See, this has been a pretty exciting 9 days. Trip to California. Start new job. Meet new people. Learn my way around. But my biggest coup? House hunting.
What was going to start as the ultimate search for the ultimate dream home quickly ground to a halt. I talked with the lenders first, and to be able to use one of my company's preferred lenders, the sissies aren't budging from conforming loans on standard terms. Which means when a crackerbox in the Bay Area costs at least a $1 million, and the Chako family is not used to living in crackerboxes any more, conforming loan amounts barely get me a driveway.
So we switched gears and decided to rent a house, giving us a little freedom to learn the area. Learn the schools. Look at all the options. Watch what real estate prices do. See if the banks loosen the muscles around their lending sphincters. Basically, to keep us from either making ourselves crazy, or settling. At some point, I figure, the banks are either going to say the Chako's are a good financial risk. Or we're going to find some sucker so upside down on his mortgage that we are his knight in shining armor. I have no problem taking advantage of the weak in this situation.
I started a plan. Websites. Craigslist. Various other information. Selected properties. Sent e-mails. Made calls. Scheduled property showings. Dragged the ever-helpful, ever-adorable Betty along with me on a few visits and drivebys (Did I mention how happy I am to be living in her backyard, practically?). I was mentally and physically exhausted by Sunday evening. But by today, I had success.
I believe in a higher being. I believe this higher being has influence on many things in life. I also believe this higher being probably does not monitor the daily minutiae of my life, or anyone else's. Like helping me find shoes, or a girl find prom dresses, or some guy losing 2 more pounds.
A good 80+ % of the success I had was definitely attributable to my methodical searching, calling and emailing. Of that I am certain. Its the other 20% where it gets fuzzy. See, I had a lot of houses on the list, and for certain ones, I got immediate responses from the agents/landlords about showing, favorable responses about applying, and follow up emails about my interest level. Interestingly enough, all of the ones who responded as such were properties I really had an interest in.
Then there were other properties. Either non-responses, or bad responses after a showing. Interestingly enough, after all was said and done, each of these properties was, coincidentally, not right for our family, for one reason or another. I give you the evidence:
House A: Small. Dark. Low ceilings. Not pretty. The "nanny's room" was an 8x7 room with no closet which had been converted our of some old garage space. Two hours after I left that viewing, I received an email - "Property has been rented." Whew.
House B: Inside looked great in pictures. Bright. Open. Couldn't see the outside. Agent wouldn't call me back. Finally responded, with a picture of the outside. Did I want to see it? After seeing the dismal outside, which didn't match the remodeled inside, I decided not.
House C: Good neighborhood, but a remodeled 1950s. How bad could it be? Owner didn't really want pets, because it was newly remodeled. Then I saw it. It smelled old. Yes, it was remodeled, but didn't look new. The landlord had grown up in the house and was very fond of it. Keep your memories lady. And your no pet policy. I'm gonna find something that doesn't smell like old people.
House D: Cute outside. Remodeled, beautiful inside, from the pictures. Owner was a little skittish about pets. I tried to negotiate with additional pet deposits, etc. She finally agreed to show me, but then we couldn't get a time to match. And then she didn't return calls or emails. I decided to do a driveby. I started counting block until her house. 3000 block, 3100 block, 3200 block. Then I saw it. This nasty, run-down, abandoned shack of a house. Barren yard. Peeling paint. Broken boards. Needed a good accidental fire to spruce it up. And the house I was looking for? RIGHT NEXT DOOR to the eyesore. Again, dodged a bullet there.
Could be coincidence. Or maybe someone is looking out for us.
Either way, I return to Seattle satisfied, with a good first few days under my belt, and a really nice place that, at least for the next 12 months, we can call "Home, Sweet Home."
I give you, the new Casa de Chako . . . California Style.
We'll let you know when the first home game is.