Today's Think Kit blogging prompt: What was the wisest decision you made this year? Did it change your "everyday", move something from Point A to Point B, or involve others?
My wisest decision this year was to go for it!
I come from a long line of ruminators. You’ve met the likes of us before. We’re the if only people. If only I had said that /not said that/ turned left/turned right/stayed home/gone out/broken up with him/not broken up with him/had the perfect haircut/let my hair grow/worn that/not worn that/blah blah blah.
I’m one of those woulda shoulda coulda kind of people.
I avoided one of those times this summer. I'd learned just a few days before that Helen was putting her house (home of the Flower Man Jam) up for auction. I’d always pictured that someday I would live there.
Once the shock wore off I dismissed the idea thinking that there is no way that I could pull it all together to place a bid and I accepted it as fate, while mentally beating myself up for not having buckets of money in the bank.
Then I spent a few hours with Helen in her backyard that Sunday. I woke up Monday morning determined that I should figure out what my options were. I ran around my house like a nut and gathered up and scanned last year’s W2s and tax return, and my current pay stub. I e-mailed them with a link to the auction and details to the mortgage officer at my bank. I was in an off-site board retreat/planning session most of the day and didn’t realize that the e-mail to the loan officer had flipped back to me. I stopped at the bank on the way from the meeting to work and learned that the contact I had was long gone, someone had replaced him, that guy quit, and the “new” loan officer hadn’t started yet. I stopped at another branch of my bank and learned that the loan officer for that branch was on vacation. Again I decided that it must be fate and I mentally gave up on the idea - while wondering why the heck they don't forward bank e-mails to the current people.
Then I remembered that I had a mortgage broker from when I purchased my house. I shot her a quick e-mail and she responded immediately. In 36 hours she had me pre-approved for a mortgage. A heroic feat, really.
It forced me to examine my current living situation and whether I wanted to let the double go to make the move to house Helen's. After crunching numbers I decided that untimely I wanted to keep the rental property. After almost six years I’ve gotten things manageable enough that renting out both sides would cover the cost of my mortgage loan, property taxes, and insurance – but not much cushion for emergency repairs or vacancies. Armed with the numbers, I decided that if push came to shove I wouldn’t sell the double in order to buy Helen’s house.
I was a Nervous Nelly, arriving two hours before the auction and was the first to register and get my bidding number. I let Helen know that I would be bidding and she gave me free rein to poke in the attic and cellar. The house is quirky and old – the ‘new’ part was added 123 years ago to an existing log cabin. It was really interesting to see the different foundations in the basement. A friend was with me and he used his plumbing and electrical expertise to look at the mechanics of the place. The plumbing is new, but the electrical system harked back to the 1930s.
The roof and decking looked great. As I was immediately smitten with the attic – as wide as the house with a tall roofline and several windows. It almost doubled the size of the living space and I could picture myself with a chair tucked in the corner and the computer on my lap. I mentally upped my maximum bidding amount.
There had been lots of ‘tire-kicking’ on the house and the auction company thought there would be some heavy bidding and I was hoping so for Helen’s sake. I was going in to the auction wanting the house, but hoping that Helen would get tons more money than I could afford.
As it turned out there were only two bidders, me and another guy. As I farm kid I am pretty comfortable with the auction process, but I’ve never been a participant in anything bigger than bidding on a potato fork or box of wrapping paper.
I took my seat on the lawn chair with the dozen or so folks gathered in Helen’s back yard.
The auctioneer started out high and I was afraid to breathe. After no one bid, the auctioneer asked for an opening bid. A bidder opened at $100,000, a mere $10,000 more than the in-my-head maximum. Yikkes. I was pre-approved for more, so I bid $105,000. Gulp. He countered at $110,000. I bid $115,000. He bid $120,000. My dad was looking green in the lawn chair next to me. I went to $125,000. Dad was shaking his head vigorously back and forth and looking a little green. The other bidder offered $130,000. I started shaking my head no.
The auctioneer took Helen into the house for a conference and they came out and re-opened the bidding. I bid $1,000 more, he bid another $1,000, I upped it by $1,000, and he upped it one thousand dollars to $134,000. I was out. After another in-the-house conference between Helen and the auctioneer they came out and announced the house was sold to the other bidder.
I could have gone higher, but I would have had to sell the double and I wasn’t ready to do that yet. It was emotional and heart-breaking, but I gave it my best shot.
Even though I didn't get the house, I feel wiser for trying.
And if the house ever goes back up for sale, I'll be the first in line.