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Saturday, September 01, 2007

Kids Are Strange (Alternate Title, Because This Turned into Something Completely Different: Real Estate Madness)

The other day, we were in the car and the X-Man said, "We might need to move."

Now, we have no intention of moving. Several years ago, we found Our Dream House. A, who never makes a split decision (in fact, he rarely makes a decision at all, outside of work), saw the house and immediately said it was ours.

We went through a very dramatic, stoic (on A's part), teary (on my part) weekend trying to figure out just how we could make it work, that is, how we could end up with a mortgage payment that still allowed us to do important things like pay for Montessori school, buy nice bags and shoes and go out to eat a lot. Mortgages are funny. In our limited home buying experience (twice), we've found that lenders will approve you for amounts beyond your wildest dreams, but you have to tell them how much you really feel like putting towards a mortgage every month. And I've heard those crazy California folks do things like sign fifty year mortgages. Best case scenario, you sell the house for a lot more than you paid, years before the fifty years are up. Worst case, pay it back while you're dead.

Anyhow, in our case, by Sunday night, we had resigned ourselves to waiting until another house came along. Because another great house always comes along. I don't think anyone has ever missed out on their dream house and regretted it for the rest of their lives. Although I did try to talk A into it by telling him things like, "We'll never have to get babysitters or eat out, because we'll always want to stay home! We'll just have great parties!", to which he (wisely) responded, "Yeah, assuming people keep coming over after they realize all of our parties are B.Y.O.B. and potluck." I briefly considered telling him that was a good thing, because we would be able to live off the leftovers, thereby eliminating the need to buy groceries, but even I realized that was kind of tacky. And I didn't want to quit buying shoes. Although, if we never went out, I wouldn't need shoes...

I called the owner of (Our!) Dream House and, trying to hold back tears, told him to go ahead and consider the other offer seriously, because we couldn't do it. Until the next morning, when I called our former mortgage broker (tears, again) and pleaded with him to find a way for us to get what was rightfully our house. He promised to crunch numbers, I called the owner back and asked him if he had taken the other offer, which he hadn't, yet. He had countered, but they hadn't responded. Our broker called back within an hour and, miracle man that he was, gave us the good news that mortgage rates were a hair lower than we had calculated and we were on!

My dad is a realtor and it was a blast to see him in action. He came over around lunch to help me draft our offer. As he was driving over to (Our! New!) house to submit it, he called me and asked if we could increase our earnest money (we could) and if we would forgo the home inspection (we would*). I could hear the exitement in his voice, and the edge of competition; he wanted the sale. And I know he wanted it just for the thrill of winning, because we don't pay his commission. Just so you know, he's a great realtor, but he does make other people pay his commission, so you should call him for his skills, not to save money.

So we waited. And waited. I went to pick the kids up from school. I wanted to drive by the house, but I was afraid I would jinx the sale. Maybe the owner would see me drive by, think I was psycho and not want to sell to us. He would sell to the other people, because they were normal and we weren't. I had made myself believe that he wanted us to have the house because we were so cute. Which may have been true, but I'm pretty sure he also wanted to accept the best offer. Since I'm not much for impulse control, I drove by it and, as I rounded the corner, my cell phone rang. It was my dad. "Aaaaaaaarrrrrgggghhhh!," I thought, "Now I've done it. I shouldn't have driven by!"

I picked up the phone to speak to an unusually somber Dad.

"He countered your offer. You and A need to have a serious talk. You need to decide how much this house is really worth to you. I don't want y'all to overextend yourselves, but I don't want you to regret losing it."

With a shaky voice, I responded, "Okay, Dad, I'll call Alex and call you back as soon as I can. [sniff, sniff]"

I was about to hang up, call my husband and offer to actually get a job when Dad said, "Wait! Don't you want to hear what he countered?"

With a heavy heart, I answered, "Sure."

"He'll take $X [our offer], but he wants his lawyer to hold the earnest money."

I was like the girl who just won Miss America (and a little bit like this totally inarticulate girl who didn't win Miss Teen U.S.A. recently). "Whooooooooooheeeeeeeeewaaaaaaaaa! Yeeeeaaaaaaaah!" I think I hung up on Dad, so I could call Alex and pull the same joke on him. I don't think I managed, because I couldn't pull off the fake serious voice. I also hung up because I was a little bit mad at Dad for putting me through the emotional torture, but I guess that's what we get for not paying him. Good one, Dad.

So, here we are, in the Greatest House Ever. We still love it, we're taking our time furnishing it and we have parties, with beer, wine and food. Recently, we've even decided to make the very mature step of adding liquor to our party menu. Funny, when we were young and broke, we had nothing but liquor at our parties. During the broke with kids years, it was B.Y.O.B. Then we moved up (feel free to hum the theme from The Jeffersons here. I know I did.) to beer and wine. Now we're adding liquor. If we get rich, I'm not sure where we'll go from here, maybe a frozen drink machine, maybe this one, because A and I like to joke (I think) that if we ever win the lottery, we'll be "Livin' the Frontgate Lifestyle!"

So, back to strange kids. The X-Man, in all his six year old (FIRST GRADE!) wisdom, thinks we need to move. Of course I asked why.

"Because, you know!"

His brother did the same thing around this age. He would chuckle and say, "You know!" in an expectant voice. We never did know. And we still don't, so I answered, "No. I don't know. What?"

In the same expectant voice, "You know. Because of Baby J?"

Hmmmm...nope. Still no clue.

"Because of something that starts with a...W?!"

At this point, I felt like I did in school when the teacher calls on you even though your hand was not raised. Incidentally, I hate when teachers do that, because why would you call on someone who clearly doesn't know the answer when you have several people to choose from who do, as indicated by their raised and wildly waving hands? A desire to humiliate students because of your own insecurity, that's why. So they call on you anyway, giving you even more hints in a voice that clearly indicates that you're the dumbest student ever to darken the doors of their classroom. So maybe our kids want to humiliate us. Huh.

Much like I did with those teachers, I admitted that I didn't know and would need to be told the answer.

"Wires?!" he answered, incredulous at my dimness.

"You mean because Baby J tries to grab wires? Sweetheart, every house has wires [I know. Not true. But every house we live in will.] "

"Ugh! Never mind!"

So, I still have no idea what he meant. If you have any insight, please let me know. Whatever the case, we are not moving. Ever. One of the greatest things about this house is that the Master Bedroom is downstairs, so we can live here when we're old and feeble. And it's a great house for entertaining, so it'll be perfect for the visitation before our funerals.

Namasté, y'all!"

*Just so you don't think we're nuts: the house had been sold six months earlier and passed a complete inspection. The current owners planned to live there forever, until she got a great job offer in New York City and they decided to move. Also, we still got termite, heating and air inspections, so it wasn't a huge deal.

1 comment:

Brenda said...

You went through a lot to get your house! I'm glad it all worked out. Did you ever figure out what your son meant by wires meaning you had to mover?