In the Suburbs / Scratching the itch to buy again
In 2014, after an excrutiating , four-year odyssey to sell our house in Fairfield, we finally succeeded and moved to a rental in Bridgeport. With finances tight, we needed to find a place to call home for a long time, save and maybe buy again.
Fortunately we found a charming two-bedroom rental, almost condo like, and it was definitely downsizing from our sprawling 2100 square-foot ranch in Fairfield. But the price was right and we rented it. We knew we’d never be able to return to Fairfield as buyers anyway. Fairfield is a great town to be from, but not always to return to years later.
What amazed me about the move was how much “stuff” we had accumulated from three or four other houses. And we dragged so much of it to the new place, filling our new one-car garage, dumping what seemed like endless boxes and bins into a much smaller basement than our huge, finished basement in Fairfield and piling a sea of boxes in what would finally become our living and dining rooms.
Our young landlords, a couple now living in the Boston area, had spoken to us about buying the house and we had seriously considered that. But with our new grandson Lucas sharing space with books and boxes in our second bedroom/office and my wife not seeming connected to the house, I was having second thoughts about buying...
Then two weeks ago, my wife said, “We’re not buying this house! It just doesn’t work. I have no place for our quilting, the central air conditioning never got fixed, the kitchen is wasted space with more mirrors than cabinets and there is the nagging issue of noisy neighbors with a pool who are never going to change. Why should we have to plan on calling the Bridgeport police every weekend in the summer because of the post-midnight parties, ugly language and beer cans on our lawn?
“Do we really want to take out a mortgage for these non-stop shortcomings and own a house we’d clearly have to add on to and renovate.”
I said I couldn’t agree more and since we’d saved enough to purchase a reasonable house in Bridgeport, Stratford or Milford, I just picked up the phone and called William Raveis in Fairfield, hoping to track down the broker who sold our Fairfield home. It turned out to be a serendipitous call. The woman Carol, who answered didn’t recognize our other broker’s name but said she’d be happy to work with us and had grown up in Stratford. I recognized her voice from a networking group I had belonged to in Fairfield.
I told Carol we had to be out by May 1st if we weren’t buying the landlord’s house and I put her directly in touch with “the boss”, aka my wife, to find a great house. Then I took a couple of very deep breaths. I knew I would need a battle strategy to face resistance from “the boss”, strength to get through the buying and negotiating process and infinite patience.
I was very clear with the broker about our purchase ceiling, number of rooms and style of house —I thought a large ranch or cape with a bedroom on the main floor would be the answer for us “oldies” who were trying to avoid stairs, except to a basement family room or laundry area.
My wife returned from the first expedition disappointed and depressed about how small or cramped the houses looked and she was almost ready to give up. Fortunately, she didn’t and was willing to expand her horizons and chance a two story house if it had what we were seeking. And three weeks ago we found the next house of our dreams near Paradise Green in Stratford.
It is a charming 66-year-old colonial with space beyond what we could have expected. The house has three bedrooms, 2 and a half baths a delightful dining room off the kitchen that my wife will convert to an office and a finished basement. There is also a two-car garage and a fenced in backyard for our rambunctious dogs.
The inspection revealed some interesting surprises, but nothing major and after a little negotiating over repairs, we are going to contracts early next week, hopefully closing in early March and moving soon after.
The bottom line — the boss is happier than she’s been in 5 years and she can’t wait to add her personal touches to this delightful place just a couple of miles from our current home. And that goes for me too.
Steven Gaynes is a Fairfield writer, and his “In the Suburbs” appears each Friday. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.