A House is a House is a Home

I have officially been on the ground in Colorado for one week. It has been a whirlwind week of finding Target and the grocery store, remembering where the restroom is, getting to know my new work family, exploring strategy with our business partners, and establishing new routines in my new home state. Already I am thrilled with so many things, not the least of which is the bright sun and warmer weather. However, my heart has a constant ache as my family is still in Madison.

In order to ensure we have a home when they head this way in June once school wraps for MacKenzie, I spent yesterday with a realtor, Nicole, exploring 20 homes. Nicole kindly asked me earlier in the week if I really wanted to see that many places. She was willing to do it but wondered if we might narrow things a bit. I shared criteria including good schools for MacKenzie, a desire for an updated kitchen and bathrooms, a relatively short commute to our offices, and the possibility of more established neighborhoods with mature trees.

Since I was unsure about the best location, we met at 9:30 AM and started to drive a very large loop within about a 20 mile radius of the Public Service Credit Union headquarters. I started the day in a very organized fashion with my iPad ready and taking copious notes on each property that we viewed. I didn’t trust my brain to remember all that we saw once the day wore on. After property number four, I stopped taking notes at houses that just didn’t seem like a good fit.

Since buying a home is likely one of the largest financial investments most of us make, it should be a very logical and firmly data-driven decision. Logic muddies quickly with emotion as this purchase means so much more. Our homes are the retreat where we can let down our guard. Within the walls of our homes, we share holiday memories, daily dinners, the heartbreak of losses and the joys of our biggest wins with the people that we love most deeply, our family.

Thus, as I walked into these houses, the pace of my spin through quickened when I couldn’t imagine those important moments happening in the space of the house. I admit I’m also the epitome of the HGTV house hunter. I’m easily distracted by bright shiny objects like stainless steel appliances and deeply stained hardwood floors. The years of advice and coaching from an architect husband with a trained eye have helped me to at least not pay attention to paint color, but I still am drawn to something that is more fully finished. I struggle to imagine the possibilities when the smell of cat urine is strong or there are holes in the wall.

Having lived in several regions of the United States over the last twenty years, it is interesting to see the differences in houses and the trends that are emerging. When we were looking for houses in Connecticut, I remember how jarring it was that many didn’t have central air conditioning. In the Midwest that was something I’d grown accustomed to expect. Here in Colorado, since the population is growing so rapidly, many of the houses that we viewed had little to no yard. In fact, one new development that we toured had homes so close that I’m not sure I could have walked between them. Many of the neighborhoods that we looked at yesterday also included neighborhood amenities like pools and activity centers. One even had a horse stable.

Early in the day I saw a house that I really liked. It was redone with quality finishes and included a finished basement (a request from MacKenzie) and a large backyard. Later in the afternoon as I was beginning to think that was the only viable candidate, we found another home that immediately struck me as I walked in. I could imagine playing cards with MacKenzie after dinner. I could picture us on Christmas morning in front of the fireplace. I could see her growing into needing her own bathroom and having the space she’ll demand as a teenager. I imagined her walking to school, literally just two blocks away.

We saw one more house after that and then ended the tour. Nearly 4 PM, Nicole remained kind, but I’m sure she was ready to head home and not be entertaining the new Coloradoan who might have remarked how beautiful the mountains were 50 or so times throughout the day. I sent the two options to Scott who had also done a bit of FaceTiming with me throughout the day. I called my mom and sent her the links. I sent the links to my cousin Danielle. I could feel my excitement mounting. We made a decision to make an offer on the second to last house that I saw.

In a competitive market, home buyers are now being encouraged to write letters to the seller. Nicole asked that I do so and I came back to my temporary apartment and shared our story. I woke up on Sunday morning with butterflies wondering how many offers the sellers might have had. We do not have the appetite to get into a bidding war.

Sadly, as I finished writing this, I learned that another offer was accepted. I have more appointments to see more homes Tuesday evening. I’m resigned to the fact that I may be spending next Saturday on another tour of the Metro-Denver area. My heart hopes that one day soon an offer will be accepted and my family and I can start really imagining our future in our new home.

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