How I went to pick up a shirt and ended up buying a house

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No really, the title of this post is exactly how we ended up buying a house! And not just any old house, our dream house! Okay well the story is a tiny bit longer, and I honestly bought two shirts. And okay, if you want to hear the full story it’s three years in the making. Although it was a very long and messy journey, God made it beautiful in the end. Much more beautiful than I would have ever imagined. And honestly if I think about it, not at all how I would have imagined. But that’s the beauty with God right?

buying a house, selling your house, house hunt, house hunting,

Life as I would have wrote it would have been way less interesting and much more to the point. God chose to make it a journey, because He knew it would be more meaningful with the experienced we had and what we learned along the way. Many times in the heat of it all I questioned what the heck He was doing. But, looking back, I was molded and shaped by the journey. I’m a better person. Travis is a better person. We are more rounded. And it truly was beautiful.

Three Years Ago

I’m a Zillow addict. I admit it. I still look at houses, even when there’s no chance we are moving or want to move anytime soon. . . but I can’t help myself. About three years ago when Travis and I first got the itch to move I started Zillowing like a freak. Is Zilllowing a word? Whatever. Point is, we had just had Tyrion and knew we would add a second child soon. With our upstairs only having two rooms and the basement unfinished . . . well we knew time was limited and we were running out of space. To add to that, as all of our friends that helped us pack can vouch for, I have a lot of stuff. 😉 Stuff I use or will use, promise! But still, stuff. Our tiny house was becoming very cozy.

Enter in what I thought was our:

Dream house #1.

(There’s three of them, sit tight.)

buying a home

See the house in the above picture? No? That’s because the house didn’t matter to me! lol! All I wanted was the big red barn, outbuildings, and property. It even came with a creek! I was instantly in love and much to my surprise, so was my Seattle born husband. This had to be it right? It was for sale by owner and I caught sight of it driving around looking at other properties I found on Zillow.

buying a house. Home #1

(Here’s the one weird-ish shot of the house I could find)

I randomly drove up because I saw someone outside. It ended up being the owner and she showed me all around the place and was more than happy to chat with me about the property. I figured this was it, this was going to be home. I called our realtor and we did another walk through with her, Travis, and my mom. We made an offer on it the very next day and waited with more excitement that I could stand.

Sadly, there was a bidding war on the property and we lost out. We were devastated.

Why wasn’t this our forever home?

Only looking back later could I see why God’s hand was not in this purchase. The house was only finished on the main floor and was about 1,000 square feet. The third bedroom was the size of a large closet. Guys, we’d have been downgrading on the house big time, and at that moment we thought it was worth it . . . but looking back with a clear head, it would have been so hard to live in such a tiny space. Sure the house could have been improved on, but it was dated as well as small, and would have required a lot of $$$ over the next few years to get it how we wanted. And at the time we just didn’t have the money to spend doing renovations.

A few months later as we were heading out to my parents we randomly decided to take the back roads, and what did we find?

House #2

buying a house

This was a foreclosed on home sitting on 10 acres. No outbuildings, but it had a seasonal creek and so much potential. We again got a realtor involved and looked at the house. It was kinda trashed on the inside, needed new carpets, paint, and fixtures, but we figured live in it as is, slowly fix it up and bam, forever home. The info on this house was hard to find, calling realtors and banks seeing who owned the home and if they would sell for a killer price. Sadly, (again) after doing our research we learned it was headed to a cash only auction. Yeah, that wouldn’t work for us.

On a happy note, the people that did end up buying it are doing exactly what Travis and I had wanted. Fixing it up and the place looks so nice now.

Why was this not our forever home?

It was so far from Travis’s work at the time, and about a 30 minute drive just to the North Side of Spokane. Did I mention I hate driving? Plus, to have Travis make an almost hour drive to work every day, the gas that would have been used and the miles that would have racked up on our cars, I’m so glad we didn’t do it. After living in the heart of Spokane for seven years I was accustomed to being about 10 minutes from everything. So although I grew up driving a ton, I’m honestly not into doing it anymore! Plus it would have cost us thousand and thousands to get the house fixed up, and we really didn’t have the budget for it at the time.

