Stuff Just Moves Itself, Right?
A Zah Interlude

The Search for the Yellow House

The first thing you do when looking for a new house, of course, is to write down all the features you want. And then divide these into categories of "must haves" and "would be nice." It's important to be realistic here, and recognize that it's unlikely that any house will have everything on your list, and be prepared to compromise.

As an example, our original list was probably something like this:

MUST HAVES:

1) Single family

2) 4-5 bedrooms, with a spot for an office

3) 2-car garage

4) On a cul de sac

5) Private yard

6) Space for a garden

7) How about a pool?

8) How about a HOT TUB?

9) How about a HOT TUB TIME MACHINE!

10) Sweet-ass kitchen from the future, completely redone, with stupid shit like a sink just for filling up pots of pasta water and fancy moving shelves in the cabinets and I don't know, Bluetooth-enabled microwaves.

11) Also a gas range

12) Sweet-ass master bathroom with a giant jacuzzi tub that I can swim laps in

13) A MILLION CLOSETS!

14) Kids rooms that aren't right by my room

15) Also a door that actually locks

16) New roof, windows, HVAC, water heater, basically we ain't buying shit.

17) Wine cellar for all the wine we don't drink immediately, so maybe like space for two bottles. 

18) Something not "cookie cutter" or "McMansion-y," you know? Like a really cool mid-century rancher or modern contemporary. Something with some character, or a quaint little barn on the property we could fix up convert to a living space and like, document on a homespun DIY blog and also buy some chickens and/or fainting goats because yeah that's totally our life.

19) OOH OOH MAYBE THE WHOLE FRONT OF THE HOUSE IS ON ONE BIG HINGE SO WE COULD JUST GET IN WITH THE GARAGE DOOR OPENER!

20) Open floor plan

WOULD BE NICE:

1) Hardwood floors. But we can always put those in as long as we get everything else on our list and the place in not at the top of our price range, which is totally going to happen.

See? Super realistic. Super. 

Naturally, reality sunk in almost immediately. The very first house we looked at had, at least online, most of the things we wanted. It was missing a pool, but was priced so low and sat on so much land we figured that could be easily remedied. 

And then we pull up and discover that no, you can't put a pool in the backyard because there was already a GIANT ASS CELL PHONE TOWER COVERED IN RED BLINKING LIGHTS in the backyard.

(All the "land" was in the front yard, which was a downward sloping hill so steep that I am pretty sure you'd need mountain climbing safety equipment to mow.)

"Nope!" we said, and merrily crossed it off our list. No biggie! Our list was HUGE.

Yeah. We finished that first day utterly defeated. By day two we were more than a little panicked. Offers were already coming in on our place. What seemed like (again, online) a crazy amount of available inventory in our price range turned out to mostly be "shit that's sitting on the market and/or in that price range for a REASON, yo."

There was the fabulous-looking mid-century rancher with a beautiful pool and tons of potential...that had converted the two-car garage into a giant party room with an ugly bar. Even though there was already another giant party room with a (matching) ugly bar on the lower level. None of the rooms made any sense as bedrooms, and the "upgraded" bathrooms had all been turned into exactly the kinds of bathrooms we didn't like. There wasn't a single part of the house that didn't need major work and remodeling, and was absolutely NOT priced to reflect that reality. It had a beautiful pool! What else do you want? BEDROOM DOORS? Jeez, people. 

(Oh, and the refrigerator wasn't in the kitchen. It was down the hall, by the washing machine. Okay.)

There was the updated colonial that stunk to high heaven of cat and dog pee, with floors and walls that were visibly rippled and buckled from years of repeat accidents. It had an amazing kitchen and a great home theater, but...yeah. It immediately became known as the Pee House, and we were not buying the Pee House.

