Friday, July 24, 2009

Serendipity: a guest post from the owner of the house on the island

Today's guest blogger is our future landlord... the owner of the house on the island. She graciously offered to share her story on how she came to contact us...

in mid-June, as is my habit, I was doing a weekly read of housing-related articles. I'm an economist by profession and way back in 2001 I came to believe that we were entering a housing bubble. Almost as a hobby, since my day job involves analyzing non-U.S. economies, I have been following the soap opera that has been the rise and fall of the housing market and its impact on the American economy.

This week had a touch of irony to it, for despite my belief that the story, especially the falling part, is far from over, we were a few days away from closing on the purchase of a house. We had no intention of buying a house; not right now anyway. We were still more than two years away from settling in one place, and by my reckoning 2011 or 2012 would be pretty fair timing in the market..

I had been keeping on eye on what kinds of properties one could get at what prices in Washington State in a few locations that we were considering. We wanted an old house that we could renovate in a rural location. The San Juan Islands was not one of these locations –too expensive for my frugal instincts. Still one lazy afternoon I pulled up listings there in a fantasy window-shopping kind of way. And stumbled across just the kind of thing we were looking for, well within our price range.

In fact, that price was pretty unbelievable. Why wasn't it long gone? “What's the catch?” I wondered. Next to a garbage dump? Ready to collapse from dry rot? My Mom, bless her, agreed to check it out for us. She reported back-great place, no major issues, and it's a steal. We talked about it seriously, but with two years lag time, I was especially concerned about trying to take care of the property from long distance. I just wasn't ready to buy.

A few weeks later, my husband popped his head into the room. “How much was that place listed for?” he asked. I told him. Nope, he replied, they dropped it 20k. Mom! I e-mailed. They dropped the price—they are making it hard to resist. Stop resisting she told me. You'll regret if you miss this chance.

So. It was the right house, at the right price, in a dream location, at the wrong time. We made an offer another 30k below the new asking price. They accepted.

Now we were a few days before closing and I was doing my weekly housing market news read. I came across a link to “Love in the Time of Foreclosure”. I scrolled back through older posts 'til I hit the first one, and begin to read the whole thing in chronological order. Somewhere about half way through I was hit by the powerful conviction “These guys are our caretakers.”

My usually dominant rational and logical side shook this off. In fact, we had already identified a caretaker. We didn't want to rent the house out until we could live there, but didn't want it empty either. We needed someone to live there, keep it from being overgrown by blackberries, and taking care of all those little things a house needs doing. Our real estate broker knew of just the right person, Mom had discussed it all with them, and things were set. She handed over the keys at the closing. But a couple days later we got an e-mail—sorry can't do it after all.

My thoughts went again to the Walkers. “You can't just contact random people you read about on the Internet,” I told myself.

The next day my husband told me that he had contacted someone with a situations wanted ad in Caretaker Gazette. We have long had a subscription on the theory that we might test drive a few locations by caretaking before actually buying a home and settling in one place. Now though we were on the other side of deal. The person he contacted was very interested. After the usual exchange of info, just when it seemed like we would seal the deal, a family medical situation on the East Coast put the kibosh on that. My husband said he would start to write up our own “Positions Available” for the next edition.

Well, I told myself, maybe I was right. After all, two apparently sure things had fallen through. After a couple of false starts, I bit the bullet and sent them that e-mail. And they were interested. And then I had to explain to my husband what I had done. He took it well. And after some consideration they accepted.

That's my story.

Thank you, future landlord whose name I don't want to reveal to the general public (maybe we should come up with a code name.) I'm so glad you contacted us! Can I just say that after reading this, I'm even more excited about this opportunity. It's all coming together. It does feel, dare I say it, like fate.

Have any readers perused The Caretaker's Gazette yet?

Have any of you ever lived on an island?

Would you? Why or why not?


Kim Hooper said...

How awesome that you guys connected :) As much as people complain about how "impersonal" online communication can be, I think it's pretty damn amazing...and personal!

Meghan said...

I firmly believe that you make your own luck.

You guys have fought so hard to stay out of foreclosure, and you've taken accountability for what went wrong, and you're been so open to the world about your story. (If I can be so bold) you aren't the sort of people who just let life happen to you. Personally, I've found that even when I make a few wrong turns, I'll find myself in a fantastic new place eventually. I call it "losting my way found."

I'm sure if wishes came true and you could've stayed in LA in your house, you probably would have. But then you wouldn't have this blog, or this new life in San Juan, or your newfound appreciation of what "home" really is.

This is probably a trite comment to your blog, but just know that it's heartfelt: you two are brave for sharing your story with us on the internets, you have had an emotional impact on us with your story, we're cheering for you, and we know you'll be just fine, whatever comes next.

Congratulations on your new living situation and your new adventure!

Love in the Time of Foreclosure said...


Your comment is anything but trite! I believe the same thing. We make our own like. That's the premise of this blog. You can live an extraordinary life in the face of ANY circumstance. I truly believe it's up to each individual. Life never just happens.

My grandpa used to always say: "Make it a great day." He didn't like the expression "Have a nice day" because he didn't believe in it. You don't HAVE a day unless you allow it to have you. Does that make sense? You MAKE it great by your own choice and actions.

You're absolutely right, this entire experience has allowed us to really get what home means. What kind of life we're committed to leading and appreciating every little blessing. If we had sold our house right away we wouldn't have learned all the amazing lessons along the way.

Oh, and I LOVE your expressing "losting my way found." I want to steal it. Or, fine, borrow it. It's so perfect.

Thank you, thank you for your comment.

Gary Dunn said...

Interesting blog post! Thanks for mentioning The Caretaker Gazette and good luck to you on your journey.

Best wishes,

Gary Dunn, Publisher
The Caretaker Gazette

riye said...

I've lived on a island most of my life and there are some things that aren't great. Everything has to get shipped here so prices are higher, a lot of companies won't ship here, and, apparently, if you're say the President of the U.S. and you're born here it counts as a foreign country!

On the plus side though, I am still amazed at how the sea can look a little different every day and still be so lovely. Makes you remember that even if you're not happy about life, there is still beauty just waiting for you to appreciate it if you can only learn to see it. But then I think you folks already figured that one out! I'm a slow learner. ;-) Good luck with your island!

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