The first house Mr. Nobody and I bought together was the 22nd we had toured. We needed a central location and lots of room for kids visiting every other weekend, for not too much money and we found it. It had real plaster walls, 2 fireplaces, four bedrooms, 3 and a half baths. Three sets of steps, and in a very noisy location, adjacent to two major intersections. We lived there for nine years.
We bought some land and had a house designed that gave me a library, a fireplace that connected the great room to the master bedroom, gave Mr. Nobody a media center, blah blah blah. Never built it.
Instead, we bought this house in development hell. It wasn’t hell then, of course. For the first three or four years, it was quite pleasant. We downsized quite a bit, went for a main floor open plan contemporary that allows as much light as Michigan will give us, and have been here for 14 years.
Sometime in 2008 or 2009, having read Endgame and seen Katrina, and flirted with the survivalists for about five minutes, I started lobbying to buy a country place. A place to put the picket pin, a place to start a new life with a much lower impact….that was the dream. We looked in both Michigan and Kentucky, quickly focused on Kentucky, but could not find property that had a decent house on it. There were lots of too big houses. There were lots of too small houses. There were lots of houses that needed massive injections of money and time. So, we bought raw land.
Okay, we all know what happened with that. So, we looked around Kentucky again for an existing house with some land again, figuring that enough time had passed and we’d find what we wanted. But no.
So, the search in Michigan. That lasted six weeks and caused some tense times between Mr. Nobody and I. We ended up with a couple of excel worksheets that have actually helped. The one I like the best is very simple. It has one column that is labeled “Musts”, and one column that is labeled “Pluses”. The pluses are what are negotiable.
Our musts are things like ranch style, open plan, 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 10 acres, garage, fireplace and a basement or storm shelter of some kind and in our price range. Pluses would be outbuildings, more acreage, water on the property, etc.
This is what we carried with us to the third state, Missouri, where a sister lives and has a more moderate (so far, at least) winter. A plus is that the state has no gas or oil or shale. But drought is a concern, as well as more extreme storms. There is no safe place. I feel a bit like Dorothy, clicking my heels together, to try to get it through my thick head…no place is safe anymore.
We’ve looked at six properties thus far. Which means that we’ve met six realtors. Two of the six we liked. Two didn’t make much of an impression. And two we instantly disliked. That was unfortunate, because the sixth property we looked at, we liked a lot. So much so, that we started considering an offer. But since neither of us had had a good vibe from the listing agent, we decided to ask one of the others we did like to represent us. So we scheduled a second trip to see the house again, with our agent and other sets of eyes. The listing agent took immediate offense at this, in front of everybody.
The agent and I subsequently had a conversation in which I told her we didn’t trust her and wanted someone who would represent our interests. I told her this was routine in Michigan. She seemed to accept that I wasn’t going to budge and we seemed to move on.
This house was a unique property, and I think I can say that with some degree of confidence, having looked at real estate in Michigan and Kentucky before coming to Missouri. It represented a financial stretch for us, had been sitting on the market for months and months, the seller had cut the price twice, but we got pre-approved, presented a solid offer and they had 48 hours to respond.
An hour before our offer was to expire, a second offer came in.
We did not get the house.
Of course, we had asked the agent if there were any other interested parties, and what we heard back was, yes, two, both of which had to sell their places before they could buy this house. Our offer wasn’t contingent on anything other than inspections and that sort of thing.
Twenty four hours later, we have five more prospects to examine. The journey continues.