Friday, July 12, 2019

The House ~ Part 5

Now that we were both on board for wanting the house, I had a phone call to make.

I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that, unless you found this post by searching USDA've never bought a house through a USDA auction.  I mean, yes, they happen, but it's kinda rare.  I mean, when we started looking at this house there were a total of EIGHT in my whole state.  I live in a VERY populous state.  Currently, there are ZERO.  So, yes, it happens, but no it's not common.

Why does this matter?  Well, the house was being auctioned through the USDA.  Yes, the same USDA that makes laws concerning farmers, puts out dietary guidelines, and approves food labels...also gives out loans...for houses. We were kinda shocked, too.

Turns out USDA loans are given out to homes in rural communities to people who have less than perfect credit and fall within a lower income category.  I'm not sure all the specifics, but it's to help build up farming communities.

Well, the previous owners defaulted on the loan, so now it was for auction.

Years ago, my brother in law heard of a house for auction in town.  He decided how much he thought it was worth and I think may have even gone prepared to bid that amount.  When he got there, however, it turned out to be a Sheriff's tax auction with an upset bid from the bank.  The house he thought was worth about 30-40 grand went for around 80,000.  If you look up Sheriff's auctions, you can read a little more about how they work.  But, that was before everyone used the internet to look up all the I'm not THAT old, lol.

(The front two bedrooms have doors that open up.  It could be one big room if you wanted.)

The only experience I had with housing auctions was from his story, and one private auction that also had a starting bid of higher than it was worth.  This made me leery of what price the house might sell for, and I didn't even know if it was worth moving forward. We didn't have a huge budget, and the house needed a lot of work, so the price we could pay was even smaller. If there was an upset bid, we needed to know what it was.

There was a sign in the yard that said it was a USDA auction and gave the date.  It also gave the open house dates.  We had gone to the open house with a list of questions.  But, as it turns out, they didn't stay for the open house.  The host just opened the door and left.  She came back later, but we missed her.  So, I had to call.

(A bright and sunny small room. Perfect for a schoolroom.)

The paper for the house said that the USDA would bid $100 on the property.  Really? It could start at $100?  I had to understand if that was really the case. 

But, it was. 

There were no banks involved. 

USDA was the only one going to bid on the house.

 Any other bids would just be from interested parties. 

There were no upset bids. 

Taxes were up to date.

Only that year's taxes would need to be paid by the buyer.

I must have asked her the same question three or four different ways to verify what I had heard.  I was so excited, but could hardly believe it.  The price would be determined by the bidders.  That meant it should go for what it was worth and not a crazy upset bid amount. That meant it could go really cheap.  That meant, it could be in our price range.

That meant another prayer had been answered!

Continuing the story:

Part one
Part two
Part three
Part four

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

The House ~ Part 4

So, we went and we saw.  We, meaning my husband came, too.  My husband went and saw.

We (well, actually, read me) have been looking for a place to buy for the last 9 years, more seriously in the last 5. About 9 years ago, we put in an offer on a house my husband always loved, and it didn't work out.  There were also two other places that we gave serious thought, but they didn't work out either.  In general, though, my husband has been happy with where we currently live.

To be fair, we live on an amazing farm.  We have the most beautiful views. We have cows out our window and a creek down the lane.  We have only two neighbors, neither of which we can see from our windows.  It's quiet, and secluded.

(fireplace in the house for sale)

There are a lot of great things about this house! But, we rent.  We also had a super harsh winter this last year, and the school buses wouldn't even run down our road for an entire month! Meaning, I had to go out in the super cold and questionable road to take my kids to school.

Mustang, especially, is super involved in school activities.  This requires a lot of driving back and forth from town.  It's only a 10 minute drive to the school, but that's 20 minutes round trip. Sometimes more than once a day.  Sometimes, more than twice a day. And, our road has a lot of rocks, and is known for giving flat tires.

This is not supposed to be a complaint post.  But, I did want to share a little about why I was even considering giving up such a wonderful spot in favor of a foreclosure with lots of work to do.  There are other reasons, too, but I'll save them for another time.

(Cool wallpaper in one of the rooms)

Living in such a nice place, has made my husband very reluctant to consider anywhere else.  He likes being in the country.  He likes being 2 miles from the farm where he farms.  He likes not having neighbors. So, I knew that just because he went to the house did not mean that he would want the house.  And, even if he liked the house would not mean that he wanted to buy the house. So, this was my next prayer.

He had lots to say when we got home from the house.  He had ideas, and had already started thinking about where he would put a mini-split. He likes thinking about unique heating and cooling options, which is really good with this house!