On that depressing note of two houses gone in a few months time we decided to put the hunt on hold and be content where we were. God obviously didn’t want us to sell yet and we didn’t want to push the issue. I had little Evelyn on the floor of our Shannon house living room surrounded by midwives, my mom, and Travis one short year later. We transformed half of Tyrion’s room into a “girl side” and went on happily there for another two years.

The final search

This past spring we started looking again, but were very torn with staying for two more years or moving. Seven years of marriage and we had accumulated the standard american debt. Two credit cards, two car payments, and things were tight. Sure if we sold we could pay them off and have some down for a new place. But should we pay them off first and then use all the profits from our home to put down on the next house? We were torn. But, staying at Shannon we always felt we would get one step ahead and then something unexpected would happen and we’d go two steps back again. So we cautiously started looking again, not getting our hopes up for anything.

House #3

This house was really what changed my mind about purchasing a farm.

This one we almost made an offer on, but stopped ourselves. After years of searching we began to realize that what we started out wanting (or more honestly what I tired to pressure Travis into wanting) was not really where we were at anymore. Sure the property was great and the house was cute. But again, sooooo dated and small. Plus we’d still have quite a drive. And that was our conundrum. A nice house on acreage close to town was honestly way out of our price range. And even the farm houses that were within our grasp were at the top of our price range and needed so much work. Travis is great at doing projects around the house, but driving that much would cut into his at-home time, and what needed to happen weren’t little projects. Was this something we really wanted to dip our toes in?

With this in mind we started looking at houses in town. We figured find a good deal on a home, fix it up and live in it for a few years, sell and purchase our house on acreage.

Honestly, there were other “close call” houses within this three year time but these were the three biggest “almost happeneds”.

Selling with no house in site?

Travis was fine with selling and finding a place afterwards, but I wanted to love love our next house. Selling and hoping my dream house would just be out there waiting for me sounded scary. I didn’t want to simply like my next house, I wanted to fall madly in love with it. But, the market was on fire at the time (still is!) and no one would take a contingency on our home selling. Our realtor said not to even try, it wouldn’t happen. So stubborn me I said fine, we’re not selling then! Honesty in my heart of hearts it just didn’t feel right, so I just keep casually looking all summer with no hard intention to sell.

D day

This is how I can look back and know it was time. God slowly softened my heart to the fact that we truly needed to move. Toward late fall I told Travis come spring I would be willing to sell and trust that God had a home waiting for us. But Zillow freak that I am, I had marked the area we wanted to move so any new home for sale would pop up.

Solid in our new plan I started driving by potential houses that met my speks once every few weeks.

When God chooses to work He sure doesn’t waste time!

How a shirt led to our forever home

Towards the beginning of November my friend Christine added me to a facebook group of a local lady who sells clothes from her home. She has super cute stuff that Christine thought I’d like.

I ended up purchasing a shirt right away. The first time I drove by our new house I didn’t even see it. I just remember following behind Christine (I ran into her in the Fred Meyer parking lot and she offered to have me follow her to the house) thinking wow, this is such a nice neighborhood, to live someplace like this would be a dream. All the homes were huge and on half an acre or more. There were big shady pine trees all around and it was on the skirts of the North End of Spokane.  Never in a million years did I think we could ever live there.

The spotting

About a week later I made another purchase from the FB group and waited for the email saying it was ready to pick up. The same day she sent the notification I was headed out with my friend Sara to drive by homes I marked that I liked. I was the driver and she the directions! We drove by all the potential houses and at the end I said hey, we are right by the house I need to pick up my order from, mind if we make a pit stop?

As we drove there I was saying how pretty the neighborhood was. Sara pointed out our now home, which had a for sale sign in the front of it. “What about that one?” she said.

(It did not look like this in November, this is the photo I pulled off Zillow)

I laughed out loud. “That house has to be way out of our price range. There’s no way.” As the words left my lips I was pulling up Zillow to check it out, because hey, a girl can dream. It was priced just outside our price range. “Hu” I said, “Interesting. . .”

