We purchased a home in 2014 after six years of renting. Here are some reflections on the hunt for a safe house.
I have learned to trust my instincts when it comes to purchasing a home. I learned this lesson the hard way 15 years ago while searching for a home in Colorado. (Read our story here.)
I remember getting off the interstate 50 minutes after arriving in Denver. We were meeting our realtor to do a walk-through. For some reason, I felt apprehensive. We drove up to the house, in a new development with lots of homes under construction. I noticed boys riding their bikes on the mounds of dirt.
We walked through the front door, and I felt “it” immediately. Disarray and clutter. The house felt “dirty.” I felt uncomfortable. Assuming I was just reacting to the overbearing, gaudy decorating style, I continued the tour.
We walked into each of the six bedrooms, the game room, the in-law suite. With each room, I became increasingly uneasy. Instead of feeling just messy and dark, the house felt deeply oppressive.
As we drove away, I looked at Chris and said, “I don’t like it. I don’t ever want to go back. I know I can’t live there.”
We spent two more days looking for the right home and didn’t find it. We returned to Illinois unsure of our next step.
Our realtor emailed us, suggesting we reconsider the 5500-square-foot “oppressive” home. He sent pictures of each room. Chris encouraged me to imagine the home without the gaudy decorating and the clutter.
“The house is a shell. Imagine it without their furniture. Look at the floor plan. Think of the potential.”
I hesitated. Then I saw the wisdom of it. It made a lot of sense. I agreed, the house did have potential. We made a deposit and moved eight weeks later.
We arrived the day before the closing with all of our things in a huge truck driven by a friend. At the walk-through, the home showed no signs of a move. It was cluttered, just as I remembered. I left the walk-through and sobbed. Something felt “off.”
We learned that the home was in bankruptcy. The family hadn’t paid their mortgage. The builder’s brother was in jail for murder. The builder wasn’t regarded well in the community. Something was seriously wrong.
Indeed, the signs were literally on the walls of this home. In light of our past trauma, here are the questions I learned to ask when searching for a home.
- Do I want to live here?
- Does it feel like home?
- Do I sense anything “off”?
There are other questions I’ve learned to ask, as outlined in the article Guidelines for Buying a Home.