Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Murphy's Law

In case you haven’t been paying attention, we decided to wait until spring to list our house for sale, in the hopes that the DC market will have suffered only a minor dip, while the Lewes/Rehoboth Beach market will have experienced a more significant pricing adjustment. Besides, in the spring there will be more buyers who will fall in love with our lovely home, right?

Unfortunately we just can’t seem to stop ourselves from thinking about and looking at homes. We justify this by claiming we’re doing our ‘home work’, pun intended. So last Sun Joe & I decided to drive through some of the neighborhoods we like to see if there were any open houses we hadn’t already been inside. (At this point we know we’ve been inside 90 homes. No, I’m not kidding.)

We started in downtown Lewes and found only 1 open house. It was a house we’d been in before, back in the spring when we first started looking. We ruled it out because:
A. It was too small, and
B. It was very over-priced.
But we’d seen on that the house had been reduced twice. It is now listed at $130K less than it was 6 months ago. Now THAT’S what I’m talking about. We decided to take a second look, since the price had been reduce so drastically. We came to these conclusions:
A. Its still too small, and
B. No matter what the price, it will always be too small.
That’s it. I’m not going through that house again.

Next we drove through Edgewater Estates, the Lewes community that surrounds Red Mill Pond. We drove past the original house I liked that was too small but I designed a 2-story addition for. Guess what? The buyers are completely renovating the house inside and out, adding rooms just like I would have. That was validating. Next we drove past another waterfront home with the best view on the Pond. Its been reduced by $70K, but is still too high. We don’t really like the house, but with its waterfront location and dynamite views, for the right price we could make the house into anything we want. You can’t change a house’s location, but you sure can change a house’s floor plan, space, and appearance. We agreed to keep this one on the radar screen.

Next we went to Rehoboth Beach Yacht and Country Club, where the “water house” and the “pool house” are both located. We saw signs for 3 open houses. The first one was for a waterfront new construction house we’d been in before, so we didn’t go in again. Its way out of our price range, and the upstairs floor plan is a complete disaster. The second open house didn’t merit a tour either, because Joe didn’t like the look of the house or its location in the neighborhood.

Instead of leaving the neighborhood the way we came in, I decided to take another street we usually skip because it has mostly older homes on it that we don’t like. We happened to see a gray cape code with a big “OPEN” flag in the yard. At first Joe didn’t want to go in because he didn’t see any cars. He assumed the realtor must have left temporarily and locked the house. But having no other homes to see, I suggested we give it a try anyway. There was a sign on the door welcoming visitors so we went in. There was no realtor so we could take our time and talk out loud to each other.

The first thing we both noticed was the beautiful, custom-looking light fixture hanging in the 2-story foyer. It had shades made of ‘bubbled’ glass and could easily be a work of art. Then we noticed a chandelier in the adjacent dining room that matched it. Later we would find two sconces in the 1st floor master bath that coordinated with it. I love consistency and attention to detail like that, and we both loved those artful lighting fixtures.

As I normally do without even thinking about it, I started checking off the rooms we want as I walked through this house. Wow, it had all of them: formal living room, formal dining room, family room open to the kitchen, 2-car garage, a 1st floor master bedroom and bath, and 4 additional bedrooms and a ‘bonus’ room upstairs. Next I checked the floors: oak hardwoods finished on site and stained the medium brown I like. Then I heard Joe talk about the dual stainless steel wall ovens and 6-burner gas cook top. When I entered the kitchen I was struck by the beautiful cabinetry and miles of sparkling granite. “This kitchen has everything I want” Joe said.

Around the corner from the kitchen and near the entrance from the garage there was a walk-in pantry and a huge laundry room. On my way to the other side of the house I passed through the family room again and noticed all of the gorgeous, heavy woodwork trim and shadowboxing around the fireplace surround.

Next we went into the 1st floor master bedroom. (There are 3 masters in this house.) I was immediately struck by the beautiful tray ceiling accented by more of that heavy molding. As you’d expect, the walk-in closet seemed more like a Manhattan apartment. The bath had beautiful cabinetry, a 10-foot long granite countertop with 2 sinks, a soaking tub, and a tumbled travertine tiled shower room. A ‘dream bath’, to say the least.