Guarded excitement

I went home that evening and researched everything about that house I could, trying not to fall in love but failing miserably. I waited in guarded excitement for Travis to get off work to show him. Hardly through the front door I was pointing to Zillow (P.S. Zillow should pay me for all the promo this article is giving them!) saying “Look what I found!” He was in the same boat as me, he liked it but thought there was just no way.

The disappearing act

As we were looking at it that evening for the 10th time our screens suddenly refreshed and all the pictures of the house disappeared off the app. Travis said “weird, the house isn’t listed for sale anymore.” Freaking out I grabbed my phone and saw the same thing. “What the heck” I yelled at my phone, “I saw the sale sign today!” We brooded over it all night and the next evening when Travis got off I said, ” Hey, do you want to drive by and see it?” Never one to turn down going on house hunts with me we dressed the kids in their jammies and headed to check it out.

Travis liked the area just as much as me. When we drove up to the house the sale sign was truly gone!!!! At this point I’m wondering if I was losing my mind. How in 24 hours had the sign disappeared and the home vanish off Zillow? I would realize quickly this was God removing the home from anyone else potentially becoming interested and saving it solely for us. Because He’s that good.

The inquiry

I couldn’t stand it and shot an email off to my realtor that night inquiring about that house as well as a few others that I had driven by the previous day. “Just for the heck of it” I told Travis. 😉

She replied back within a few hours. Most of the houses I had sent her had contingencies on them except for one other and our future house, which ironically was taken off the market for the winter with plans to relist in the spring. The relator was going to take the lock box off the door in two days so Chelsey (my third cousin and relator) asked us if we wanted to check it out before we lost the chance. The next day we loaded the kids up again and went to see the homes. Walking into our forever home was surreal.

The walk through

You know how you see something online but in person it just doesn’t live up to your expectations? Yeah that didn’t happen this time. The pictures online actually didn’t do it justice.  It was much larger than shown, and had more rooms than listed as well. It was nestled on just over a half an acre and was very private in the backyard. That’s huge for me and was one of the biggest hang-ups I found searching for homes. I wanted as large a backyard as possible and didn’t want a neighbors house staring at me from the opposite end of my yard. It also had a pond and man-made stream! I was in aww, It was like God was checking off all the boxes I had marked as important to me.

Chelsey said that because it was winter, some owners were taking contingencies that would not happen any other time of year because the market had slowed a little. Since this owner was going to take it off the market anyhow, he was willing to do a contingency if we wanted. Seriously I am almost in tears as I write this. God is so good! I didn’t have to sell my house and wonder if we would find one. He gave it to us because I truly believe He knew I was ready to walk in faith with whatever He decided.

It’s yours, now sell your home

We made an offer and it was followed by two tense days going back and forth. Just before we got the call we had resigned ourselves to the fact that again, this wasn’t going to be the one. We were so far apart on price. I remember crying, heading to my room and down on my knees asking God why? Why again was He taking another home away form us? I didn’t understand but I cried, “Please, please if it’s possible at all let this work but if not, help me to be okay with your decision and know you have greater plans for us.”

Half an hour later we got the call that he came down on the price and was willing to pay all our closing costs. I literally sobbed. Seriously. Ugly faced crocodile tears. After three years of searching and being told no over and over it was truly happening. But there was a catch, we had to see our home in two months, with it listing in two weeks.

Sell that house!

Talk about busting butt to get our house ready to sell in 14 days! We textured and painted the bathroom, fixed the back door that had been causing trouble for 3+ years, painted our room, the living room, as well as handled several other odds and ends projects. We removed half the decor in our home so it was staged just how our realtor wanted.  Surprisingly, we were ready to list about a week ahead of schedule! Chelsey had her photographer come in and do the pics and said we would list within the next couple days.

The house went live on a Saturday evening and by 7pm I had a realtor text me she wanted to show it the following morning. Perfect I thought, it was cold enough out the dog would be fine in the back of the SUV for church, and we would just come home after.

