Saturday, May 03, 2008


I was up long before dawn this morning, unable to sleep even though I've been tired for days. When the light of day finally crept in, I went outside in the drizzle to take this photo of my house.

It doesn't seem so right now, but I always try to be appreciative. I do relish the park setting of my current house, even while I'm in the process of trying to move to the walkable neighborhood near downtown. But my house is tiny, and all of my life I've wanted a large house.

My house is ranch-style (one story), built in 1962. I don't like the architecture of that era. But I love Victorian houses, with wood floors, high ceilings (some even with decorative tin), decorative molding, transoms, and huge windows.

Even more importantly to me, I desire an urban neighborhood where people actually walk and bike. I despise the car culture.

I love this photo, taken in the neighborhood I wish to move to, which strikingly displays the way I want to live.

I will be the first to admit that this is a stunning setting in which to live, and I am blessed. But sometimes when I leave this property in my car, I feel close to tears as I unwillingly enter the steady, never ceasing flow of traffic. The few times I've set out on foot or bike to run an errand from this house, I've nearly been mowed down by drivers of large vehicles who are annoyed that I can't get with the program. I don't try anymore; it's truly not safe.

The mere sight of my photos from last winter sadden me. It was a lonely, depressing time. My house is isolated, especially when my only neighbors take off for Florida for 7 months each year. A couple of the snowfalls this year were so major that everything was shut down. There was nobody around to help me shovel out; I was on my own.

It was at the end of this miserable winter that I had my first showing of this house with my realtor:

This is a side/rear view of what I had started referring to as the "Venerable Victorian." It is way under priced for the gentrified neighborhood, which is why I asked to see it. The interior of this house had been cheaply renovated; therefore, the house was rejected by the typical buyers of large houses on this coveted street. The property is angled in such a way that a garage can't be built, either- a turn-off to many buyers who insist on being able to "house" their cars, even in an urban setting. The other houses for sale in the highly sought-after urban neighborhood are way out of my price range.

I can't imagine ever feeling isolated here. It is across the street from an upscale retirement village, a wonderful grocery store, drug store, video store, deli- and just behind the house, a gorgeous urban park with a lake:
Finally I have reached the point in my life where I know what it means to be true to myself. I don't need the approval of others- if someone else prefers living in the suburbs, that's fine for that person- not for me. I admit that I like the hustle and bustle, the bright lights, the constant activity. And I don't have to apologize for preferring that. My dream is to live in a large Victorian in a prime urban location.
To that end, I came up with a grand scheme to win the Venerable Victorian. It's a scary time in my life- I have recently had thousands of dollars of extra expenses related to my son, and the organization I have worked for since college is on the verge of shutting down. Facing probable unemployment, I thought this might actually be the ideal time to move, since my current mortgage payments are very high.
Here was my plan: I'd take out a HELOC loan against the equity on my current house, and I'd take an early distribution on my IRA even though I'd pay hefty taxes and penalties. I had it planned out to the last dime. I'd make a cash offer on the Victorian- a low offer, reflecting today's poor market. I'd be living in the house of my dreams, mortgage-free! As soon as my HELOC loan was approved and signed, I made my first offer.
I SAID that I knew this was a long shot. I SAID that I was totally OK with the thought of not getting the house.
That's what I SAID.
In reality, when my realtor called to tell me that the seller had accepted someone else's offer, my heart stopped.


Big Dave T said...

Durn. When I saw the title of your post here and read the first paragraph, I thought it was going to be one of those "buyer's remorse" type of laments. But missing out on that home is worse in my book. Sounds like that's where you and the child belonged, in the city with people.

simply me said...

Oh Betty as I read I thought you'd be hearing any minute now that you'd gotten it. I do understand your plight. I live near a very lovely town called Honesdale PA (my home in PA) and they have just the most beautiful vitorians I've ever seen. Everything is within walking distance and it has the most darling old Library building.
I would love to owe one of them and be able to walk almost anywhere, well except for malls, target and that kind of stuff.
Keep looking - don't give up.

