Househunting Mom: This Is It, Part 2

Editor’s note: This is the second part of last week’s Househunting Mom cliffhanger.

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”
― Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

We picked up the phone.

househunting mom real estate Champaign Urbana

Will the househunting mom click her ruby slippers and find out there's no place like home? Find out today! Photo by HarshLight on Flickr

There was an offer coming in on that other house, Margie told us; do we want to do anything?

The other house in question was fairly new to the market, and although we’d already had a showing and were very impressed by it, at the time there were a couple of things holding us back: the ever-present prospect of someday getting the short sale house, as well as the house’s price tag.  It was far pricier than what we thought we might end up paying.

But now, as we were fielding this phone call from Margie, we were newly relieved of one of those stumbling blocks.  Our contract on the short sale house was dead in the water.  And we were just beginning to internalize that and move on.

So, the questions we were left with: how much do we want this new house and were we willing to swoop with lightning speed?  We had to figure it out fast.  If we didn’t, we were fairly certain we’d lose out.

Luckily, it was not a new quandary for us; the benefit of having been on the hunt for nearly two years had finally provided us with enough experiences to actually be able to assess this quickly and rationally.

There had been The Catch-22 house, which had it all, but after word from our bank that we’d have to sell our own before we bought another, the timing was just off.  So we knew what it was like to be faced with a great house and just not have the power to be able to make an offer.

There had been the The One that Got Away, which I fell madly in love with, but was on the market for a mere four days before someone else snapped it up.  So we knew what it felt like to lose out on a great house.

There had been the What’s it Worth? House, which had a slam dunk of a lot and location, but we could not get past the price tag.  And for all our kvetching about it, it turned out that it was worth it to someone else out there.  So we’d been faced with this particular stumbling block before, and lived to regret it.

And all of this served to give us exactly the kind of big picture clarity that we needed in order to really get in there and figure out, in record time, whether we were ready to spend that kind of money on this house.

We got out the old familiar checklist:

Plenty of space in the house?  Check.  Big kitchen?  Check.  Walkable to something?  Check.  Wheelchair accessible?  With very little modification, check.  Cul-de-sac?  Check.  Well designed, open floorplan?  Check.  Kid-packed neighborhood?  Check.  Big lot with mature landscaping?  (Insert sound of crickets chirping)  Big lot with mature landscaping?

And so.  This would have to be our ultimate compromise.  But we know that we’re never going to find perfect.  If there were a perfect, it’d be the house that we already live in.  The house where we’ve spent the last 12 years painstakingly making it the ultimate getaway/entertaining/adventuring/accommodating/peace and quiet house.  But it’s not perfect either, as what we need now as a family is not the same thing that we needed as two DINKS.

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So. No mature landscaping. And not much of a yard.

But did I mention that the house is in walking distance to two of the best pizza joints in town?  And Thai food?  And a drugstore (that sells candy)?  And that the neighborhood is exceptionally well designed, with lots of commons walking paths, and lakes, and a little neighborhood park that’s just down the street?

And did I mention that the house was custom built, with quality materials: all brick with solid wood doors and crown moulding and a stained glass window in the master bath?  The finishes of it echo everything that we loved about the Lifestyle House, but with a modern design that’s far more versatile for different patterns of living.

We went over all of these details, staying up well past bedtime, talking ourselves into it, then out of it, then back into it, until we were too tired to think at all anymore.  We went to bed with questions still swirling in our heads: Would another Plan A house pop up on the market in spring?  Probably.  Would it be perfect?  Probably not.  Would it be better than this house?  Maybe not.  Will we kick ourselves all over again if we miss out on it?  Will we ever stinkin’ know if any of these houses are going to be best choice?

In the morning, we called Margie back.  “A ‘Plan A’ house is a ‘Plan A’ house” we said, “Let’s do it”.

Finally came the moment in which we chose  To do.  To swim.  To fight.  To s%*t, if you will.  To buy the dang thing.

We move in February.

Erin Nieto has lived in Champaign-Urbana for nearly all of her life, and heads Erin S. Nieto Fine Art Appraisal in addition to being a busy mom of two. More of her essays on motherhood and culture can be found

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  1. So happy for you and your family! What a special time. Congrats. Have loved your posts.

  2. Welcome to the neighborhood! See you at the park this spring!