“You will probably lose out to a cash offer.”

    I was already jaded from the way the rest of our property hunt had gone. So, when we heard these words from our realtor I said, “Okay” and cut the whole idea loose.

    Handy Hubby on the other hand was holding out hope! He encouraged me to write the owners a letter and let them get to know us. I pretty much thought it was a waste of time but our realtor said it might help and hubby was insistent.  So, I wrote this:

                                                                                                                July 12, 2017

    Dear                   ,

                We are Victor and Colleen Cummings and we are hoping that you will choose our family to be the next residents of your beautiful home.   We imagine that this venerable building is has seen many of your family’s firsts and lasts and everything in between! We hope to honor the home’s past while making many fun memories in the future!

                Please allow me to introduce our family. Victor is a homebuilder and renovator by trade. He has been building in the Hill Country since 2001. So, he is qualified and experienced in the maintenance and upkeep of such a stately residence! Together, we have three sons ages 13, 11, and 8, whom I homeschool. Our 13-year-old son enjoys nature photography, hunting, and fishing. He would especially be interested in learning, which birds of prey are native to the Kerrville area. Our 11 year old is a bit of an outgoing, old soul. He loves to garage sale, salvage, and repurpose odds and ends into new creations. He is anxious to help his Daddy set up a workshop and dig into the woodworking they both enjoy! Meanwhile, our youngest son enjoys playing games and running and playing outdoors with our dog! The whole family enjoys competitive target archery and would look forward to the opportunity to practice in such a peaceful and inspiring venue!

                Personally, I began to imagine swinging on the porch swing, tending a garden, and baking bread in the kitchen as I walked from room to room in your old home. It is obvious that life has been lived within these walls! Now, as we submit this our best possible offer we hope that you will allow us to add the next smiles in your home’s album of memories!                                                                              

    Respectfully,

    The Cummings Family

    I wrote it.

    Our realtor sent it their realtor and I privately kissed this house goodbye!

    Because it is usually the money that wins in the end, right??

    WRONG!!

    We found out the next morning that they accepted our offer!!

     

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    Well, now that we had a home place to rest our heads, we moved our belongings into storage and prepared for the closing date that would send us to the nearest RV park!

    All the while we continued to scour MLS and Zillow in search of, 5 acres, 2 acres, a house with a big-ish yard and few-to-no restrictions! Ahhh!! A unicorn, that’s right, we were looking for a unicorn!  Or at least that is how it felt, as we searched for property on which to build or renovate a home with land unrestricted enough to have a workshop, garden, have a few animals, and practice archery!

    Then one day…..this came up on my Zillow search.

    It was a brand spanking new listing!  I was jaded, but I pressed on. We made an appointment to see it with our realtor that afternoon ( the earliest she could make it.)  When we got there we learned that this home is believed to have been built in 1898 and moved to its current, rural location on 6.5 acres in the 80’s.  As we walked around we saw that it had tons of period character still in place, and it was so old and cool….but, y’all it was also OLD and DIRTY!! Those two facts kept coming back to me over and over as we looked and talked with our realtor!  Speaking of our realtor, she told us that the property had been being shown all day and that for the list price if we made the necessary improvements this place could be a gem!

    So, we left in various stages of interest to think about it all and get back to our realtor about a possible offer in the morning. Now is a good time to mention that in our marriage I am usually the glass half empty gal (or as I prefer to think of it, a realist.) So, that evening I could tell that hubs was excited and a little starry eyed over the possibility of owning and renovating a 100+ year old home,  BUT I was overwhelmed!!

    This house had been a rental property for the past ten years.  So, the 100 year old longleaf pine floors (I know yay) were far from the only things that needed love! Seriously, every room needed at least some work and the kitchen and baths would need to be gutted.

    So while Handy Hubby saw this:

    I feared this:

    However, hubby had me make a list of everything that I knew of that would need to be addressed and he began placing cost estimates beside each line item.  He tried to always aim high to give wiggle room. The list was long, but when we added it all up the numbers showed that to my amazement we should be able to afford to complete the improvements with cash!! Seriously??!! Wow!!  We knew that we would need to do a lot of the work ourselves and that it would take longer than if we paid someone to do it.  But….if we stuck with it we would someday have a fully restored piece of history ( ie. wrap around front porch, original hardwood floors, crown moulding, claw foot bath tub, amazing views, and a workshop on 6.5 acres!!!)

    The next morning I was cautiously optimistic when we called the realtor and told her to put in our offer!! So, we were completely caught off guard when she said, ” Sure, I will put your offer in. Just know that the seller’s have already received several offers and you will most likely lose to a cash offer.”  What??!!

