Wednesday, August 06, 2003

editor's note: this is the fourth and FINAL installment in an irregular series of blogs related to the recent house hunt of Cap'n Ken and his First Mate

The House Hunt
Tonight's Episode: Woman in the Shadows

If the wife and I didn't have to drive past the seemingly unattainable house of our dreams to go pretty much anywhere, maybe we'd have forgotten about it.

But we didn't. And every open house we went to; every email update from we received, every new house we saw being scraped out of the dirt just reinforced that no place in the neighborhood suited us like the place just up the street.

The last obstacle for us buying a new house was removed in early July when we got a tenant into our rental condo downtown, so it was time to get serious. We were gonna buy a house this summer, dammit, no matter which house we had to buy.

We came across a builder at one open house who had what I think must be the last decent lot in East Atlanta, so that was promising. Before we went down that road, however, I figured I should close the books on the dream house.

I had very low expectations when I called our dream-home owner - Randy - to see if by chance he wanted to sell his place to us.

"Hey, I'm gonna buy a house, and I'd rather buy yours than the one I'm about to buy" was essentially my opening line. Randy initially said the timeframe still wasn't quite right and then threw out this interesting tidbit ... unprompted.

"Basically, I'm trying to figure out if my wife and I are staying together or splitting up," said the man who'd never met me 2 minutes into our second-ever phone conversation. "I'm going on a trip in August to figure things out, so call me back after that."

Come August 11, he'd know the fate of his marriage, apparently. I almost wanted to ask if he was going to tell his wife before he told me.

Randy went on to say that if he decided to split up with the wife, he was going to hang on to the house. I believe his words were "It's a great fucking house. I know you know that."

Great. We had to count on the guy who's been living apart from his wife for 7 months to decide to uproot himself and move away to be with her. I didn't like the odds. I mentioned to some people that I should call him back and talk about that time I saw his wife sunbathing in their backyard. "Dude, she's hot! You gotta hang on to that shit!".

But I didn't. Needless to say, this was a discouraging development. I began mentally adjusting to the apparent reality that the dream house would not, alas, be ours. I broke the news to the wife, who also was not ready to put much hope in Randy making things work with his lady.

Then the next day, I get a call. From Randy. Seems he wants to talk about a deal.

I can only imagine what changed his mind, but I think maybe it was a conversation that evening with his lady. I envision it going something like:

Randy: Hey, that dude who wants to buy the house called me today. I told him to shag off until I decide whether or not I'm leaving you.

Randy's Lady: Well, asshat, you know that if you leave me, you're going to owe me half of that $60,000 we put down on the house and half of the appreciation since we bought it, right?

Randy: Do what, now?

Thus, he calls me back.

Over the next few days, we had an involved email conversation about the current real estate market, Realtors fees, interest rates and things in the DotCom world (he's employed by a leading online news information service).

I cycled through about 10 periods of thinking we'd have a deal to thinking we wouldn't (I spared the wife much of this roller-coaster) before I just cut to the chase:

My "I'm tired of this. Here's my offer" email was met by an "I'll do it for this much" reply, and we had a deal.

Really. A deal. I couldn't resist telling the wife over AIM "I think we're getting the house". I hear she danced for hours on her desk.

Randy struck a deal with his former Realtor to represent him as a deep discount, and we met at the house on our way out of town that Friday to sign a contract. There was an out clause for either party because Randy wanted to make sure he could find suitable living arrangements before he committed (seems the August 11 deadline for his marriage got moved up).

That weekend, Randy signed a contract on a condo. The deal was sealed.

We close on the house August 27 and will rent it back to Randy for two months while his condo is being renovated. Move in is November 1.

My days are now filled with matters of mortgages, insurance and the like, and our weekends revolve around furniture shopping (we have a lot of space to fill) rather than open housing.

And thus ends the odyssey of Cap'n Ken and the House That Wouldn't Sell.

P.S. A free slice of Grant Central pizza for the first blog reader who identifies the origin of the episode titles in The House Hunt. Claim it at

NOTE: Relatives of Cap'n Ken, except those who are related by the marriage of Cap'n Ken's sister to your uncle, are ineligible.


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