20 April 2015


Ok, when we moved from upstate New York to San Diego about 2 1/2 yrs ago, and then moved into our current home 2 years ago, we said we would never move again. (Or, we thought, we could possibly move again to somewhere local, but not for years to come -- at least not until our kids were done with high school). 

We have been pleased with our home here, and have enjoyed it's convenient distance from local schools. We've been mostly unpacked and settled into our house for quite some time now, but we had a few pesky boxes remaining in the master bedroom -- containing papers that needed to be sorted through, and things that we didn't quite have a good place to put away, so we just put off unpacking those last few things. So, over the last few months I got some cute shelves & cute containers, and I got everything unpacked and organized. I was so pleased with how nice our bedroom turned out. So, we finally got totally moved in!

Then about 3 weeks ago we went to visit our new friends, Matt & Michelle, who's son Jordan is in Courtland's class at school. They had recently moved into a new house a couple minutes down the street from us, and they invited us to come see their new place. We knew that they are both realtors, and they had mentioned that they had gotten a good deal on their house because it was one of the last few in that development to be sold, and there were only 4 other houses left in the development at that time. (We also knew that that housing development is the one that we had seen the models of about a year ago, and Michael and I had really liked one of the models and had jokingly said at that time that maybe we could move one more time if it were to that model). So we asked them to show us the different floorplans again while we were there (even though I did feel a little bad for wasting their time at that, since I knew we weren't really moving and couldn't really afford those places anyway, but they were still happy to show us). 

So we went and saw their house first. It was very nice, especially their yard which is extra large compared to most in our neighborhood. They explained that they got their house for a lower price than comparable properties in the neighborhood because you can see a power line from their back yard. But those big back yards sure are great for kids. We also stopped briefly at the home of their neighbor a couple houses down from them, who happened to have their same floorplan. Then we saw one of the other floorplans, which is nice, but it has a courtyard right in the center of the house so that layout doesn't work as well for us. 

Then they showed us one last one: which happened to be the house next door to theirs. (And it was the plan that we had previously joked was the one floorplan that could make us move again someday). And it had a good, large backyard with a view. And, yes, you can see the power line wire in the view from the backyard (but that also makes it more affordable than comparable properties in the neighborhood, and a few tall trees on one side of the yard could help with that). And it was already done inside the house -- all that needs to be finished is the back yard landscaping. And we like how the inside of the house is finished (there are only a few finishes that we would have chosen differently) -- dark hardwood floors, a pretty color of granite in the kitchen, nice tile in the bathrooms, and there is even already wiring so we can install ceiling fans in all the bedrooms and throughout the downstairs and in the covered patio. This plan is just right for us: a large backyard, a kitchen that overlooks a family room and a room for a large table (but there's also a separate dining room that we can use as a piano room), a large pantry, a large covered patio with a fireplace, and large sliding glass doors that open onto the patio. And it's in a good location, with a pool/lap pool/jacuzzi/and a small playground just a few houses away, and a trail that leads to the open space just a few houses down in the other direction. And good neighbors. 

Anyway, at that point it still wasn't even a real possibility. But we thought about it, then we spent several days running the numbers and talking to a few lenders, and at that point I still didn't see how it could be possible. (Maybe if we had been planning for a move, and had been penching pennies to carefully save for a move, but we hadn't planned this at all). We ended up being referred to a lender, though, who was able to offer us a Professionals Loan because Michael is a physician, and since the requirements of that loan were just a little different than the ones we had previously explored, we realized it just might be possible. So we put down a deposit on the house since we knew the deposit would be returned of for any reason the financial end of things didn't work for us to move forward with it (which is good that we put down the deposit for it when we did, because apparently the couple who had previously made a deposit on that house, but who had been unable to sell their current home, had come back a couple days later and said they wanted it again now. So our timing was good, because it was reserved for us instead). 

Normally with homes in new developments here you have to move and sell your current house before you can go forward with a purchase agreement on the new house. But apparently now that they are just trying to sell the last few houses in the development, they are willing to allow you to do it with a contingency to sell your house, as long as you agree to sell it very quickly (list it on the MLS within about 5 days, have it in escrow within 30 days, and close within 30 days). So we were glad it was possible to do with a contingency to sell our house. But we also knew that would take a LOT of work to get a house ready to sell that quickly. 

