Wednesday, June 15, 2011

House Hunting

Searching for the perfect house is a huge project that takes a lot of time.  Over the past three years I have looked at close to a thousand different online house listings and walked through well over forty homes that I was extremely interested in buying.  My husband and I had decided to buy a home, then reconsidered that idea multiple times.  This time, we are ready.  We have no debt, we have three months expenses in savings and we have money for a down payment.

However, even with all these things in place, we are still looking at the low end of price range for our state.  Because of the price range we are looking at, we find ourselves pitted up against investors.  They want to buy the house cheap, fix it up and resell it for full market value.  My husband and I want to buy it cheap, fix it up and live in it.  Unfortunately, in the eyes of the seller, that doesn't make any difference.  Most of these properties are bank-owned, HUD homes, or short sales.  In the case of these distressed properties, money and the ability to produce it is the only thing that matters.  We have our pre-qualification letter from our chosen lender, but many investors are fronting cash.

Even with all of the drama and stress involved in finding a house to call home, I still enjoy the process immensely.  I have the opportunity to step into some bizarre homes and the bizarre people and stories involved.

With the first house my husband and I purchased in our second year of marriage, we bought it from a couple who needed to move south to warmer weather for the health of their young daughter.  It was an honor to alleviate them of the stress of selling a home when they already had another mortgage to pay.  Our second home was purchased in our forth year of marriage and we purchased it from my eldest sister and her husband her were looking down the difficult path of bankruptcy.  Again, it was nice to help them out while obtaining a nice home in a nice neighborhood.

Both homes we had to sell because we did not have our feet underneath us financially.  Now that we are financially fit, I have been emotionally touched by the stories behind the homes I have been walking through.  Most of these stories are sad, and I drive away, shaking my head in dismay, knowing that someone struggled in that home, struggled and lost.  Some homes were abandoned when the people felt it was easier to walk away than to try and sell the home.  Some homes have renters still occupying the residence, still paying rent to the landlords who have stopped paying the bank the mortgage.

One such home made me smile.  There wasn't anything about the home that stood out.  It was much the same as the others; carpet, paint, sheet rock repairs, landscaping etc.  But this home was a rental and the renters were home when we arrived.  My realtor spoke with the elderly Hispanic lady with some quick Spanish and she let us in.

The house was filled with a wonderful aroma of homestyle Mexican cooking.  I love Mexican food and I could almost taste the food in the air.  Three young boys sat watching the television until we stepped in.  The grandmother told them we were here to look at the house.  At least that is what I could pick up from my limited understanding of Spanish.  They got up and began pointing to anything and everything around the house.

"Look this! Look this!" the leader of the little boys would say, pointing to a pair of shoes on the floor. "Those my shoes!"  The excitement on his face was heart melting. "Look this! Look this!" he said as I walked into the bathroom. "This toolit! Where you go pee!" I smiled and acknowledge his observation.  "Look this! Look this! This sink, where wash hands!"  Everything in the house had been named and described.

All the while, grandma continued cooking in the kitchen, preparing dinner for her son and daughter-in-law who were hard at work to supply the money to pay rent on the home that would soon be sold out from underneath them because their landlord no longer made mortgage payments.

I will never forget those darling little boys, excited to show me everything.  Not understanding that they were close to loosing this home they were so fond of.  And the grandma, diligently doing her part to keep the house a home for the precious short time that remained for them.  I am not sure that I will ever know the entirety of their story.  Perhaps they are already prepared to leave.  Perhaps they have another rental property lined up for them to relocate to.  Or perhaps they don't have any place to go and are extremely stressed with the impending eviction.

My prayers go out to them.  I hope they are prepared, for preparation keeps fear at bay.  Regardless of their future accommodations, they will go through trying times and I know those little boys and their endless excitement will see their family through.  The joy of a child knows no bounds.  May we all learn from their example.

Joy lies in the fight, in the attempt, in the suffering involved, not in the victory itself." -Mahatma Ghandi


1 comment:

  1. Those boys sound so amazing. This post really touched me.

    I LOVE the line, "I hope they are prepared, for preparation keeps fear at bay."