In 2014 my husband and I found ourselves crammed into a tiny apartment looking down at two little pink lines. That’s right, we were expecting. After the big announcement was made and we had set back into reality, we realized there was no way we could comfortably live in this apartment with a newborn.
So the search began! At the time, I was in college and while my husband was employed, we knew that our budget on a new home would not be high. I knew my best friend lived in a precious, old mill town called Cramerton (I’m telling you, for anyone looking for that small town vibe only a few miles outside of Charlotte, this is the spot! Plenty of fall festivals, movies in the park, one coffee shop, and one bar with karaoke on Saturday nights). We looked at quite a few homes until we found one that was reasonably priced (cheap, cheap, cheap) and the best part for us was that it was USDA qualified which meant no down payment from us.
We had to jump on it.
Halfway through the process of purchasing this home, something tragic happened. We lost the baby at 12 weeks. We were heartbroken. On top of that, we were halfway into the home buying process. We figured it couldn’t hurt to purchase a “new-to-us” home and have a fresh start somewhere new after everything that happened.
The home had been on the market for almost an entire year (yeah, should have been a red flag). Our realtor organized the inspection and we learned that it was her husband, or someone she knew, that would be performing it. When we got the inspection report back, she asked if we trusted her to go through the report and pick out the things we should ask the sellers to fix. She came back with a small list of cosmetic items to be fixed and assured us that the rest was in tip-top shape. We could not believe that such an old home had practically nothing wrong with it (spoiler alert: this was not true).
And just like that we were homeowners!
Fast-forward to 2016. We had been living in our house for roughly 3 years and we knew it was time to start looking for our forever home. We put the house on the market and within a few days we were under contract with a buyer! We were ecstatic because we were wanting to build a new home in a wonderful neighborhood we found in Clover, SC.
The new buyer ordered an inspection on our home and, unexpectedly, backed out of the sale. We could not understand why she would back out because we had only moved in 3 years ago, took immaculate care of the home, and when we moved in our inspection was practically perfect!
It was here that we learned why the home had been on the market for so long in the first place, and it was here we learned that the realtor that sold us the home had royally screwed us and majorly taken advantage of our situation.
We learned that our house had no vapor barrier and was literally crawling with mold. The foundation and structure under our house was being held up with cinder blocks and up-turned pieces of wood. The pillars under the house were not up to code whatsoever which made the foundation begin to slope.
We had inspectors and repair companies come out and take a look under the house and – on my Grandmother’s grave – all said the same thing, “I can’t believe you were even allowed to buy this home,” or “your realtor should not have let you buy this until it was fixed.”
Moral of the story here is that T and I were totally taken advantage of when we purchased the home. Our realtor found two young kids who needed to move in a hurry and she found the perfect opportunity to get this property, that was literally falling apart, off of her hands (oh, yeah I forgot to mention that she was representing both parties so she was selling the home for the previous owners, and also selling the home to us.)
We came to the conclusion that we absolutely had to get the foundation fixed if we wanted to sell the house at all.
So, a lot of money, stress, and wine bottles later, we finally sold the house.
We were over the moon to be rid of it. It was so old, everything creaked, bugs got inside all the time, there was nothing bittersweet about it when we left that lawyers office.
After packing up the last few boxes on moving out day, T and I did a walk around the house and we could not keep the tears from flowing. I hated this house so much, but pulling out of that driveway for the last time was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I was a wreck.
It was in that moment that I realized a few things.
The house was old, damaged, and terrible, but the home was perfect and beautiful.
The home that T and I built together in that house on Woodlawn Avenue was everything we could have wanted and more. The more I thought about it the more I realized that in that living room I never even noticed the creaky floor if T snuggled up next to me on the couch. That, in the Kitchen, the gap between the counters and the walls didn’t seem that wide when T was in there helping me cook. I couldn’t feel the slope in the dining room floor when we were sitting at our table having a glass of wine and a nice dinner celebrating something.
The last thing I realized is that it does not matter where I live. My home is wherever T is.
So, in conclusion I will say this. Closing the door to 403 Woodlawn Avenue was terribly sad, but it brings me so much joy and comfort knowing that for the rest of my life I get to open every new door with him.