An Overdue Update

Posted by Alicia On Friday, September 30, 2011 1 comments

I have mixed feelings about having a baby. This may seem upsetting to admit when coming to the end of my seventh month of pregnancy, but I’ve been assured that my doubts are completely normal. My feelings swing from excitement to terror and back again. I am most excited to see Sean as a father. I know he will be an amazing dad and I know it will make my heart burst wide open to see him holding his son. The doubts and terror come from my end of the deal. Am I ready to be a mother? Can I be a mother? I get very discouraged by something if I am not THE BEST at it. I like to try different things but if I am not the most professional, most talented or bestest at a job or task or challenge, then I give up (see: cake decorating, knitting, archaeology).

Everything happened at once. Sean got a new job, we found out I was pregnant and then we sold our house. Each of those separately is a huge change to make in your life, so all of it together felt overwhelming.

The Job
Sean started his commute to Toronto at the same time as starting on a new project at his new job which lead to long hours. He was working 12 hour days and had a commute on top of it which meant that he would come home from work, fall into bed and then get up to start it all over again the next day. We were not spending much time together and it was very difficult for me. One of the main reasons that we moved in together over 8 years ago was due to his long work hours and the lack of time we would get together. At least by living together you get to spend all the little in between times together and they add up to feel like something meaningful. But now, here we were, 8 years later and married and I was feeling like I had a roommate more than a partner. Add to that the fact that I found out that I am pregnant. Not only was I stressed out about how much Sean had to work and drive, but I was worrying about having to go through this whole pregnancy without him around. It was decided. We would move closer to his work and I would commute instead. My hours are regular and I would commuting in the opposite direction than most people so traffic would not be an issue.

The Move
We started to have a look around in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and put our house up for sale. We needed a place that would be large enough to fit us, our stuff and now our growing family. We also needed it to not break the bank since I would be going on maternity leave and making 55% of my wages for about a year. Most importantly, we needed to find a place that allowed Sean to cut his commute significantly. We started our search and soon found out that the real estate market in the GTA is very different from the Niagara Region.

In Niagara, you can look for a house, him and haw about it, return to it for a few more viewings and then put an offer in on it knowing you have a lot of wiggle room for negotiations. In the GTA and Toronto, however, the market is not as kind to buyers. If you see a house that is in your price range, needs some (or even many) improvements but is in a great location, make an offer. If you have to think about it, you will lose it. That is what we found out on 3 separate occasions. It is very disheartening to finally decide that this is the place where you will raise your child, picturing yourself in the kitchen making dinner, envisioning the nursery, and then you put in an offer only to find out that you are one of many offers. Or worse, in the time you took to go get an offer drafted up or even if you took time to “think on it”, it sold. In a many offer situation, you have to go in at the very least at full asking price. A great deal of these situations result in bidding wars. There were a few times that we would see a house on the new listings for that day that we loved, ask to go see it and by the time our realtor set up an appointment for later that same day, it would be sold.

When we realized how quick we had to move on the purchase of a house, we decided that we needed to sell our house first. We couldn’t risk having to carry two mortgages if we found a place but had not sold our house yet. We listed our house in Thorold and ended up selling it within the week. We thought this would work out to our favour, and it would have if we had found a house just as quickly. It was not for lack of trying. It got to a point where I was driving up to Toronto every day after work to look at houses. We would see 6 or 7 in a night. In the end, I was seeing the houses on my own since Sean had to work late and then I would pick the ones he needed to see that Friday night or Saturday morning.

After losing so many houses, we couldn’t help but start feeling a sense of desperation. We would have to be out of our house by the end of July and it was already late May. We went into the bid on the house we ending up purchasing feeling that if we left that night to go back to Thorold without a house again we would be done looking for a house entirely. I was over it. We both were. And that is not the mindset that you need to have when you are trying to be objective about negotiating the purchase of a house.

The owners believed their house was worth well over the actual value of the house. I’m sure that there is some sentimentality that is added to the expected value when you have lived in a place as long as they lived there. As buyers, however, we were able to see the flaws that they had turned a blind eye to - or even came to accept - long ago. We sat in our car at the curb, listening to the Stanley Cup playoff game, waiting for our realtor to emerge from the house. He would drop the offer off, briefly explain our reasoning and then he would join us in the car, listening to the game and waiting. I would start trying to justify going up in price out loud. And then I would flip flop and start trying to see if other places that we liked but didn’t love were still available. It went on like this for hours until finally we reached an agreement. We would pay more than we wanted to and take possession later than we wanted to and they would agree. I say it like this now, but at the time it was really our best and possibly only option.

We would get possession of the house on the last day of August which gave us about 6 weeks to be homeless. Plan B was in effect. We would move all of our items into Mini Pods (storage space on wheels), store our belongings on their site until move day and then have those storage pods dropped off at the new place 6 weeks later to unload. We just had to figure out our living situation and then wait to be homeowners again.

Next post: living apart, moving into a new life