You may be thinking I’d fallen off the face of the earth. I didn’t — but we did find a house and life has been a bit of a whirlwind ever since.
While M was in Britain, I noticed a new property on the market that looked interesting — good room sizes, good neighbourhood, excellent school district, and it also looked to have the elements that have been deal breakers for so many houses before: the kind of garage, driveway, and basement that M would love. I had the estate agent take me round it last Thursday and, it turned out, it was interesting — really very interesting. I immediately arranged to go back with M on Saturday morning.
On Friday night, I got a phone call from the estate agent: the buyer already had an offer. Apparently, he had had been about to accept it, but had agreed to wait until we’d seen it as well. He had to reply to the first offer by Sunday, so the pressure was now firmly on. If we were going to have to make this decision quickly, I decided to ask my dad to join us, and to bring his best friend (who happens to be a builder) so they could cast their expert eyes over it as well.
That night, E2 couldn’t breath for a blocked up nose, and she kept me up all night. At 5.30am, I’d had 90 minutes of sleep. M got up with her and so I managed to catch two more hours before I had to get up as well. My head was pounding — three and a half hours sleep is not enough to get up on, and certainly not enough to make house-buying decisions on. This did not bode well.
Then, as I was getting dressed, I suddenly realised I was about to view a house in the company of four men, all of whom would be looking at it strictly in terms of pipes and bricks and money, and none of whom would be thinking of whether this house would really work for a mother with two little kids. So at the last minute, I asked my mother to come too (which, of course, meant the girls would have to tag along as well). Mum’s face lit up — she had been secretly hating the fact that she wasn’t going to get a look-in on a house that might be such a serious contender. So, an hour later, we pitch up outside the house …all eight of us. The owner was still there but, fortunately, didn’t seem much fazed by the sea of faces on his doorstep. He opened the door wide for us before descretely slipping out for a spot of early-Saturday gardening.
Then, just as the door closed behind us, disaster struck: M’s work phone went off. He was on call that weekend and they needed him for an emergency now. Everyone else was looking around the room and talking excitedly, but my eyes were focused on him as he tried to beg off enough time to at least give the place a quick walk-through. Finally, he hung up and flashed me a tense smile: he’d got them to agree, but we’d have to be quick and there’d be little time for discussion. This was not how we wanted to view a house, let alone make a decision.
I marched everyone through in double-quick time, but that didn’t dampen the effect. They all liked the house. Most importantly, M did, and I liked it more on second viewing than I had on first. It’s a surprising house — a Cape Cod with an odd split-level addition on one side — that is spread over five different levels and just seems to go on and on as you discover each one. The living room, dining room, and kitchen are on the small side, but they have scope for easy expansion. The family room will work perfectly for both the girls toys and my fibre stash, and M was really chuffed to discover a big, dry, inviting basement for his drums and his weights. Upstairs, it has three bedrooms — one of them of them set apart by a half-set of stairs, which would be perfect for E2, officially the World’s Lightest Sleeper. My dad and his friend approved the overall condition of the house and were particularly pleased to discover it has a brand-new roof.
“I have to go,” M said suddenly, looking at his watch.
“Ok, ok…” I stammered. “Let’s talk about the house for a minute…”
“No, I have to go now.” M is very conscious not to push his chances with this second job. He glanced up at the house. “I like it,” he announced. “Let’s buy it.”
The realtor spotted that M was trying to leave and rushed over. We had to make an offer today, he said, before the owner had to make his decision on the other offer — and probably before M got back from his call-out. But he’s a clever clogs, our realtor, and he pulled out a blank contract he’d brought with him — M could sign it now, and then the realtor and I could go back to the office and write all the details into it afterward. It seemed like a plan, and there was no time to discuss it further. M and I hastily agreed on our offer price, he signed on the dotted line, and jumped in the car. Two seconds later, he was gone, and I stood on the driveway looking at this house — this house that we were going to buy. The decision was made, just like that.
Back in the realtor’s office, we did everything we could to make the offer more attractive than what we reckoned the other buyers had offered. We made the closing date match the owner’s preference, we were flexible about survey options, and… we offered ever-so-slightly more than we’d originally hoped to. The estate agent turned to me with a confident look, “It’s a good offer. It’s very attractive. I think we have a good chance of getting it.”
I nodded. “It’s an honest offer. We’ve made it as attractive as we can.” I was surprised by how calm I was feeling. “I think we have a good chance too. But, the thing is, if we don’t get it, I am not going to beat myself up about it, because I know we did the best, most honest offer we could. It’s out of our hands now — it will be what it will be.” He pushed the last page over to me, and I scribbled my name under M’s. It was done.
Sunday morning the phone rang while I was feeding the baby. I could hear the muffled sound of M’s voice through the wall, but it gave nothing away. After a few minutes, he opened the door, his face blank and unreadable.
“He put our offer in yesterday afternoon. The other buyers made a counter offer but… the seller has chosen ours.” He took a deep breath. “We’ve bought a house.” And, for just a moment, my heart forgot to beat.