There was the massive seven (7!!!!) bedroom, custom-built home that had literally everything on our list besides the pool and hot tub, and while there was certainly space to install a pool and hot tub, we were going to have to put them right next to the neighbor's house (with whom we'd also share a driveway/front yard area). Not a deal breaker, except that the neighbor's "house" was straight out of every horror movie I've ever seen, seemingly abandoned to rot and collapse in on itself and the hoarding situation visible through the filthy windows. But then I noticed the fresh tire tracks in the driveway and a quick look-up on Google Earth revealed that yes, there's usually a car in that spot (right next to the other car up on cinderblocks), and I was immediately filled with an intense, instinctual desire to get the hell out of there before that person returned to ax-murder us all. The idea of sending the kids outside to play anywhere near that? HELL TO FUCK NO. 

There was also the lovely house with an honest-to-God ORCHARD and the garden of our dreams, a slightly funky floor plan that wasn't the greatest for three kids...but so full of character and nooks and crannies...and then two freaking acres of grass and a giant dilapidated horse barn overrun with groundhogs and random sinkholes and oh my God, we could never, ever maintain all this, no matter how tempted we might be to try. (And we were tempted.)

There were SO MANY houses. The perfect cape out of our price range that, after twisting the numbers around and around until we convinced ourselves it was doable, had already accepted an offer before the end of the open house. The great house in the middle of a crappy neighborhood. The crappy house in the middle of a great neighborhood that would require years of renovations. Dozens of expensively remodeled kitchens that matched tastes and preferences that were not our own. "Faux Fours" that would require one of the kids to sleep in a basement bedroom (that often barely seemed to qualify as an actual bedroom), and no option for an office. Water damage. Mysterious smells. Houses that were so utterly forgettable I'm not sure why we even bothered going inside. 

And then there was the Yellow House. 

We were running late for our scheduled showings by that point, having wasted too much time trying to convince ourselves that house after house could work even though they clearly wouldn't. We pulled up behind a moving van in the driveway and a weary-looking homeowner greeted us at the door. The photos online were of a lovely decluttered and well-staged home; in real life it was wall-to-ceiling boxes and chaos. Movers were pacing about, stacking more boxes and disassembling the remaining furniture. She insisted it was fine for us to come in, and dug around through stacks of paper covering the kitchen table to find me a brochure and information sheet. 

Her husband's job was relocating them, she said. She asked if we had kids, and started tearing up as we chatted; she still couldn't believe they had to leave this house. Five kids, she's been raising in this house. She thought they'd be here forever. Anyway, sorry, please look around try to ignore the mess.

We awkwardly made our way around, sidestepping boxes and movers and several sullen-looking teenagers. 

There were no hardwoods; it had wall-to-wall carpet everywhere. The kitchen hadn't been redone at all; it honestly was the same cheap white kitchen we've redone TWICE now, right down to the laminate counters and blah hardware. It had no pool, no hot tub, and some of the bathroom fixtures were showing their age. There was no barn or orchard and it didn't seem like it was in the kind of suburban neighborhood that would be down with fainting goats. 

It was perfect

We weren't even through the entire house (so many rooms! such a great floorplan! wait, look, there's more!) and we knew. This was the house we'd been searching for. I whispered to Jason what I thought we should offer (which ended up being exactly what the sellers' countered with) and look it'll be vacant in a couple days so they'll be okay with a speedy close and we can get in before the school year and it's been on the market awhile and the price per square foot is insanely low and LOOK AT THAT MASTER BATHROOM WHEEEEEE. 

I came home and wrote the woman in the kitchen a heartfelt letter to accompany our offer. I meant every damn word. 

(They had a cash offer that they'd previously rejected come back with better terms that very day. Their agent credited my letter as the tipping point to work with us instead. I will probably NEVER STOP BRINGING THIS UP.)

It has almost everything else we wanted, especially the important things. The things that ended up on the final list of "must haves." Enough space for everyone, but plenty of room to be together as a family. A big play set in the backyard with exactly three swings (safer than a pool, let's be honest). Garage and storage and endless possibilities. Room for a garden, an office, entertaining, guests, etc. Cul de sac. Great schools. A neighborhood full of kids. 

