After four months of frantic, fruitless cleaning and all of maybe 5 showings, we’re taking the house off the market. Not permanently, but we have a chance to refinance and the house can’t be for sale while we do that. Refinancing would free up a chunk of change each month and now seems like the time for such things, since JB’s business is valiantly struggling to stay afloat and they’ve cut back on such luxuries as, you know, “paychecks.” My freelance salary is the same as my office job-minus-daycare salary was—and maybe even a little more on a good month—but it’s surely not enough on its own to keep us from spiraling further down the rabbit hole of credit card debt.

So anyway, blah blah blah refinancing. House going off the MLS, for at least some period of time.

I plan to find a new agent when we’re ready to put it back on the market, but I don’t have high hopes for getting our asking price any time soon. Maybe never. The market’s worse than we thought, our house is difficult to find comparables for, the middle class is disappearing, we probably buried St. Joseph in the wrong part of the yard, etc.

As much as we want to move, now would be a bad time to do so with JB’s business in such a difficult, anything-could-happen state. There’s no pressure to get aggressive with pricing yet—we’ll just stay put, and hope that the right person comes along and falls in love.

It’s been a disappointment. For all the soul-searching we did this summer to come to the decision to put the sign in the yard, all the work getting it ready to show, it feels like a defeat to quietly pull it back off the market. Even though this isn’t a long term thing, it feels like another enormous obstacle between us and the country home we dreamed of in Oregon.

Sometimes it seems like when you do the work to clearly identify a goal, the path should just seamlessly unfold before you. You did the hard part already, after all. But of course that’s not how it works. Now you have to navigate your way from here to there, and anything can happen in between. Maybe the destination isn’t where you thought it would be. Maybe there’s something else on the way that takes you in a different direction for a while. Maybe you have to scramble over a series of seemingly nonstop challenges, like JB and all the stress and money hardships that’s come with his dream job.

Still, the only time you can truly know a dream is no longer within reach is when you give up.

(PS: Speaking of dreams, my aunt is looking at self-publishing. If you’d take a couple minutes to answer her survey about e-books, it would really help her out.)


46 Responses to “Two steps back”

  1. heather on October 27th, 2010 10:48 am

    It sounds like you’re making a good decision for you, at this moment. Sometimes that’s all we can do, right? My partner and I were planning to buy and I got all crazy excited about it, and then we got tossed a couple of curve balls. Sooo, it’s back to renting for the next year, and my new mantra is “If it’s supposed to happen, it will happen”. Lather, rinse, repeat.

  2. beach on October 27th, 2010 11:10 am

    “Timing is everything, things happen for a reason, hindsight is 20 20″….and all those bullshit cliche sayings sometimes ring true. After being unemployed for almost 2 years , crying over jobs I did not get, things are finally settling into place for me. When I was going thru it though I was a frantic asshole at times, but looking back I am glad to know see how things really did work out for the best.I think the hardest thing is the patience it takes to pursue the dream. The waiting really is the hardest part.It will all work out. Hugs.

  3. Kym on October 27th, 2010 11:13 am

    Just think now you can enjoy your beautiful home without the pressure of a showing(esp w/the holiday’s approaching) you two have put a lot of time and hardwork into your home and it shows! The right buyer will be there when you all are ready again:)

  4. Lawyerish on October 27th, 2010 11:17 am

    This: “the only time you can truly know a dream is no longer within reach is when you give up.”


    Timing is everything, and all signs point to this not being the right time. It will come.

  5. Erica on October 27th, 2010 11:20 am

    We have been thinking a lot about our quality of life lately too – what is best for the whole family. At least you charted out a plan and just have to make it happen. For us, we’re still unsure as to what the best plan is. It doesn’t help that we are all living through really tough economic times. All we can do is keep on keepin’ on…

  6. lindsay on October 27th, 2010 11:21 am

    I was wondering about your house the other day actually. Good luck, as always.

  7. Heather on October 27th, 2010 11:29 am

    As usual perfect timing. Our dream house in the country didn’t work out so great. We’re in the process of taking two steps back to where we came from. You summed it up perfectly. We did all the work so how can this not work out? Feels like total failure, but I guess it’s time to focus on a new dream and not worry about the past. Hang in there.

