We bought our first house in 2015. It was a 1400-square foot Craftsman built in 1925. It had three bedrooms, one full bath, and the distinction of having a half bath on the first floor — rare in our neighborhood. We did not have a garage, and in five years have managed to have Hubster’s parked car totaled by a drunk driver TWICE. We did a lot of work in five years: a new roof, water heater, radon system, kitchen reno, full bath update, and had two more kids. We’ve ceded our formal dining room into a playroom. Our unfinished basement is stuffed. Closed schools and working from home has put into sharp relief our need for more space. So now we’re house hunting.
Five years later
I LOVE my house. But we have outgrown it. We bought thinking we’d be there for four years while Hubster was in seminary. Now that we are permanently in town, we need more living space…and a garage. A driveway would also be a plus. A few months ago, Hubster started monitoring the real estate market in Northeast Indiana.
Closely kept secret: Fort Wayne is an EXTREMELY affordable place to live. Like, we paid $60,000 for this house five years ago. But due to low inventory, a growing population (many coming from more expensive metropolises), and a few more more variables, prices have risen and it is now absolutely a seller’s market.
We began seriously looking a few weeks ago, and for the first time in decades, properties are going for way over asking price — like, we got outbid on one property by $30K. That is unheard of in recent history in our market. Nearly every home we’ve seen that fit our parameters had an accepted offer within 24 hours of listing. This means there was no “sleeping on it” before making an offer. Families have to act fast. While we have no urgency to move, house hunting is currently an urgent process.
So long story short: finding what we needed in our price range in a part of town I wanted has been tricky. We at last had an accepted offer on a PERFECT home — our offer beat the closest bid by $300. Three. Hundred. Dollars. Y’all. There were EIGHT offers on this home. It is a crazy time to buy a house in our city.
We hopefully will close at the end of the month, and I’m looking forward to sharing more about this new chapter. It’s so exciting to think about moving up, but we also have a list of projects to ready our current property to sell: basically the honey-do list that we’ve sat on for a few years, but now that we have a deadline we actually have to deliver. My current project? Painting my kitchen.
Howards End by E. M. Forster
During this Quarantine, I’m trying to alternate my reading between nonfiction, classics, and the historical romances I consumer like candy. I just finished reading Howards End by E.M. Forster (1910).
I loved the satirical humor of Room With a View (1908) better, but I was amused by one of the conflicts in Howards End: house shopping. The Schlegel siblings were getting evicted from their childhood home, as their landlord was razing it to build flats. They struggled to find what they wanted in their price range and in their location.
They did have an eviction date, so they had a bit more urgency than we did, but I can relate to the domestic conflict that house shopping produces!
[Feel free to pick up a copy with my links — I get a % if you do!]
The heroine ended up solving the problem by getting married and eventually moving into her husband’s home — spoiler, called Howards End. Without the the apostrophe. The title is not possessive.
Anyway, I enjoyed Miss Schlegel’s philosophical struggles with house hunting and moving:
The Age of Property holds bitter moments even for a proprietor. When a move is imminent, furniture becomes ridiculous, and Margaret now lay awake at nights wondering where, where on earth they and all their belongings would be deposited in September next. Chairs, tables, pictures, books, that had rumbled down to them through the generations, must rumble forward again like a slide of rubbish to which she longed to give the final push, and send toppling into the sea. But there were all their father’s books–they never read them, but they were their father’s, and must be kept. There was the marble-topped chiffonier–their mother had set store by it, they could not remember why. Round every knob and cushion in the house sentiment gathered, a sentiment that was at times personal, but more often a faint piety to the dead, a prolongation of rites that might have ended at the grave.
It was absurd, if you came to think of it…The feudal ownership of land did bring dignity, whereas the modern ownership of movables is reducing us again to a nomadic horde. We are reverting to the civilization of luggage, and historians of the future will note how the middle classes accreted possessions without taking root in the earth, and may find in this the secret of their imaginative poverty.Howards End, Chapter 17
“When a move is imminent, furniture becomes ridiculous.” I love it! We rented a storage unit and have started shifting our lives over to that to prepare our house to sell but before we move into our new place. It is funny to see our extraneous bits stacking up in a warehouse. Now I certainly do not have swaths of antiques to worry about; most of our furniture was “inherited,” like most newly-married couples, by still-living relatives seeking to downsize. We have earmarked what we will not be moving: our $300 couch we purchased in 2012 that is sagging, stained, and smells perpetually like dog. Several VERY well-used rugs. An extra TV from college that has sat in its box for the past five years. Inherited super-heavy end tables. A TV stand with peeling veneer.
But we have so many TOYS…and we don’t know yet if we’re done having kiddos. If Scoober Doo is our last, it would be easy to shuffle out bins of baby toys and clothes. But if he’s not, I’d hate to sell off and have to start over. That “just in case” feeling is there, and makes it hard to get rid of stuff. And we so desperately need to get rid of stuff!