Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Best Laid Plans

We bought a house. In Belize. In just four days of being there. Sure, we could have opted to try living in the area for six months or so before making the final decision, but where’s the fun in that? 

Shortly after the house sale was complete, we met up with Dave and Dianna Rider of Winjama fame, who had been incredibly generous with their time during our March stay by answering a boatload of questions that we had about moving to and living in the area.

Another quirky coincidence about the place we bought, other than it’s the same house we kept looking at online prior to our trip, is that it is the same house Dave and Dianna rented for a time when they first moved here about five years ago. As they knew the property, it was fun talking through what plans we had for the place.

But in the back of our minds, the real interesting conversations were going to be with our family and friends when we got back to the States. I mean it’s one thing to go someplace for vacation, but how many people come back with a new home as a souvenir?

We braced ourselves on our return to make the calls and face-to-face visits to break the news. A typical conversation went as follows:

Family/Friend: "So how was your vacation? Did you enjoy it?"

Us: "Ummm, yup we really had a good time and fell in love with the place. [pause, deep breath] So much so that we bought a house."

Family/Friend: "YOU WHAT?!? You mean you bought a vacation place, right?"

Us: Ummm, not exactly. We’re going to move there.

Family/Friend: [Long pause] “SERIOUSLY?!?” Or , “Are you out of your minds?” Or, “This is a joke, right?”

It’s about that point in each of the conversations that we explained our desire for some adventure in our lives, all the research we did prior to our trip, to try living the dream of being in a tropical setting, and to get out of our comfort zone. We just knew enough people in their retirement years that had regrets for things they didn’t do; the old "would of, could of, should of, but didn’t” mindset. We wanted to have as few regrets as possible. And as we told our family and friends, if it didn’t work out living in Belize, we could always move someplace else.

While everyone was getting over the shock, we had plans to make. Our original game plan was to schedule the move for September. I mean, we had a house to sell, possessions to dispose of, all kinds of details to tend to, so how could we possibly make it happen any sooner?

But as we started getting the house ready to be put on the market and doing an initial inventory of what stuff we thought we would ship to Belize, we realized we might be able to pull off moving down around the June/July timeframe.

After spending about the first week or so back doing odds and ends around the house to have it ready to go on the market, we met with a realtor. We anticipated, with the housing market still being in a slump, it would take at least six months to a year for it to sell. The realtor confirmed that this timeframe was realistic, especially as we had a pool table in our living room, which we wouldn’t be taking with us, and was something that may not be appealing to potential buyers, especially being in the Bible Belt (clearly we were bucking the trend having one in the first place). 

Our pool table

The three of us debated whether to try and sell the table before listing the house or give it a go with it still in the room to see what happened. We opted to try listing it in situ and take it from there.

So two days later, which was a Thursday in early April, our house was on the market. We had two showings that first day, which were gratifying, but nothing for us to get our hopes up about. On Friday, another new showing was scheduled for late morning, so we hightailed it to a nearby restaurant and used the time to firm up our plans. 

During that lunch we decided that as the house would be on the market for the foreseeable future, we would try to schedule our move for sometime in late June or early July. To have the house be more saleable, we would leave whatever furnishings we wouldn’t take to Belize and have our realtor arrange for an estate sale once the house was sold. In the meantime, we would start going room by room to figure what things would make the trip and what would stay. As we had a number of weeks before we anticipated making the move, we thought we had plenty of time to get everything done, including finding a customs agent and a shipping company, plus getting things packed and ready to go.

That night we were watching TV, sipping Scotch, and feeling good that we had a plan. When the phone rang, I didn’t give it much thought and figured it was the real estate agency scheduling another showing. David answered the call and the next thing I know I hear him uttering “Oh really?” Uh-huh.  Okay. Will need to talk with Elizabeth and call you back.” When he hung up the phone, I asked David what he needed to talk with me about and he said, “We have an offer on the house.” Unfortunately, I had just taken a sip of my drink and almost squirted it out of my nose. WHAT?!?!  Seriously? I mean, seriously?!? When he told me what the offer was, it was not really close to our asking price, and  we agreed we needed to make a counter offer. We’d split the difference, expecting a counter- counter. David called the realtor back and we figured it wouldn’t be until the next day before we got an answer. But no, not long after giving our counter offer, the phone rang again. It was our realtor. We had a deal, and, oh by the way, the buyers wanted a 30-day settlement. 

It was at that very moment I fully understood the term “stunned silence.” I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t think. I was struck dumb. We sold our house. In less than 48 hours. Oh. My. God.

We came to find out later that one of the key selling points for the buyers was the pool table. While they had one of their own, they had been looking for months for a place big enough to accommodate it. Add to that their love of stained glass, which we had in the way of lamps that David had made, and they were in love with the place.

The next day, I was absolutely useless. My brain still couldn’t wrap itself around what had happened and what this meant to all the plans we had made. Somehow in the next 30 days we needed to have everything packed, hold an estate sale, sell our car and the pool table, find a customs broker and a shipping agent, plus book our one-way tickets to Belize and get all our stuff shipped to our new home. Holy crap. How would we pull this off?

To be continued...

No comments:

Post a Comment