Continuing our Trajectory Towards Transformation…
We broke all the rules of relocation, starting with the most basic of them all:
Never relocate to an unfamiliar region/state/city.
The number one nightmare many people report is moving somewhere on a whim without spending much time there first, only to discover within a season or two, they hate the place. At this point, we had spent approximately 2 days total in Cañon City.
If you do move somewhere new, rent before you buy.
We considered this but between the timing and the expense, we rejected it. To truly test the difficult season — winter — we would have to rent for a year at a minimum. Not only were rental availabilities rare, but the cost would have impacted our purchasing power.
And above all:
Never, ever fall in love with a particular house, especially before actually seeing it…
We knew this one from personal experience. Our prior house had originally been a second choice. We’d seen a wonderful house in the fall there in Cañon City, complete with friendly neighbors — but that one was gone before we were anywhere near ready. Turns out Cañon City had a brisk house market.
Still, I had to line up possibilities so I kept up my late night online searching. And that’s when it happened: I saw the listing for 1008 Macon Avenue. Well within our price range, plenty of space, excellent location within walking distance of the historic downtown district…
It was late that night, so at first, I thought to simply mark that one and wait till the morning before showing it to Sara. Still, there was just something about the house…
I walked into the bedroom where she was reading in the recliner.
“I know we’re not supposed to fall in love with a house, but…I have to show you this one.”
Sara looked up from her book as I handed her the open laptop. She adjusted the angle and squinted a bit to get a good look — and then gasped and looked up at me. We were goners already — we both loved the house. Or at least, the look of the house.
Of course, this meant breaking all our own rules for about buying our new home:
- We said we wanted a smaller house — this house has 5 bedrooms, 3 baths.
- We said no stairs — it’s a 2-story house.
- We said no ongoing major maintenance or repair needs (why sell a fixer-upper to buy a fixer-upper?) — but it’s 99 years old! It’s nothing but ongoing maintenance/repair needs held together by hope & love.
We had to head off to Cañon City to see if this really was the one, knowing we needed to find something soon in any case. We closed the sale of our Austin home on Tuesday, then flew to Denver on Thursday, picked up a rental car, and drove down to Cañon City — in lightly drifting snow. It was, after all, the beginning of February.
We had hoped to meet with our realtor, Sherri (recommended by a Facebook friend in Penrose, Jill), and possibly even look at The House when we arrived, but the snow and our later arrival meant we would have to wait till the next day. Upon our arrival, we only managed to drive slowly down Macon Avenue and look longingly at the house. It looked just as we’d seen it online, but now literally “as large as life.”
People were still living in the house, so we had to wait till noon the next day before we could get a look inside. We also had some other listings to check as back-up just in case this one did not pass muster for whatever reason. Once again though, it felt more like we were doing “due diligence” rather than really searching for other possibilities. As we went to each new address Friday morning, Sherri would watch us, Sara in particular, then smile, shake her head and say, “I don’t know — I’m not seeing that Macon Avenue look.”
One reason to never fall in love with a particular house is, of course, that love can easily cause you to downplay or overlook flaws, both minor and major, in favor of an admitted infatuation. Linda, the seller, seemed genuinely pleased by our delight in her old house, not to mention our willingness to look right past several potential problems. Many rooms had no door and many doors did not close and latch. We counted one and a half closets in the entire house. Two bathrooms offered pocket showers while the master bathroom (contiguous with the master bedroom but without a door to separate the spaces) had a lovely claw-foot tub with no shower attachment — meaning we would rarely use it.
Once we went upstairs, our enchantment deepened, between the funky stairway with its “mezzanine” platform, the sloping ceilings in every room, and the wonderfully whimsical paint jobs. In our delight and excitement, we basically forgot every question we should ask and neglected to test all the little things (flush the toilets, open windows) a prudent buyer should.
What can I say? We were in love.
We had to wait till Sunday to get a return visit and look at it again. Linda, the seller, acknowledged a broken floor joist in explaining some of the “roller coaster” feel to the floors, and offered to have that repaired. I think she was just ecstatic we weren’t freaked out over the unfinished kitchen/dining room floor, the funky backyard with garage-turned-shed, or the general condition (aged, worn, but loved).
We talked it over with Sherri, drew up a reasonable bid and sent it over with our fingers crossed.
Of course we were on pins & needles as we drove back to Denver on Monday for a flight back to Austin. When I called Sherri as we started the 2-hour drive, she reported Linda’s agent had received the bid and presented it to Linda for consideration, but we had no response just yet. She indicated we might not hear back till we had gotten back to Austin.
Meanwhile, we fretted. Had our bid (slightly lower than asking price) caused her to hesitate? Was there someone else who expressed interest at the last minute? Had she changed her mind about selling?
10 minutes before we boarded the plane, Sherri called to congratulate us — they accepted the bid! Breathing deep sighs of relief, we climbed aboard and enjoyed a relaxing nonstop flight back to Austin, our near-future-former-hometown.
To be continued…