Sunday, February 24, 2013

Deus ex Machina?

There have been times when such extraordinary things happen in our life that Susan and I cannot help but believe in fate, cosmic design or, at the very least, the power of coincidence. Two such events, wonderfully interlinked ones to boot, happened to us on Sunday January 13th and Tuesday February 19th, 2013.

In May last year we decided to try to sell our condo and move towards buying a house. It had been on our minds for a time, and for one reason or another the time seemed right to set the ball rolling towards what would be our final move. Wherever we lived next would be where we would see out our last days, so to this end the house would have to be absolutely perfect for us in every way.

Because of weird financial circumstances too tedious go into here, coupled with a not particularly great experience with our initial realtor, we decided to walk away from what had turned into a very stressful situation, then start again with a carefully selected new realtor when all our financial ducks were in a row. We returned to the situation with renewed vigour after a few weeks, confident that the path of selling and buying would run much smoother this time.

The condo market in Nanaimo at this time is pretty tough. There are a lot of places for sale and prices are on a downward trend. While out there looking at houses - falling in love with a couple, then watching them sell - as a result of our new realtor's proactivity and marketing skills we were getting regular showings of our place. Also, he held eight open houses for us, but after one near-sale with our listing approaching its expiry date, it began to feel like we were not going to sell our place this time around.

On the morning of January 13th we noticed an open house sign for a condo further up our block, so checked it out online. To our dismay the unit was over $5,000 cheaper than ours, albeit, as a ground floor unit, without the lovely mountain views we enjoy. Nonetheless, it instantly felt that in the face of this situation, however lovely our unit is, we were trying to flog a dead horse. We decided to let our listing expire the following week, then give up until the market improved somewhat.

That same evening, at our invitation, our dear friends Paul and Catherine came over for dinner to enjoy a low-key celebration for Catherine's birthday. Like most of our friends they were aware of our real estate frustrations and had remained sympathetic throughout the latter stages of the eight month-long experience. Long story short, an hour or so into the evening Paul and Catherine enquired as to whether we would be interested in selling our condo to them as an investment property! We were, in a word, gobsmacked. Literally as were about to give up, these amazing friends - who had been entertaining various investment options for months - came in to snatch victory for us from the jaws of defeat! After much discussion we came to a verbal agreement to sell our condo to them in a private deal, which would of course also save us thousands of dollars. Not only this, our buyers offered us a situation whereby we could take as long as we wished to find the house of our dreams. It was almost too good to be true, but true and really happening it was!

Over the next couple of weeks we agreed on a price, dates and all that jazz, put our contract in the hands of lawyers, then for the first time in many months began to relax and continue our house search in the knowledge there was no pressure whatsoever on us. We could take the time to find exactly what we needed. By now, we had already seen forty or more houses around the city, but apart from the aforementioned two or three we fell hard for and watched sell, nothing really matched our needs and desires. 

On Monday February 18th, not even a week ago as I type, a new house entered our PCS. (Preferred Client Services is an automatic system delivering details of properties matching our criteria, straight to our inbox).  Susan spotted it first. There was no description or even any images, but Susan called me almost breathless from her workplace, saying, "There's something about this, I don't know what, but it feels to me like a 'pouncer.'" Indeed, it was in the kind of neighbourhood we wished to move to; it had the number of bedrooms we wanted, and plenty of space; it was close to downtown, so I could walk to work. All in all, it definitely appeared appealing enough on paper that we should take a look. As we were already going out to view some houses the following evening, I called our realtor to add it to the tour.

By 10:30 am on Tuesday February 19th, full details and just eleven images of this house had populated the PCS listing. When I saw them, all but losing my mind with excitement at how gorgeous this house looked, I called Susan at work as breathlessly as she had called me at home the day before, telling her to look at the photos as soon as possible. By the time we were collected by our realtor to go see the house as the first on our tour, anticipation was high. And when we walked through it, it would be no exaggeration to say it was an emotional experience for us both. This was it. We had found our perfect house. All it needed was a bit of redecoration in a few rooms, and it would be simply perfect in every way. After viewing two more houses, unable to put this exciting one out of our minds, we decided to not even bother viewing the final two on our list, instead heading to our realtor's office to draw up an offer on the first one, striking while the iron was hot! We knew that if we didn't, the house would sell in a heartbeat.

After a couple of counter-offers and much nail-biting, our offer was accepted and we entered ecstatic realms! However, at this point in this blog post I think it's important to state that, firstly, out of respect for the lady that still owns and lives in the house we wish to buy, it's better I remain vague about certain details of the property and its extraordinary history. Also, although we hope it's simply a case of dotting the i's and crossing the t's, the last pieces of our financing need to slot into place over the coming few days, and because we need to have our house inspection two days from now I do not want to upset the balance of our currently stable universe, jinxing the process by jumping the gun and taking anything for granted. I've done that too many times in my life, only for the situation to turn around and kick me hard in the balls.

Yesterday afternoon we bumped into our friend Carla downtown. Although, for the very reasons above, we had decided not to start telling people en masse about our (potentially) exciting news, we simply couldn't help but spill the beans when running into Carla. Much congratulatory hugging followed, plus our promise that we'd keep her posted. A couple of hours later, when we were back home, Carla's partner Dave called. In a tone of voice implying he was in some state of shock he asked, "Do you know whose house you are buying?" 

I have spent pretty much my entire working life in the music industry. Apart from playing an instrument or being in a band, I've done most everything in the biz: retail, promoting, radio, DJ-ing, band management, A&R, music journalism... and so on and so forth. Music has been, and remains, the principal cultural driving force in my life, and a great deal of good has come of it for me as a result of my passion for the art form. I met Susan because of it, and if that fact alone had been the sole positive result of my life in music, it would quite obviously have been a life well spent. But there's been so much more, in so many ways, that I can hardly quantify the many amazing things that music has brought me. One day I may write a book about it all.

When Dave told me who the house belonged to, my jaw dropped. As I say, I must respect the privacy of the seller by skirting around important details and particular features of the house here - information that may lend too many clues - but as soon as Dave gave me the name it was instantly recognizable as a local musical legend. We'd even seen him play live. This gentleman, who sadly passed in 2010, was a greatly loved and respected singer, songwriter, musician and producer, known throughout Vancouver Island and far beyond, not only for his musical brilliance but also for being a fabulous guy. His widow is now downsizing, so put the house on the market just last Monday.

That's pretty much all I should say about it for now, but upon learning this chills ran down my spine because it genuinely began to feel as if we had somehow been cosmically drawn to this particular house, that it was meant to become ours, because only people like Susan and I, with our deep love for and lifetime involvement in music, should take the house on and somehow protect its legacy. It now feels like an honour to become the new owners of this house, a place that can genuinely be referred to as a site of great musical, and therefore cultural, significance in this city. Our minds our absolutely blown!

Why, when there were no images or even a description, was Susan so keen to see this house? What is it she felt? We'd both been eager to see certain properties before, but even Susan cannot explain her emotions this time. It seems as if the house was a magnet aimed right at us at exactly the right moment. Amazing.

The inspection is on Tuesday and the last subjects are due to be removed on March 4th. Then, and only then, can we crack open the bubbly, so it's fingers crossed that nothing unexpected comes along to derail us and spoil this incredible story. If all goes as hoped, in a future posting I'll reveal all and bring photos of what will then be our new home.

Wish us luck!