Lisa Kern

Lisa Kern
Pennsylvania, US
March 28
I'm a mom of three boys, a needy dog, and an insolent cat. When I'm not writing, vacuuming up pet hair, or cleaning pee off the toilet seat, I like to fantasize about jeans that actually fit and an all-you-can-eat-chocolate-and-cheese diet. Welcome to my party.


Lisa Kern's Links

MARCH 17, 2010 9:01AM

Buying our Home: a Series of Fortunate Events

Rate: 27 Flag


We had looked at so many houses.  For nearly three years, every weekend was spent at Open House events, to the point that our children thought that going to Open Houses was our special Sunday family tradition.  In spite of our dedication to house-hunting, none of the hundreds of houses we looked at were right for us.  More than a few were downright awful.  We made the reluctant decision to give up and stay in our current home.

The following Sunday, my husband Dan went to a car flea market in New Jersey.  I had recently discovered I was pregnant so I opted to stay home and read the Sunday paper.

 As I was flipping past the Real Estate section, an ad caught my eye.  It was as if someone had held a magnifying glass up to it.  It loomed larger than the surrounding ads as if it was deliberately meant to attract my attention. 

4 bdrm, two bath farmhouse.  Recently updated.  Village Commercial zoning.  $189,900. Open House today from 12 – 4. 

This was exactly what we’d been looking for, and almost in our price range of $180,000.  Still, I’d never heard of the town before.  It was probably too far away from my husband’s work.   I decided to take a nap and forget about the house.

Sleep didn’t come easily, though.  It felt as though someone was literally shaking me awake.  At least you can go look at it. 

I got out the map and looked up the location.  It was easy enough to get to, even in the years before Google Maps and GPS navigation systems.  I figured that it couldn’t hurt to go look at the house, even though it would probably be one of those run-down properties that looked as though it should be torn down and rebuilt.  My husband Dan referred to these types of dilapidated dwellings as “505s.” He joked that for such homes, you’d need $5.00 for the gasoline and $500 to pay off the fire marshal.  It’s amazing how many homes we saw for which a fire could only be an improvement.

Just as I was about to go out the door, Dan came home.  He barely had both feet inside the door before asking, “You found a house, didn’t you?”   


I don’t know how he knew but he did.  In fact, he had left the flea market early because he had a feeling that I’d found a house I wanted to see.  Was some unknown force at work here?  Normally it takes an act of Congress to get Dan to leave a car flea market.

The house, despite being over 160 years old, was the nicest we had seen in three years of looking.  It was a farmhouse style with an addition on the back but retaining all of the charm of a home that’s been around since before the Civil War.  It had an open front porch and a fire place (two of my wish-list items), and the four bedrooms we desperately needed. 

When I saw the walk-in closet in the master bedroom, I swear that I could hear angels singing.  Plus, with Village Commercial Zoning, Dan could park his utility body truck in the driveway without any complaints from the neighbors or the township. 

This house was perfect for us, but we only had $180,000 to spend and those funds would be available only after the sale of our current home.  Could we sell our current house in time to buy the new one?

The real estate agent advised us to make an offer of $185,000 or higher since it was currently “a seller’s market.”  That was real estate-speak for you don’t have a prayer of buying this house unless you offer asking price.   

We refused to take her advice and instead opted to submit our offer in the amount of $180,000.  I wasn’t at all surprised when the sellers accepted it.  I just knew they would.   

We listed our current home immediately.  We needed to have settlement on our current home before we would have the funds to settle on the new house.  Settlement for the new house was tentatively scheduled for November 24th, the day before Thanksgiving.  Oddly, we had settled on our current house the day before Thanksgiving thirteen years prior. 

An endless parade of people looked at our house.  Just when it seemed as if we were running out of time to sell it for the November 24th settlement date, a young woman submitted an offer to us.  It was  only $2,000 short of our asking price and, conveniently, would give us the exact amount needed for the down payment on the new house after paying off the old one. 

Since our buyer had no home to sell, she agreed to have settlement on November 24th (in the morning) so that we could settle on November 24th  (in the afternoon) for the new house.  Aside for some uneasiness at realizing we would effectively be homeless for three hours in between settlements, everything was falling into place for us.

Even the tasks of packing up the contents of our old house and moving were timed perfectly for my pregnancy.  We moved when I was four months’ pregnant:  right after the I’m nauseous all day, why do they call it morning sickness phase and just before the God, I feel like I’m the size of a small country phase.

