Saturday, April 7, 2012

Year 2: April 7, 2012 ~
Expanding The Family

My husband and I are looking to expand our family of five.

We're looking to adopt... a house.

Yes, we've had houses on the brain lately.  Our property clocks are really ticking.  We're thinking and talking about homes all the time.  We've even given our kids 'the talk'.

"You know... sometimes it's nice to make a change, even when that change feels scary.  We know how happy you have been in many ways since we moved to this neighborhood, and that makes us really glad.  We have some news though - mommy and daddy are hoping to buy a different house for our family this year."

"Our own house?  Will it be our house or a house that somebody else owns?"

"Well this would be our own house.  We would need to pay for it every single month, the same way that we pay rent, but it would actually be ours."

"You mean we could paint on the walls?"

"Yes, when we own our own house we can probably paint something cool on your bedroom walls."

"Because YOU KNOW, mom, that our little sister really likes to draw on the wall."

"Yes, I do know that."

"And YOU KNOW, Mom, don't you - that there are already things drawn all over our bedroom wall right now?"

"Yes, I know that too."

"Well, the things on our wall right now are a lot of scribble scrabble, Mom.  If we paint something at our new house, I would like it to look cool."

"I want a rocket!" shouts his little brother.

"I dwaw a wabbitt!" chimes in their naughty sister. "I make a wabbitt on da WALL!"

She then scampers off to draw a stick figure with a big circle head, two big circle eyes and two long thick loopy feet on a paper.  "A wabbitt!  Look mommeeee a PINK WABBITT fo' my WALL!!!"

It seems that we are all excited about having our own house.

* * * *

I've tried to prepare the kids for the kind of changes we'll experience with a new house in our price range.

"So, we probably won't have this huge back yard much longer," I've mentioned.  "You boys should take advantage of it right now, while you still can."

The yard in our rental home is truly magnificent.  At about 8,000 square feet it resembles a small park and has been the light of our family life since we moved here one year ago.

When my boys are fighting, as they often do, it has been such a relief to shoo them out the kitchen door into the yard.

"Out!  Go out and get some fresh air.  Run around!  Play soccer!  Play hide and seek!  STOP ARGUING and GO HAVE FUN, for Pete's sake!"

They nearly always jump at the bait, our yard being a mecca of roly poly bugs, dirt to dig in, trees to climb and bushes to hide behind.  The soccer balls fly around until one of them inevitably hits our house somewhere close to a window, and then I urge them to move on to some new activity like riding bikes in the driveway or drawing with chalk.

* * * *

I've tried to prepare myself for the change of having a new house too.

Honestly, it makes me more than a little sad that we can't stay in this small but perfect (perfectly old, perfectly shabby, perfect for us) home that we've loved for the last year.

We did offer to buy it.

The owner politely declined.

Seems that after 60+ years in his family, they want to keep it in their family.  The owner grew up here as a child, attended the local elementary school and visited his mother here until her passing.  He is now 69 years old.  He loves this place very much, and is loathe to part with it.

Especially in today's market - a buyer's market for sure. 

So we weren't surprised when he declined our hopeful offer...

Nonetheless, I bawled when the rental agency told us he wasn't interested.  Cried for a full hour.

"It just fe-ee-eels like h-h-h-home," I wept to my husband.

"I know.  It would have been really cool. I love this place too," he agreed. "But we'll find our place.  And we'll be happy there too."

* * * *

A few days later I saw notice of a foreclosure in our neighborhood.  I liked the general area and street, and noticed that the property had two of the most important criteria for me:  sidewalks out front and a generous back yard.

"I think we should check into this," I commented to my husband.

"Sure," he said.

When I called the bank listed on the MLS foreclosure page, the woman I spoke with explained that the property was not actually theirs but just one that they had a partial stake in financing.  She told me to go to our local county office holding records and find the last known deed of sale for the foreclosure.  Then, we should call her back and they could research the property to find out about its actual owner for us.

