I’m half way through reading The Secret, the book that I’ve been hearing about and seeing on bookshelves everywhere for the past decade but have never read until now. I’m doing mental backflips over the fact that someone, actually several people managed to write down what I’ve learned to be true in my life about creating success but struggled at times to articulate.
One experience that immediately came to mind as I was reading was when we bought our current home in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York 10 years ago. My husband and I had bought our first home together two years prior not far away in Clinton Hill and after a year of extensive renovation and then finally living in the house for a year we decided that we wanted to move back to Fort Greene where I had previously owned an apartment. Throughout the two years that we owned the house in Clinton Hill we never stopped looking at homes for sale and visiting open houses. We even went so far as to bid on two houses but were out bid on the first house which was par for the course in the hot real estate market of the early/mid 2000’s and we withdrew our offer on the second house after having second thoughts about its legal usage/status. I felt very little disappointment because I knew that the right house would come along and I remained grateful for the house that we had.
Our house came on the market in April 2005 and I felt so strongly that this was our house that even the extremely high asking price wasn’t a deterrent because I knew that it was meant for us. We immediately made an appointment to see the house and despite only being able to see half of the house due to it being occupied we placed a strong bid. We soon entered a bidding war before being eventually outbid in what we ultimately felt was a one-sided bidding against ourselves orchestrated by an unscrupulous real estate agent. I remained grateful that we didn’t allow ourselves to be taken advantage of and pay far more than we were comfortable with but deep down I was DEVISTATED. I really wanted that house.
For months the idea of that house on a well located brownstone lined block facing Fort Greene Park with its high parlor floor ceilings and ornate plaster moldings was haunting. Nothing excites me more than a home renovation and fresh from completing one I was beyond thrilled with imaginings of another renovation where I would apply all of the lessons learned from the first one and the ideas that I had collected from viewing so many open houses. I imagined the ideal layout for two children (that I didn’t yet have) inspired by a house that I saw on the Clinton Hill house tour months before. It was all in my head but as real as it is now, my whole life laid out before me in THAT HOUSE…the children we would have, holidays we would celebrate and on and on.
I was obsessed; grateful, but obsessed.
I continued to look at real estate listings and in July as we were preparing to go on vacation to a friend’s wedding in the Dominican Republic I noticed that the house had been relisted with a new real estate agency. I will never forget calling our best man in New York from the Dominican Republic to have him submit a bid on our behalf. He wasn’t a real estate agent, nor did he have a power of attorney so as I’m writing this none of it even makes sense to me that we were taken seriously but I swear it happened just this way. I’m sure that the real estate agent must have been shocked to receive a full price offer on a house that she had never shown us but our friend explained that we had seen it with a previous agent and our offer was accepted. As soon as we landed back from the Dominican Republic we wasted no time having our attorney make it legal and we soon entered into contract.
I wish I could say that we had a smooth purchase but that’s not my life, so after sitting in escrow with an uncashed deposit for over two months we got very concerned. We were preparing to put our house on the market but we didn’t want to officially list it until we knew that the sellers were serious about moving forward and weren’t using us to continue to shop around for a better offer. At the suggestion of my attorney we met face to face with the seller in October to find out why they hadn’t cashed our deposit check and proceeded with the sale. I had my reservations about whether or not the sellers meeting with us, two African American twenty somethings would be a good idea based on previous experiences where I didn’t feel like we were taken seriously when making such expensive real estate purchases but we had nothing left to lose. Once we sat down and talked with the sellers we realized the dynamics involved…the home had been in the family for over 50 years and after the death of the parents the sibling heirs couldn’t agree on how the proceeds of the sale should be divided. To further complicate matters, two of the siblings were living in the home and would need to relocate but one was wheelchair bound so finding suitable accommodations was a bit more of a challenge. We were also by then entering the winter months and the heating expenses were draining them so we doubled down and agreed to cover the winter heating costs to be credited back to us at closing.
Once we finally cleared that hurdle we still had the business of selling our house in Clinton Hill to complete. Fortunately the real estate market was still hot and we listed our house in October and quickly found a buyer at the full asking price little over a month later. We closed on both the sale and purchase of the houses in April 2006 and could finally start all over again with renovations but with a twist…for anyone reading this that knows that my daughter just turned 10 in December, that means that not only were we starting a renovation but we were also starting a family…I was also one month pregnant.
It turned out to be a full year from the time that we saw the house until the time that we finally bought it but there were certainly valuable lessons learned along the way and life often reminds and teaches me:
Trust the timing of your life!
Oh, and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that our house cost less, has more square footage and is better located than the other house we were originally out bid on which just proves that what is for you is for you so have faith.
P.S. Let me know in the comments if you want to me to share more life stories. I’ve been doing some life sharing in other forums lately and it’s something that I get asked about more and more.
P.S.S. I’ve also been thinking about sharing more information about my renovations because that’s definitely something that I’ve been asked about in the past and is a passion of mine so look forward to that in 2017.