It’s official, barring any unforeseen issues.
Let me start by saying we love our current neighborhood. It’s in a nice location with easy access to a lot of main roads here in Wilmington. I’ve been on the general north side of town for about 15 years now, so it’s all very familiar to me. I know and like a number of my neighbors. Milly’s got a friend who lives catty-corner from us. There are a number of other young kids that my boys might be friends with in the future.
There’s a strip of nature behind our house, then some railroad tracks, and behind that is the backend of a warehouse and a large wooded area that I don’t think will be developed anytime soon, if pretty much ever. Milly and I have walked back there a few times. There are ponds and a stream, and I love that sort of thing. I imagined taking Fawkes, Phoenix, and Griffin back there when they’re a little bigger. We have all kinds of creatures come through here. I’ve seen wild turkey and a fox walking down the street. It’s not uncommon to see skinks and tree frogs. We’ve had a couple turtles in the yard. We hear owls sometimes, and there’s a woodpecker I used to see regularly. I enjoy watching the bright cardinals and bluejays.
There’s a creek I’ve taken walks along on the other side of the neighborhood. There’s a park within walking distance, and the church in the middle of our neighborhood has a playground that neighborhood families play at sometimes.
I do love our neighborhood.
As soon as Tristen became pregnant with Griffin, we outgrew our 1954 three bed, two bath ranch. Milly can’t share a room with any brothers who are eight and nine years younger than her, and three boys don’t need to share an average-sized room with limited storage space. On top of that, I would find it very beneficial to have an office space, instead of having to take up real estate in the living room. I used to have plenty of space until our spare room became the nursery, which became Milly’s room once the twins got a little bit bigger. Then I moved to our bonus room, and it worked to section off my desk from the rest of the room with a gate for a while, but it didn’t take the babies long to figure out that they could move the gate, and then they could mess with all my work space. And so I moved it all to the living room, where the chaos of my desk makes the room a bit less inviting than it otherwise could be.
We didn’t need to move right away, and we could have stayed here a few more years before I felt we had a real space crunch. But rates have been at historic lows and they’re starting to creep up. It’s possible there will be a housing crash in the next year or two, but the Wilmington area was the #1 place people moved to last year and the population is expected to keep increasing at a fast pace, so I don’t think housing will drop dramatically anytime soon.
Tristen’s sister and her family used to live one block down from us, but they moved a little while back. Amanda has been looking to downsize and put her house (formerly mine as well) on the market. There just seemed to be a lot of moving going on, and in light of that, Tristen and I started discussing it. I reached out to a client of mine who deals in mortgages just to see what we might qualify for. His answer surprised me and didn’t do anything to satisfy our homebuying itch.
Tristen and I both did a good bit of looking on Zillow, but we soon found we had different priorities. I wanted to make sure we had enough space for everyone. She didn’t want to live in a place that was in danger of being overdeveloped or where we were living on top of our neighbors; she wanted to maintain some privacy.
We ended up talking to Heather O’Sullivan, who is a friend of Torrie’s and helped Torrie, Johnny, Sebastian, Gabriel, and Craig get into their new house. Everything moved pretty fast from there.
Last Sunday (Was it really just one weekend ago? Man!) we went to look at a few houses we liked. We started off at a new development in Porter’s Neck, north of town. One nice thing about the newer houses going up is that they have more space, many of them with enough bedrooms for everyone to have their own room, and they’re more affordable than established houses. The first house we looked at had a nice big old tree that hadn’t been cleared out during development and backed up to some woods. Those woods could be bought and developed at some point in the future, but the guy there said that a lot of places make sure to keep some nature between places these days. It was still under construction, but they’d already picked the colors for the cabinets and counters, which Tristen wasn’t a fan of, and wouldn’t change them.
Next we saw a really nice house with four bedrooms and a dedicated office, but two of the non-master bedrooms were pretty large, which was acceptable to me. Tristen and I both loved the house, but while we could qualify for the asking price it was just a bit more than I was comfortable paying every month. It’s also about 20 minutes south of the area I’m used to, which means it would take a lot more time to pick Milly up and drop her off. But man, it was a super nice house.
Next we saw a great house in a new development about five minutes from our current house, and also about five minutes from where the Romeros now live. It was also a four bedroom house, but most of the upstairs was one room, which would work just fine for the boys. There was a small bedroom up there too, which I’d make my office so we could have an actual guest bedroom downstairs. It was very nice, open, and modern, but there was very little space between the houses and some kind of store was being built behind it, although there as an easement where they were going to leave trees as well as building a sound barrier of some sort. It did have a community pool though, and I imagined taking all the kids, plus Sebastian and Gabriel and any summer visitors we might have, down to the pool. This house was about the same price as the previous one, but we were told there was very little chance of the sellers coming down in price. We did want to become friends with the owners though- they had one kid, then twins, and had another one the way.
