Monday, March 1, 2010

A Housing Miracle

Ok, I know I've been M.I.A yet again. But if you even knew the story I'm about to tell you, you'd forgive me. Let me just say that yet again God provided in the most unexpected, miraculous, and VERY last minute way possible. So sit back, grab a cup of coffee (ok, maybe a full meal---it's gonna be a long one), and get caught up on our housing miracle................

Last weekend was Bug's first birthday (I'll put pics up of the fun once I get them from one of my besties....hint, hint, N!). :-) In the craziness of getting ready for that, I got kicked out of my house THREE times for a showing the day before the big party. Needness to say, that weekend we were in contract negotiations on the sale of our house that had only been on the market for 2 1/2 weeks. CRAZY! So yeah---house is currently "under contract". My realtors already did a lot of stalking on the buyer, so it looks like it's a pretty solid deal. Inspection is tomorrow, due diligence period is over next Monday, and we close on the 19th--with the weekend to move out. That, in itself, is a crazy miracle, especially when there's like 10 other houses for sale in my neighborhood priced the same or lower than ours. So these next couple weeks are going to be CRAZY trying to get out of here.

On to our other housing miracle....

We'd been looking at this this one community (well call it Dreamland). I was IN LOVE with dreamland the second I drove through it. We loved the houses, the hilly landscape, the amenities with kid stuff (tennis, pool, playground, kiddie pool with mushroom), GREAT schools (I know because I taught in one of them). We heard amazing things about this neighborhood from the people who lived there--lots of young families and community events. This was our dreamland. The thing is, the old builder (a regional builder who did good work in a lot of communities in this area) foreclosed, so this brand new builder was finishing some lots. We hadn't thought about building really because I wanted to have the security of being in an already-established neighborhood--didn't want to run the risk of builder short-sale and now there's all these empty streets with 2 houses. Well, in Dreamland---it WAS an established community--just a couple years old--and it had only a few lots to finish. PERFECTION! The only thing was this new builder didn't have his act together quite yet because he thought he'd get more time before people wanted to build with him. He figured he could get some of his pricing together (taking quotes from various places) while building his first inventory houses. Well, that didn't turn out that way--he got more action than he thought. Totally understandable situation, but it made for a lot of frustration when they didn't have their pricing on lighting, carpet upgrade, etc. Makes it very hard to figure out the final price of what things will be. Regardless, they were working on getting that info to us and we were going to have a 5 bedroom house on a basement for less than what one of the formerly built foreclosure houses were on a slab. It would've been a good deal. Unfortunately, it was creeping up beyond the top of our price point and we weren't getting very many upgrades. Still, we loved this house and this neighborhood. The only things (other than the price--but that wasn't going to change much) I would've wanted to change about this house was that I didn't want a corner lot and I didn't want a 2-story living room again. The corner lot was the only basement lot they had that was relatively flat and of good size. It was better than the vast majority of the other basement houses we'd seen. Adding a lot to the 2-story living room (just makes it more usable space for us) was going to be another 12K from this builder---and we were WAY out of our pricepoint. But we were a little love drunk, were still getting a relatively good price, and were going to stay with our first love (especially since I could name EVERY single house for sale in our area--literally).

