Here’s the short answer to the question everyone has been asking: yup, we did buy the lovely lakehouse! It was unplanned, unexpected and a completely nutty whirlwind that we’re still swept up in.
Here’s the longer answer:
On a Monday (May 20) : Hubby sends me a link to a stunning lakehouse. We had talked about selling our townhouse next spring and moving to a home on Lake Superior, but our plans were still up in the air. We both really, really like this house, though, and quickly realize how few lakeside homes come up for sale. One of us suggests the crazy idea of buying this one while we have the chance. We ponder.
Tuesday (May 21): We decide to speak to our bank about whether we even have the funds to buy this house. More importantly, if our townhouse doesn’t sell quickly, could we carry both mortgages?
Wednesday (May 22): I call the bank, make an appointment for Thursday. Meanwhile, I ask my Mom to call the sellers (it’s a private sale) to schedule a viewing because the house is in our hometown. The phone number leads to the seller’s daughter, who doesn’t have the key. The seller now lives in another city, but a neighbour has the key. My Mom calls the seller to schedule an appointment but no offer is made to see the interior. My Mom is invited to tour the outside. What?! The seller says another woman expressed an interest three months ago but after five showings, lots of empty promises and legal fees, no offer has materialized. He claims he owes her nothing.
Thursday (May 23): The banks gives me an unofficial YAY to giving us a stupid amount of money in addition to our current mortgage. I brag a little when the banker asks, “any other debt, besides the mortgage?” “NOPE!” I say and grin like this:
Meanwhile, my Mom and Dad tour the property. It is beautifully landscaped, they report, including the shore. It’s on a bay of Lake Superior, but it’s shallow, perfect for swimming, canoeing and kayaking. The house is solid as a rock and in pristine condition. Guest house is larger than thought! Mom says buy it. Dad says finish your PhD first. I start cleaning the townhouse and contacting real estate agents in Ottawa.
Friday (May 24): We call the seller, tell him we want to fly in and see the lakehouse at the beginning of June. We need to sell our house, but want to put in an offer to buy his. He says “great,” but seems noncommittal. I decide to loop in a buyer’s agent. Once the agent is on board and tells the seller what our offer will look like, the seller says the price is right but doesn’t want our condition of selling our house. We say fine, we’ll waive that condition and ask for a longer closing date instead (90 days). He says max 60 days. Eeegads. We say fine. Meanwhile, he says the other woman has gotten more serious. We suspect he used our interest as leverage. We say we can fly in sooner to view it and will present our offer as promised, no surprises, when we arrive. He doesn’t feel comfortable with us not having seen it. Our realtor asks if he’ll give us the chance to tour the house and present an offer before deciding anything. At least let us and the other woman present offers before making a decision. He says yes. Sweet! But then the realtor calls back. He’s backed out. He doesn’t even want to entertain the idea of our offer or facilitate our seeing the house and he is going to go with the other buyer, who still has not listed her house and hasn’t submitted a formal offer in writing. We are stumped! So is our realtor. Sometimes For Sale by Owner goes weirdly, he tells us, and reminds us of the importance of an agent.
Saturday (May 25): We spend the day saying “I’m sad. I loved that house.” We convince ourselves that the house was wrong for us (a bit of a longer drive than I wanted, a 5 foot high basement only good for storage, really horrible timing). The days pass and we’re relieved not to have to prepare our house for sale, because we still have the big bad laundry room to contend with, the basement to declutter, the back fence to remove, the garden to tend to, the garage to clean, the bedrooms to swap and a million or so odds and ends we’ve lived with for four years. Our realtor says other lake homes might open up in the next months, so we make a list of things to tackle in our house so we can (slowly) get ready for sale, in case another gem appears. Whew, we think, we’ve got time and this has lit a small fire under our bums to get things done, without launching us into full blown panic mode.
Thursday (May 30): Panic mode. I’m eating my cereal and checking email when our realtor calls! The deal fell through with the other woman and we’re up to bat. Ohhhhhkay. Lucky seller, that we’re even still interested because his snubbing us would have turned off other people!! Our realtor pushes us along to move fast. Too fast, in hindsight. Hubby’s unreachable at a conference in another city, and it’s up to me to make decisions. We put together an offer and with a series of scanners and fax machines (fax machines!) we manage to sign the offer in two different cities and submit it to our realtor in a third city.
Saturday (May 31): The day after Hubby returns from his conference, I leave for Victoria for a three day conference of my own. Four layovers and 13 hours. I deliver my paper the next day, then turn around and fly home 6:45a.m. the next day.
Monday (June 3): Exhausted, I return from Victoria after a 12 hour flight. I touch down around suppertime. We can’t sleep.
Tuesday (June 4): We head to the bank when it opens, to start the official mortgage approval process. After our appointment, we drive straight to the airport and we fly to our hometown, eat a bagel melt, then drive straight to the property for a viewing and home inspection. Home inspection reveals a truly well built home with amazing bones and quality building materials. Viewing reveals more updates than I planned! But the lake is amazing and the home has a great layout with spacious rooms and open concept that I can work with.
Wednesday (June 5): I fly back to Ottawa bright and early, so I can get to work on time that night. Hubby flies later in the day and I pick him up at 9p.m. when I’m done work. We can’t sleep.
Thursday (June 6): Well water tests come back good, the bank says YES (officially, this time). Our conditions are waved. We’ve bought a house. We start tearing around the townhouse, finishing up projects, cleaning, organizing. We log long days prepping.
Saturday (June 8): We marvel at how little time it took to finish the laundry room that we spent 18 months ignoring. Stupid us, it looks amazing. Details soon.
So, that’s it. We bought a house when we weren’t even really looking for one. But it’s gorgeous, with so much potential. I’m meeting with realtors this week to list the townhouse (sniff). I’m worried it’s too late in the season and we won’t sell. Right now, we’re in overdrive trying to finish projects to list before June is over, because April, May and June are supposedly the busiest months for real estate in Ottawa. We haven’t stopped to tell many of our family members yet, but we will once things calm down a little. Did I mention chapter three of my dissertation was due a week ago? It’s 30% written but I’m too covered in paint, dust and marble cleaner to focus.
Stay tuned for plans for the new house, and photos from projects we’re wrapping up here – in addition to photos of the townhouse staged for sale! For now, here are some photos of the new place, some you’ve seen but some you haven’t. A few I snapped super quickly during the viewing, while others are from the listing. Maybe I’ll do a video tour when we move in?
There’s a lot of work to do, but I already have a vision . . . and a Pinterest board.