“Be prepared, you will buy a house within the next year or two.” That is what I heard multiple times at the beginning of January, when I started my new job as the Assistant for The Fonash Shelton Group of RE/MAX Direct. The agents all repeated the same story, that when anyone starts working in real estate, they will buy a new house soon after. “Something will come on the market and make you fall hard for it.” I laughed and said they were “crazy”. My husband has been wanting to sell our house since the day we moved in 19 years ago, and yet, we were still there. I would NEVER give in; I loved my home.

Fast forward five weeks. 😂 Melissa asked me to meet her at a house for a staging walkthrough. The owners had moved into a new home last fall and they were thinking about listing this one in time for the Spring Market. I had seen a few pictures of it that were in our company’s shared files, it looked nice, like a thousand other cookie cutter houses I had been in. I showed them to my husband, Dave, I knew he would like the kitchen that had recently been completely remodeled. Stone walls, pantry with a sliding barn door, double refrigerators, black granite counters that went on for days and a gorgeous 48” Thermador range was all right up his alley, he was the chef. Dave wanted to see the house in person… Because you know, “if they are selling it, we should buy it”. 🙄

FACT→ We have been through every single Model House in every single new community that has been built in Chester and Berks County from 2001-2019. Going to Open Houses was our hobby. Some people collect things, we toured homes. Dave wanted to move that bad!. If you own a model home, I have been in it and Dave has probably wanted to buy it. 🙋🏼‍♀️

We met Melissa at the house, me for a staging walkthrough, Dave to check out the kitchen. Strolling around I started to realize that it had ALL of the “must-haves” that I said a house had to have in order for me to want to sell ours. This was no cookie cutter house.  

✦THE YARD It was on a FLAT 1.4-acre lot. Even though I loved our house, we lived on a cliff. It gave us magnificent views of the valley, but the landscaping was killer to maintain. If you have never spread 40 yards of mulch in golf cleats, you haven’t lived. The fact that the houses on this street were not on top of each other was key. The houses in our neighborhood were all on 1-acre lots and it was perfect. The kids had friends to hang out with, but we couldn’t see our neighbors watching TV while sitting on our deck. We like our space and privacy, and if we ever moved it needed to have it, but be more way more manageable as far as landscaping.

✦THE POOL There was a stunning in-ground pool with beautiful landscaping. I always said that I would never move unless there was a pool. It was my number one requirement. Growing up, my next-door neighbors had one and it was where I lived during the summer from sun up to sun down. We have had pool memberships to various clubs since our kids were little, but it wasn’t the same. I didn’t want to have to get into a car to swim, and to be honest, public pools gross me out. 🤢There is man hair (and God knows what else) floating around in them and no amount of chlorine makes me feel safe. I would watch the kids swim at the club, but I would rarely get in. This house had a pool that was far from skeevy, it was glorious.

✦THE LOWER LEVEL The walk-out basement was fully finished, and finished beautifully. In 2009, we gutted our basement, which included a full in-law suite, to remodel it…that never happened. Our kids were begging for years for us to do it, and we really needed the extra space. We were getting to it…maybe. This place was a total Man Cave, with an area for everyone else too: bar, TV area, bedroom, full bathroom, gym. We could throw the kids down there and not see them for weeks, OR we could lock ourselves down there and be just as content!

✦OUTDOOR SPACES There was a decent deck off of the kitchen with steps that lead down to a huge patio area with a fire pit. We are outside people and when the weather is nice, it’s where we love to spend our time. Grilling, making s’mores, hanging with the neighbors, friends and family. There is nothing that gives us more joy than for people to just stop by, hang out and have a couple of drinks with them. This outdoor area was made for just that.

✦THE KITCHEN Yes, the kitchen was even better than in the pictures. It wasn’t necessarily what I would have done, but it was a knockout. We had remodeled our kitchen and I know how expensive it is. I would never trade our home for a house with a lesser kitchen. This was definitely not lesser. This was something that belonged in a magazine. And if I lived here it would stay looking like this for years to come, because I hate to cook. 😂

✦THE SCHOOLS It was in the same school district. This was a big factor since our kids had just entered high school and became very involved in activities. If it was in a different district, we would never even have entertained the idea of buying it. Two years ago, we would have moved 50 miles away if it was the right house.

The whole vibe of the house felt like us. 👨‍👩‍👧‍👧 It screamed “ASHBEE”, and for the first time ever, I walked around a property and could actually see my family living there. It was like every renovation they had made, was with us in mind. Standing there, in Dave’s dream kitchen, I asked him if he wanted to buy it and he said “sure”. 😂I know he thought I was joking. But without hesitation, I turned to Melissa and said, “Okay, let’s do this. When they are ready to sell, we want to make an offer”. 🙀

We both drove away thinking it was a great house, but neither one of us thought we had a chance in Hell of actually buying it. There were too many moving parts that had to line up just perfectly in order for this to work. We weren’t excited, it wasn’t actually going to happen, we had a better chance of winning the lottery. “If I actually were to sell our house, it would be for a house just like that.” I remember saying.

This, five weeks into my employment with a real estate group, was the beginning of our Perfect Storm…

Amanda Ashbee 🐝

Disclaimer:Although I work for Realtors®, I am not a one. I am not an appraiser, not a contractor, and I certainly cannot offer solid financial advice. I am just a homeowner jotting down my random thoughts, sometimes disastrously stupid home improvements, and occasionally good decisions. Any advice given is not necessarily shared by the Fonash Shelton Group or by our brokerage RE/MAX Direct. It’s just me, babbling. 👩🏼‍💻