“We bought our dream house,” is still something I say while pinching myself.
It’s a sentence that doesn’t make sense. We very narrowly beat seven other bids on a house that could have waged an intense price battle had it stayed on the market for more than four days. It’s a sentence that only makes sense because I believe in alchemy, in the universe conspiring with you when you take the first step. I wanted this house with my whole heart.
Our Real Estate Journey
If you’ve been here before, you know how much I loved my apartment, but I felt its chapter closing. It wasn’t big enough for two humans and three dogs, and a few neighbors had started to make my home life anxious. We knew we needed more space and a yard, and after much debate, we decided that buying a house made the most sense. After all, if I was going to move all my collections from the third floor, I was hoping to move them someplace long-term.
We reached out to a neighbor who happens to be a highly regarded realtor. Catherine is a big deal, and we weren’t sure if we’d be worth her time, but she said an enthusiastic yes, that she’d love to work with us. I, of course, sent a very detailed email with pictures of our apartment as a style reference, as well as our list of must-haves and dreams, and she truly understood what we sought.
We toured, toured, toured … a beautiful dining room with questionable wiring; a man-cave addition that reeked of cigarettes and Yankee candles; a charming hilltop cape cod with imminent water issues; a split-level with a suspended cupboard system; a Victorian with stained glass and a dramatic entrance… wait, what?
The neighborhood was a little rough but on the outskirts of a lot of major development. We’d be five minutes from almost any amenity, including Dylan’s work. There was a porch for Julep, a fenced-in yard, and adjacent lots we could potentially buy through the city’s side-lot program. It was brick with pocket doors, stained glass… and pink carpet. There would be lots of cosmetic work, but doable, right?
We gathered around Catherine’s reclaimed wood island with a slew of paperwork, and she walked us through the process to make an offer. While we could see the immense potential in the bones of the house, we decided to offer below the asking price. The surrounding area didn’t fully merit the price. The following evening we learned we lost to one other bid.
I didn’t regret the low offer, and I thought I was at peace with the outcome. However, two days later, the grief/mourning set in. I’d scour the listings, but nothing piqued my interest. Everything seemed to be a split-level house (nothing against them – just not for me). I was sinking into real estate despair when Dylans sent me a Zillow link and said, “what about this place? I like it… I actually like it a lot!”
What about this place? This dream place? It took my breath away! It was, as my friends would say, “a very Quelcy house.” I swiped excitedly through the photos and felt a longing in my heart. it checked EVERY box! This! This is our house! This is a forever house! We quickly texted Catherine to set up a tour.
That was Saturday, its first day on the market. Between Saturday and our tour on Tuesday (the first day available), I drove by the house and then watched as the Zillow saves seemed to increase exponentially. I texted Catherine like a crazy person. “Is there anything we can do to expedite the process? Can we make an offer without seeing it? Is that insane?” She was patient and gracious and made sure we didn’t do anything rash.
Tuesday came, and I was jittery with nerves and excitement. We toured the house (with two other potential buyers), and it was even better than expected. There was such quality in the craftsmanship and the updates. For a house built in 1905, she was in great shape. I could imagine drinking coffee on the deck and watching the dogs play freely. We left the tour, and Catherine gave us a very sympathetic look, knowing just how badly we wanted this house and how hard that might be. It seemed so unlikely that we would win. The asking price was the top of our budget.
Once Dylan and I buckled into the car, I broke down in tears. He looked at me with confusion and concern. “I don’t know what to do with you right now,” he said quizzically. “I don’t need you to do anything. I’m just sad because I don’t think anyone will appreciate this house the way we will, and I fear losing it to someone from California who thinks this price point is cute (one of the tours was via FaceTime with the realtor while we were there.)”
With our offer submitted and my emotions all over the place, I channeled every spiritual teacher I could. I had everyone praying to anyone, and thanks to a Super Soul episode with Deepak Chopra, a word came to my heart: surrender. So I did. I truly did. I gazed out my kitchen window at the hills of our neighborhood, and I offered this to the Universe:
If we were given this house, I would make it a place of abundance, sharing, of generosity. I would be a steward of the land and honor the history of the house. I found a place of gratitude and acknowledged that Dylan and I had created a home with each other, and if we were to build a home in a beautiful brick four-square house, that would just be the cake. I surrendered and trusted, and then I proceeded with a mix of all the emotions.
The next morning, I toured a cabin for a photo shoot location, and the owner told me their main house was close to our dream house. It felt like a positive omen. After relishing the 1800s farmhouse, I returned to my car and discovered a slew of missed text messages. Our lender had increased our budget, and the sellers had agreed to an escalation clause (we’d agree to pay $2,000 over the current bid up to our max price).
“So you’re saying there’s a chance!”
That night I had dinner plans with two close friends. I could tell they were preparing for my possible disappointment. After all, it seemed quite unlikely that we would be the winning bid. We walked around a beautiful neighborhood, admired the hints of spring and the houses, then landed at a burger place for dinner. All the while, I continued to hope. Just as we sat, I saw a text from Catherine. “Can you talk?”
My stomach fluttered. Did she want to talk to deliver good news or bad?
I stepped outside the restaurant, and we conference called. Then Catherine said the sentence I will never forget, “You guys got the house!”
I remember very little of what she said after that. I was gasping and squatting and moving awkwardly. I’m frankly surprised no outside diners tried to seek medical help on my behalf. The escalation clause had gone to the max, and what tipped the scale toward us was our hand money amount and our realtor’s good name – the skin of our teeth. I reentered the restaurant, and in a mix of shock and joy said, “we got the house!” I will also remember my friend Marlene’s exuberant shock, “You got the house????”
That night, Dylan and I toasted cans of House Wine Brut Bubbles and stared at each other in disbelief with a whirl of feels. There were still many steps ahead, but what a moment!
About one month later, we signed a stack of papers, and it became official. The Hilltop House was ours, a reminder that sometimes, the only thing that makes sense is something greater than us, that the first step will be met by a woosh of support. (It also helps to have an incredible realtor – Catherine, I am forever grateful!)
I hope you’ll stay tuned as I share more from our home, how we make her our own, and how, as promised, we share her with others.