The kitchen...eh, it's a blank slate that we'll soon make our own. Better than living with someone else's expensive-but-tacky tile choices. (Or at least that's what we're telling ourselves, lolololollllll, famous last words, etc.) 

We're dealing with a relocation company so paperwork is...slow, to say the least, as we wait for final rubberstamping or whatever the hell they need to do while driving both us and the sellers crazy. Inspection is next week, then it's the final sprint through financing and closing. 

I'm not really a woo-hoo universe-and-signs sort of person, and have spent the last month operating at hummingbird levels of panic and stress, but this part -- this part I'm calm about. This part will work out. This part will be okay. Because it's the Yellow House, and soon it will be our Yellow House, and our home. 

Comments

Lori

So happy for you. There had BETTER BE PICTURES.

Donna P

Congrats, Storch family! Agree with above comment, NEED PHOTOS!

Lindsay

I agree with Lori. There better be some pictures, yo! Happy new house to you!

Amanda

I'm reading this post from the car as we follow our realtor to yet another house halfway through our second day of house hunting (4 kids in tow because we are in a new city and know exactly nobody, wheeee!). I am nervous and I am irritated and I am so fucking tired and I am so glad to see that it CAN all come together.

Also, pretty sure our realtor hates me because we keep going to all of the hubs' picks and none of mine or even anywhere CLOSE to my preferred neighborhoods. #pout

Joy

Congrats. Can a house have a soul? I think so, and if it so well loved by its previous family, then its a great choice. Surprised the relo company is slow, usually they are trying to get houses moved and closed--less expense for them, they don't want to get stuck with it. Sounds like you are on the right track and will be there in no time. Very happy for you all.

CoraD

Congratulations. We just moved too, and though I am not a big believer in fate and meant to bes, I swear this move feels kinda like both those things. And it feels real good. May it be for you too.

Julie

This year I decided to bring back the written letter. You give me an excellent reason to keep that promise!

Congratulations on the new house. Hope you make many happy memories there.

Holly

THANK YOU for that quote. Love that movie. I could hear Rob in my head saying it. Hahahaha!

Holly

ROB?! I mean TOM. Geez.

Jess F

Congratulations!

Jessica

Sounds like the perfect house. You can feel when it's right. The rest is just cosmetics. Personally, I'd rather have a kitchen in need of remodel vs. one that's already done. Yes, it's a lot of work, but's it's so much better to make it your own.

joaaanna

So excited for all of you! Cannot WAIT to see pix. Can you go be stalkery and take pictures from the sidewalk and hedges and treetops so we can see what it looks like?!?!? Great, now I'm the stalker. CONGRATULATIONS!

rebecca

When we bought our house (just married, pre kids, 13 years ago) the couple moving had two little boys in the house. They put it on the market, we saw it, they had 8 offers that day. They picked ours because they liked us best, per the realtor. We looked like the kind of people that would use their home like they had. I like to think they saw us 13 years later, two kids in the two kid's bedrooms and knew.

Amy in CO

We had a similar situation when we looked for our house....house after house that were TERRIBLE but getting 10-20 offers a day. The real estate situation in Colorado is NUTS to say the least.

We found our house, made an offer that morning (with accompanying sappy "we love your house and want to raise our kids there" letter) and they accepted the next day. We LOVE it still!

Jen

We are selling right now, and I completely agree that houses have a soul, or at least some good karma built up! We were newly married when we bought the one we are selling. We brought our girls home from the hospital to that house. They took their first steps there, learned to swim, made a TON of friends and both cried when we had to move. It's not a house, it's a home and it'll love you back if you're the right family for the it. Congrats...I know you guys will be happy there.

P.S. - kids care nothing about fancy kitchens or hardwood floors...they do care about the yard and the neighborhood kids, so you absolutely made the right choice!

Sue W.

I love the Big Yellow House and I haven't even seen it! It sounds like the PERFECT place to raise your boys. But like others have said, we need pictures!!