  8. Eric's Mommy on October 27th, 2010 11:33 am

    It’s hard all around. We haven’t paid or mortgage in 2 months because we just don’t have the money. We can’t refinance because both of our credit sucks. I would love to try and sell our house but it needs so much work and we don’t have the money or time to do it. I just got a call about a job that would pay me 27.00 an hour. I called them right back and come to find out A) It’s in RI (too far) and B) It’s a temporary gig

  9. nikki on October 27th, 2010 11:55 am

    I love today’s post. You have such a great way putting things. After our first home sat on the market for almost a year, we were extremely lucky to sell it and be able to take advantage of the market…only to find a ton of houses in our target area that were complete crap. (I know, cry me a river.) My point is that I agree with Kym – I only realized after leaving it, how wonderful of a home we had made and I was too wrapped up in selling it to realize and enjoy it. Now that you have the opportunity, enjoy your last months in the family home that you created.

  10. Mommy on the Spot on October 27th, 2010 12:06 pm

    Timing is everything. And the burial place of St. Joseph.

    So yes, I totally get what you are saying about defeat. But I am looking at it as not a defeat, but a detour. A detour in which we can put more down on the principle and wait for a bit of a better market.

  11. June on October 27th, 2010 12:30 pm

    Aw, shucks. That’s too bad. Good luck with the refinancing!

  12. Anne on October 27th, 2010 12:35 pm

    I hear you–we did the same thing with our house last year. It was up for two months, and zero offers. It was so strange–I didn’t really even want to move, initially (mostly my husband’s idea), but after we put all the work into sprucing it up and keeping it HGTV immaculate, to have to admit “defeat” was pretty defeating. But, now we have the time and space to continue to rehab it, AND we get to stay in the city!! (If we HAD managed to sell it, we would have had to move twenty minutes out to be able to afford a house with more room).

    So, I feel ya. Good luck next time around.

  13. jonniker on October 27th, 2010 12:45 pm

    Dude, no one can sell a house right now. Focus on that one fact, and don’t stress about the rest: the housing market is deader than dead, and that’s all there is to it. I say that just in case you, like me, are prone to spiral snowbally thinking that this might mean more than it really does, you know?

    The housing market blows. I’m currently dealing with lawyers right now to figure out with the home I still own in a state I haven’t lived in in four years. Massachusetts, like Seattle, has a relatively strong market compared to the rest of the country, and yet I’m looking at foreclosures and short sales on a daily basis. As a regular old home seller, it’s hard to compete with that, for now.

    But it will get better. It always does.

  14. kat on October 27th, 2010 12:46 pm

    Can I say how I love how honest and open you are and wise about it? We’re in no position to buy anything soon and it’s quite scary to think exactly as you put it – your dreams get shelved a bit and you have to stay where you are.

    What I think is awesome though is that you came to the dream and are working toward it no matter what because I think a lot of people wouldn’t even try.

    I hope you can focus on the now and have more weekends like you last described and positives then negatives.

  15. CJ on October 27th, 2010 1:19 pm

    Sounds like the right – albeit frustrating – decision for right now.

  16. Jessica on October 27th, 2010 1:21 pm

    We put our house on the market four weeks ago and have had three showings. We can’t price it to compare with foreclosures. I talked to a Realtor who said it was a fire sale out there right now.

  17. Jane on October 27th, 2010 1:34 pm

    I’ve read this post more than once today, and had to comment. Lately I’ve been feeling like there’s something better waiting for me just around the corner, but no matter what I do, I can never seem to turn that corner, and your last couple of paragraphs really struck a nerve.

    so, best of luck to you and your family. It is tough when you have a dream and a vision and a plan, and all of it is just out of reach. I have to believe that one day good things will happen for good people, the alternative is too sad.

  18. sooboo on October 27th, 2010 1:39 pm

    “When you do the work to clearly identify a goal, the path should just seamlessly unfold before you”. Preach it sista. Ugh, if only life were that easy. If it makes you feel better our neighbors just took their house off the market. Their house is really pretty and priced to reflect that. But, everyone wants an amazing deal right now…

  19. Gretchen on October 27th, 2010 1:47 pm

    The fact that your freelance paycheck is making ends meet is amazing. Keep your chin up! That house will sell eventually!

