Home, Sweet, Home

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Michelle Phillips

Well, it’s almost official–my husband, Matt, and I are soon to be homeowners once again. We are over the moon with excitement because we have been in a rental property for almost three years, and quite frankly, our landlord is the very definition of a slumlord. At one point I had water coming down from my ceiling and up through the basement floor. I was literally sandwiched in water.

We started looking for a house to buy in January 2020, just a couple of months before the Coronavirus lockdown began. That search was cut short for obvious reasons, but once we were all comfortable (us and the realtor) to meet again a couple of months ago, we resumed the search with much greater aggression.

In that year the market had changed considerably. I was having trouble even scheduling a showing for some homes because there are so many buyers and few single family homes on the market–even less in our price range. The slots were all filled. Other times our realtor would call and say the house had sold before he could schedule it. His other bad news: houses are selling way over asking price. In most cases they go for about 25 percent more than asking.

Matt and I don’t have any children, which is kind of ironic because we bought a house that has an in home daycare. What we do require is a lot of space. We each need an office because we both work from home. We need a dining room because we host a lot of dinners under normal circumstances, and we need a spare bedroom and at least a couple of bathrooms because we frequently have out of town guests.

We looked at many houses and made offers on two others only to be outbid both times. I can only think that this happened for a reason because although the other houses were nice and big enough, they were not unique. I just couldn’t envision us living in most of them that we saw, and having a vision is of the uttermost importance to me, it’s how I maneuver almost everything in my life. The house we bought, on the other hand, is downright quirky. It has multiple out buildings, including one that I see myself drinking wine in, playground equipment, garden boxes, a chicken coop, a huge yard and a two car garage–the two later of which I discovered to be a rarity in Madison.

Yes, I said Madison. Though I love Middleton and would have ideally preferred to buy a home there, we couldn’t find anything that suited our needs. I am living proof of the housing difficulty that is currently a problem in the City of Middleton, a lack of single family homes. The reason I moved to Madison to begin with is because I wanted to live in a rental house or duplex, not a multi-story building. Also a problem if you want to be in Middleton.

I feel fortunate that our hew house is located in the same neighborhood we currently live in, something else that is quite a rare find. In the nearly year and a half that we searched for a home, only one other came up for sale in our neighborhood.

Of course, no home is perfect. We have already been talking about new appliances, repairing fence, what to do with the gardens and getting chickens and bees. This house had some of the major needs, though, like hardwood and tile floors, new kitchen cabinets and good bones.

The owners have lived in the house for 27 years and are sad to be leaving their home. I assured the woman that we understood. I mean, I cried halfway from Cedar Rapids to Madison after we sold our last home, so I totally get it. I told her we would love it and take care of it–that it would be in good hands–and we will.

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