In my last blog, oh too long ago, I mentioned that we were looking for a new home. The story of how we found a house is simple yet extraordinary at the same time (as so many profound things often are) so let me tell it to you.
We had been thinking of buying an investment property, something that we could fix up and sell for a profit in order to build our equity for the future. On a drive around our island (yes, we live on an island, but not the Caribbean kind) we spotted the perfect candidate: an undervalued and neglected nearly new home in a very nice development, and the seller was motivated. We called up the real estate agent immediately and were informed that the property already had an offer on it. We persisted and convinced the real estate agent to let us see it anyway – it was exactly the type of house we were looking for. We asked her to inform us if the offer did not come through as we were very interested. A week or so later we drove by the house again and noticed that it was still for sale. After a few inquiries we discovered that the first offer had fallen through and there was now another offer was on the property but the sellers were being difficult because of a messy divorce and not responding to it. The sale would be going to court in three days when the vendor would be forced to sell. We decided to throw our offer into the mix, knowing that it was a longshot, especially since our condo was not even for sale at this point and we needed the proceeds from the condo in order to buy this house.
Real estate can be so complicated, but wait…it gets better. We hurriedly put our condo on the market and put in the best offer we felt we could, dependent on the sale of our property, and waited. The court date came and went and the house was sold to the other party who had no conditions on their offer. It was to be expected, though slightly disappointing to us. In the meantime, the interest in our condo was good, and within 30 days, we had an offer. We negotiated our way to an agreeable price, and they gave us 60 days to find another place to live. Now we had no choice! We looked at a number of houses that next weekend and found one in the same area of town as the first one. Again, this one was vacant, needed some work, and the vendor was motivated. We put in another offer, feeling like we were getting pretty good at this, but unknown to us, the vendor had lost patience with the market and had arranged to rent out the property for the next year if he didn't get exactly what he wanted. When our offer came to him, he was not as flexible in price as we would have liked, so we let the house go. Two strikes.
We continued to do some research on the internet that following week in order to find some more properties to visit. My niece happened to be visiting at that time and was helping me decide which houses to forward to our agent to set up appointments. After a few hours of searching, everything started to look the same, and discouragement wasn’t far away. I turned to her and said, “Wouldn’t it be nice if there was an angel standing and pointing over the house we were supposed to buy? You know, like the star over the manger, a light telling the shepherds, ‘Over here!’ I don’t want to spend weeks looking at house after house, I just want to buy the one that God points out.” And then my niece indicated one that we had just looked at and said, “How about that one?” I looked at the picture again and saw that when the photo was taken, the sun was shining overhead in such a way as to send rays of light shining all around the house, almost like a halo. We both laughed in amazement and wondered if it meant anything. I went to tell my husband. “Definitely put that one on the list,” he said, "It can't hurt."
We looked at four houses that weekend. The “Jesus house” as we had dubbed it was the last on our schedule. It was a very nice one-year-old house, impeccable inside, with beautiful wood floors, more bedrooms than we needed and a totally finished basement. Of course I would have loved to live there, but the point was to get a 'fixer-upper' or a property we could add value to and there was really nothing to do there except landscape the yard, and besides, the asking price was higher than what we were comfortable paying. We went home, discussed everything we had seen that day, and decided to put an offer in on another nearly new property in the area with an unfinished basement and a lower price. I made the call to the real estate agent and to my surprise, she told us we shouldn't do that. What? She said she had information that the other home (the one we called the “Jesus house”) would go for a much lower price than what they were asking and it was a better location and we would be getting much more for our money. Okay, then. Well, this new information, added to the fact that the light WAS shining very brightly over the house, changed our minds on the spot. We put in an offer within the hour. The sellers immediately came back with very agreeable terms except for one – the moving date. They wanted at least two months to find a new home for their family of six and we agreed to give them the time they needed. Our real estate agent urged us to make a contingency plan for being homeless for 30 days, and I called friends and relatives and moving companies to see where we could stay, board the cats, and store all our worldly goods for a month, should things come to that. Perhaps it was a lack of faith, I don’t know, but I was just trying to be prepared.
Yesterday I got a call from the agent telling us that the sellers had found a house and we could move in two days before our condo had to be vacated - no homelessness necessary. Wow! It reminded me of the story of the manna from Exodus 16 that I spoke on in church two weeks ago. Trust God – he has what you need for today. 34 days and counting…