I’ve thought about writing this post for a while. Picardy closed about 3 weeks ago. Yes, I assume you’ll have 2 reactions: 1) that happened FAST and 2) why have you waited so long to spill the beans!? I know, I agree with you about both things.
But there was a lot I was thinking about. It’s a tough post to write – how do I describe the adventures? How much information do I reveal? What am I feeeeeeling? A lot of questions for myself.
But I think I’m finally there.
When we were first looking for a house, waaaaaay back 7+ years ago, Chris and I were just breaking into working in Oakland. We had lived here for a year (I had grown up here, but had spent the last 3 years away). Chris had just moved here. I was going back to school to finish college. We skrimped and saved, but still, living in Oakland was expensive. We qualified for a certain amount, but because the housing crash was EPIC and we were in the middle of it, basically no bank would loan money to us for a fixer: we were young, had multiple part time jobs between us and the market was awful and people had received horrendously large sums of money on loans for houses without ever really getting their income verified. It was a good time for us to get a deal, but it was a bad time for young, part-timers like us. We had the income for a loan, but for a giant fixer banks wanted CASH. ALL CASH. And, well, we didn’t have $300,000+.
When my parents were young, they worked hard. They were married at 19, had kids at 21 and 24. One worked while the other went to college. They put their nose to the grindstone. They had the dream of owning a home, but couldn’t quite get there either. My great grandma loaned them money to purchase land and build their own house while my brother was in diapers and just before I came along.
And, so, they did the same for us. Passing it forward. My dad joined the house search with us and we were lucky enough for him and my step mom to help us purchase a house. Chris and I were very lucky – my parents had the financial means to help us out, and they were also trusting of us to endorse the adventure. I know, we were very lucky.
So that’s how we began our Picardy Project. Our rent was the renovation to bring it back to life. It was a financial investment for my parents, and a lesson in our future for Chris and I. As the years wore on we were able to save more and more money as we worked harder at our day jobs and as we needed fewer, large, lump sums to invest into the house. That fortunate situation allowed us to save for our future home – the house we are in now. We were able to save for a large down payment because as I’ve talked about before, the market is crazy now and the more CASH you have, the more people like you, I mean, will sell to you 🙂
I know, we were INCREDIBLY lucky. None of that luck is lost on me. Or Chris. Part of me has wondered if I would talk about how we financially landed in Picardy because I wondered if people would think we somehow cheated the system or got a free ride. I also know that finances are really no one’s business but our own, but I wanted to be honest about the whole experience. We were able to find ourselves a fixer with the help of my family, but we worked fucking hard to get it where it ended up.
So when we put the house on the market, there was a large joint decision that needed to be made. My parents were obviously the financial investment, but they also understood the incredible labor of love that we poured into that house. So we all came to an agreement that it would be a 50/50 decision.
We went on the market for $589. We looked at all the comps in the area and our agent let us know that nothing on the street had gone for over $6 before that she knew of. We were pretty confident with the price and our finishes, but we didn’t want to be greedy. So we thought it was a fair price to offer at. We had two weekends of open houses and there was an absolutely amazing response. Our agent let us know that on a good open house she has 60-70 visitors. We had over 100. We had friends and family visit the house while it was open and they shared all the amazing things people said about it. I know you should never need someone else to compliment you to justify a good job and that you should just simply have confidence in yourself. But I am here to tell you – that was an absolutely wonderful thing to hear. And it made me feel damn fucking good. Like, amazingly wonderful. I cried. It felt awesome to have people pay such close attention to the detail we put in, and have them appreciate it so much. It warmed my heart.
I started to get super antsy for when offers were going to be due (pretty customary nowadays around here to have a due date). We waited and waited as she slowly let us know that 5 disclosure packets were out, then a dozen, then about 20…and when we finished there were 30+ disclosure packets out. I was flabbergasted. Even my dad was. And he’s involved with real estate investments all the time and has purchased and sold ummm, I think 5 places in the last 10 years (Wendy never thinks she’s going to live somewhere for long…)
We waited with bated breath.
But on offer day, I had a panic attack around noon. I suddenly FREAKED THE FUCK OUT that we were going to have to say “NO” to people. For some ridiculously crazy reason I never thought about that. And suddenly I remembered the fucking feeling of losing out. Of being so amazingly excited to put an offer in, so scared of likely being rejected, but just hoping to be lucky. That feeling blows. It sucks. I hate it. And we were going to do it to a bunch of people. My heart sank. I cried again. Obviously there were lots of tears involved in this process.
At 4pm our agent called us and let us know that there were 25 offers. Yes. TWENTY FIVE. I was completely dumbfounded. When I called to tell my dad (he was at the dentist when the agent let me and Chris know) even he couldn’t believe it. And when he heard the amounts of all the offers he was even a little shocked. I mean, he literally didn’t believe it. Like, he said, “I’m not going to believe it until it closes escrow.” We were all just shocked at the amazing response that it got. We were all very proud of the house and knew it was an amazing space to hang our hats on, but it was just about the most wonderful thing to experience – so many people loved the house so much. I couldn’t believe it.
I had work that night at the A’s, so Chris and my dad went through all the offers with our agent and I conferred on the phone and via text when I could. Many of the offers included letters from the prospective buyers. I was able to read them as well as they were forwarded along and we weighed through everything. Many letters mentioned their appreciation of our attention to detail (which I was so appreciative to hear) as well as our blog (we disclosed that the home was blogged about, so many prospective buyers had read through parts of this website). In the end we chose a buyer who made a great offer and seemed to be a pretty wonderful lady. Her letter was so heartfelt and she seemed like a wonderful person to carry the torch of our first home. And from the perspective of me, Chris and my parents we felt immense pride at the record we set for the street and our neighborhood. It felt incredible.
But then came the hard part of saying “No” to a lot of people. So Chris and I wrote a letter to them. I don’t know if it mattered to them, or if they were angry about it, or if they thought it was stupid, but it made Chris and I feel better. We knew the feeling of losing out and we wanted to let everyone know how appreciative we were of the love they felt for our beloved Picardy house. It was a labor of love and we appreciated their love as well. It was an amazing feeling.
Escrow was fast and without one hiccup at all. It took 8 days. Our agent said she couldn’t remember the last time she had such a quick and easy escrow. I guess it was the universe’s way of rewarding us for the adventure of getting our current house. The day before escrow closed I went back to the house to do a walk through with the new owner and our agents. Chris opted to not participate because he wanted to close the book on the house and had already emotionally moved on, but I definitely jumped at the chance.
Our agent let us know she doesn’t really do that very often, but it really was a passing of the baton and she felt that both the new owner and I would benefit from it. I was scared and nervous, but it ended up being a really good experience. We all spent an hour walking through the house talking about things we had done, memories we experienced and what she was going to use each room for. It was a lot of fun. And it felt like the perfect way for me to close the chapter on the house. I didn’t really know if I ever wanted to go back after we moved out, but it felt like the best experience that could have happened. I loved getting to hear her love the house so much. And I loved getting to tell her how much we loved it. It honestly makes me teary eyed thinking about it again.
So, good bye Picardy house. This blog’s name will never change because you taught us so fucking much and we love you for it. We sweated, cried and laughed inside of your walls. You taught me to have an even harder work ethic, to always see things through to the end and to give back to something what it truly deserves. I hope you loved us as much as we loved you.