due west, part 3

As Beth and Jamie continued their search for a new home, if they spotted a house that looked like a possibility – one that had a presence, but showed signs of aging and needed updating, Beth would write the homeowners a letter. She would tell them about her and Jamie’s desire to find a new home, and she would detail what she admired about their house. She ended with contact information in case the reader might be willing to help them find a “forever home.”

Most people never responded. One friendly lady called to wish them luck and assure them she was staying put. Another man informed them that he and his wife had recently remodeled and weren’t interested in selling – unless Beth and Jamie wanted to make an offer and if the price was right.

One by one the properties that she wrote letters about were eliminated, mostly on the inference that the owners were happy where they were. So many dead ends. No movement on the foreclosure house, nothing affordable with possibilities for sale, no interest from other happy homeowners. Yet one place continued to catch her eye.

Right around the corner from the foreclosure house, on Beth’s well-traveled route, was a pretty house with a lovely yard. The interesting thing was that it looked like no one lived there, although the lamp in the front window came on every night. Beth continued to keep her eye on this house, and wondered about the story behind it.

Using her research skills she learned that the homeowner had recently passed away. Beth also learned that the family had built this house in 1952 and had been its only occupants through the years. The husband had passed away several years ago, and the wife stayed there alone as long as she could. She had gone to live with her daughter in Texas, and the house had indeed been empty for several months, just as Beth had suspected.

Beth continued to talk about this house, and from time to time we would ask her is she had sent the letter to the daughter in Texas. “I’m going to,” Beth would say. “I just have to be ready. Because this time I know she will contact me about selling the house.”

due west, part 2

Beth had continued to drive through their chosen areas when she found a house that looked interesting. It had a realtor’s name and number on a small sign in a front window, but no sign in the yard. As she searched the Internet to find out something about it, she discovered that it was in foreclosure. Then when she called the realtor listed, she found out more of the story.

At that point it wasn’t truly for sale. Fannie Mae was in possession of the deed, such as it was. There were multiple liens on the property that couldn’t be settled. When it had first become vacant three years earlier, someone else had tried to purchase it, but the lien issues couldn’t be settled. And so it had been sitting empty for over two years…

Beth and Jamie went to look at the yard and property, as well as to peer through the windows. They asked us to come and see it also. That’s when her dad began praying that it would NOT be available for them to buy. It was in very poor condition and would need lots of work. Someone might even consider buying it just to tear it down and start over. Remodeling was appealing to Beth and Jamie, to make it into what they wanted it to become, and although they definitely were developing a vision, they really had no idea of all that would entail.

So they had their realtor take them for a look inside. They were already sold on the curb appeal, and when they toured the interior they loved the floor plan. They had visions of what it could be, as they overlooked the crumbling bricks on the chimney, the rotted woodwork and windows, the poorly constructed additions (one room was sinking due to rotted floor joists), and the odd painting on the walls. They were “sold” on this house. If only they could find a way to make it theirs.

Beth researched and called and exhausted everything possible, only to learn that Fannie Mae had some sort of system for selling their houses, but no one really knew what it was. No one could tell them when it might be for sale, or even who to call. It began to look like a dead end (answers to her dad’s prayers), but they continue to dream about what it could be someday, and how they could make it their own.

Months passed, and although this was still their number one choice, they did keep an eye on other properties that were offered for sale in that area. They worked with a realtor and visited many houses. Some were too expensive, some needed too much work, and others just didn’t feel like home to them. None were “just right.” It always came back to the foreclosure house. And Beth continued to drive by and imagine the possibilities.

Along those drives she did notice other houses that held possibilities. These homes were not for sale, and yet something about them caught her eye. They were older places that needed updating and could possibly be bought for less of an initial investment. Beth learned to do her research on a property she was interested in. She discovered the construction and ownership history, the space inside, the lot size, and more.

She and Jamie thought about how to approach someone to see if they might be interested in selling a house – even if it wasn’t listed for sale. That’s when she began to write the letters.