Nancy said...

Being one who has flipped houses over the past 15 years, I have learned the one you "missed" was because the one you actually get it waaaaay better =)

Keep looking, your dream house is waiting for you, just around the corner.

Loving Annie said...

Ohhhhh NO, Betty, Oh no. Oh, that just doesn't seem right. You were so looking forward to this one - augggggghh.

Betty said...

Dear Big Dave,

Oh, I WISH this could be a buyer's remorse type of lament!!!!! I probably shouldn't do this, but I am checking the seller's realtor's website every day to see if something goes wrong with the contract and the house becomes available again. I am so in shock. That was my house!


Betty said...

Dear Simply Me,

I won't give up on the one that got away! I'm still hoping to get that one, because it was rare in its affordability. I've been looking nonstop for 7 years.

Honesdale sounds like a small town version of what I'm seeking. The small town Victorians are probably lower priced than the big city ones that I'm after. Maybe you can get one!!!


Betty said...

Dear Nancy,

Thank you for your optimism. The inventory of houses where I'm looking is quite limited, and generally out of my price range, but you never know....


Betty said...

Dear Annie,

I agree with you. It just doesn't seem right. For that reason, I have not given up hope of getting this house. Maybe the buyers will back out after the inspection. That's what happened to me when I almost moved 2 years ago- the buyer of my house backed out, for no specific reason, after the inspection. In that case, I suspect it was a blessing because the house I wanted to buy then was much more expensive and not as suitable as the one I want now.

Thanks for understanding.


Lynilu said...

Aw, shoot. If you can, remember that if it happens like this it wasn't meant to be. If you can, remember that the "right" one will come along. If you can, remember that everything will come in its own time, not ours.

I'm really sorry that it didn't work out, but I firmly believe that you will have your own house. Hugs, dear girl. :)

surjit said...

Betty, I endorse Lynilu's views:
'..remember that everything will come in its own time, not ours...'
'They also serve who stand and wait."
God bless.

Betty said...

Dear Lynilu,

This one seemed so perfect. I had vividly envisioned walking across the street for fresh organic produce each day. And while the lack of garage was a negative for most people, it was a positive for me- I don't like having a garage hovering over the backyard. (These houses have alleys behind them, and the garages are behind the houses.)

Thank you for your belief that the right one will appear.


Betty said...

Dear Surjit,

I am willing to "stand and wait." That seems a lot better than just being disappointed.


Kacey said...

Dear Betty, I read this post with great trepidation --- the further I went the worse it got. I have a daughter, who is older than you and who raised three boys alone when her marriage went south. She needed so much mental support and has done a magnificent job with the boys, but luckily we were available when she was about to make a mistake. I find many flaws in your thinking about the house. The most important were taking on such a huge house by yourself. Who is going to help with the endless repairs of an older home? If you use your IRA to get the house, what are you going to do for retirement? If you lose your job --- how are you going to pay for the new place? How do you know that the neighbors in the new place will be available to you for help or comfort? YOu said the neighbors were old there, too ---- will they like "the child" making noise. That place is huge --- do you know how much it costs to heat it? How can you keep it up all by yourself? Where and when will you get enough furniture to fill up the place? Okay---enough!
Now, I believe that you were saved by the other buyer from making a huge mistake. I know what you wanted, but was it going to be good for you? I truly believe that God has a plan for each of us and He just hasn't revealed to you what He has in mind for you, yet.
Psalm 48:10 says, "Be still and know that I am God."
Then in Romans 8:26&27 "The Holy Spirit prays within us with inaudible, inexpressible sighs. This takes place below the level of our awareness, but the Father knows the mind of the Holy Spirit."
See, I believe that God has something in mind for you and He just stopped you from making a big mistake. When the real deal comes along, you will be so happy that you waited patiently.

Betty said...

Dear Kacey,

You definitely picked up on one big factor: this whole thing would be a lot easier if my mother were alive. I have tried to figure out what she'd say. I do know she'd love the urban neighborhood- New York City was her idea of heaven. I also know that I never made a flawed decision when she was alive.

