Since learning of Dad’s illness, a subtle shift had occurred in my thinking. My father couldn’t live alone. The medicine regimen he was on caused acute anxiety attacks; his doctor prescribed a drug to alleviate them, but these attacks scared him and me.
We needed to find a place that all of us can live in together, that provided each of us enough privacy and space, but is not in Atlanta! And we had to do it on a shoestring budget, at a time when the economy is in a kamikaze tailspin. And how would I break it to my wonderful, long-suffering husband that the “one house only” promise might have to be broken?
I contacted our realtor, Bill, again, and told him that the search for a mountain home is back on, but the customer has changed. We were now the prospective buyers. The first houses we looked at in January, when Dad was with us, were priced around $200K. Seemed like a fair price to us, when Dad was paying. The new houses Bill started showing us were in the $160’s….We ran the numbers. We could afford a house in that range, but just barely. The really affordable ones, priced in the $120’s, were depressingly awful. And they all seemed to sport bed quilts, towels, ceiling fans, and shower curtains with moose and bear motif. UGH!
Discouragement set in. I found myself spending hours on the internet searching for properties. There was almost nothing for sale in the Dahlonega-Cleveland-Helen area. Blue Ridge, Ellijay, and Jasper had a good inventory of homes on the market, and the prices seemed reasonable. I started looking at foreclosure listings that had babbling brooks or streams included in their descriptions.
In early March, I called Bill about a couple of foreclosures I wanted to look at. One listing, in particular, located on Kell’s Creek, seemed to emit a magnetic pull. I had to see this place. First, it was huge, and second, it was affordable! Also, it had creek access, lots of bedrooms and bathrooms, and downstairs, there was a huge in-law suite with a full kitchen. Greg reluctantly agreed to go to Ellijay with me on a Sunday morning, during the first full weekend of March Madness, to meet Bill and look at houses.
I had the strangest feeling that this was the day we would find the house. I had felt it all weekend, and by the time we met Bill in Ellijay, I held out the Kell’s Creek listing and said “this is my house; I want to see it first”. Bill is a nice man. He didn’t snicker or roll his eyes. Believing the customer is always right, and understanding that there is karma involved in house buying, he drove us to the property.
The first time I laid eyes on the Kell’s Creek house, I loved it. Once again, I said “this is my house”, even before the key was inserted into the lock. The inside did not disappoint, either. The space was remarkable, and the wood work in the house was beautiful. Somebody had employed great craftsmanship when they built this place. On the flip side, there was a lot to be concerned about. The kitchen cabinets looked like they were constructed of white plastic (who knew that was even possible?); the kitchen counters were maroon and the seams were buckled; kitchen appliances were decrepit; the garage had been halfway transformed into a theater room, and the French doors that replaced the garage doors were water damaged. And the paint colors were so depressing. There was even a moose and bear ceiling fan in the living room. Also, there was no fireplace, and we can’t live without one of those!
On the whole, though, the house was pleasing. Most of the problems seemed cosmetic. You could hear the rushing of the creek from the huge screened-in porch that ran the whole length of the back of the house. The kitchen layout was awesome. There was a dining area large enough for our dining table and at least 6 chairs. Huge closets and storage areas abounded. The bedrooms were large, and the master suite was quite awesome. My Dad would love it!
We never looked at any other houses that day. The only other property of interest had gone under contract the day before. We left Bill promising him that we would get back with him shortly about an offer on the Kell’s Creek foreclosure.
The next day (Monday), we learned that Fannie Mae was managing the sale of the Kell’s Creek house. It was due to go on the auction block at the end of the week, but they would still entertain offers under the First Bid program. The price of the house had dropped $4K just within that week. We called Bill and told him we wanted to make an offer that was even lower than the asking price. I could tell he didn’t think we had a gnat’s chance in hell of scoring this deal, but he gamely faxed us the paperwork, which we signed and returned to him. I told him I was now sure we would get the house. He submitted our offer to First Bid on Monday, and the waiting game began…
Two days later, on Wednesday, Bill called to say that our offer had been accepted on the house. He seemed a little incredulous; I was ecstatic. Greg was pleased, too! We now had 10 days of due diligence, in which to get the home inspected, and based on the results of the inspection, proceed with sale, or call it off and have our earnest money returned.
The home inspection went well. Somehow, I knew it would pass with flying colors. This was to be our house!
Dad came up the following weekend to see the place. He loved it! In fact, he went back to Charlotte, called a realtor, and now his townhouse is on the market. It’s great when a plan comes together… The house closing is May 6th!
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