When one speaks dismissively of the domestic accomplishments that are typical of the “American Dream” that are 1) get married 2) buy a house (preferably with a white picket fence) and 3) have 2.5 kids, we assume that the jaded speaker has not been able to achieve those things. Either that or they reject the notion that you must have those things to be fulfilled. And considering that I seriously fell for a house with a white picket fence, I’d put myself in a 3rd category: unabashed desire for the hallmarks of domesticity.
For example, when I was dating G., I could NOT FREAKING WAIT to get married to him. After about 3 months of dating, we knew that we were going to get married, so the remainder of our courtship (close to a year and a half) were fairly angst-ridden, at least for me.
Same with buying a house and having kids, I fully expected to be out of our first place together- a perfectly charming 1950s apartment along the river- around the one year mark. Three years later…I have truly had it with apartment living- schlepping laundry to the ‘mat, neighbors jumping on our ceiling/throwing away my plants/stealing our lawn furniture/throwing FOOD in the common courtyard like their mothertrucking compost pile!, midnight ambulances along Riverside, etc., etc.
We started investigating rent houses, but were horrified to find that cute Midtown rental would run us upwards of $1200/month, almost double our current rent. So, when we did the math on a mortgage in a moderate price range, we decided that maybe buying would be smarter (historic lows on interest rates were certainly a bonus!) Thus, we FINALLY started looking at houses.
The Road to Lortondale
After looking around for a week or so, with a random Realtor that we picked up at a open house, we decided to wait till spring, not seeing a whole lot in our price range.
Well, we got hooked up with a different Realtor, Dustin Thames of Chinowth & Cohen, who LIVES in our desired neighborhood and is an all-around cool guy. He took us around to see some more houses, including one we’d seen with the first guy. We decided to put in an offer on a cute 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom Mid-century Modern house in the historic Tulsa neighborhood of Lortondale, which was super-cheap, but had a super ugly kitchen that would need redoing.We offered, they countered, we countered, we were gonna get it! Then, due to some shady dealings on the seller’s side, we didn’t get the house. G. and I were both CRUSHED, like you can’t even believe. I had mentally picked out furniture, paint, etc. for the place, and was inconsolable for a few days.
So, we mourned. And decided to wait till spring. But then our Realtor sent us some more listings, and we looked at ‘just a few more’ houses, in a couple of new neighborhoods. But none of them were right for us, like, in the least. Except for one with a picket fence…which I couldn’t get G. to pay attention too.
About this time, we were mulling putting in an offer on a fixer-upper in Lortondale, when Dustin, invited us to the Lortondale progressive Christmas party. Now, we had fallen for this neighborhood back in the summer of 2009 when G. went with one of his co-workers at the time, Cole, to go take photographs of a home tour of renovated Mid-Century homes in the Lortondale neighborhood. So, this was like Home Tour Redux: MORE awesome houses, met the owners, talked shop on renovations, made instant friends with a few folks and pretty much had confirmed for us, that Lortondale was the neighborhood for us, fixer-upper or no.
So, we bid. On a 3bed/2bath fixer upper in Lortondale, with a bunch of concessions- like air duct cleaning, $1000 repair cap & full inspection. They countered, we countered, got to an agreement. (yay!).
Then, the inspections happened. Good lord, was that dramatic. Everything with cool or fixable, with one teensy exception, our structural engineer first insinuated, then INSISTED that there were major structural issues and that we needed like NINE piers under the foundation. All without taking any measurements. So, needless to say, everyone was freaked out (& I was really pissed that we had to pay the dude almost $600 to tell us we were buying a crappy house). Deal was off, right?
Fortunately, the cooler heads of the realtors prevailed and we ordered up a 2nd structural inspection (sellers paid for that one), which came back as recommending NO piers. WTF? So one guy says 9, the other says 0? G. talked to the 2nd engineer who explained that yes, there was movement, but it was due to soil shift (dry summer and fall) and not anything to worry about. In the future (5-10 years) we MIGHT need a couple of piers, but only in 1 wing of the house. That, we can live with. Deal moves forward.
Closing is set for January 6th. G. & I realize that we can’t get renovation money without accessing a certain type of loan (FHA 203K if anyone is interested), so we had to switch lenders , which moved our close date by a week. Then we have to get an FHA inspector out (house passes no problem), assemble quotes for work that needs to be done (that takes another week). Then our earnest money check bounces (because I can’t read numbers apparently and put the money in the wrong account), so we have to get a cashiers check- which they MAIL. Then its the holidays, so nothing gets done. Cashiers check is MIA. Suddenly is Jan. 1 and we close in 2 weeks. We scramble to get paperwork and funds in place. Cashiers check for earnest money arrives. Bank needs more paperwork, funds verification to close. Some of the funds for the down payment get mailed to G.’s folks (??) and then it takes another FIVE days to get to us (his folks live an hour away). Bank can’t close without the funds in hand.We miss our close date. Sellers are furious. I’m so stressed that if I weren’t already ON antidepressants, I’d need some emergency Xananx. Even calm, cool and collected G. can’t sleep at night. We text each other constantly about whether the mail has come.
The check comes on a Friday (closing was on Thursday)- there is much rejoicing!! Closing is scheduled, tentatively, for the following Tuesday (because of course Monday is a bank holiday). Which brings us to today, that infamous Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day.We will probably close tomorrow. If we don’t, I’m going to need that Xanax, stat. Stay tuned!