My first – and only – home purchase was contracted sight-unseen.
In 1997, I was recovering from surgery in a city two hours from home. During my initial hospitalization in November and then during my operation, it was necessary for my kids to miss school because it was too far for my parents to drive them back and forth. The realization that I had no trusted friends in my new town to take care of my children in case of an emergency made me realize I needed to move back home, closer to my strongest support group.
I had only been out of the hospital two days when my cousin, a realtor, called to tell me that a house in town had been reduced in price. It was 9:00 PM on a Friday evening and I wouldn’t be permitted to drive for another two weeks.
I knew the house in that I knew who the owner was and had seen it from the outside many times. I had a fax machine in my home and my cousin faxed a few pictures of the inside. Although the photos were grainy, I could get a general idea that the house was well cared-for and the type of house I liked. I was partial to turn-of-the-19th century homes for their high ceilings and tall windows.
The basics of the house seemed to fit my needs. There were three bedrooms and a full bathroom upstairs. Downstairs, there was a master bedroom with a huge walk-in closet and another closet/pass-thru to another full bathroom featuring a claw-foot tub. The kitchen was spacious but dated. The dining room and living room were large with a set of French doors between them. One of the back entrances led into a utility/laundry room. There was a basement for storage, a garage and a picnic shelter. The property was a huge corner lot, over half an acre in town and had one other important feature: it was a block from the school. My work often involved travel and it would be very convenient to be close to the school so my teenage children could still easily get to their activities.
I was still very nervous about signing a contract without “feeling” the inside of the house. I believe houses, especially older houses, have a personality and not every family is going to find a perfect fit.
After a long discussion, we wrote the contract including a provision that I would have 3 weeks to personally inspect the home. I knew there was a possibility that someone else could offer and immediate purchase and I would lose the house, but I was willing to take that chance.
Two weeks later, my children and I made the two-hour drive back to my hometown for a walk-through of the house. As soon as I walked inside, I knew I was home. I could visualize the kitchen with modern cabinets, bright walls instead of paneling and vinyl flooring instead of brown carpeting. Throughout the rest of the house, I could see no major changes to be made.
I agreed to follow through with the purchase and two weeks later, I was the proud owner of my first home.
Life would not always be perfect in that house – the upstairs was destroyed by a fire a year later. However, the restoration was beautifully done and I was also able to eventually update the kitchen and downstairs bathroom.
In the end, I would lose my home to foreclosure. No excuses, no feeling sorry for myself. I regret the situation that created the loss but it was unavoidable.
The day I moved out of my home tore a hole in my heart. I knew I couldn’t stop the process and only hoped that someone would enjoy that home as much as I did.As luck would have it, the son of an old family friend bought the house. He was much handier than I and he and his wife have done a beautiful job, finishing some projects I started and restoring the home to its turn of the century glory.