Gonna Eat a Lot of Peaches

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Well this is going to be a post that you likely won’t see repeated too often in this writer’s life. As the title alludes through the lyrics of a pretty well known tune, Deanna and I have basically moved to the country. More precisely, we have opted to leave the busy, hurried suburbs of the Plateau area in Gatineau, for the more peaceful country-like setting of Chelsea. This has likely been some time coming as some people have asked for years now, “when are you moving to Chelsea?”. In fact, to meet it sort of feels like I’ve finally arrived where I should be. We spend a lot o our spare time in Gatineau Park, and the lure of a little more peace and room to breathe was too great to ignore any longer. Read on for a little more story about how we ended up at our new homestead, the Artisan Alehouse (as I have named it in Untappd via Foursquare!)

First up, a few pictures of the home as it was when we viewed it. There will be plenty more pictures as we convert it into our ‘home’, but for now, it certainly gives you an idea of our dream house.

As you are all no doubt aware, a little over a year ago, Deanna and I said ‘I do’ to one another. There, in the brilliant fall sun and colours, surrounded by friends and family, in a rustic country setting, we set about our lifelong commitment to one another. Sickness, health, richer, poorer, and all that stuff. To us, it was also a commitment to continue exploring and adventuring together, and trying new things and experiences. During our courtship, I had two options; pick up stakes and move to Toronto, or convince Deanna to move from the City of Toronto to the ‘burbs of Gatineau. Self-reflection and a bit of discussion, and it was very clear that I would possibly whither and fade away if I were forced to live in a big city. I needed my park and easy access to trails, water, hills, etc. So with that, Deanna moved to Gatineau, and embraced snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, cycling, and trail running with me and a band of merry friends.

As time passed, we discussed long term plans. Cabin in the woods? Condo in the city during the week? That was a vision we had, but eventually determined that carrying two mortgages and only part-time solitude might not work. So what were we to do? Well, for whatever reason, early in the summer, we started looking at properties for sale. At first, we thought it was just for fun, to “prepare” for the day when we’d pull the trigger. But then a funny thing happened. One evening, as we were sitting together going over ads and admiring pictures of some of these places, we looked at each other and said “are we serious? Are we really doing this?” The answer in our souls and heart was YES! We decided then and there we’d focus our efforts, and even put our house on the market on a whim to get the ball rolling and apply pressure.

I’ve gotta say this. Looking at pretty pictures is one thing. Even viewing houses is a pretty fun and easy thing, BUT, when it comes to finally putting in offers and also trying to successfully sell your house is a whole other, and more stressful, thing. But as many of you know, I’m pretty organized, methodical, and pretty decent when it comes to negotiations. With that in mind, we opted to undertake this whole ‘project’ on our own, ultimately both selling our house, and buying our new one privately. Frankly, I find having that personal contact, and ultimately more control over presentation and negotiations to be better for me, but it is definitely not for everyone. Agents have a place in this world for sure, it just wasn’t for us.

Armed with a glimmer in our eyes, and a general idea of what we wanted, we started out how all other house hunters do, and the way conventional wisdom dictates. We viewed houses. A LOT of them. Whenever we could. We’d squeeze in visits between work, training, and races. At one point, we realized we’d viewed pretty much every house for sale in the Chelsea area, and regions much farther north (think past Wakefield!). Ultimately, we again searched our souls to zero in on exactly where we wanted to live, and it complicated matters a bit. Our criteria was to be able to still cycle commute easily to work, be in Chelsea (on the east side of the park), and ready access to the park, while having our peace. That eliminated a LOT of places. We had to increase our budget, and also be willing to look at tradeoffs like living right off the 105 for example.

Time never seems to be on your side in a real estate transaction. With limitless funds, you could carry two houses, allowing you to move on a house you love before selling your own, but we were NOT in that position. What’s worse, in our current area, it seemed almost every other house was for sale, casting doubt on our ability to sell reasonably quickly. However, as with any endurance race, you can’t worry about what lies ahead or any particular suffering, you have to live in the moment and do what you know you can do.

So with that, after spending a long visit at one particular house, we reviewed all our criteria, and realized that this particular house was pretty much the best fit. It was by no means perfect, was 30 years old, and didn’t show particularly well based on its current state, but something about it sang to us. With some excitement, we booked a second viewing, and headed off with a head full of excitement, a measuring tape, and me having run a number of scenarios on reasonable opening offers, After all, in Quebec, you can actually look up the selling and buying prices of every property transaction, as well as the municipal evaluations, etc. We had a great visit, and at the end, we all sat down so we could discuss next steps. And that, my friends, is when they told us it was too bad w hadn’t come forward even 2 days ago, as they had received, and accepted a conditional offer just the day before! We were crushed.