The other roadblock for us was the situation with our boys' school.  All 5 boys started at a brand new K-8 school this year. Prior to this school year there was a rather complicated lottery based upon different percentages of the student population coming from different local neighborhoods within different Mello Roos districts (Mello Roos is a special tax in Southern California that raises money specifically for local school districts). Anyway, lots of students tried to get in last year, and something like 800 of the kids did not get a spot at the school. We were very blessed that all of our boys got in. And we weren't willing to take them out of that school that they have all been doing so well at this year. 

So, when we started seriously considering moving to this new house, we found out that the school district had a policy that if a child is already a student at this school, and they move from their current Mello Roos district into a different Mello Roos district (even if both districts are within the school boundaries), the child would have to go back through the lottery process if they wanted to attend the school again next school year. We realized that it would be nearly impossible to go through the lottery a second time (this time with most of the spots at the school already filled) and have all 5 of our boys get in. And we weren't willing to just pull them all out of the school. So we were considering making the offer on the new house contingent on selling our current house, and contingent on our kids all getting spots at the school for next year in the upcoming lottery. But we knew that would make our offer weaker to have two contingencies. So we thought maybe it wouldn't work to go forward with it. 

But, just a couple of days after we found out about all that, we got a phone call from the school office saying they were excited to tell us the district had just called to say they had changed their policy. And the new rule was that any current student who moved, but stayed within the school boundaries, could continue to go to the school!  I think I was a little emotional -- yes, I cried on the phone when she told me that. :)  It just seemed that early on in this process, every couple of days we would hit a roadblock and decide that there must be no way to go forward with it, and then by the next day the problem would resolve itself and we'd think maybe it could all work out. Lots of highs and lows in those first few days. 

So, once we figured out that we could actually make it work financially (we'll be "house poor" for a while, but we can handle that), we made the deposit to reserve the house, then we went forward with negotiations on the price. We were able to get the builder to lower the price down a bit and throw in a couple more upgrades (blinds throughout the house, and glass enclosures on the showers in the bathrooms). So we were pleased with the outcome of that. 

It was late afternoon on Easter Sunday when we found out that the builder had accepted our offer on the new house. As soon as we found out our offer was accepted, we started working the next morning to get our current house ready to sell. Although we have always been DIY kind of people (and I'm generally too cheap to pay other people to do the kinds of things we are able to do ourselves), we knew that in order to have our house in the condition we desired in order to list it, it would be impossible to do all the work ourselves within just a few days. We hired out several of the big jobs, and even so Michael and I still spent every waking hour working hard, and my family helped us for several days, and we ended up calling in a group of guys from the ward to help move out the last of our boxes and stuff. 

So, in 5 1/2 days, the yard was trimmed, mowed, edged, a few flowers were planted, mulch was spread through all the planting areas, and the small back lawn area (where there is so much traffic from the kids and dogs that the grass had big patches of dirt all over) was dug up and new sod was laid, the walls in almost the entire interior of the house were painted, the ceiling in one room was painted, exterior doors & trim & baseboards were painted, windows were all washed, we hired someone to spend a few hours to deep clean the house after all the other work had been done, curtains were put up in the front room (where I had never hung curtains before because I hadn't found ones I loved), the fountains outside we're cleaned, the entire house was staged, and everything else in the whole house (other than the staged furniture and items) was packed up and moved over to my parents' garage so our house would look de-cluttered and spacious. Getting recommendations and doing all the scheduling, quotes, correspondence, and coordinating just to get the painters, cleaners, landscapers, piano movers, and window washer all set up, and spending time working with the stager to sage the house took up quite a bit of my time that week.  (And we also got several quotes about possibly buffing or refinishing the wood floors, but didn't end up doing that because you have to remove all the furniture and then it takes a few days to complete, so there wasn't enough time to get that finished before we were going to list the house. But I still made all the calls and met with people to get 4 different quotes for the floors, which took some time). 

Besides all that, I worked all day every day that week, and Michael joined me each day after work, and we worked hard into the night until we just couldn't stay awake any longer. We emptied every closet, cabinet, bookshelf, and drawer of all but a few staged decorations or other items. We sorted all our things into boxes of stuff that we knew we would need to use during the next couple of months, and another section of boxes of things we wouldn't need access to (so we could stack those boxes high in my parents' garage). 

