We’ve had a For Sale sign in our front yard for 3 years. Had you told me in 2012 the nicest home we’ve ever owned would take this long to sell, I would have had you committed. It’s lake property people. Certainly not a mansion compared to some in the neighborhood, but still a nice home. I’ve lived in this house longer than I lived in my childhood home town of Rock Valley, Iowa, although it doesn’t seem that long. Except for that stinking sign still out front.
|The sign has truly worn out its welcome…|
I don’t remember exactly when we decided that living in west Michigan wasn’t smart for us anymore. I was still doing my Parish Visiting gig, but now on my 4th boss. All of them preachers and not very good in the boss department. John’s thriving little manufacturing plant was suddenly struggling after the crash of 2008. He had just been handed the straw that broke the camel’s back. One of the Big 3 had reneged on a huge contract Hubs had been awarded. Now mired with the huge debt load of already having new equipment installed, and no parts to produce, his company closed.
|A nice house with great views. Time to move on…|
Our youngest grandchild Graham, was born in 2009. Sarah and Adam were both working, plus Sarah had enrolled in school to become an RN. Neither wanted outsiders taking care of him. Sarah’s mom Karen and I would take care of Graham when Adam and Sarah both worked. The nights we were needed was one weekend a month each. Karen took one, John and I took the other. We have been driving 175 miles one way, at least once a month to watch Graham for 5 years. We love doing this, and have loads of fun with G. Plus many trips to Jackson in those 5 years to visit Shannon and Tracey. Attending Landon’s baseball, football, basketball games, and Peyton’s dance recitals, school projects, programs etc. More trips to Detroit to visit Josh and Erica, and nearby, our oldest granddaughter, Ariana. We’re constantly driving back and forth for something. It’s what we want to do. We love seeing our family often. What we don’t enjoy as much is the 3 hour drive one way to watch 11 year old Peyton dance (she’s very talented) 4 minutes, then drive another 3 hours back home.
|Little cutie Graham 1, 2010…|
We started questioning why we were living 180 miles from our immediate family? I loved my work, but was getting burned out by the mounting deaths of the elderly folks I visited. The passing of another person on my list every few weeks was taking a huge toll. I retired in 2013.
|A regular occurrence. 1000 foot tankers chug past the house…|
After looking at the big picture, we concluded the only thing holding us to Muskegon was our house. Why stay here? It had been a good 18 years, but the decision was made to move at least 150 miles east. Not too close to any of the kids. But close enough to help out with the grandchildren by picking up, carting to dance class, the Y, babysitting in a pinch, bringing forgotten lunch money, excuse slips, and permission slips without too much hassle.
|Peyton 11, Landon 14 in California 2014…|
Our first phone call was to Bill, the realtor who had sold us this house in 1994. He’s consistently one of the top sellers in the area. When he and his partner showed up, I was even happier. Dave owned the apartment complex a block away where my Dad lived when he moved to Michigan on 2005. Dave was terrific with the senior tenants.
|Hoping to spend a bit more time with this beauty, Ariana, 2015…|
Bill was just as persuasive and persistent as he was almost 20 years go. He was positive he could get this place sold and we would move by Labor Day, 2012. In fact, he had a couple from Chicago who wanted a summer place on the lake. Might not even take him and Dave 90 days to get us out of here. We signed a 6 month agreement. A couple days later Bill called with more good news. A couple from Saugatuk wanted a lake home. Our lake home. They would be driving up shortly. He was convinced we would have an offer in a few days. Sixty days later, we had not seen the couple from Chicago or Saugatuk. Or Bill. Or Dave.
|Shooting stars over Muskegon’s lighthouse, 2015…|
What we didn’t know is Bill was in a tough spot of his own. The 2008 crash was hitting him hard too. He had bought a bunch of land on speculation. A future profitable housing development. Well, land and houses weren’t popping up around here. Economy was in the toilet. Bill was trying to avoid bankruptcy. Thus the quick sale of John and Denise’s lake home was not high on his priority list. He didn’t update, communicate or show the house. What a mistake on our part! I was disappointed, disgusted and had reached my limit of being civil. I zipped off a rather terse email. Questioning why there hadn’t been an open house? Why, when he had all these buyers lined up, panting for the place, hadn’t he shown it ONCE in 2 months? I was not very nice. Bill never answered me. He was too busy. That job fell to Dave. Who droned on for 8 paragraphs how un-sellable our house was, even though neither had shown it. Folks didn’t like the master suite on the second floor. Or that the master bath faced the lake. Dave thought it was high time to start dropping the price. After that, communication pretty much stopped. I did complain via email once more. I got reamed a new one. Yikes. I read the note to John, who then wrote Dave a testy reply. Dave answered, and addressed the email to Denise and “George.” OK, we’re done here.
|Sometimes words just aren’t needed…|
Enter Mary. She works at a local realtor office right here in North Muskegon. She had lots of suggestions to make the place more marketable, without dumping in thousands of dollars. Suggested some new paint, carpet and removal of most of the things that make this house all Neese-like. We don’t want to distract buyers from looking at the house when they’re too busy looking at all my stuff. We didn’t argue, and took her suggestions to heart. Hauled out loads of furniture and almost everything hanging on the walls.
