I am a real estate voyeur. I look at house listings at least once a day. I wouldn’t say I’m actively looking for a new house. We always said that this was a starter home and with only 2-bedrooms, we’ll most certainly out-grow it, but we have a few good years left in this home and I really want to finish it before I jump ship, but I do look…
And last week, this guy showed up in my feed. It’s a 5-bed, 3 bath home with a yard and a porch in downtown Charleston and here’s the kicker. It’s on the park (like Charleston’s version of Central Park). 2 of the 5 beds are in a finished basement apartment. So, with a basement rental, it’s actually in our price range. Eventually we’d want to make it a single-family home. This could be a forever home. I called our agent and we scheduled a time to look at it the next day.
I could tell from the photos that it was going to need work, but I don’t want a renovated home. Besides, nothing on the park, in this size, would sell at that price. I’ve looked at some funky houses and very little can scare me off. As long as the house is safe and habitable for the family — move in ready by my standards — we’re happy to spend the time to renovate, update and polish.
This house, though. The first 2 rooms were gorgeous with 10-foot ceilings in the living room and dining room. It needed some love, but that was expected. But the further into the house, the further into the rabbit hole we went…The master bedroom was an old sunroom with half the bathroom in the bedroom. There was no way to open the kitchen, which was a dark hole in the back of the house and the upstairs was an architectural nightmare. The nail in the coffin was that there was a very obvious cockroach infestation and not the “good kind” — how native southerners refer to palmetto bugs. Nope, these were the nasty German kind. The house was not habitable and don’t even get me started on the “finished” basement apartment.
When we left the house, Jeremiah could tell I was defeated. “Babe,” he said, rather matter-of-factly, “If you want to move, that’s fine, but we need to do it strategically. We need to sit down and talk about what our wants are, figure out our real budget, and start looking. You can’t keep randomly jumping on houses that you think might work.”
“I’m not actively looking to move,” I responded. “I love our house, but when I saw this house, I just thought it might be it. Our forever home”
He shook his head, “I think you need to do some soul-searching and figure out what you really want to do.”
I was wounded. What was he trying to say? But, later that day, I thought about what he said. The truth was, he was right. I’ve had one foot out the door since we moved into this home. It’s too small, it has no yard and it was missing my only must-have — a porch. But, the reality is that it’s a great house. It’s in a perfect neighborhood and in just 2 years, the value has almost doubled. It’s also the place we brought our daughters home to, the home we’ve poured blood, sweat and tears into. The home we still have so many plans for. But, I’ve been so consumed by what’s next that I haven’t really been enjoying what I have right now.
So, now we’re making future plans for our starter home. Real plans, like how can we make it work for us past that 5 year mark without pricing ourselves out of the neighborhood. It’s not our forever home, but it has more longevity than I’ve been giving it credit for. The biggest change is that I’m no longer planning our exit strategy. I won’t stop looking at houses — I want to buy all the houses — but, now I’m more focussed on loving my home, because actually we’ve made it kind of awesome and we’re not done yet.