I get migraines, which totally sucks. But a wee silver lining is that in my drugged-out post-pain haze I sometimes hear God speak to me really clearly. Once such time was while leading worship at a Getsmart Youth Conference about ten years ago. I was staying at my Auntie’s house in Auckland, and while I lay in bed recovering, I heard God say, “I’m going to give you a house”. It wasn’t an audible voice, but it was the loudest silent voice I’ve ever heard. I was pretty excited and ready for a stranger to waltz up to me with the keys to a brand new house and a story about how the Angel of the Lord came to them in a dream. Of course, as with many things God does, things don’t work out the way we think they will. But He did give us a house…and here’s the cool story:
Our plan upon arriving in the States was to stay with Caleb’s parents for roughly six weeks whilst we hunted for a house to purchase. I had started saving for a house when I was in my early 20s. Due to being extraordinarily single and with no hope on the horizon, I figured I wouldn’t necessarily be able to count on Mr Right to swoop on in with bags of money and a huge property portfolio. As it turns out it was a solid plan; I did meet Mr Right eventually, but he was as poor as the proverbial church mouse when we met (albeit a super hot one). So we had a decent deposit for our house, and a perfect credit score…in New Zealand. Which translated into absolutely zero here. Long story short, we ended up staying with my long-suffering parents-in-law for six months while we waited to build a good enough credit score for a loan.
Once we were finally good to go, the dreaded house hunting process began. The Bend market is pretty hot right now, definitely not as pricey compared to New Zealand’s major cities, but expensive compared to surrounding towns, and very competitive. The first house we looked at was small, on a tiny section, next to a very busy road, and it looked as if it had been decorated by a small well-meaning committee of Grandmothers. But it was in our price range, and it was a bit of a reality check. We concluded that our first home was unlikely to be our dream home, and that significant ideals would have to be laid aside. Not long after that, we got a call from our realtor. He had been chatting with a colleague who asked him if he knew of anyone looking in our price range. She had this house that was on a short sale. A short sale, a misnomer if ever there was one, is like one step away from a bank foreclosed property. It’s basically a precursor to a long and messy process. An investor had put an offer on this property six months previously, and the bank had just decided it was slightly too low. So the investor was going to pull out, and the listing agent said she couldn’t be bothered re-listing the house due to the hundreds of calls she would have to field, given the price.
So, one freezing and dark evening, we armed ourselves with torches and went to check it out. There was something so odd about the house. It felt like a ghost town. So unlived in. And just crazy…like a whole wall in the lounge was a giant mural of tulips. And one room was completely bright pink on one half, and bright blue on the other. And there was a giant jeep mural (badly) painted in another room. And there was a hole just cut out of the wall by the fireplace as a dog-door. So odd. But perfect for us. We wanted a house we could put our own stamp on, but it felt unethical, not to mention unaffordable, to buy a turnkey house and change it just because. We drove away that night and I said to Caleb, “I think that this might be the the house that God has for us.” And he was like, “Same.”
The agent was pretty much sure it was ours if we wanted it. And we did. But then the listing agent got in touch to let us know the dumb news that the bank decided they wanted to put it back out on the open market – they were convinced that they would be able to get much more for it. We were so gutted, and a little disillusioned, but just decided to put our offer in at the price the bank had told the investor. The crazy thing was, the bank accepted our offer like two days later. It was like they’d forgotten they were going to put it back on the market. Which was awesome…for about three hours, until we got the call to say that the investor still hadn’t pulled out. But fret not dear friends, the story ends well. He waited until the very last minute of his contract, then pulled out. The valuation of the house in its current state was $235,000. Our realtor said with a coat of paint it would easily sell for $270,000. And we got it for $212,000.
Friends that visit CANNOT believe we got this house, in this area, for this price. It’s amazing. It’s light, sunny and warm. It has a big yard. It’s right across the road from a massive park. It has views of the mountains from the front yard.
We found out the story of the house from the neighbours soon after moving. It had been empty for 8 years. 8 YEARS! I know that I know that God saved this house for us. And handed it to us on a platter. It’s a total miracle and such a blessing.
So that’s our cool house story. Isn’t it a good one?