  20. Jenny on October 27th, 2010 2:17 pm

    Several years ago I never would have imagined the journey that my husband and I (and now our kids) have taken. What started as deciding to sell our house and move led us all around Georgia, making insane sacrifices and living in places that we never dreamed we would (and I don’t mean that in a good way). But all that scrambling and struggling led us to be in the right place at the right time and we found an opportunity to finish building a house that had been sitting for a year. I see mountains from three walls of the house and the fourth view is of rolling farmland. Our mortgage payment is $400 less than our much smaller house was. It is the same as our rent on our first apartment 11 years ago.

    Things happen for a reason, is what I’m saying. It’s amazing to look back and see how it all happens.

  21. Courtney on October 27th, 2010 2:50 pm

    My parents have go through the on-off-on-off-on-with-a-lower-price-off-on-with-an-even-lower-price-off-rent-on-rent-off-rent etc ad nauseum for the last 3.5 years. I don’t say that to scare the shit out of you, just to let you know that people out there can commiserate. They’ve got a house in MT that they CAN’T sell and a lake house in ID that they WON’T sell. And the kicker? They can’t refinance EITHER of them because they’re currently living in WA, and neither the MT house (rented) or the vacation house is a principal residence. So they’re stuck with their 6.75% loans… sucky.

  22. Brianna on October 27th, 2010 3:07 pm

    Have you considered renting the house?

  23. Julie on October 27th, 2010 3:09 pm

    Life has a funny way of testing us doesn’t it? I admire you for not giving up on your dream. I had always thought by my age, I would be living in my dream home with two kids, a husband and financial security, but alas, its not the case just yet. We are renting while he goes to law school and dipping deeply into our savings. I just keep saying to myself, “a few more years, a few more years…” but I know that may not be true b/c there’s no guarantees with the job market.

    The housing market will get better over time and I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. We all have dreams and some (most of us) just have to wait a little longer than expected. Good luck!

  24. MRW on October 27th, 2010 3:29 pm

    Seriously the economy is such shit right now. It’s not your house, it’s this market. I know that doesn’t help but what a CF this entire thing is right now. You’ve got a lot of life left to live, I’m confident that someday your dream will come to fruition.

    p.s. I can’t believe I just said “come to fruition” but I’m leaving it anyway.

  25. little miss mel on October 27th, 2010 3:54 pm

    Not that you guys would ever need this information, but living in CA and having a house that is underwater, hearing this was good to know for us….

    If you refinance, you would not be able to short-sell your house. As I said above, not that you would have to, but in our case, it is one of many options if we ever had to move. I had never heard about the re-fi and short sell issue until recently….

  26. willikat on October 27th, 2010 4:41 pm

    I feel you on the house. We can’t move out of our 860-sq-ft loft because we’re underwater and there are units up for sale for HALF what we paid for ours in our building (and are nicer than ours) and they still aren’t m-f’ing selling. I have one closet. ONE. For EVERYTHING in our house. I’m ready to lose my ever-loving mind, clearly. So I feel for you. However, I know things will work out for you because your family has the balls to make it work. And as Tom Petty said…the waiting is the hardest part.

  27. Shawna on October 27th, 2010 7:02 pm

    I was wondering about the house situation the other day, but figured if there’d been news you wanted to share you’d have shared it. Sorry about the housing market down there. It is still booming in my city, and I’m crossing my fingers it stays that way until spring when we’re selling our place.

    Sounds like you guys made a wise, realistic decision. You didn’t panic, you’re keeping your goals in mind, but you’re not throwing away anything in the journey. Good on you!

  28. thejunebug on October 27th, 2010 7:24 pm

    I’m sorry, I know this sucks for you guys. :(

    Our realtor seems to think the best time to put a house on the market is during the summer months, since people want to be moved in and settled before the school year starts. I don’t know, but it seems to make sense.

    I’m wishing you the best of luck!