I am accustomed to hiring handymen to do things around the house which I can't do myself. It's expensive, but I've never been married and I became a homeowner at a very early age. I'm used to it.

As for retirement, I'd still have a pension, a Roth IRA, a 403b and a 401k (and, for what it's worth, Social Security!). The money I'd tap into now is, truthfully, money I'm pretty sure I won't need in retirement. (The one thing they can't take from you for medical bills is your house! If I keep the money in IRA, it's vulnerable.)

As far as losing my job- I'd be in worse trouble staying where I am, where I have a $1200/month mortgage. In the urban house I'd have no mortgage- just taxes, insurance and utilities, which I also have in the current house. I don't like heat- I keep my house set at 58 degrees all winter, so the heating bills would't be as high as normal for a large house.

You're right about the neighbors in the new place most likely not being available for comfort if I lose my job, because they won't know me. The population there is diverse, not all elderly like here. My neighbor here, now back from Florida, is an extreme pest. Yesterday he came over 4 times, talking endlessly each time, and called on the phone once. His wife told me he's manic. I think I'd rather languish unknown and anonymous, because with me, a little bit of socializing goes a long way.

Regarding furniture, I love the minimalist look.

I like psalm 48:10. I think what went wrong is that I became conflicted, thinking I should move to another city. I was here only because of my job! There are no job openings anywhere in the country for my job right now, but I was definitely conflicted about committing to a new house here when I thought maybe I should be ready to leave town. I think my conflict caused me to lose the house.

Amazingly, now that the house is in contract with other people, my conflict is gone. (Buyer's remorse in reverse???) I now see that the house was perfect for me, and if I got a job out of town, I could sell it.

Thanks for caring enough to bring up all these thoughtful questions.


Priyamvada_K said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Priyamvada_K said...

Dear Betty,
I was so optimistic as I read along, and felt disappointed in the end. Don't know what to say to you.

I have had a couple of instances where I bid on a house and lost the bid. The first time it was with a builder's agent who sounded so promising - I had checked the calendars for the most auspicious time, made a lowball bid, and she kept encouraging me. She didn't want me to go away. Pursued me for days. But then her manager rejected everything.

Then there was another small house which I thought was perfect for us. Was in the market 2 days, and there were 2 offers before mine already....One got accepted even as I prepared to make an offer.

It is hard every time. But you'll get your dream house soon. As Kacey said, perhaps God has another plan. Its hard to be consoled by this sentiment...but...I will leave you with a Garth Brooks song, which talks about an old lost sweetheart:\

(not sure how to correctly post a link here - things keep getting erased - cut-paste everything before the backslash and then everything after the backslash).

Take care,

Patti said...

Oh Betty, maybe the other deal will fall through. Fingers crossed. My hearts stopped when I read your last line.
I feel the exact same way you did. I grew up in an urban victorian home and would give my eyeteeth to have that house.

Betty said...

Dear Priya,

Thank you for the Garth Brooks link. I am nearly inconsolable, but this did help.

The reason this is so difficult is because I'm trying to buy in a neighborhood that is out of my price range. This house was an anomaly.

I am sorry to hear that you too have had more than your share of house buying disappointments. May the house for you appear soon.


Betty said...

Dear Patti,

Well, you definitely know what I'm talking about if you grew up in the very type of house I covet.

And yes, I am hoping beyond all hope that the current contract falls through- although of course if the other people are really meant to have it, then I give up.

It's still listed as "pending" so nobody has yet signed on the dotted line!


Laurie said...

I'm so glad you're gonna go even
greener! I so do wish we had
places like that around here. There
are these apartments that are right
next door to the grocery where I
shop. I've expressed a desire to
move there. They also are above
some restaurants which is another
plus in my book.


Betty said...

Dear Laurie,

I totally understand why you want to move to those apartments. I've lived in a lot of different places in my life, and I was happiest in the settings where it was possible to walk to restaurants and stores.

May we both end up in such locations.


Anonymous said...