I'm currently writing to you from the comfort of my family room...a family room I OWN...inside of a big, beautiful house that D and I now call home. OUR HOME! So, yeah...we kept a giant secret from almost everyone for the last 2+ months (believe me, so hard to do!), but I wanted to wait to share our news when D and I were finally here in Florida together. This is a huge milestone in the story of Team Coté, couldn't spill the beans without my boy! Let me back up and give you some perspective on how we got here. It's been quite the fascinating journey.
[Warning...long, rambling post ahead. Consider yourselves warned.]
Remember that time I wrote this post? I can still feel myself typing out those words with an excited (and nervous) pit in my stomach like it was just yesterday. Hard to believe that on April 15th, we officially dove head first into something we knew almost nothing about from 5,000 miles away. We were totally crazy to even think this could work, but also insanely passionate about making the impossible happen. The same day I wrote about needing prayers and being terrified of the journey we were about to embark on...we put an offer in on a house. A house we had only ever seen virtually...never having stepped foot inside it. Talk about a leap of faith (understatement of the century!). After 6 hours and some back and forth negotiating typical of the home buying process, our offer was accepted and we were on our way to realizing our dream of becoming homeowners. The next day (would have been that same day, but we also had to battle a 6 hour time difference), we were officially under contract! Our crazy dream was just that much closer to becoming real life. What made the moment even sweeter was that we got the news during a BBQ with our closest friends in Germany. We all clinked glasses and celebrated the beginning of our new adventure that night. I'm pretty sure you couldn't wipe the smiles off either of our faces!
While D and I both began to relax our nerves a little bit, we were still navigating through the home buying process as total newbs, so the learning curve of it all occasionally kept me up at night. Not to mention we were doing all this from a foreign country. So many layers of crazy, so many ways this could all blow up in our faces. I often worried we'd made too hasty of a decision...after all, it was only the second house we got serious about. This wasn't just the purchase of a wedding dress or a new puppy...it was a huge investment. Big stinkin' deal! We'd looked at dozens of MLS listings, but only had our realtor physically scout out two of them. The first house we got serious about ended up being surrounded by homes and a neighborhood still under construction. I couldn't imagine being completely surrounded on all sides of me with bulldozers and hardhats for upwards of 1.5 years after we moved in. So, we let that house go. We diligently kept searching, but somehow always came back to this one house we thought was just a smidge out of our comfortable price range. I would secretly look at it while D was at work...viewing it from Google Earth and Maps, researching the neighborhood, the schools, surrounding property values...yadda, yadda. Just dreaming, I thought. I finally mustered up the nerve to talk to D about it and he confessed he still thought about this same house, too! So, we prayed...a lot. We put our trust in God's provision and perfect timing the moment we began this journey, it wasn't time to start wavering from that plan. We also let our realtor know that we wanted to look into the house more, so he got right on taking more in-depth photos and videos of the house and neighborhood.
This is the part of the story where I gush about how fabulous our realtor, Craig Tomchik, was with us. He was very even keel--never got us hyped up about a place, forthright with every piece of info we needed to consider, supportive without being pushy or misleading, and almost like a father-figure...looking out for our best interests and stepping up to the plate even with the unique challenge of us being 5,000 miles away from the process. He is exactly the kind of realtor everyone should work with, but especially someone who two clueless first-timers needed. I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that D and I wouldn't have been able to do any of this without his knowledgeable guidance and genuine joy of helping us buy our first home. Heaven sent, for sure!
After sending Craig to the house for more recon, he sent over all the photos, laid out all the numbers, and we proceeded to fall more in love with the house. Tried as I might, I couldn't hold back the big puffy hearts that kept exploding from my eyes every time I watched those videos and viewed those pictures. I could visualize D and I cooking in the kitchen...grilling out and throwing a ball with Tuck in the backyard...chasing a toddler up and down the stairs. You know that feeling of complete bliss and giddy butterflies...the feeling that's hard to shake because it's so darn wonderful? That's how this house made us feel. I kept hearing how you shouldn't fall head over heels for one particular place because it's a long way to fall if you don't get the house. That ship had sailed. I was ready to sign the dotted line from that moment on. Come to find out, the house had already had dozens of viewings with seemingly interested buyers, but no formal bites. We were worried as to why such a stunning, 18-month-old, impeccably-maintained home in a gated community wouldn't have people clawing down the door with offers. Then we remembered the Great Realtor we were working with. He'd chosen this house for us...we just needed to stop second guessing it was the one and let the worry go. By His grace, and our wonderful earthly realtor's skills (and our super awesome mortgage broker, Joe Harris, at Morgan Financial--thanks, Joe!), we got the house!
