The Impossible House

Moving across country is pretty hard. There’s a buncha stuff you have to do by feel, asking friends and guessing. And then there’s buying a house. Buying a house is rough at the best of times. Trying to buy a house 3000 miles away is… special.

When I first spoke to my realtor and explained my situation (Wanting to buy a house in Portland while living in NY and oh, btw, I had to buy it before I moved and could only get out there for one weekend max before the move) and we both agreed:

This would in no way work out.

With the money I could afford, the needs for a house I had, and those other problems this was simply not doable. We agreed. We knew it was a fool’s errand, but we both also thought it would be fun to try. Literally, we said that.

And so we came up with a plan. Every day I would get all the listings in the areas we discussed, in my price range. These were functionally useless. I wouldn’t buy a house without setting foot in it (That’s a huge mistake) and I wouldn’t be going out there for months. The idea was to get a deep understanding of what types of properties were out there, in areas I wanted to see, and what their prices were, as well as how fast they went off-market.

We, essentially, set up boot camp for the current market conditions of the region, in my range. We gathered information, did research and would mail each other with notes. I liked this one place, but she’d tell me why it looks good but wasn’t, and so on. So we got to know how the other thought. She started to see what types of places I liked better, and I had a deeply realistic view of how this would go. That view was:

This would in no way work out.

There simply weren’t enough properties, and the ones that were there weren’t in great shape. Not for the money I could pay. This went on for about three months. Three months (and change) of looking at daily listings and running through everything and doing research on crime stats, bus routes, and everything) And then there was the trip to Portland.

The trip would give us exactly two days to actually look at houses. That was it. Two sessions. If, within those sessions, a house was not found there would be no buying. I would be renting, and that’s fine. I mean none of this was horrible, or anything. Just, the only way for it to work perfectly would be to find a perfect house in this tiny window.

Understand settling much wasn’t going to be an option. Not spending the kind of money one does on a house for “Eh, I kinda like it.” Mistake. So. Two sessions of time, a total of maybe eight hours – find a house or don’t. We had the current open listings and we met up and went off.

The first day went… eh. There was a house and it was large and had enough space. The problem was there was no where to put an office for me except by walling off part of the basement. And doing that would leave me with a dank, gloomy office.

But it was possible. The problem was in the realm of “still fixable” and so we decided to look at it the next day, along with the few properties that remained. But it looked grim, really. Still, a bit of hope and whatnot.

Well the next day came and my realtor said she wanted to show a property that opened just before she left the office. It was, she claimed, a place that felt right. And she pulled up to this strange little house with a bright blue door. And inside it was all wonderful colors and new appliances and in terrific shape. It was painted in the colors of Amelia Cole. The whole house had been designed for me, directly, I was, and am, somehow sure of it.

I decided right then it was The House. Went back and saw the other place, just to be thorough, but no, The House had been found. On the way back to her office to start the paperwork, we were both a bit confused.

“If this works, all the way through… this is the Impossible House.”

“This shouldn’t have worked this far…”

Back at her office she quickly found there was another bid on the house. It made things trickier. So, given it was Saturday, she said she’d hopefully hear how things went with that by the time the plane landed back in NY.

Because then the bid had to be won and then all the mortgage crap had to go smooth and… just finding a house is only step one, of course. And all the way through it kept coming back to:

“If this works…”

“It’s firing a gun six months ago, and hitting a bulls-eye when no one knew where the target would even be?”

“It’s the Impossible House.”

“It’s a story you’ll tell clients for years.”

“It is.”

And then one day:

I signed the loan.

I got keys.

I own the Impossible House.

By Adam P. Knave

Adam P. Knave wrote this, but you knew that, since this is his site. That's kinda how it works.

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