We bought a zoo

Our lives are anything but dull.

If orange is the new black, then chaos is the new normal.

So, staying on trend, we got a little crazy and bought a zoo house!

It all started a few months back when we fell in love with the house that was in the wrong neighborhood.

We were not even in the market for a new house and I was VERY pregnant....but being married to Chris pretty much dictates that we are in the market at all times.  After 13 years together, I should know better.

So after, we passed on that house, we decided it was time to start looking at our options.

Our current house was nearly done with all the remodels we had planned and with a second baby that was soon to join us, our house was starting to feel pretty packed.

Plus, we knew when we bought this house that it was going to be a 3-5 year home for us- and we've already been here 3.5 years.

So we started our search.  

We knew we wanted to stay on Queen Anne and if we wanted to get a bigger/nicer house than ours we were going to have to pay through the nose, and if you know me at all, you know that is my least favorite form of payment.

We wanted to get more square footage, more bedrooms, a quieter street (we are on a 2 lane road now) and more space for the boys and the dog to run. On QA, that is a tall order (and an expensive one).

We looked at a few homes that were on the market that hit all our criteria- 4 bedrooms, a basement, large main floor with open floor plan, garage, walkable and big backyard.

Nothing we looked at was quite right or quiet the right price.

We decided that ultimately we still loved the Bryant house but we wanted it on Queen Anne....we needed to build it ourselves.

So, we started the hunt for an affordable property on QA- meaning a lot that had a house that was in tear down condition.

We LOVE old houses, so we were not looking at properties that had nice homes that could be renovated.  We were looking at places that were too far gone to save.

Unfortunately these properties are hard to come by, and very few of them come on the market. It's a full time job trying to search out a property and then get in and see it before it's snapped up by someone else- because we are not the only ones looking for a property to build on.

We needed professional help.

We asked my friend and fellow Qa mom, Nikki to help us out and she was fantastic.  

She started searching out off-market deals and complied a list of homes that were not for sale that we may want to contact.

The list of homes was over 500 long.  The list had all the lots that were 4,000+ sq. ft. that had homes that were smaller than 1,500 sq. ft. and hadn't been sold in 40+ years.  Basically, we had hoped to drive past the addresses and dwindle the list down to 100 or less and then send a letter to the homeowners asking if they would be willing to sell.

It's a ton of work and it's a long shot, but all we needed was one homeowner to be willing to sell.

While we were going through the hundreds of addresses and dwindling the list, a house came on the market that we had to check out. We had not expected to find anything so quick- we had actually given ourselves a year for our search.

It was on a corner lot, in a great area and was in a total state of disrepair- it was also listed for next to nothing. 

They were doing a call for offers- where all offers had to be in on a certain date and time and they would review and chose the best offer.

This is great for the seller and incredibly nerve wrecking for the buyers.

We had to determine what our max price was for the property, put in our offer and hope for the best.

This was all happening the week before my due date- at least it gave me something to distract me from being 39 weeks pregnant.

We got together, wrote our best offer and included a letter and photo of our family to help woo the sellers into choosing us. 
How do you say no to that pregnant belly??
We had actually written in an escalation clause into our offer that took our offer up to $200,000 over the asking price- so we felt like we were in a good spot.

We submitted and crossed our fingers.

While that was happening and we were waiting to hear back- another house came on the market.

A better one.

It also had a call for offers, and offers on that house were due before we would be able to hear back on the other house.  So- we threw caution to the wind and submitted an offer on that house too- hedging our bets a bit.  Hoping that in the end, we would end up with one of the houses (and not both).

Again, we wrote in an escalation clause (not as high since this one was more expensive) and I wrote a letter to the homeowner and included the family photo. I figured the letter/photo couldn't hurt, and you never know when it will be the difference maker.

A few days later, after some back and forth on the first house, we knew we were in the running to get it.  Something crazy like 17 offers had come in for it and we were in the top 3, but in the end, they chose someone else.

I was a bit bummed, but kind of relieved at the same time.  I felt like house #2 was really the one that I wanted.

So waiting for them to review offers was agony.

I was VERY pregnant and I was emotionally attached- especially knowing that if we didn't get this one, we would have nothing.

Again, there were multiple offers received and they all had escalation clauses. 

Nikki had presented our offer in person and had gleaned a bit of info from the selling agent and it sounded like our offer may have been the best.

We crossed our fingers and waited.

Luckily, we didn't have to wait too long to find out the house was ours.

We were so happy and excited, but since I was 3 days over due at that point, I was focused on getting the baby out and not so much celebrating the new house.

It turns out that the seller had read our letter and liked that we were a family that wanted to stay on the property for a long time (the previous owners' grandfather built the original house nearly 100 years ago).

Fast forward a month and we are the proud new owners of a 6,000 sq. ft. property (with a 1,000 sq. ft. farm house) where we are going to build our forever-home.

The property is perfectly situated about 1 mile from our current house, still on the top of QA and just 2 houses away from a huge park with soccer fields, tennis courts, a dog park, play structure and plenty of space to run.  I can already picture the boys playing there every day.

We are hoping to start work in early 2015 and with luck we will be moved in by next Christmas. 

Hunter has already told our builder that he wants to drive the tractor and knock the house down...it will be his very own construction site- we better get him a hard hat.

I took the boys to the house on our closing date and took a few photos to commemorate what they looked like when we bought the place.

We plan on being here for a VERY long time, so perhaps I'll make them take the same photo each year to track their growth.

The old owner is living in the house for a few more weeks, so I don't have pictures of the house/yard yet, but I'll snap some soon.

This picture cracks me up:

Here's a close up on Hunter's face.  I think it's his "proud homeowner & big brother" face.

In the mean time, we are working on plans for the new house, our must-have lists (Chris and my list differ quite a bit- he disagrees that a built in soda fountain is a must have) and dreaming of what it will be like in our new home.