To add a little stress to the mix, a friend of mine (cleopatra) told me that her neighborhood was promoting free basements. At first, I didn't pay much thought to this because we were in the midst of b-day party/selling house stress, AND I thought that even a slab house in her neighborhood was out of my price range. Well, Thursday night, I decided to look up that neighborhood---just in case things didn't work out in Dreamland and got too expensive. Sure enough, their lowest slab price started at just below our highest price point, but they were extending the free basement promo until that weekend (ended last night). Not to mention, they were throwing in free granite in the kitchen and all stainless steel appliances (including a fridge).Oh my gosh!!! I could get into this neighborhood. So Bug and I rush down there, see the houses, check out the lots, etc. I LOVED the houses and the floorplans, mostly because they didn't have any 2-story family rooms, which allowed for bigger bedrooms, etc. Her community also had some great things in the work. It was going to connect to the greenway (a HUGE  paved biking, walking, whatever trail that runs from our city to the one below it---they're in the process of connecting the areas). Not only that, her neighborhood was going to be a 5 minute drive from the biggest park they're building (in phases)---85 acres of skatepark, tennis, soccer & football fields, bball, a track, a dog park, walking trails, etc. WOW---that would be a great perk too. The lots in this neighborhood were also nice and flat, and wooded (yay for no corner lot), so they'd be private. The only things I didn't like was the fact that this neighborhood still had the vast majority of it yet to be built. It was started by the same foreclosure builder as Dreamland, but was bought out by a wealthy national builder very recently. I knew the community would be finished, but there would be years of construction until then...and I didn't love that. Also, the school that community fed into wasn't as good as the other one (mind you, none of the schools in our area are bad). The other thing was, this community had double the HOAs as Dreamland, but didn't have nearly the same amenities (only a pool and playground--no tennis or kiddie pool). The reasoning for that was because the big park would be built in a year or so and it would be close by. We were torn---I was cheating on my first love, Dreamland.

SO Saturday, I asked other friends of ours to come and see BOTH places to help us weigh the pros and cons. After seeing everything, they didn't know what to do either. Both places would've been great investments regardless and would've been around the same pricepoint. I knew I could probably get more upgrades from the national builder since the other guy's pockets weren't as deep--being new and all. I was just wishing we could take the builder in Cleopatra's neighborhood and some of her perks and put them in the other established neighborhood with the better schools. In the end, we decided that we needed to go for Dreamland and base our decision more on education than upgrades and parks---we could still drive to that future park and visit Cleopatra. So we started negotiating with dreamland. The problem was, they weren't budging as much as we wanted and they weren't offering too much in upgrades. Also, any additional upgrades we wanted, we were having to put nearly 50% down on and they were only paying 2% closing costs IF we used their lender. Ugh---this was not as fun as we thought and I was STRESSED. Prices were getting higher and higher, and we were cutting out a TON of our upgrades. Basically, the only thing the builder would've covered was a structural upgrade (turning study to 5th bedroom and changing powder room to full bath) and hardwood flooring in SOME of the areas downstairs. BUMMER!

Unfortunately, I still felt the "free basement" time crunch of the national builder and knew I had to make a decision by Sunday night. I didn't want us not to come to a reasonable situation in Dreamland and wait too long to pass up the free basement in Cleopatra's neighborhood---then I would've ended my top choices (and really, the ONLY ones I was interested in).

So, in tears, I start trying to search again. This time, we upped our search to a higher pricerange to see if they'd come down to what we would've been paying (still higher than what we wanted) at Dreamland. I wasn't seeing much. I was so stressed than Darling Dearest made a bubble bath for me and forced me away from the computer--he insisted on a mental break.

Come Sunday (yesterday morning), we decided we had to skip church to get things all figured out by that night. We had 6 houses to look at (most of which were out of our pricerange in hopes that if they looked ok and we liked them, they may come down). So Bug, Hubby, and I decided to do a drive by on these houses to figure out if we wanted to have the realtors show us them. Four out of siz had crazy yards--complete drop offs in the back or on crazy hills in the front. One had a decent yard, but was in a community that was a little older and didn't have any kid ammenities. There was only ONE from this list that was actually in one of my former searches--it was in our original budget. I even saved it. I don't know why I didn't look at it before when I looked at all the others, but I didn't. Turns out, this house was in a beautiful neighborhood. Pretty hills, nice lots, GREAT ammenities (kiddie stuff, tennis, pool, AND bball). I was loving it. As we drove around more, we saw some empty lots...and wouldn't you know, national builder (same from Cleopatra's neighborhood) with all the same promotions (basement, SS appliances, granite) was in that neighborhood.