Tristen’s mom had been watching the kids before seeing that house. Things took longer than we expected, so since the house was so close to our own we swung by and got them prior to seeing it. They behaved decently well, but it was hard for them to keep from wanting to touch everything, which happened in the next house we went to, which was across the bridge in Leland. That one had a great price and a huge yard that backed up to some wilderness. There was a creek back there and parts of it were a bit swampy, so there wasn’t much chance of it ever being developed. The issue was the space. It was a four bedroom place with nowhere to put an office, and our table wouldn’t fit in the dining area. And with a family of six with the occasional few guests, we’d still need to have a big table.
In the end, I liked the first three houses. I particularly liked the price and space of the first one. We both loved the second one, but I didn’t like how far it was from everything I know in Wilmington. The third one was too much, but I loved the location and community while Tristen was worried about privacy.
When we talked things over that night, I figured we’d end up just staying in our existing house. We’d agreed that we didn’t have to move now, and if a house didn’t check all the boxes for both of us, we wouldn’t go anywhere.
I can’t even tell you how we got to it, but we actually decided we’d try to see if the owners of the second house would work with us. We really liked the house, and even though it’s not in the area I’d like to be in, it really checks everything else off for us. I keep telling people it’s like a real grown-up house. It’s one Tristen and I said we could both see being a home we stay in forever. Long story short, after a couple days of back and forth, they came down to a price we were comfortable with, so we officially made an offer on Wednesday and it was accepted!
We did see a couple other houses on Monday. Tristen was, well, in a state (though you wouldn’t know she was anything but tired talking to her), from having been sedated for a dentist visit earlier in the day and had sent me and Heather some links to other houses then didn’t remember that we decided to go ahead and look at them that evening. Between taking her to her appointment and waiting to pick up her new iPhone 12 Mini while she was there, taking Milly to an orthodontist appointment on Wednesday afternoon and a physical therapy session Thursday morning, and with all this other stuff going on, it was a very busy week.
In light of that, putting our own house on the market really snuck up on us. Well, it wasn’t so much that it snuck up on us, but I had a good bit of work to do and Tristen was working as well. Heather wanted to get the house listed on Friday and asked me to send her some pictures since she wouldn’t be able to get a photographer out there until Tuesday. Tristen and I had been cleaning up in preparation of getting the house ready, but it wasn’t really in any condition to show. Heather said to just go ahead and send some and she’d update them later, so I snapped some and sent them. There were clothes on chairs in our room, boxes in Milly’s room, and other clutter here and there. I didn’t have much time to fuss over them because I had a new client freaking out about getting something done and it was Sebastian’s birthday so we were going over to the Romeros’ for dinner. Plus my dad had come to town to help us with some things around the house.
It got listed though, and by the time I went to bed it had a few hundred views and 20-some saves. There were already a few showings lined up, although we had turned down any of them before 1:30, which was when Sebastian’s actual birthday party was.
The next day, this morning as you may call it, Dad and I went to Home Depot and got a number of things: supplies to repair a rotted section of fence, some mulch to put down in some spots, a cover for some light switches we hadn’t put in, some spackle, a fan to replace the one in the boys’ room that Tristen wants to keep, a bathroom faucet because I broke the handle on our existing one last night. Dad paid for it all, which I really wasn’t expecting him to do. I tried to not have him do it, but at least I got to buy him some McDonald’s breakfast, so I guess that’s somehow fair?
I spackled some areas in the kitchen and guest bathroom while did some landscaping. Then we worked on the fence. It was hot outside, and Tristen left with all the kids to go to the birthday party, but Dad and I did finish up right at 1:29. Paco, who does a lot of yard maintenance for the Schauer clan, showed up to trim the bushes and do the edging. There were people waiting for us to go look at the house as we were leaving. Dad and I didn’t want to go back in to shower or change since people were already chomping to get into the house.
We had a nice time at the birthday party, which I’ll talk about separately. Heather was there with her daughter Zoey and told me while we were there that we already had offers on the house! Tristen and I called her later on after getting back to the house to discuss it with her and, after talking it all over with her and weighing waiting for a few more showings to see if we’d get an even better offer versus going ahead and accepting one that was offering exactly what we wanted (which was a nice chunk over the asking price), we decided to accept!
So it’s official: We’ll be in a great new house by the end of next month!