|Mary our extraordinary realtor…|
Wasn’t long before we had an offer. But it had a twist. Buyers wanted to put on a huge addition, and insisted on including an architect and builder to see how much it would cost. Or if it was even feasible. The addition was much more than they thought, and the deal fell through. We were devastated. They had looked at our home 7 times. Yes 7.
|Some pretty spectacular sunsets over Lake Michigan, 2015…|
Decided we needed a little break. Took it off the market for a couple months during the winter. We were just so tired of always being ready for another showing. You want constant showings, but keeping the house that clean is hard. And irritating. While the house was off the market, Hubs and I burned the fireplace every night. I went days without having every square inch of the counters sparkling. Sometimes left some dishes in the sink. Or a pan on the stove. Oh yeah, we were rebels.
|Stunning colors. Yes, I’m going to miss this…|
For the past 3 years, whenever I was doing routine chores, these were my thoughts. Well this is the last time I’ll have to haul out the down comforter in this house. This will be the last time we’ll celebrate Thanksgiving here. This is the last time I have to change my closet from season to season. One of the dumbest was check blanks. I’d be running out of checks and think, sure don’t want to order 2 books of check blanks with a North Muskegon address, then move. I ordered one box of duplicate checks at least 3 times, waiting.
|Captured August, 2015, a waterspout on Lake Michigan…|
So about the time we re-listed with Mary, I went into my slump. Spring was right around the corner, but I had a bad case of the blahs. Just not in a happy place. It took a couple of months for me to realize what was going on in the world of Neese. So like the brave gal I am (not), I bared my soul in my blog and wrote a post called, The Hole. It was June 24, 2015. As God is my witness, we got an offer on the house on June 25. God’s timing was impeccable. Since we had been pretty vocal with our first offer by telling family and friends, this time around we were going in another direction.
|The clump of birch that’s always visible. The water’s up and they’re drowning…|
“John, we’re going to treat this offer differently. Instead of blabbing to the world we have an offer, let’s pretend it’s 30 years ago, and I’ve just found out I’m pregnant-again. Whoops, another surprise. We tell no one until the first trimester is over (a done deal-house wise). It will be our little secret, ok?” “Sure,” he said beaming. “But just so you know, the other 3 times you really were pregnant, I shared our news with everyone. On day one. With complete strangers. In line at Meijer.” (Maybe I really do have 4 children).
|I took this, looking east. Birch trees on the left…|
Our house passed inspection and the buyer wanted to close on July 31st. About 10 days before the 31st, Mary texted that the buyer was changing loan institutions. That didn’t sound good. He was pre-approved. Please not another deal going kaflooey. Mary texted again a couple days later. An addendum had come from the buyer. Changing financing from a conventional loan to cash. Buyer wants closing, on or before August 14th. “It’s looking good,” she wrote. “Keep packing.” I texted back, “Mary, this is fantastic news.” Also mentioned I was busy making Bread and Butter pickles that day. She texted back, “I said keep packing, not pickling!” Clever girl. However, getting all the cash together stalled a bit, waiting on some banker dude’s signature. Buyer was not going to have the money to close on the 14th. I was getting a little discouraged.
|1000 footer headed thru channel to the big Lake…|
Suddenly Monday, August 17th, everything fell into place. Buyer and the cash were ready. Closing at 9 am on August 21st. Took a half hour. A young single guy, he’s ecstatic about buying the house. I hope he enjoys it for 21 (ok, some of the love started fading at year 19) years.
We have no regrets. Enjoyed it here, the views, as you can see are fantastic. But I’m so ready. I have yet to discover the reason God needed us in this house for an extra 3 years. His timing doesn’t always coincide with this impatient sinner. Now there’s only 14 days before we have to be out of this place. We’re house hunting this weekend. Probably end up renting something for a bit and store our stuff in pods.
|Looking out to Lake Michigan…|
I’ve dreamt, prayed and longed to write the post, Pending. Here’s the definition of pending, “the period before the conclusion about to take place.” We actually passed pending this morning when we closed. But I love that word. More distinct than just plain old sold. Mary said she doesn’t use pending signs. Too many deals fall through after that little word has been displayed. However, after she brought over the closing paper details, she added pending to the for sale sign. Just so I could take a picture for my blog. I thought she would have changed it to sold by now. Think she might be celebrating today. Getting rid of us. Finally.
|Waiting to see the Pending sign for a very long time, 8-20-15…|
I refuse to fret about the next chapter. I’ve prayed the house would sell for so long, moving is going to be small potatoes. Thousands of folks move everyday. The next few blog posts maybe scheduled a little crazy. Be patient with this odd writer. I’ll be packing Blue Delft in one hand, and tapping away with the other. But I’m thankful and excited for what comes next…
|Thanks for your help God, 8-21-15…|