We’ve lived in our house for ten years now and we’re still amazed at our good luck.  Not only did we find the exact house we needed, but all of the details fell into perfect place, one right after the other.  I’m not sure why, but it’s always felt as if we were meant to be here; as if this house had been waiting just for us.

Finding Home.  What could be luckier?

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Great luck! Your house sounds wonderful.
The way events fell into place so seamlessly was truly a good omen...that home was meant for you and your family.
"We refused to take her advice and instead opted to submit our offer in the amount of $180,000."

That agent needs a rap on the head. We are supposed to get the best price possible for our buyer clients or our seller clients in ANY market. We are also supposed to be looking out for our clients best interests.

As a Realtor - I'm not happy unless my buyer clients feel like you do - that they have found their perfect home at the best price possible!! Congratulations!! Some things are meant to be.
Eva and Nelly - Thanks so much for reading. It's not a particularly interesting to read because there wasn't any struggle: everything just fell into place. I still feel happy every time I remember this story. :)

Leonde - I agree. I wondered whose side the realtor was on! Fortunately, it worked out to our benefit anyway.
We are house hunting right now. What a pain! I'm jealous!
That's an amazing story!
Lucky duck! Few events in your life are as important as buying a home. It can be a tough, luckless adventure and that can take a lot of fun out of what should be something happy and exciting. I'm happy that your experience was entirely positive -- and almost magical.
I loved this. It is exactly the good news story I needed today. Everything can feel like such a struggle. But it doesn't always have to be that way, does it? Thank you thank you thank you.
Great story, Lisa. Sometimes things work out perfectly if you leave yourself open to it.
Awwww . . . excellent story!
a lovely story. I think our story is similar but it moved very quickly. we needed a house desperately. I didn't know connecticut at all. I wasn't even living here, but coming up on weekends with my husband who WAS living here in a motel. I was out looking at the worst houses I had ever seen when I drove by this one. it said to me "Brooklyn! Home!" it looked like some of the houses and streets in my home town. It even has hedges, where most of th e houses here do not. to make a long story short, we bought it because it happened to be RIGHT in our price range, five minutes from my husband's job and it was beautiful. my dream house is still out there. but this one is pretty close and I love it and I'll be very sad when we leave it. (if we ever do.)
I found our home as well. At least your husband was happy. I dragged mine kicking and screaming all the way to the title company. He gets heart attack symptoms every time he has to sign something involving spending large amounts of money. We were lucky we got to bring our kids home from the hospital. :) r
You had a real estate angel working on your behalf, Lisa. :-D

Sometimes, things are just simply meant to be.
I would have offered $155k-$165k and waited for the counter. It is ANYTHING BUT A SELLERS MARKET! Especially for commercial property.

Good luck nevertheless, they will probably come back with a meager counter bid. You could probably get it for $170 0r less if you wish to wait.
Sorry, I guess I missed the last few paragraphs because the phone rang. Didn't mean to second guess you, but you probably could have had it indeed for the $170. Just a tip I would never deal with that Realty person again. CONGRATULATIONS NEVER THE LESS!
@ The Professor

This story is from 10 years ago. The market was different then.
Great post, great writing. And it is so nice to see a good news story involving real estate. I know now why you struggle so mightily to make those mortgage payments-it's not just a house to you, it truly is your home.

Oh, and as an aside, I saw the Axe story on CBS Sunday Morning a while back, and could barely focus as I was thinking of your OS posts on the topic. I see you are not the only mom who is suffering.
That's kind of spooky, but sometimes things just fall into place! It's so much better when GOOD things fall into place rather than BAD things coming in a series :)
I guess every decade of Thanksgiving you get buy-home itches!
Love this story!
I'm curious how much it would be now?
Wonderful when everything falls into place. Happened like that for us, too.
Sounds lovely! Maybe someday that will happen for me, but for now.... I'm stuck here until the market picks up. :)
We've been looking for 6 years now, through boom and now bust, and are still waiting for this kind of story to happen to us! maybe some day.
I love this story, it makes me smile. It's so beautiful how when we listen to the little pulls like leave the flea market, look at the home I'm drawn to, everything falls into place. I love when I get really lucky that way all the time.

Your title is fabulous, hope you don't mind if I keep it in mind for a few days of my own. Thanks for a great post.
The stars must have lined up all in the right direction for you. May you continue living happily in your dream home for many more years. What a heartwarming story. Rated.