    A few things parents of kids who have experienced trauma ...

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    Oh my! We had a contract on our current house and a closing date on the calendar!  The search for a new landing place continued.  We were looking for a new home that we could move right into, an older home that we could customize, and raw land that we could build on.

    What? Oh you say that’s confusing? Agreed, my friend! It was confusing and overwhelming! You see, properties in our price range were moving so quickly that we were willing to consider everything!!

    In fact, as the closing date neared (and we had no prospective property in sight) we became VERY open minded and that is how this became our rolling home!

    The “plan” was that we would live in this fifth wheel travel trailer while searching for property to buy.  We were afraid to rent a house and then find a place that we wanted to buy and be stuck in a rental contract.  Plus, having a portable home to go on adventures seemed fun and exciting! So, hubby drove to Oklahoma and pulled this baby home! After months of searching for a new place to lay our heads, we were so excited when he pulled into the drive with this! Now we could load it up with the five of us, two cats, and a dog and head to the nearest RV park!

    “Crazy,” you say! Ummm, yep….crazy that’s how we roll!! 😉 See what I did there!

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    In November of 2016 we found ourselves in an all too familiar place, packing, staging, and preparing to list our home. Now, as I mentioned before our property and home was well off of the beaten path and we were not sure how long it would take to find a willing buyer. (We were trying to mentally be prepared for six months to one year of waiting for a buyer.) Thus, even though I wanted to sell and be done with it now, we were wisely advised to wait just a bit and list it for sale in the spring so that it would not sit on the market all through the holidays when folks are busy celebrating. ( Sidenote: I am strange. It took me a full week to really realize that finances made selling this place a necessity. However, once the decision was made I was ready to see my home with a SOLD sign in the rearview mirror NOW!)

    So, the holidays passed uneventfully with a tiny Christmas tree, toned down decorations and the conflicting emotions that come with the urge to purge (“I am not moving that AGAIN!”) and a gift giving season.

    Nonetheless, we made it through. Spring came bright and clear!  My father-in-law and my husbands step uncle came and took amazing aerial footage of our property and at the beginning of March we were officially on the market.

    Which meant…. the search was on!!

    We did not want to move back into a proper neighborhood again. So, armed with a new reduced price range we began looking for around twenty acres. Reality check! Nothing of that size was available in our price range.  So, we began looking for land with or without a house on around ten acres. We just weren’t finding anything! To our dismay, we were finding out what it feels like to desire to move during a seller’s market.  We scoured the internet (multiple times per day) searching for an opportunity.  Sometimes we would see a brand new listing, request a showing, and be on the way to the appointment and find out that the property was placed under contract by the showing before ours! Grrr!

    As this frustration continued, we were also very pleasantly surprised to be having a good deal of interest in the home we were selling! We were getting lots of online views and fairly regular showings with comments showing positive interest! Whew! What an encouragement!

    I am sure that you can see where this is headed!! As our property search became more and more varied, (Zillow filters: raw land +- 10 acres, 5 acres or less with or without a home, an acre or less no HOA) our current property continued to receive views and in June we received and accepted an offer. Yep, we were under contract, with a closing set for August!  That’s right, we had a contract in four months!!!

    Yay!!!!…….wait where are we going to live!!!

     

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    Blame it on Dave! We were moving again!

    My husband and I had been married for 17 years and in that time we had moved 12 times. Yes, 12 moves and we are not military. To add insult to injury, we were moving away from this![crellyslider alias=”old_house”]

    We had thought that this was THE place, our place to grow old together! We had worked for and improved this place (gardens, fences, chicken coop, rainwater catchment, orchard ) and we loved it…..and yet, we were selling and moving AGAIN!

    You see, it all began innocently enough. We signed up to take the Financial Peace University course at church. As we worked through the lessons, we began to see that we had lots of budget line items to which we were allocating no money because we were devoting the bulk of our income to our mortgage.  Thus,…”blame it on Dave” we needed to sell our home and move again.

    This move was the right thing to do, financially, but it was hard!!

    My husband is a builder and renovator of homes.  Most of our previous moves had been in and out of homes that he built for us in a hot real estate market which we sold after two years building equity each time. Our current home was much different.  It was rural, with acreage, and an existing house which we had been slowly renovating to suit our family of five.  We had been doing the work ourselves and had allowed ourselves to personalize this home more than any of the others.

    However, the Lord had made it clear to us, it was time to move. This changes everything.

    But would an older home, 20 minutes from the nearest grocery store, on land sell?

    Where would we go….back to the city?

    What next, Lord?

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