I tried not to be too hopeful, but when I asked if he wanted the house...he replied, I have interest.  This was a big deal!

(Clawfoot tub.  Yes, we think that's a wooden table top underneath-some things are weird).

It isn't in the country, but it's on an acre of land.  It's also on the very edge of town, so it backs up to a field. It's on a quiet street, and has lots of trees.  It also sets back from the road a lot, so you feel a little secluded. 

One of my favorite extras is that we have lived in two houses since we moved here to farm.  Each of them is two miles from the farm.  This house is ALSO two miles from the farm.  So, we would move to 'town,' but not be any farther from the farm.

And, while his reply of 'I have interest,' wasn't a complete answer.  I knew it was enough to move forward with trying to buy the house.  If things went well, I could push for a more official answer.  But, it was enough of a yes to move forward.

Sometimes God answers with a solid yes, and sometimes with a 'watch and see' yes.  This was the second. Still an answer to prayer.

Continuing the story:

Part One:
Part Two:
Part Three:

Monday, May 20, 2019

The House ~ Part 3

Salvageable is a big word.  It's also a scary word. Worth rescuing is one of its definitions. I decided the house was salvageable.  But, that also means a lot of work. Work on a house.

I mentioned in my last post that my husband doesn't really like working on houses.  He CAN do it, but it's not something that excites him. Which, is totally understandable.  I, on the other hand like working on houses. Although, sometimes, that means that I like coming up with things that need to be done to a house that I can't actually do, which translates to me liking HIM to work on houses...which he doesn't like to do.  See an issue here?

(Photo of one of the many projects. Someone had removed drop ceiling only to find MANY wires, pipes and other fun things up above it, and had given up.)

I had fallen in love with this house.  However, many of the critical things needed to be done to the house would require work that I can't do.  The roof needed to be patched.  The windows needed to be replaced.  The siding needed to be replaced.  The porch needed to be repaired.  ALL the surfaces in the house needed to be painted/updated/new floor laid, etc, etc, etc.  Now, I COULD do some of the work, but not the very major things.  This meant I had to get my husband on board, or this was a lost cause.

My prayer now changed from praying that the house was salvageable, to praying that my husband would get on board to buy it.  But, baby husband had to SEE it first.  He claimed I could go forward with bidding at the auction even if he never saw it (he pointed out that he didn't even go to see the other house we put an offer on-even though he wanted it more than I did).  Yet, I knew that if he wouldn't even go see it, that God was not in agreement that we should get this house.

(My favorite of the bedrooms. In need of major attention, but has high ceilings and tons of bright light.)

I went home from seeing the house and talked it up!  I showed all the pictures I took to my mother in law and my husband.

My brother and sister in law and I all talked about it at length.  They were sold.  In fact, they seriously considered bidding themselves, even though they live hours away.  My father in law was the only one not very interested.  Too big.

I prayed quite a bit that evening and into the next morning.  The open house was from 10 until 2, and we wanted to get there pretty early.  At 9:45, my husband agreed to go.  I was thrilled! Prayer number two had been answered!! 

All 7 of us piled in the van, and headed to my in-laws.  My mother in law, father in law, brother and sister in law, and their kids all descended on this big old house in excitement.

When we got there, we found friends looking around.  They were somewhat interested in the house and had walked from down the street to check it out.  It was an extra blessing to have them there, because one of them repairs houses for a living.  He, my husband, and my brother in law went down and checked out the heating, air, and water systems (to the best of their knowledge with a flashlight), and were all pleased with what they found.  They were also pleased with the foundation and overall sturdiness of the house.

(Another favorite spot of the open banister at the top of the staircase.)

My children happily ran through all the big and spacious rooms picking out their favorites.  They tried out the backyard swing, and played with the sweet stray cat that lived under the deck. I loved that, even with all our family, some friends, and a few other people checking out the house, it still seemed open and spacious.

(The staircase looking up.)

It was a house we could invite people to.  A house we could let neighborhood kids hang out at.  A house we could turn into a home to love on our family, friends, and anyone who needed a hug in. Yes, I was falling in love with it.  But, I've fallen in love with things that weren't to be mine before, and there were others interested in the house. Plus, just looking at the house did not mean my husband was on board.

But, my first two prayers had been answered. One, the house was salvageable, and two, my husband had gone to see it.

Continuing the story:
Part One
Part Two

Sunday, May 19, 2019

The House ~ Part 2

Over the years that we have been renting our current house, there have been a number of houses that have come and gone.  Even one that we put in an offer on.  That was a slightly odd, or even shady deal, in that our offer was never even submitted to the bank selling it.  But, well, it wasn't supposed to be ours, so I guess it was just as well.