Just 40 days after finding our dream home, I flew back to the states to really sign on that dotted line. Remember when I flew home to NC the day after returning from our Adriatic cruise? I was half coming home to grieve with family over the loss of my Granny, half to drive to Florida to close on the house. Two weeks before leaving on our cruise, I bought a ticket home just for the house closing. Funny how God works. He knew I needed to be home then, too, for my family, so both events just somehow happened at the very same time. More proof His plan is always much better than my own (because let's be honest, I wasn't thrilled about having to fly back stateside just 2 weeks before flying back to live there permanently). The things we do for family...and to get our dream home. I could write a book! Anywho, D had to do some out-processing at work, so he wasn't able to fly back with me for closing. Thankfully, my mom was thrilled to join me, so we road-tripped down to Florida to close on the house. The morning of closing, mom and I met up with Craig and I went on my very first walk-though of the house...just 1 hour before I was set to close on it. BANANAS, right?! Although we loved the house virtually, I was still terrified about seeing it with my own two eyes. Neither of us were naive to the truth that seeing something virtually could be vastly different than seeing it in person. Was it going to be everything we thought it was? Did the photos and videos really portray every square inch accurately? Would I still love it the way I loved it virtually? Let me tell you guys, the second I walked in the door...I cried. Mom cried. I'm sure we scared my realtor, but I couldn't believe my eyes. It was even more perfect in person than in all those photos and videos. They didn't do the house justice! More space than D and I have ever had...and unlimited amounts of wall space to all hang those photos we've been dying to hang. Just like that, all my worries turned to pure joy. THIS was our home. I absolutely couldn't wait to show D (it basically broke my heart that he wasn't there to experience those blissful moments with me) and it was definitely hard to leave it that day. I was ready to move in right that very second. After reporting back to D and taking him on another virtual tour (complete with my overly excited, teary-eyed commentary), I signed about a million papers (twice...because I had to sign for D, too!), contracted a mild case of carpal tunnel, and became a homeowner. I freakin' love saying that.
WHEW! This is getting long. Sorry, guys...sometimes the words just pour out. While there's quite a bit more to our crazy home buying story (like how the cruise fell right smack dab at the worst time ever...ugh!), I'll spare you the boring details and just tell you that we're here, in our fabulous new home, and we're so stinkin' happy. We've got a new couch, TV, media center, coffee table, 4 overflowing suitcases, and 1 rental mattress (because one cannot sleep on an air mattress but for so long) and that's about it until our household goods arrive from Germany sometime in mid-August. While we're far from "roughing it", I'm ready to start filling this house with our stuff. It's empty and it echos like a cave...but honestly, it still feels like home. More like home than any of our other "homes" have felt. Probably because this house is ours. REALLY ours. Grateful doesn't even begin to describe how D and I are feeling these days! Did I mention we also have palm trees in our yard? 2 of them, even! I've always adored palm trees and having them on my own property is really just the icing on the home buying cake. I know it probably won't be our forever home, but for now, it's about as perfect as it gets. Leaving Germany was hard, but knowing we were opening up this new life chapter with such an exciting milestone made the transition a whole heck of a lot smoother. The reverse culture shock has still been super weird, but having our own space to come home to at night (instead of still living in a hotel...we only spent 3 nights in a Cocoa Beach hotel to ween us off the jet lag) has been such a blessing.
Before I let you go and rest your eyes, I do have a few teaser photos of this beautiful house I speak of! I couldn't gush all about it and not show you at least some of the goods...talk about a jerk move. ;) Although, I'm saving a grand unveiling for when the house is filled with something. Anything. There are a few things we're going to change about it (and have already changed), but all are minute cosmetic things like lighting fixtures, paint, and closet hardware kind of stuff. The house isn't even 2 years old yet, so everything else about it is in tip top shape. We wanted turn-key and we definitely got it! We have been toying around with paint colors, but it's something I go back and forth on depending on the day. The whole house has those sexy bullnose corners, and while smooth and gorgeous, I feel like it would be a beast to paint one room and not its adjacent one. Any painters out there know what I mean? Help a sista! Also, I feel this weird kind of pressure to get the decorating right with this place compared to just haphazardly making it work in whatever rental we were in. I wish I could just snap my fingers and the house would be decorated, but I guess that would take all the fun out of it. Slow and steady is how we've gotta go this time 'round. Rome wasn't built in a day, after all!
Our little family, complete once again! Tuck is totally smitten with his new digs.
And we're smitten that he's smitten, naturally.
I'm only slightly obsessed with the stonework and cobblestone driveway. Ok, I lie. Mega obsessed!
Backyard view. We eventually want to screen in the patio area, extend the patio out a bit, and put up a fence for Tuck...but those things will come with time. Oh, and these last two photos are from the house listing...previous owner's furniture. They did leave all the gorgeous hibiscus plants, though!
D and I are so grateful this whole insane house hunt and purchase went so darn smoothly considering the unique way we did it all. We encountered a few bumps along the road, but we're sure it could have been a much more tedious task if we hadn't had such supportive and hard working individuals behind us the whole way. If anyone in Brevard County wants to buy a home, don't hesitate for a second to call Craig and finance through Joe and his team. They were absolute gems in this process and I would recommend them both a thousand times over!
Ok, that's all for now. I have to go get a workout in before another fabulous Florida thunderstorm rolls in. EVERYDAY, y'all. Everyday. And I wouldn't have it any other way. ;)