Before leaving, we openly chatted more with them about this offer, and I managed to actually wrangle from them the exact price of the other offer, which was in line with my hoped-for final offer price. I asked if we had any options at this point. The indicted they actually would have preferred dealing with us (long story there), but legally speaking, our only hope was to make an unconditional offer on the house. No inspection, no clause about financing, not clause about selling our own house, etc. Unfortunately, we hadn’t even gotten our house listed online yet. The pictures and copy were just being finalized, and would go up in the next couple days. We left dejected, knowing there was little hope. The other offer had a 30 day window basically to close on financing, etc., so we knew we had to walk away and keep looking.

After dusting ourselves off, we picked back up, and continued the quest, once again raising our price ceiling again to capture a few more ‘gems’ that we knew were out there and wanted a chance to view. Concurrently, we got our house listed. So now we were also putting another ball in the air, which was dealing with people wanting to visit our house. Luckily, I was actually off during that time, so I had the ability to get the house properly staged, store the clutter elsewhere, and manage the whole process. Feedback was good, and the first few showings went really well and gave us hope with respect to selling. We’d priced the house competitively, and it was in great shape. Buoyed by this, we got serious about buying again. We found a house that we instantly loved, with a gorgeous sunroom, ample room, big yard, and even deeded access to the water, located just off the 105 between Scott Street and Old Chelsea. After returning home that night and discussing it, we decided we’d prepare an offer to send to them quickly, before missing the chance.

We purposefully priced it on the lower end of the spectrum, knowing it would buy us a bit of time with the back and forth, hopefully giving time to sort our own house out. Unsurprisingly, the offer was rejected, and countered with a price still a bit rich for our likes, but keeping the door open. We decided to sit on it a few days to see what might happen. After all, I was actually heading to NS for a week. Then, some magic happened. We managed t coax not one, but two offers on the house. I say coax, because I basically called out two viewers who had both indicated they planned to make offers, but hadn’t yet. I contacted each to let them know someone else was interested, and we were expecting offers imminently. I worked, and both sent in offers the next day. The game was afoot.  A little more back and forth, and it looked pretty definitive that we had sold the house! Now what?

Well, with the time that had passed, I decided to go for broke and called back the folks with the first house we’d lost out on to see where they were. Expecting it was too late, I was elated to learn the other people hadn’t yet removed their conditions, meaning that an unconditional offer was still an option. The world will tell you don’t EVER make an unconditional offer, but I’m not most people, and what’s life without a little adventure? Deanna was onboard, so I hastily drafted an offer while in NS. I electronically signed it there, Deanna electronically signed it in Midland, ON, and we sent it to BC where they were currently vacationing. I should point out that in our visits, I’d inspected a lot of the house’s structural work already, and had also viewed a complete inspection that had been carried out. Having grown up in a house that my dad built around the same time, I know my way around a house. In other words, I wasn’t going in completely blind. The offer was now in the ether, and the next 24 hours were a bit nerve wracking.

Happily, the next day, we got a great surprise. The offer was accepted as is, and the other people had even been told their offer was now null and void. After some legal calls, it was determined that while the other offer normally has a 72 hour clause for a counter offer to be made by the other couple who made an offer, that clause had become null and void based on another clause that stated proof of financing had had to be made within the first 10 days of the offer. They had not done that, so the entire offer was scrapped, and ours was the winner!!! We had sold our house AND bought a new one, pretty much all while I was on vacation back east. Amazing.

But of course, all of this is really only the very beginning of what will be an entire book of stories. We are now in our dream home, It is gorgeous, We have an acre and a half, on a gravel, dead-end dirt road, looking out over the Gatineau hills. And when the snow flies? Well, as the son of the old owners said, it becomes a fairy tale land. They had lived in, and loved that house for 25 years, but it is now time for a new chapter in the house’s history. We have officially moved in, and are busy turning it into our HOME. There are a ton of projects, which have basically kept me hopping all day every day until 11pm, but we are loving every minute of it, and can’t wait for an official housewarming when it is ready for company!

That about does it for the tale of how we ended up being ‘Chelsea Folks’, and as I write this, I’m en route to Jamaica for the Reggae Marathon, which will be my next story, so stay tuned for that one next! Till then, may your lives all be as fulfilling as mine currently feels, and remember to bank it for when you need a boost!

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