With each house that didn't work out, I've learned to get less and less attached to the idea of owning the house when I see one. And, with this house, I knew very well it needed a lot of work.  I wasn't sure if I wanted to tackle such a project, and had no idea if it would even be worth the effort of being interested in it.

The day before the open house was Easter.  It was a beautiful Easter, not too hot and not too cold, with the sun shining bright. My brother in law and sister in law were in town for the holiday, and they were very interested in seeing the house, as was my mother in law.  My husband wasn't too interested, which was typical.  My brother in law and sister in law bought a foreclosure about 15 years ago and have been working hard to remodel it ever since.  My brother in law likes to work on houses.  My husband does not like to work on houses.

After dinner that day, my brother in law said, "Let's go look around the outside of the house." I couldn't interest my husband, but my brother in law, sister in law, and father in law, and I all loaded up and drove to the house.

I hadn't braved the idea of really looking around until that day.  So, that was the first I took a look at the true condition of the house. Because it had so much damage to the roof, I sincerely thought there was a 75% or better chance that it was too far gone to be repaired.  I expected there to be rotten floors and mold everywhere.  So, I was still quite hesitant, but got excited when I noticed the house had nice looking storm windows, and a very nice looking air unit.

While I, normally, wouldn't have noticed these things, I knew these would be important to my husband. I also knew that, since it is a big old house, these were very important features!

We looked around a little further.  We admired the large (one acre) yard.

Noticed a rustic barn that turned out to have steel I-beams to hold it up.  Very sturdy.

And, one of the favorite features, a giant old Sycamore complete with a swing.

We were about to leave, when we found out that we were able to see INSIDE the house!  Completely surprised and excited, we went in for a quick tour.  Again, totally expecting a hazard filled, totally decayed house.  But, that was not what we found.

Instead, we found a huge, sturdy, diamond in the rough.  It needed TONS of work.  A new roof and windows were needed.  There was a question about the water.  No one knew if the air conditioner would work, or if the electricity would turn on.  BUT, it was SOLID.  There was a leak in the roof-caused by a chimney, and places throughout the house that looked as though they had previously had water, but overall it was GOOD!! 

This is the dining room.  Its high ceilings, along with my favorite paint color, pushed me over the edge to want this house. Of course, it needed a ton of work.  But, the bones were there, and it was totally salvageable.

I left there knowing that I really wanted to live in this house.  But, I'd wanted to live in other houses, and I do not live in them.  I'd been down this road a number of times before.  And so, I knew that a LOT of prayer would have to go into this process.

But, my first prayer had been answered-the house was salvageable. And, I certainly wanted to salvage it.

Continuing the story:

Friday, May 17, 2019

The House ~ Part 1

I haven't blogged in forever, but I have a story to tell. It's a very important story and one that I don't want to forget the details of-ever.  And, I want to share it with anyone who is willing to listen or read.  And so, here I am.

There's really a lot of backstory to my story-that's the nature of stories, right? But, those backstories are painful and deep, so I'll save those for now.  We'll start with the happy story, the ending.  The end of the story is ALWAYS better than the beginning. And, while it won't seem like the end for a bit, really, it is.  Of course, it's its own beginning, too. But, well, let's just begin, and the pieces will come out as they are supposed to.

We've been renting for a very long time (backstory number one).  Those of you who have rented know that, while it is a wonderful blessing to be able to rent, there comes a time when it's time to look for something that is yours.

In our case, it really isn't so much the part where we don't like where we live, it's that we no longer FIT in this house. To be fair, really, we should fit, but there are 7 of us.  If we had stuck with only 2 or 3 kids, it would have worked for a lot longer.  But, we didn't.  God sent us 5 kids.  Thankfully, all five of them are healthy!  That means, they grow, and grow, and their clothes get bigger, and their shoes get bigger, and well, next thing...the room that fit them a few years ago, no longer does. We actually have started a Konmari journey (its own story), but even purging things (many still to purge) brought to light that our rooms were not getting any bigger, and the people in them were.

However, just because you see a problem, doesn't always mean that your solution and God's solution are the same. He might not even see it as a problem.  This is where trust and hope and prayer and more trust come together to create patience as we wait for God's solution. Sometimes, these answers take a long time.  Sometimes, the answer is no.  And, sometimes, the answer is yes. But, almost always, the answer doesn't look at all like we had planned.

