Being a real estate agent, buying and selling homes is pretty much always on my mind. But recently it got me thinking about the very first house my (now ex) husband and I bought. It was 1988 and we had just gotten married in late September. A colleague and his wife had invited us to dinner in early December…they wanted to give us our wedding gift, which turned out to be one of those Snow Village sets (I still have it and set it up every Christmas). As we were talking, they mentioned that they were selling their house and we should come by and take a look.
At the time we were living in a one bedroom apartment in downtown Chicago and the thought of buying a house in the suburbs hadn’t crossed our mind at all…we had just gotten married, one thing at a time! But on our way home after dinner we started talking about it. My husband had been to the house before and said it was a really nice house in a nice location (location, location, location). So on a whim, we contacted the listing broker and went to go take a look. Because we were both working, we went in the evening, and I still remember walking through the house with all the lights on, and a beautiful Christmas tree all lit up in the living room. It seemed magical and homey, all at once.
We wound up sitting in the real estate agent’s office discussing pricing with her and an offer. It happened so fast…we weren’t even looking for a house! I remember the agent giving us some time to discuss it with each other without her presence. I called my mother, just to talk it over with her. I expected her to caution us to not rush into anything, to do some more looking…but instead what I remember is her telling me that sometimes you just know…that a house can speak to you, and it shouldn’t be ignored…she told me that it isn’t always easy to find the “right house” and that we should really consider this.
Long story short, we bought it and moved in in mid-February…”busy season” for us as we were both CPAs. We rented a U-Haul and had some friends help us move (that was the last of the “friends helping us move” moves). I remember having so little furniture to fill the space…we went from an average one bedroom apartment to a three bedroom house…with a garage and a yard!
I still look back on that house with fond memories. It was built in the 1930s and had so much character with arched doorways, wainscoting and a beautiful two-story bow window (which had a flat roof over it that leaked), along with the old leaded windows that were frozen to the touch in the winter and were “slightly” drafty. Both of my kids came home from the hospital to that house. I really did love it. But after 5 1/2 years we were called to move to London for three years, and we knew when we came back we would be ready for a new (larger) home. So we sold it. 😦
A satellite view of my first house…
A few months ago I was thinking about that house and decided to look it up on google…the satellite street view (do you remember the address of your first house?). Remember the “location, location, location?” Already back in the early 1990’s we were seeing tear downs in our neighborhood ~ we had easy access to the highway and while the schools in our town were very good, our neighborhood actually fed into the New Trier school district, which was even better (Fun Facts: New Trier High School (West) has appeared in Home Alone, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Uncle Buck and New Trier (East) was in Sixteen Candles…also The Breakfast Club, while filmed at another nearby high school, got its name from the nickname the New Trier students gave to morning detention).
Our house was on a lot and a half…you can guess what happened…not a tear down, but an addition. While I am glad they didn’t tear the house down, they really changed the outside look of it, made it more “grand” in my opinion…and while the beautiful two-story bow window is still a prominent feature, the house is significantly bigger than when I lived there. When it was my home the garage was detached and behind the house and the front door was to the right of the large bow window…in fact, about half of what you see in the photo above didn’t exist when I lived there. It’s not a surprise that it happened…and whether I like it or not is irrelevant…it’s not my house anymore. I’m not sure when the addition was done, but if you trust Zillow (which actually still lists the house as 1761 square feet with 1.5 baths), it was last sold in 1996…which would mean that the people we sold to are still living there…I don’t blame them, it was a great house & a great neighborhood. 🙂
I’m now on my fourth house.
Since that first house I have gone on to buy three more houses, one in Michigan and two in the greater Boston area (we rented in London). My recent purchase I did solo…which was full of second guessing, stress and sleepless nights (having nothing to do with the house itself). Buying a house is a big deal, no matter how many times you have done it. A little anxiety, a few doubts, it’s all normal. But I have no regrets now…I love my new house. And I will share more about it in some upcoming posts.
Do you remember buying your first house? Was it stressful, did you search a long time, did you know it when you found it? I would love to hear your stories…please post a comment below or on my Facebook Business Page, Lisa Van Dore, Realtor at Landmark Residential.