Sunday Morning Rescue

Sunday morning I scrambled to get the kids and I ready for church. I volunteer in the Children’s Center every other Sunday and this was one of those days. Remote starting the car I went to get our dog Bree. Heading into the back yard I noticed some “presents” she left and scrambled to clean up. I then took her out the front expecting her to jump into the SUV like normal.

Well she didn’t, and she didn’t have a collar on either. I found a scarf and after what had to look like a game of Tag to the neighbors, caught her and she jumped in. I headed inside and like an idiot grabbed my keys, purse, and phone, threw them in the front seat of the car and headed in to grab the kids. My car turns off and locks after 10 minutes of auto start, and it did just that. Lovely.

Thankfully my sister was downstairs and I was able to use her phone to call Travis, who didn’t have the extra set of keys. Come to find out I had both sets in my purse . . . in the car. I laugh now but in that moment it was far from funny. An hour later, one locksmith visit and $80 gone, I headed out with the kids. But not to church, to my sister and brother-in-laws. Thankfully after calling the locksmith I called my mom who was at church and able to inform the Children’s Center of my plight.

By this point in time another realtor had called and scheduled a visit. We killed the time at my sisters. The cousins played together and the dog enjoyed their backyard until it was time to head home. Fifteen minutes from home another realtor called, was in the area, and wanted to stop by. Obviously I said yes and we killed some more time in the car watching a movie.

What a day!!!!

The call

After things had finally settled for the night and I was cleaning up dinner I got a call from Chelsey. The day had been worth it, we had two offers! We ended up selling to the first person who looked at our house. How crazy is that? The timeline went as follows:

  • Saw house for the 1st time with Sara on Nov. 15th
  • Made offer on the house Nov. 21st
  • Offer accepted evening of Nov. 22nd
  • Listed our house Dec. 2nd
  • Offer made on Dec. 3rd
  • Moved out Jan. 11th
  • Moved into new house Jan. 19th

Talk about fast!!!!

Three years, multiple houses, lots of questioning, and it was finally time.

Every morning I wake up and wonder if this is real life? Travis and I honestly don’t ever see us moving, except maybe when we are gray and old? We have a huge home to grow in, a large yard perfect for birthday parties and bonfires with friends. Our chickens and ducks are even moving back in with us after an extended stay at Grandma Judy’s house! We have no HOA’s or anyone to tell us what we have to do with our property. I can see our lives being lived out here, and it makes me so happy.

God knew

God knew, he knew all along and I’m so glad we waited for His timing instead of making up our own. Best of all, we are debt free besides this house. Cars, credit cards, the whole shebang. I always hoped this would happen, but there was that nagging doubt. Thank goodness that doubt was trumped by faith. Is this house perfect? No. It’s very 90’s and needs some updating, but I’m so excited to make it our own. Travis and I were talking the other night and he said with this house we can do things not so it ups the value and we can sell higher, because that’s not what we’re after. We can do things to this house simply because it will make us happy, and that’s everything!

The End

If you’re still reading I’m sure you’re one of the few! While I normally write to interest my readers, this post was more for me. So when I question and doubt the plan that’s been designed for me I can look back and be reminded that God can move mountains. And for my kids, so when they doubt and fear just like I did they can take hope that God has a beautiful plan in store for them.

Eryn Whalen

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  1. What a great story. I’m so happy you found your forever home. And God’s timing is always perfect even though we often don’t realize it until later.

  2. Eryn & Travis – I came across your extremely well-written story “Buying a house” – and was fascinated by it! And hung on every word/picture! Praise God for your fortunate forever house purchase!

    I’d like to share this story with the extended Kuiken family (which obviously includes you guys) – as I think they would like to read & enjoy it too!

    Oddly enough – although I’ve got family email addresses for about 75 people/families – I don’t have one for you guys! But if you give me permission to do so – I will send this article along to the rest of the family?

    My email is:

    Lv – unc gerrit AKA gk

  3. Hey Eryn. LOVE this story! God is so good and his timing is perfect.
    The new house is stunning – can’t wait to see more pictures now that you are in phase 2 of this journey – the unpacking and living.
    Huge congrats!

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