Last fall, our town got a Dollar General.  Don't worry, this really is an important part of the story!

First off, we live in the country. We live about 8 minutes from the nearest village, and another 20 to the city with stores. Before this fall, all we had here was a gas station that carried the basic necessities.  So, for us to get a Dollar General was kind of like when towns got a Walmart back in the '80s.  Yes, I'm old enough to remember how that felt. No, I'm not old.

Once the Dollar General opened, we would stop there often.  Sometimes daily. Sometimes more than once a day.  Thankfully, the newness has worn off and we don't go in there as often. But, it ended up being a very big piece of our story.

The road we would take home after leaving the Dollar General would take us down a road on the edge of town that we didn't usually drive down before the store opened. Once in a very long time, maybe, but certainly not often. But, because of the Dollar General, I saw the sign.  The for sale sign. The for sale sign in the yard of a house I had wanted to live in for a very long time.

Since I had decided many years ago that it was time to move (see how God and I have different plans), I was usually pretty up on the local real estate market.  I would check the local online listings, hoping that the right mix of house and cost would, somehow, be listed there for me.  It didn't happen.  I did help my father in law find out about possible rental houses, though, so all was not lost.

Believe it or not, I had finally stopped looking at listings.  That is another story of its own, but I hadn't looked at the real estate listings in many months. But, it wouldn't have mattered, because this house was not listed on the sites I usually looked at.  So, I would never have seen it, except for the sign.

In an unfortunate situation, the previous owners had stopped making payments on their house and it had fallen into foreclosure.  This particular home was foreclosed by the USDA.  We didn't even know they made house loans, but they did, and this one didn't work out. So, it was now going for auction.

As with any foreclosure, the house had not been lived in for awhile.  And, there was a huge catch. Three years ago, our area had a wind storm.  It took out many trees and caused a lot of damage. For this house, it caused extra damage.  One of the large trees in the front yard had fallen on the house.  It caused roof damage, and took out two of the windows, in addition to less significant damage. To be honest, it looked a lot like a train wreck.

I had always been interested in the house, but wasn't sure it would even be livable, or even salvageable.  And, I wasn't sure if we were really ready to undertake such a large project. The house was to have an open house a week later. So, I put it on my calendar and said a small prayer for God's will, not knowing what might come of it.

And, with that, I will end this post.  Here are some photos of the outside of the house when we first saw it.

Continuing the story:

Part Two

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Tutorial for Waseca Biomes Reading Boxes

Hi all!  It's been forever since I posted, lol!  But, I agreed to put together a tutorial for another guide at our co-op and decided I should share with you all, also!  My phone would only take little videos, so I have a few of them. 

I enjoyed making these.  I may have Mustang help me make longer videos with her camera soon.

These are for the Waseca Reading boxes.  We have found this material to be a wonderful addition to the co-op shelves.  They are used for Kindergarten (and a rare 4 year old) and up.  There are four steps to each box.  These videos show the four steps. 

You can order the program here (not an affiliate link):

Hope you find them helpful!

God Bless!


Thursday, March 30, 2017

Hi there.  I bet you thought I fell off the earth.  I did, sort of, well not really, just fell out of the blogging world.  I'm not sure exactly how it happened.  It was a slow processes, but somewhere I just stopped.

I honestly was unsure if I would ever take blogging back up again.  But, lately, the bug seems to have bitten again.  I don't know if this will be a long term blogging stint, or if a short run will be enough, but I feel like I want to post about things again.  So we will see!

I will use this post to update you on what I've been up to.  I mean it has been over 2 years...that's a super long time!  But, there have been some extremely neat and surprising changes that have occurred in that time-specifically this last year.

If you happen to follow my Facebook page, you did get a little update this past fall, but if you don't I will update you here!

Last fall, a few families in the local large town started a Montessori school!  It is a co-op style, with the parents forming the school, board, and teachers.  I am the 'guide', and a few other moms are the aides.  Two come once a week, one has various rolls, and one is a backup aide.  We just meet two days a week, so we aren't a full school, but it has certainly been a huge undertaking!

It has also been a huge lifestyle change for us.  Mustang goes to public school 5 days a week.  But, everyone else is homeschooled...sorta.  We now go to the co-op school two days a week and do work at home at least two days a week.  It has a new flow, but has been very good.

We have had so many growing experiences this year, and I'm looking forward to sharing them!  Now, I just need to figure out how to get my pictures off my phone and onto my blog, lol.  Not seriously, but kinda!  My technical skills are a little dusty.

More to come very soon!  Hope all is good with you all!

God Bless,