Third Time Lucky

champagne in the sun

(Champagne in the sunshine on Friday evening. Also pictured: tiny aircraft. Hai, tiny aircraft!)

When I go on vacation, I always seem to come home with a renewed determination to change my life.

There are workout plans (Er, I’m starting tomorrow, I promise…). There are website redesigns (ShoeperWoman’s went live on Friday…). There are any number of home improvement projects, ranging from the very small to the impossibly ambitious. In 2011, for instance, I got back from California and instantly started persuading Terry to build me my shoe shelves. Last year, on the other hand, I had to be satisfied with a reorganisation of my makeup collection.

This year?

Oh, this year we just bought a house. You know, no biggie.

OMG YOU GUYS WE BOUGHT A HOUSE!

And yes, it’s THAT house. The one we narrowly missed out on back in May. Aaaaand then narrowly missed out on AGAIN in June. I guess we just needed to wait for July for some reason. Third time lucky, and all that jazz.

Naturally, there’s a REALLY long story attached to this. And, equally naturally, I will now tell you it in excruciating detail. Pour yourselves a coffee, folks – or maybe even some wine – because it’s gonna be a long one…

So! Last time I mentioned this whole house-buying fiasco it was shortly before our vacation, and we’d just endured a week of uncertainty, which culminated in the seller of the house we wanted telling us he would have to refuse our offer, and that the house basically wasn’t for sale. We were disappointed, yes, but to be completely honest, that week of waiting had been so stressful that we were mostly just relieved to have it over with.

So, we headed to Miami, and we tried to forget all about houses for a while.

This worked for the first few days, but before long I was back to my old ways: searching property listings every day, and being totally unable to walk past a furniture store without going, “Oooh, lookit! That would’ve looked amazing in that house… that we didn’t get.” I just couldn’t stop thinking about it, and I know what you’re probably thinking: you’re thinking this must be some kind of AMAZING house, given how much I’ve obsessed about it, both here on the blog and in real life, right? I mean, it’s got to be a DREAM HOUSE, seriously.

Honestly? It really isn’t. And when you see it, you’ll be all, “THIS? This ordinary looking house is the one she’s chased for three months now? FOR REALS?” And yes, you’ll be right: the house is fairly ordinary, and definitely not “dream house” material. We knew going into this search that our limited budget wouldn’t allow us to buy a “forever” home, and that the next house would simply be a step up the ladder: a place that would give us more space, and hopefully a better quality of life, than we have at the moment.

And it will. I’m sure of it.

It may not be our “dream home”, then, but the reason we wanted it was that it’s a much nicer house than we’d expected to be able to buy on our budget, frankly.  And finding it so early in our house-hunting journey kind of spoiled us, to be completely honest. The more we looked at other places, the more we came to realise that THIS house was the kind of bargain we just weren’t likely to come across very often. People kept on telling us that the reason we’d missed out on it was because the universe had some kind of mysterious plan to provide us with another, BETTER house, but we knew that was pretty unlikely. It may seem from my blog that we basically set our hearts on this house and ignored all others, but it really wasn’t like that at all. We’ve actually been searching fairly constantly for around six months now, and this is one of only two houses we really liked in all that time. (The other one sold the day we put our place on the market. Because OF COURSE it did.) There have been others which have been OK, and a few which have been amazing, but the amazing houses were way out of our budget, and the “just OK” ones were… just OK… which is why we kept coming back to this one.

It’s also why I just couldn’t get it out of my head, and why, as the end of our vacation approached, I started to dread the thought of coming home and starting from scratch again. And we really would be back to square one, too: we’d only had one viewer for our house in the three weeks we’d been in the States, and they’d told our realtor they didn’t like it. Meanwhile, we’d identified a couple of “possibles” to check out when we got home, but they were over our budget, meaning we’d only have a chance with them if they stayed on the market long enough for the sellers to consider dropping the price. Which, of course, they didn’t: we checked on our final night in Miami and both of them were already under offer. OF COURSE THEY WERE.

