Tomorrow morning, I’ll be flying home from the warm comfort of Georgia to return to what my security cameras display as something more akin to Superman’s home planet of Krypton. I came down here for the 2nd time to hopefully finalize the purchase of a new home. Life has a way of mixing things up, and nobody knows the will of God, so it’s always an adventure.
This wasn’t my first try to buy a home down here. Previously, I put in an offer, got an inspection, and between the bad news from the inspection, the congestion of the area, plus being sleep deprived from a 16 hour overnight drive, I backed out of the contract. It’s a nice setup here, due diligence gives a buyer the option to back out for any reason and get the deposit back within an agreed upon timeframe.
After that, I continued to put a pair of local GA realtors to work, showing me various homes in a commutable distance to my new office. I learned quite an important lesson (which was reinforced at the start of this weeks getaway) – never trust a flip. There’s a company down here (I believe its nationwide) which will buy a home in cash, put lipstick on a pig, and sell it. Interiors looked perfect, look further and it’s a half-assed renovation full of termite tubes.
After seeing quite a few of these flips, I’d settled on another one (hadn’t learned my lesson yet). The photos showed a few things that I did not like, but it was my backup. The other house I bid on was exactly what I wanted. Single level ranch with a lot over .5 acre. It was priced artificially low (to encourage a flood of bids over asking) and as it seemed to check every box, I bid well over asking… and lost. That’s what lead me to the plan B, the flip.
All of the homes I’d checked out were done remotely. To my benefit, the realtors I worked with were mostly up front with the conditions of various things… just not this one. I hired the home inspector who did his job very well again (same one I used previously), but as I felt I was out of options, despite his warnings and assertions, I decided to move forward.
Even as I toured the home, with a driveway on par with a banked corner at Talladega, a wooden walkway that was far too long and tilting… I did my best to overlook the faults. The kitchen needed to be completely redone. The paint job inside was on par with how I’d do it (not very good). It was multi-story, and there wasn’t much usable property as it was built into a hillside.
That’s the other part, maybe half the property was grass covered, the other half full of trees, and very steep. It didn’t appear anyone setup any landscaping to mitigate the flow of water from the top of the hill to, and past the home. The entire property was saturated and slick. The block foundation was saturated with water, and visibly growing. Water was pooled under the oversized rear deck.
The inside of the garage had been painted (to obscure the effects of 25+ years of hydrostatic pressure). The slab in the garage was cracked from the side entryway to the broken garage door, and water was seeping up from it. Neither garage door opener worked. The HVAC system’s duct had been cut into, and left open. There was water beneath the flooring in the partially finished basement.
Even the deadbolt on the front door was missing a strike plate… and the grounding rod was disconnected. S I looked around, I thought “I can fix this up.” In my mind I was calculating the cost of landscaping, foundation repair, electrical work, redoing the kitchen… On top of an inflated and inflexible asking price, I’d likely have to invest tens of thousands of dollars to make the place livable. A place I didn’t really like.
So I prayed on it. I thought about it. Then I went to sleep. I woke up at 5am the next day and the answer was clear “NO WAY.” I backed out of the contract. Hopefully soon I’ll get my deposit back from the company that was selling the home, but I digress. Things are coming down to the wire now. My home in NY is under contract and closing in the next few weeks. I need to pack up my stuff and go.
After months of no luck landing a new place in Georgia, I’d thought of renting. Get a place I can live in, settle down, and start the next chapter of my life. The realtors (who did plenty of work for me) had concerns about getting a long term lease, and being stuck in it when a good prospect showed up, or that the market would continue to inflate. Both logical considerations. The other option was the put all my belongings in storage and live out of a suit case until I found something. I didn’t really like that idea.
In the end – I went with another realtor who was more familiar with areas of GA that my other realtor was hesitant to help me with. I cannot express how frustrating it was to find properties which checked all the boxes, new construction even, and repeatedly lose them because the drive was too long (for them). I was told it was a 3 hour drive to one property. I joined the facebook group for the town and spoke with the locals about my prospective commute. Try an hour. On a bad day.
Part of me felt bad for these guys, they’d been hustling to help a total stranger from 900 miles away find a new home. Many houses weren’t a great fit, and many homes I liked and bid on – I did not get. The two I did get offers accepted on, I backed out of after the home inspection and my physical walkthrough. In this market, I’d imagine I was one of the more difficult folks to deal with. I wasn’t super picky, I just wanted a single level home with at least a half acre… that wasn’t hot garbage to the naked eye (as opposed to photoshopped listings).
With the money I had on hand, I had a very specific price cap. There were some gems there, many I missed out on completely due to hesitation from the realtor, but much of what I saw was crap. Homes that had been neglected for years and put up for sale at an unreasonable price point simply because the market is so very inflated right now. Homes that had been visibly renovated while ignoring major structural faults.
So partway through the journey, I discussed my frustrations with the realtor who sold my current home. She gave the guys a pep talk (which got them to look at a few homes for me despite the drive) but also got a referral to another agent who was more familiar with the northern areas of GA. After things went sideways with my most recent purchase, I reached out about a couple rentals. My hope being I could find something before I left.
That was yesterday. Today, I found 2. Both are close in price, one being a townhouse with plenty of interior space but limited exterior space, and the other – the single level ranch of my dreams. I just spent an hour filling out paperwork to apply to lease that home. Security clearances ask for less data, but I digress. Like I said, I’m down to the wire here, and running on faith that God will guide me to where I need to be.
I actually looked at 3, the one that was a hard no was in an exceptionally hilly area where at times it felt I was driving up a vertical face with asphalt on it. The drive there was exceptional until those hills. My legs hurt just looking at them. The house itself was fine, and if it had a garage I may have considered it. But this realtor heard what I wanted, ran with it, and found a couple more which aligned with what I was looking for.
In her defense, she hadn’t been dealing with me exclusively the past 2 months… Anyhow.
Where was I? So yeah… I’ve applied to lease a very nice house in a quiet and clean neighborhood. I hesitated a bit before I filled it out. Lump in throat, tightness in chest, doubt and fear seeping from every pore. I’m committing to step outside of my comfort zone in the hopes of finding something greater.
Should I get it, I’ll be moving south in the next couple weeks and finally be able to dig in and explore my new environment. It has been (to me) a very long and winding road. I’ve learned a TON about the homes down here, what to look for, and most importantly – that I can not, will not settle. I’ve also met many great and friendly people, and can’t wait to meet more.
I know what I want, and I believe if it lines up with what God has willed for me, I will achieve what it. I want to make the most out of this precious life I have been given, take chances, face down my fears, and glorify God in the process… None of this would be possible without Him. None of this would be achievable without my faith in Christ. He’s brought me this far.
I can’t wait to see where He brings me next. God bless.