it to granddaughter Mia (who was then 7), and we agreed that it could be a good home for us. Mia was excited to get her own room, and one room was already painted a pale shade of pink - her favorite color! My husband Charlie wasn't sure about it, but we had learned that homes can look very different in person from the photos online: sometimes better; sometimes worse!

Since we lived very far away, Charlie asked Joshua to look at a few pieces of property that he had found and liked online. He also asked him to check out the house that his mom liked, the Log Home.

It was then that I got that memorable phone call. Joshua was sitting on the steps leading to the massive deck of the Log Home when he called. "Mom", he said excitably. "It's beautiful! I know you will love it! I can just imagine you sitting on the deck sipping your herbal tea in the mornings!" He described the outside of the home and the surrounding area, and it sounded great! He also checked the travel time to the nearest Walmart. It was 15 minutes! The Log Home passed that rigid test!

Next was Joshua and family's house tour with our realtor, Jimmy. Joshua called Jimmy and scheduled a house viewing for the following Saturday. It was quite a day! Joshua, his wife Natalie, grandsons Lucas and Landon, and Joshua's in-laws Wanda and Dave all checked out the Log Home along with the realtor to see if they thought it was the home for us! Dave is a Contractor, so we knew his professional opinion would be invaluable as to how sturdy the house was and the possibility of renovations. We planned to do FaceTime while they toured. I also wanted measurements, so I told Joshua ahead of time to please bring a rule and a notepad. I also emailed a list of questions that Charlie and I had about the house, and Joshua printed them out to take along.

On the scheduled day of the house viewing, we were home in Louisiana. I was ready with my note pad, pen, phone, and computer. I kept watching the clock, excited to start the tour! I was able to FaceTime on my Mac computer, and that gave Charlie and me a really good view of the Log Home. Our FaceTime call lasted 1-1/2 hours! During that time, Joshua's phone went dead, so we started another FaceTme on Natalie's phone. They walked room to room while Joshua FaceTimed with us and Natalie took pictures. They measured each room, and I wrote the measurements down. There was a large unfinished room in the downstairs. Was that room large enough to be finished and converted into a 5th bedroom and a craft room? Yes! Yes??  Yes!!!!!!!

Afterwards, I really felt like this was the new home for us! It matched most everything on our "Must Have" list.

Due to business, my husband Charlie could not travel to view the home at that time, so he bought me a plane ticket to fly back to view the home. He said he knew that if I liked it, he would be happy there. I guess it's true what they say, "Happy wife, happy life!"

About 2 weeks later, Joshua and I were driving along the country road on a beautiful fall day. 

Since the house is nestled in the woods, it is not visible from the highway. We turned into the driveway, and drove up to the house. Finally I had my first actual view of the Log Home. As we parked and I stepped out of the car, a "warm-fuzzy" feeling spread all over me. I felt like I had finally come home!

Again, I had my notepad, but this time I was writing notes about what I thought would be my future home! I walked around the house thinking about furniture, curtains, etc. I loved the hardwood floors in the living room, dining room, and hallways and was thinking out loud that someday I would like to replace the carpet upstairs with hardwood. The linoleum floors in the kitchen, pantry, and bathrooms would have to be replaced with ceramic or porcelain tile, and something would have to be done about that downstairs carpet! 

I had bought (and brought) several knobs in different colors and designs as possibilities for replacing the knobs in the kitchen and pantry in case we bought the house, and I made my choice.

The big question was concerning the large unfinished room in the downstairs and how we could make it into usable space, but it seemed like it would work! We would just need to find a good Contractor if we bought the house. It was such a rewarding day!

Following my home tour, Charlie and I talked it over and decided to make an offer. The former owners did not accept the first offer and made a counter offer. We countered, and they accepted! The house would be ours!

I was really glad that Charlie did get to make a visit before Closing. Fortunately, he liked the house, also.

The House Inspection uncovered some minor repairs that needed to be made, and most of those repairs were taken care of by the home owners before Closing. The current home owners put money in an Escrow Account to cover the remaining repairs. Those repairs were soon taken care of.

Overall, everything happened just like it was meant to be!  

Now, it's our home,

our "Dream Home" -

our "Forever Home"!