Oh, and that week happened to be the boys' Spring Break from school (fortunately we had previously decided not to go out if town that week). The first few days the boys stayed at the house with me and they were quite a lot of help overall. They helped pack up some boxes of books and games, took things out to the car for me, helped me move some furniture, and they even disassembled the trampoline in the back yard for me. But it got to the point where I couldn't have the kids and the dogs in the house anymore -- I was too concerned that they might touch a window that had already been washed or a wall that had already been painted. So I'm really glad that Kolby is old enough to babysit now, because for the second half of the week I just left them at my parents' house and only saw them for a short time each night before going back over to work in the house some more.   And the last couple days my parents were over there helping us move things and clean too, so we were grateful that the boys were so good taking care of each other. I felt kind of bad that they had spent most of their spring break entertaining themselves instead of going and doing some fun activities together, but they told Michael it was the best spring break ever because they got to watch movies all day. :)

Anyway, getting the house ready to list within a few days was stressful at times -- there were a number of different times that I seriously thought it wasn't going to be possible to finish in time for our goal, but mostly it was just an incredibly busy week. I'd say the busiest and most tiring week of our lives (and that's saying a lot for a family that had 5 boys in 5 years). But amazingly, we started on Monday and we got it done enough for professional photographs on Friday at noon, and got it all completely done in time for the open house on Saturday morning!  And we couldn't have gotten it all done without my parents pitching in, a group of guys from church coming at the last minute to help us empty the garage on Friday night, and even our realtors/friends pitching in with some moving and cleaning help a couple different days. 

After all that work, I actually felt really confident that the house had turned out looking so nice. It felt like a model home, with everything staged and perfect. As we drove away from the house Saturday morning before the first open house, I said, "Maybe I'm being overconfident, but I think we'll have an offer within a week."  

Our realtor decided it would be a good idea to list it with a range for the list price.  We wanted to price it competitively enough that we would get what it was worth, but also that it would be able to sell quickly.  We ran the numbers, and we knew it could work out for our budget if we did end up selling the house at the lower end of the range for the asking price (but we were really hoping to get the higher end of that range).  So, the house had a lot of activity each day, and Michael and I would go back each night to make sure everything was perfect again -- watering the plants and sweeping the sidewalks. We had 3 neighbors who live in different parts of our neighborhood all separately comment that they thought our asking price was low (which you would rather here that than it's too high). So I was still hopeful after a couple days that it would sell really quickly. 

But after 4 or 5 days without an offer, I was starting to wonder why we hadn't had any offers yet -- since the house looked so good, it is in a really great location, and it was competitively priced. I had all these doubts, thinking about the unpleasant prospect of moving all our things back into the house if we couldn't sell it for enough. I just kept telling myself it hadn't been very long yet, and I had to be patient. And I kept praying that it would work out if this new house would be a good move for our family, and I prayed that if it would be better for our family to stay there that selling the house wouldn't work out and we would be able to accept that. 

Then on Saturday we found out from our realtor that we would be getting two different offers the next day!  (I just knew we would get an offer within a week!)  The offers were good (if not as high as we had hoped), and we countered that both parties would come back with their highest and best offer. The next day we got two offers back, and we chose one, and have felt really good about it since then. The buyers are a couple with two little boys, perfect for that house and that located just down the street from the elementary school. (And they close on the sale of their house in a couple weeks, but we were able to get them to make their purchase of our house not be contingent on the sale of their house, which just makes one less thing for us to be nervous about). 

Since then, we've spent time every day filling out forms, signing and scanning and emailing forms, and docu-signing forms online.  Forms, forms, forms. Forms for one escrow company, for the other escrow company, for the builder, for the buyers, and for the lender. We've bought and sold houses before, so we know the drill. But we've never bought and sold houses at the same time before, so it's definitely more forms to keep straight with two escrow companies at the same time.  But so far, so good. 

We close on our current home on May 20th, and then close on our new home on the 22nd. And we are so excited to move in and get all settled again. We can really see ourselves in this home for the long term. We love to go over and walk through the new house, and we have enjoyed getting to know some of our new neighbors already. It already feels like home. 

Our house after it was all ready to sell:

And here's the new place:

A few of the boys went with me on a little walk after church today. We walked up a short path that goes up a little hill behind our future house, and saw this view of the whole canyon behind the house. Can't wait to explore all those trails!

1 comment:

Mindy said...

Oh my gosh I am so excited for you guys! The new house looks beautiful. I can't wait to see more pictures of the inside of it! =)