Next we went upstairs to see the other 4 bedrooms. Two of them had private baths, making them master bedrooms, and the other 2 bedrooms shared a hall bath. All of the bathrooms had beautiful cabinetry and granite counters. Over the garage was a good size ‘bonus’ room, which I could easily envision becoming my home office. Before heading back downstairs we paused on the catwalk that overlooked the 2-story foyer on one side and the 2-story family room on the other. “This is a REALLY nice house” I said out loud. We could feel each other’s excitement.

Back downstairs we went out the French doors from the family room onto the large screened porch with stained bead board ceiling. Attached to the screened porch was an even larger sundeck made of that composite decking that resists warping and mildew and never needs to be stained or painted. We walked around the generous yard and noticed the beautiful cedar fence. “Can you believe this? We wouldn’t even have to pay to install a fence – its already here, and its cedar!”

Literally there wasn’t anything we didn’t like. Even the driveway and additional parking area was done in gray pavers that really complimented the color and style of the cape cod. There were trees in the backyard, and a vacant lot on both sides, although we knew the lots wouldn’t stay vacant forever. Even the location of the house was great. Just around the corner was the back exit out of the neighborhood. We clocked it at 1 mile from the house to Rt 1 and the entrance to downtown Rehoboth. We imagined ourselves biking to the beach and not even having to cross Rt 1, due to the underpass.

When we returned to our beach house I poured over the listing brochure, photos, and builder’s feature list. I hadn’t even noticed the Andersen insulated windows and doors, the security system, the irrigation system, the landscape lighting, or the ceiling fans in all 5 bedrooms. The more we thought and talked about this house, the more it became apparent that it was perfect for us! There were enough bedrooms and bathrooms for our family to visit and be comfortable, and even a dedicated space for my office. All the finishes were beautiful and top-notch, and the location was so close to downtown Rehoboth without actually being in downtown Rehoboth. This was it – we’d found our house!

On Mon I excitedly emailed our VA realtor and asked her about the current market conditions, and told her we were considering listing our house now rather than in the Spring. Then I emailed our DE realtor, told her about finding the “perfect house” for us, and asked her to provide us with comparable sales in that neighborhood within the last 3 months. Then I emailed Kerry with the good news. I wanted to send her the listing for the house, but couldn’t seem to find it. This should have been a red flag.

Several hours later I got a response from our DE realtor. She told me the house was already under contract. In fact, it had been under contract the day before when it was open. The builder decided to open the house to showcase his work.

I was so disappointed I just couldn’t believe it. Then I got a little pissed off that the listing agent and builder left the brochures in the “open house” without any explanation that the house was under contract.

When I talked to Joe on the phone that evening I hated to tell him, but knew I needed to. Like me he was very disappointed. But I shared with him the slight glimmer of hope offered to us by our DE realtor. She said she would ask the listing agent if the builder would build the same house on another lot he owned. We haven’t heard back from her on that, and I’m not holding my breath.

Just when we’d resigned ourselves to waiting until next spring because we had no suitable house to buy, we find our dream house. Murphy’s Law. Then after deciding to list our house anyway in order to get our dream house, we find it’s not really available. We’re now back to having no real properties under consideration. Damn Murphy’s Law! Or, is it the Universe ‘speaking’ to us?

Then I started wondering if the Universe was trying to tell us something. We worked so hard to get our house ready to list, and then found ourselves smack in the middle of a transitional market, deciding it better to wait until the market stabilized, since the chances were that the DC market would not adjust as drastically as the Lewes/Rehoboth market. Our offer on the “water house” was beaten by a higher offer, and the “pool house” went to auction before we were able to act. Still we trudge on and find what appears to be the perfect house for us, only to find it already belongs to someone else. Could the Universe be preventing us from acting too quickly and buying something that will soon be valued at less than what we would have paid? Could the Universe be making us wait so we can get a ‘deal’ later on?

I sure hope so.

Drag Queen name of the day: Claire A Net


Bugsy (aka Joe) said...

Wow Mark. Tough. They should have a least said the house was under contract. Maybe its a sign to have a house built? Although, that has a lot of angst ridden days in it!

tornwordo said...

The roller coaster of this would cause me to lose sleep. I know, because I just went through it, lol.

Trust in the universe. And remember, deals fall out of escrow every day.