How we came to own our house in the suburbs is really a crazy story. We were happily living in San Francisco. We would occasionally discuss moving to the suburbs, but never seriously. In the back of my mind I knew we would eventually leave, but our heads weren't quite there yet. We were emotionally attached to our San Francisco house.
We bought our house in San Francisco in April of 2000. It was a surreal time in real estate. Every house we looked at in our price range was getting multiple offers and selling for way above asking price. Open houses were like feeding frenzies. When we finally won one of the bidding wars, we were thrilled. It was a serious fixer upper. When our friends found out how much we paid they all thought we had lost our minds. But we loved the street, the backyard was unusually large for a city house and we saw the potential in that little cottage built in 1912. We lived there for two years before we turned this:
It was a fantastic house, inside and out. We picked out every light fixture, drawer pull, tile and appliance in that house. We loved every inch of it. Our names we carved into the driveway cement.
But Mr. Mint was always looking at real estate, especially in the town we had pegged as our ideal place to move. In July of 2006, we were having a heat wave. The top floor in our house was like a sauna. Mr. Mint couldn't sleep so he went downstairs to his office to tinker around on his computer and check out the real estate listings. He came across a listing for a house in an ideal location that seemed to call to us, "I'm perfect for you."
In the morning he showed me the pictures and we couldn't stop talking about it. They were having an open house on Sunday. I was driving back home from taking the kids to lunch with a friend and I decided to drive by. I drove up the driveway and immediately fell in love without even going inside. The kids were all asleep in the back of the car so I decided to not go inside. I figured we weren't really ready to move anyway, so why bother. When I got home, Mr. Mint and I couldn't stop talking about the house and looking at the pictures online. We didn't even have a real estate agent yet. It was Sunday and offers were due on Monday at 3pm.
Monday morning I called a friend who had just bought a house close by and asked her for her agents number. I called the agent and explained that we had fallen in love with the house without even stepping inside and we had probably already missed the boat, but would like to start looking at other properties. She called me back and said she could get us in that morning if we wanted to check it out. I called a babysitter, Mr. Mint came home from work and we drove down.
As soon as we walked in, we knew the house had great potential. It was built in 1935 and had only had two previous owners. The kitchen was just what we wanted, a blank slate that had not been updated since the 1950's. All the original details had been preserved. When I walked up the stairs and saw the bedrooms I knew I wanted this house. There were two charming rooms joined by a Jack and Jill bathroom. Perfect for a set of twin girls. The master bedroom had a separate dressing room, huge bathroom and great view of the backyard.
We asked our agent (who we had just met 15 minutes before) what she thought the house would sell for. We decided to grab some lunch and talk about what we wanted to do. One hour later we decided to make an offer. Our new agent scrambled to put it together and present it to the owners. Ours was the last of six bids presented that day. We went home and waited for the phone to ring.
When the call came to say they had accepted out offer I wanted to cry. Half of me thought no I don't want to move, the other half thought it must be fate. Almost two years later, I can confidently say we did the right thing. We can walk to a fabulous public school, we use our yard almost every day and there is plenty of space here for us. I like that our house has a happy history to it. The family that lived here before us owned it for 56 years and raised three kids here. One of their grandchildren got married in the backyard.
Here are a couple of reasons we fell in love with it...
Click HERE for some more photos of what we love about our home. For Part 2 I'll share what we don't love about this house and why I was miserable for the first month or so. Stay tuned.