We are under contract. The inspection is completed. We have a closing date. The process of selling our home is moving forward as each piece of the puzzle is worked into place. There is one important detail that still has to be resolved however: We are homeless. We have not yet found a suitable rental home for the interim before we are ready to buy again. It's not for lack of searching either. Here are just a few examples of the many frustrations we have encountered...
The Too Good Home:
A friendly realtor greets me at the door asks me to take off my shoes as the owner has just re-carpeted the whole place. I enter in socks and walk carefully along protective papered trails that lead me from room to room. Surrounding me is newly fallen white...yes, white...carpet. Wall to wall to wall of new new, white white carpet. Even the dining area has been carpeted! The security deposit is large. How much does it cost to re-carpet 3,100 sq. ft? I don't intend to find out. Besides, we don't really need 3,100 sq ft.
The Not Good Enough "Home":
This place is currently being rented to 6-8 unrelated people of mixed gender. If they had just told us that over the phone, I never would have gone to look at it. But I did, and I was too polite to leave the realtor without taking the tour. And what a tour it was!
The whole place smelled like alcohol and something else...something I have not smelled before and it was not the smell of any legal substance with which I am familiar. There were other things, too, but I don't want to remember. The realtor wasn't seeing me wince, either, or responding to any of my clues. I started to feel sick and still I tried to make polite conversation through it all.
Why? Why am I so stupidly polite? When I returned home, the boys were surprised to see me back so soon. "How was it?" Jeremy asked. "It was the third ring of hell." I answered.
The (Almost) Just Right Home:
This place was sizable, clean and sufficiently updated. It was in a good location and though old, it had been well cared for. With its bee-hive ovens, built in bookcases, and foyer window seat, this house was steeped to its gutters in charm. Most of the floors were wide plank American Chestnut (A tree that no longer grows). Where there was carpet, it was comfortably worn. Any use we might add wouldn't change the appearance much, I thought. I fell in love with the house and imagined happy school days taking place under its roof and in its large fenced-in yard.
But the landlord wanted a short term lease. We asked for longer one. The realtor didn't think it would fly, but the owner went for it; he just wanted a higher rent. Too high. When I suggested what we would like to pay the realtor scoffed, but then she called me back to say that the landlord was interested. It all seemed so perfect. They wanted to meet us. We agreed.
I assumed (wrongly) that if the landlord and his realtor were asking us to come to the property with all the children, that this meant they agreed to all our terms and that they just wanted to be sure we were decent people. If the children behaved reasonably well, I thought, we could expect to sign an agreement.
I dressed the children that morning in their best play clothes and combed their hair. I spoke to each one individually about the importance of being extra polite and extra obedient. "Yes, Mama." "We will, Mama." "We want to be good." They all said and I felt they would, but still worried they might mess up. They often mean well and fail. That could not happen. Not today. Too much was at stake.
Upon arriving, it quickly became clear that the landlord, landlady, and their realtor had very different intentions than those I had imagined. It appeared they wanted to negotiate with the children at our feet and use the children as props for their negotiations.
First, it was that they thought the children might get hurt on the property and that Jeremy, being a lawyer, would sue them. They wanted security from all liability. Then they said the children would damage the property, especially since they are at home all day, and on this account, we would need to pay a higher rent and give a larger security deposit. All this was explained by the realtor in a demanding tone. "This is the kind of thing we are concerned about," she said pointing to Nicholas as he tried to climb a built in book shelf.
The shelf was fine, but I was crushed. Perhaps it was because I had misunderstood the purpose of the meeting. Perhaps it was because I felt my husband's character was being questioned, my way of life scrutinized, and my children used against me. Perhaps I was too sensitive, but a hot sensation passed through my head and down my neck. A great surge of defensiveness took over my thoughts and, unfortunately, my mouth.
I may have said, in a defensive tone, something about how Jeremy may be a lawyer, but he is also a good man and not prone to sue. I might have told them, with pointed finger, that we are selling our home in a better condition than when we bought it. I might have said that while our boys may break things, we are self-respecting people with a sense of justice and would fix anything that broke or expect to pay for it. I might have said we wouldn't pay a higher rent; that we were offering our best and that it was difficult to do even that on our single income. And when the realtor responded, "I don't know how you do it." I might have looked her in the eye and said "I like what I do." At this point, I made an excuse to get the children outside and remove myself from the conversation.
As they played about me in the yard, I thought about how good the children had been. They had been extra polite and extra obedient. They had even been extra cute, charming the landlady with their antics. This time it wasn't the children--it was me that meant well, but failed.
Though Jeremy said later that I didn't sound so bad as I might have imagined, I was surprised when the realtor called to say the owners would be willing to rent to us on our terms. We turned them down, though, partly because we thought the heating bill would be high and partly because our meeting had left us with a bad feeling. And so it was not.
The Just Right Home:
Ok, we haven't seen this one yet, but I know it is out there just waiting for us to see its ad in the paper or listing on the MLS. I need to be patient. I know and I trust, that after all the struggles and disappointments, we will find the right place for our family. I know God hears our prayers. He sees our need and He will supply for it. He is looking out for us and, with Him, all things are possible.
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