You’ll have noticed that we arrived in our new hometown of Frisco, TX on the fifth day of January and promptly disappeared.
It was like that episode of Doctor Who where everyone yearns to be sent to the 500th floor because its walls are rumored to be paved with gold, and then everyone who gets sent up there is never heard from again. Because the 500th floor was actually where they sent you when you learned too much and had to be liquidated. Fortunately, we haven’t been liquidated. We’ve just been busy. Really, really busy.
I knew this would happen, because our friends at whose house we’ve been staying are very active people. They also live fairly spur-of-the-moment, sometimes deciding with only a few hours’ notice that it would be fun to go out and do something after dinner, or planning a whole weekend excursion with only days [!!] to spare. My [!!] shock at such activity is largely tongue-in-cheek, since this is probably fairly normal for most people and it’s really my family that’s been unusual, what with our need for routine, predictability and precision baked thoroughly into every step we take through life. Especially me.
Most of what we’ve been busy with for the last few days is a process that kicked off in early December, when we officially started looking for a house to purchase here in Frisco. The Dallas metroplex is one of the best real estate values in the entire U.S., sporting some fiercely low prices per square foot on houses that are really well-appointed. Coming from south Florida, founding member (along with California) of “Overvalued Land”, we can’t believe how much house your money buys you up here in Texas. We’ve seen nearly 50 examples of prime property here and we still cannot believe our eyes when we look at the price tags.
That’s just it, though…we’ve seen all those houses, and none of them have jumped out at us. Almost all of them were nice, each one offered more than we had in our little 2-bed / 2-bath townhome in Naples, but we just didn’t feel that magic connection to any of them. We found four or five homes that we thought were nice enough to settle for, but every last one came with significant sacrifices to make. This one’s perfect, except the fence is in poor condition, the driveway’s got a steep grade and the master bedroom is upstairs. That one’s great but there’s no study, no gameroom and the kitchen counters are an ugly color. I didn’t want to be a greedy snob or anything, but we are about to purchase the largest investment of our lives to date and it’s not something you want to just “settle for” if you can avoid it. (But then there I go, trying to achieve perfection…again.)
Last Friday our realtor took us to see 16 houses in a row. We spent the whole day on it. Of the two that we liked enough to consider buying, one turned out to be a builder buyback for foundation issues (instant disqualifier for me, regardless of how well they repaired it) and the other had neither the study nor the covered patio that we wanted. By then we’d walked into literally every home on the market in Frisco that met our criteria, so it really was starting to look like we were going to have to settle for something less than our ideal notion of what a home should be. But was that so bad? Does anyone ever get lucky enough to find a house that truly has it all?
As of tonight, I think I can answer that seemingly rhetorical question: Yes.
Throughout our home shopping process, my wife Apple has had email alerts automatically delivered to her from the major real estate websites any time a house meeting our criteria comes on the local market. Last Saturday, as we were still chewing on the results of Friday’s 16-house extravaganza, an email arrived in Apple’s inbox indicating that a new home had been listed that very day — and what a home it was. It had all of the rooms we wanted, including a dedicated study and a huge game room upstairs, plus a covered patio. It had the hardwood floors, granite kitchen countertops and vented gas cooktop that Apple yearned for. It had the electric perimeter gate, 8′ board-on-board privacy fence and extended garage that I lusted after. It was in a nice part of town, in a nice community, in the cheaper tax county…well, on paper, it looked like perfection manifested.
Normally I move at a fairly relaxed pace, but this lit a fire under me. I called our realtor and set up a showing for the very next morning. I had a special feeling about this one, and I wanted to move fast — not just because the house looked like a winner, but because we’d already had two “perfect” new listings snatched out from under us within days of coming on the market. Someone once told me that the smart buyers in Frisco will come into town, shack up in a hotel or rental property and wait to pounce on that perfect home as soon as it gets listed. This time, I wanted to be the one doing the pouncing — if the place was worthy of it.
Just because a house looks good on paper doesn’t mean it’s going to look good in person. We’d been through that before with a couple of places. One of them I even went so far as to start visualizing my furniture inside of it, until we actually got to the showing and the place was completely unsuitable after all. But when we arrived at this new property that drizzly Sunday morning, somehow it was even better in person than it had seemed in the photos. Everything was there — and more, with little details not represented in the photos making themselves known to us as we strolled around the house, trying not to become visibly giddy. The built-in speakers on the covered patio…the ceiling fan remote controls…the huge storage closet in the utility room…the Ethernet jacks in the game room…it was all as if the place had been designed for us.
In some ways, it seems too good to be true. Not empirically; there’s nothing suspicious about the home’s pricing or its circumstances. Just in the sense that I never expected to get this lucky. Even now, it’s all I can do to keep myself from getting my hopes up too far, just in case things don’t pan out. We went back and forth with the sellers and this evening arrived at an agreed-upon contract, meaning that we’re just one set of signatures away from officially taking that home off the market and putting it under our wing. But those signatures could always fail to appear. Something catastrophic could still come out in the inspection. Some unforeseen disaster could still occur on the financing end. I’m taken enough with this house that I almost don’t want to assume anything, or even talk about it too loudly, until that day in late February when we hope to walk through the door, key in hand, and call it ours.
For now, I simply want to document the fact that it appears that our hard work has finally paid off, and the house of our dreams — as my wife put it — is finally about to be ours. But before I uncork the champagne (or the Tahitian Treat) and throw a party, I’m going to try to get through the next month in as low-key a manner as is possible. Just in case.
But between you and me, I’m ecstatic.
More to come.