I mentioned this to my husband on a Sunday afternoon.

The next day, after a doctor's appointment, I decided to drop by the county office with our little girl.  The boys were in school and it seemed like a nice time to get the ball rolling.

We pulled into a parking space right in front of the county office and I jumped out of the car to put together her diaper bag and stroller.  Noticing that I'd missed a call, I recognized my husband's number on my cell phone.

I called him back.  We chatted amiably for a few minutes and then he said, "Well hon I've got to get back to the office for lunch.  I'm just here at the county office - I'm going to pick up the records for that house."

"What?  You're at the county office?  Where?  We're at the county office too!"

He began to laugh.  "You're here?  I'm in the parking lot in front of the building."

Pulling our daughter out of the car I looked around. 

"I don't see you.  Maybe you're on the other side of the building from where we are."  I settled my daughter and began to walk toward the offices.

My husband began to laugh harder.  "I see you.  Turn around."

It turned out he was parked just one car over from us.  We'd been chatting on our cell phones from just ten feet away.

So, we went together to get the last known deed of sale for the foreclosure and walked hand in hand into the county office.

That is how I knew that buying a house this year was meant-to-be:

We are on the same page.  We want the same thing.  We literally arrived at the same place at the same time to pursue this house... completely unaware of each other. 

(Our lives have actually gone in parallel like this since we were little kids... this is one of the many reasons I continually know that my husband and I are destined for each other.  We seem always to be walking the same path in life, or if not on the same road... walking parallel to one another.)

* * * *

After getting the last known deed, things started to move pretty quickly.  We jumped through all the hoops to get prequalified for financing.  We got all of our tax records together and figured out.  We scanned about a hundred pages of documentation, emailed them off, and within a few days were approved.

Now we're just waiting on the house.

"Our" house, whether it turns out to be this particular foreclosure or not.

Right now, even though the foreclosed house is owned by the bank it is still owner-occupied.  We found out through the records at the county office that the owner hasn't paid a dime on the house since 2008.

I was a little in awe of this kind of brazen negligence.  "Wow hon," I commented to my guy, "Think of how much money we would have right now if we hadn't paid rent at all for four years."

The mortgage on that house has got to be more than $3000 a month but I calculated that at $3000 a month x 12 months x 4 years, the owner would have saved $144,000.00.  A small fortune.

Not knowing why they've chosen not to pay their mortgage, I feel very badly about waiting on their house... a little bit like a vulture.  What if their family has fallen on hard times?  Or had health troubles? 

Still, the owner is taking horrific care of the home and grounds and it makes me sad when the kids and I walk by and see the way all of the foliage in the yards have browned and died; the trash on the front lawn; the broken fences and windows.

That is a house that needs and deserves some major TLC and energy cleansing.

Our six year old son pragmatically put it like this:

"Mom, if we get the house from the bank - it means that even though the people have acted so bad to the house it can still be a happy place for us.  If we don't get it, it means the energy was so bad it couldn't be fixed."

I like that.  I think he's right!

Still, no movement yet.  Who knows when they will finally vacate, or if we will be able to afford the price the bank will ask at that time.

For now we are ready, waiting for that right property - wherever it is - to pop up so we can make a real offer.

* * * *

Keeping this in mind, I sit quietly on the back steps of our lovely rental listening to birds singing in the tall trees around us.

On a telephone wire above our slate blue garage I see one lone dove resting, perhaps waiting for her mate. 

Then she lifts off, and suddenly she is gone.  One day soon, we may fly away from this sweet place as well.

It makes me a little misty.  Still...

Owning a home of our own at last, it's such an exciting prospect!

Despite the recent uptick of residential burglaries in our neighborhood (more on that in a different post) it is truly a beautiful thing that we're hoping to do.

Expanding our family of five to include one fixer-upper with a back yard near our amazing elementary school... it really feels right this time. 

We're ready to open our hearts and lives to a home of our own, one that can be painted as wildly as we like with rockets and rabbits.