So yesterday was crazy! We got a friend to watch Bug, Hubby and I did some investigating. The floorplan that we liked in this neighborhood (totally different floorplans here than in Cleo's place) was the SAME floorplan as in Dreamland, with a free basement...and was 40K less!!!! Not only that, but it was in the process of being grated and was already scheduled for a BASEMENT, on a nice, flat lot on a cul-de-sac with WOODS in the back. No corner lot here! And what's that you say?? We can add a loft for just over 2K, not 12K?? AND you can turn the study into a 5th bedroom and powder room into a full bath??? Oh, and out of SEVEN different elevation choices (what the outside of the house looks like), they had already planned for it to be elevation G---the same one Darling Dearest and I wanted?? Let me just say that if we had found this house later, they would've already ordered materials and we wouldn't have been able to customize some things (particularly the structural changes we wanted to make) IF we wanted this lot. This was honestly a gift from God---at the last possible second. We had the best of both houses. Private, wooded lot, the builder, the great promotions, and no 2-story living room like Cleopatra's (although it'll be slightly more square footage than the house we would've had in her neighborhood with the loft). BUT, we got the established and slightly hilly neighborhood, the kiddie amenities PLUS tennis and bball, the cheap HOA (less than 1/2 of cleo's), the floorplan but WITH the loft of Dreamland. Not to mention, this community will also be connected to the greenway like Cleopatra's. Just when I thought things couldn't get better, this particular house was supposed to be an inventory house, so they already planned some upgrades specific for this one that we wouldn't have to pay for. In the end, they threw in all structural upgrades (loft, 5th bedroom, added full bath, free basement), and cosmetic upgrades (SS appliances, granite, canned lights, wrought iron bannister, and more)--some of which we hadn't even planned for. Oh, did I forget to say they gave us 10.5K in whatever other upgrades we wanted and that if we wanted more than that, we'd usually have to put a 50% deposit, but our realtor got it down to 20% (which would actually end up going toward our down payment). They agreed to 3% closing cost and took 2.5K less in earnest money as well. We had their realtor and our realtor come to our house last night just so we could get the promotions that ended yesterday. Their realtor had been working for that builder for 4 years and knew that they wouldn't give it to us if we did it in the morning.

Honestly, I'm on cloud 9 right now. God had a plan for us and people around us to help us out. He had it all worked out for the last possible second. Isn't that how he always works??? We ended up getting a better house (the house I would've built if I could've afforded the loft in dreamland), with WAY more upgrades, for what would've ended up to be over 40K less. Oh, and they've broken land on a brand new elementary school across the street that will be done by the time Bug's there. It's truly a miracle. We went out Sunday morning with no hopes of finding anything...much less finding the perfect scenario at MUCH less than we had planned to pay. And we got in JUST before the ordering/construction so if we go to our design appointment this week (which we will), we'll get to pick out everything--including the brick. We're scheduled to close in June, but an actual date will be determined once the house is in drywall. Oh, and did I mention that a 4 month lease (which is what we'll end up getting to take us into mid-July) was actually cheaper than a 5 or 6 month lease (which we would've needed if we were building with this same builder in Cleopatra's neighborhood since we would've been picking a new lot and nothing was in the works)?? Yes, it could go later, but we do have an option of doing month to month if that happens.

Our week at a glance looks like this:
Today--walk the lot with the builder--we can walk if we want to---but probably won't
Tomorrow--inspection on OUR house, so Bug and I have to be out of here for 2-3 hours
Sometime between now and Friday--go to the design center to pick out stuff for our house, and get loan application done (we have 5 days to complete from yesterday's contract date). Maybe, we'll be able to do the design center tomorrow while our house is being inspected.

Oh, did I forget that we have to pack up and move in the next few weeks too??

This has been chaotic, but it's been such a blessing to see God's hand throughout. "The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results." James 5:16b Thank you, God for all You've done for us--for always providing MUCH more than we could ask or imagine and for putting the right people and situations in line and the right time. "He makes all things beautiful in HIS time."


Esther said...

So, I love you! And I love reading your blogs! I am so happy that everything is working out. God is so faithful! I will continue praying for everything that needs to be done. Love ya girl!

Mindy said...

Woah, God is soo good! It's encouraging to see how He helped pull you in the right direction in the KNICK of time! I'll be excited to hear about how He continues to lead you the rest of the way. Home-ownership is exciting, but man, a LOT of work (and having a baby-turned-one-year-old doesn't make it any easier!! :) Way to go, momma!