It wasn’t looking good. We’d decided by this point that we would accept the next reasonable offer we got on our house, and then move into a rental while we tried to find something else. This was exactly the situation we’d hoped to avoid, but we couldn’t see another option, so yeah, it’s safe to say I was even LESS thrilled at the prospect of coming home than I normally am.

Then, three days before the end of our trip, Terry switched on his phone, which had been off for a few days (He doesn’t share my Instagram addiction…), and discovered a text from the person selling the house we wanted.

“Remember my house?” It said. ” Well, it’s still available , if you want it!”

HEADDESK.

We were much less excited by this news than you might expect. In fact, we were pretty disappointed, because the fact was, the house may have become available again, but we were 100% sure we’d lost our buyer. They’d been really patient during the whole Week O’Stress, but they needed to move into the area as soon as possible, so when we’d left for Florida, they’d been in the process of finding another house to offer on ASAP. There was virtually no chance of them still being interested in ours, and we were gutted to think that, once again, the timing had been so bad that we’d missed out on the house we wanted by a matter of weeks.

Still. We knew it was unlikely our buyer would still be interested, but we had nothing to lose by asking, so Terry sent them a message, and when they still hadn’t responded a couple of days later, we figured that was all the answer we needed: they obviously weren’t interested, and we took that as a sign that we needed to just forget about this house. OK, universe, you win: WE GET THE HINT.

On the day we left Miami, I was wandering around checking to make sure I hadn’t left anything behind, and making some surreptitious attempts to insert some of my stuff into other people’s suitcases (My dad was most surprised to find himself the proud owner of a green skirt and an oversized sun-hat when he opened his case the next day…), when Terry came to me with his phone in his hand and a stunned expression on his face.

“They just replied,” he said. “They haven’t bought something else. They might still be interested.”

Oh. My. God.

All of a sudden, everything had changed again. We got home late Saturday morning, and by Saturday afternoon we were basically living a re-run of the Week O’ Stress before we left. Phonecalls. Emails. Lawyers. More phonecalls. Increasingly frantic phonecalls. WINE. A really nice ASOS dress, which actually doesn’t have anything to do with this story, but I’d wanted it for weeks, so yay! Oh yeah, and STRESS. Oh my God, THE STRESS.

By Friday evening, though, the offers had been made, and we were sure enough that it was going to go ahead that we finally opened that bottle of champagne Terry had bought back when we put the house on the market, with the intention of opening it when we sold it. We drank it outside in the sun, finally allowing ourselves to talk about the new house and our plans for it, and, because of all of the OMGSTRESS, I hadn’t eaten all day, so naturally the bubbles went straight to my head, and before long I was babbling incoherently about FAIRY LIGHTS ON TREES and LETS KNOCK DOWN SOME WALLS! and OMG, CAN I HAVE A PUPPY? Fun times, people, fun times. I mean, not for Terry, obviously. And he said no to the puppy. I think I’ll get my way with the fairy lights, though, so that’s the main thing.

So! There’s still a whole lot that could go wrong with this deal, obviously, and given our past form with this house, we’ve come to believe that anything that CAN go wrong probably WILL go wrong. I actually hesitated to even post this, because there’s a huge part of me that’s still totally convinced that I’ll hit publish and then we’ll get a call saying, “Oh yeah, about that…” As of right now, though, we have totally bought a house, people. And we’re moving in three weeks. THREE WEEKS. GULP. (Well, that’s the date we’re aiming for, anyway. I have my doubts as to whether we’ll actually make it, but if not then, it’ll be as soon as possible after that.)

Oh, and one last thing: the buyers of our place didn’t want my shoe shelves, so I get to take them with me.  Don’t you just love it when everything works out? Um, could you all just quickly cross your fingers and join me in hoping those won’t turn out to be famous last words?

P.S. Our offer was accepted late Friday, but because it happened so close to the end of the day, it was this morning before the “official” acceptance came through so we’re thinking we should mark the occasion by naming the house after the royal baby which is currently busy being born. Fingers crossed they don’t call it “Nigel”…