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When a realtor buys a home...

Here's the problem with working in real estate: you fall in love with a lot of houses. Or at least I do. And it always bums me out when a great one comes on the market that I don't have a buyer for. Especially when it's a bit of an ugly duckling looking for someone to turn it into a swan. And especially when that little duckling just languishes on the market because would-be buyers can't see its potential or don't want the hassle of a renovation. Sigh.

But it happens, and I generally just write it off as a missed opportunity for someone.

So back before the holidays when I walked into the open house for a lovely-but-in-need-of-love condo in an 1875 triple-decker on a beautiful mid-Cambridge street, my initial reaction was simply that it would be a great buy for someone with a little imagination and the stomach for a reno. Not me -- just someone.

And the condo sat. And I kept going back to the listing pix and thinking about how I would renovate if I were the owner, puzzling over just how to make the floorplan work -- surely there was a solution and I enjoyed challenging my creativity to find it. Then one day I saw that it was under agreement and I definitely felt a bit wistful.

To be clear, I was NOT shopping for a home at the time. Although my husband and I were mentally ready to downsize, we were not logistically ready. Our plan had been to wait til my stepdaughter finished her last year of college and my stepson got established on his path, and THEN we would begin looking for our next place. Keeping in mind that our current home is the kind of place that needed a very particular buyer, so we figured the whole transition might be a bit further on the horizon. And yet...

When the listing came back on the market (buyer apparently backed out after the inspection), I decided to go see it again -- this time with my husband.

During the second visit, I realized the place needed more work than I had initially gathered. This was, after all, the rare condo that had never been touched by a developer, and had recently been occupied by long-term owners who, as is typical, had let some of the maintenance slip. There were the obvious updates needed -- a new kitchen and bath for sure -- and the little fact of the back porches literally falling off the house, the measly 20-amp electrical (!!), the sore need for an exterior paint job... you get the point.

But the light! And the gorgeous original wood doors with working transom windows, the beadboard wainscoting in the kitchen and bath, TWO covered porches and -- Inman Square is literally right there!

I was smitten, and somewhat surprisingly, my husband was too. And although we spent a few days agonizing over whether it made any financial sense at all to buy this place when our current home wasn't even on the market, ultimately we decided this condo was too good to pass up.

Because we weren't sure how long it would take to sell our current home, we opted to purchase the condo with investor financing. This would allow us the flexibility to rent the unit out for for the short-term if it looked like we'd be carrying our existing mortgage for a while. That decision gave us the confidence to take the leap -- and next thing you know, we had bought our new home!


Lest you think the process was all too easy, given so many would-be homebuyers (including my clients!) are struggling to find a place of their own...

Trust me, I've spared you all the painful, behind-the-scenes negotiating, closing delays, and the deal almost tanking because the furnace died and the seller's representatives---who live in Florida---did not seem to realize that a home with no heat was not a saleable property in New England in December. And currently we're scrambling to line up contractors to do several projects that have to be done before we move in (e.g., renovating the only bathroom in the house, which won't be an option once we are living there!).

It's all very stressful and time consuming and the clock is ticking since we need to be out of our current home by the end of February. Still sound easy? ;)

I am planning to document some of the renovation process, so stay tuned. For now, here's a peek at the bathroom as it is now -- and yes, that IS carpet!


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