Kay

Be glad it is minus a pool--ours has a leak of undetermined origin! Pools are a lot of work, even if you hire a pool company to open and close it. You still have to skim it for bugs, leaves, dead critters (yep! voles all.the.time!)
Put your money into the kitchen fix up and flooring-- you'll be much happier with that than a pool (plus pools up your liability insurance and require fence and childproof gate). Best of luck with the move to the Yellow House!

Christine

So happy you've found the perfect home. Can't wait to see pictures!

Jelourai

Woo hoo! Wishing you happinessin your new home!

SarahB

Yay! What a wonderful story. And that kitchen--if they had renovated it, they just would have wanted more money for the house, right? Awesome.

P.S. As a relative of a severe hoarder, you were absolutely right not to want to be a neighbor to one--but due to the complications of the hoard itself. Most people who suffer from hoarding are perfectly nice people and you wouldn't even know necessarily. Not axe murderers. :)

wendy

I saged our house. Like, burnt sage. Previous owners had one child together and wedding dress ready, brand new in plastic hanging up in the attic. Her name taped over on the door and she wasn't there. He was stupid enough to elaborate on how she got knocked up with someone else's kid.... yeah. It was obvious they needed rid of that house. Perfect for us but it needed some cleansing.

Sassy Apple

It's amazing how your 'must have' list for a house can change when you find your HOME. Very happy for you!

Umi

I JUST bought a cute little yellow house, too. (Not quite as large as the one your buying, since it's currently just my husband, cat, and I.) In the end, it was exactly what we were looking for, despite the cheap basic kitchen and electric stove.

CONGRATULATIONS!

Mrs. Flinger

WAIT. Is that list not realistic?

It sounds amazing and as a fellow Yellow House Owner, I can say for certain, it will work out. Even when it seems like it won't, I promise it will.

E

Just make friends with someone with a pool - it's all of the fun, with none of the hassle!

Blythe

I almost never comment on blog posts, but I have to say-- yellow houses are the best. I lived in a Yellow House from about age 4-8ish, and have many positive memories from that house. That is also where I got my first puppy, so... Yellow Houses FTW.

Lisa

We bought a yellow house from a relocation company, after looking at many smelly houses, houses that were past due for new roofs, nice houses in bad neighborhoods and houses with carpeted kitchens in nice neighborhoods, and ugly flips. We had a deal fall through on a house that turned out to have a bad well. When we saw the house that we bought, we knew it was the right choice. Older kitchen and no basement, but otherwise everything that we wanted.

In our experience, the relocation company was really easy to deal with. Good luck with the move!

Arnebya

You've just described every episode of House Hunters except you two, even with an unrealistic must have list, still made more sense than most of those buyers on the show. I still remember some of the houses we saw when looking. I still think about some of them. I still stalk some of them even though it's been 14 years. Our daughter, at six months old, is what got this house for us. The sellers already had an offer, cash; we were the last to see it. My daughter was fussy while we were trying to talk to the sellers outside. We walked in, I sat down the car seat, and she stopped, immediately, looking around. And then she started laughing. I saw it on the owners' faces; they said screw the cash offer right then. Letters and knowing real people's lives really does work.

BeccaLynn

Aww.. Yay. So excited for you, I'm getting goosebumps. <3

Rebecca

so...what did the letter say?

Christy

^^^^^What Rebecca said!

I'm 38 weeks pregnant with my 2nd kiddo and everything makes me cry. I've been bawling about your yellow house at work for 10 minutes now. So you owe me the letter, and the subsequent tears that I will surely shed over it. :)

Sam

Maybe it's pregnancy hormones but *tears* after reading this. Congrats to you guys.

januaryinjune

I left a comment on your instagram, Amy, but I had to come comment here, too. J and I have just 7 days till closing on our own Yellow House. It's our first house, and it is perfect. Yellow Houses are magic. :) Congratulations!

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