  29. Beth on October 28th, 2010 5:23 am

    We’re doing the same thing at the end of the week – house has been for sale since June, and we’ve had maybe 6 people look at it, no offers. We’ll try again in the spring, but I’m not optimistic at all. We’re lucky that, like you, we didn’t “have” to move – just wanted to, but I’m not sure realistically it will happen for a couple of years.

  30. Jae on October 28th, 2010 5:41 am

    Arrrrrrg, I feel your pain.

    I hate, hate, hate selling our house. Thankfully, our move (to Portland, OR…in *days*) doesn’t hinge on whether or not we sell the house-meaning we still get to go where we want to go while still paying for the effing mortgage and hoping it sells-but it sucks to have two payments. Here’s hoping we don’t lose our asses!

    We had an offer after 3 showings…only to find out the people who made the offer weren’t in the market to buy! What the fuck?! Who looks at a house AND MAKES AN OFFER when they can’t buy?!

    I feel ya. I do. I hope things look up and you get to Oregon. I’ll meet you there! :)

  31. Jen on October 28th, 2010 7:01 am

    “Sometimes it seems like when you do the work to clearly identify a goal, the path should just seamlessly unfold before you. You did the hard part already, after all. But of course that’s not how it works. Now you have to navigate your way from here to there, and anything can happen in between. Maybe the destination isn’t where you thought it would be. Maybe there’s something else on the way that takes you in a different direction for a while. Maybe you have to scramble over a series of seemingly nonstop challenges, like JB and all the stress and money hardships that’s come with his dream job.”

    God this is just perfect. I can relate on so many levels. It’s nice to know I’m not alone :) Best of luck with the house and your journey.

  32. Bren on October 28th, 2010 8:33 am

    We decided last year to a “five year plan” that would have us in a different house – then we saw the appraisal on our house and realized it was probably going to be a ten year plan. Discouraging yes but at least we are in a home we like and luckily in no rush to go anywhere.

  33. rachel pomeroy on October 28th, 2010 9:14 am

    I hear ya, we’re in the same boat, though ours is an empty rental property….be glad you only have 1 mortgage :)

  34. Teree on October 28th, 2010 11:19 am

    That is really hard. It’s interesting that everyone (or most everyone) is dealing with ramifications of this economy but no one talks about it, which makes *everyone* feel lonely and scared. Well, clearly *we* are not alone and I love that you shared this with us.

    Keep your head up, hug your boys, make some pumpkin-related goodies and take a deep breath.

  35. anonymous on October 28th, 2010 2:14 pm

    Well, I can tell you from experience that things can get pretty sucky and still turn out OK. We tried to sell our second house when my husband graduated, it was the house he lived in/fixed up while going to school and I had to stay back home with baby to keep my job, which we desperately needed. We finally took it off the market. My husband graduated, couldn’t get a job for almost a year and we ended up losing both our houses.

    I know you want to move to Oregon so hold onto that dream and it will happen. We have been through so much but I am still hopeful that we can buy another house some day. I just hope it isn’t when there is some sort of freak upsurge on housing and we won’t be able to afford it.

    Group hug, anyone?

  36. Kristi on October 28th, 2010 8:51 pm

    Speaking as someone going through what has become a year-long divorce (we are great friends) I can honestly say that TIME holds an abundance of treasures. You are traveling on the road you set into motion – have faith in your decision and dreams, and enjoy the happiness along that road. :-)

  37. Alyson on October 28th, 2010 9:23 pm

    Contact me when you want to put the house on the market again. Careful pricing along with a good marketing plan can make selling your house successful. I can send an excellent agent your way to help you sell. The market is improving, but if you can put off selling until the market improves more (and some of the foreclosure inventory goes away), it will be better for you.

  38. AndreAnna on October 29th, 2010 6:14 pm

    Sometimes, life shits in our hat.

    The true difference is in the people who can look at the hat and say, “Well, I never really liked that hat anyway.”

    It’ll happen. I know it.

  39. Niki P on October 30th, 2010 6:14 pm

    Good luck. Real Estate is a pretty spectacular shit show right now all over the place.

  40. Niki on November 1st, 2010 12:18 pm

    Something odd just occured to me. I’ve been in the process of reading your past archives and I realized that you left some town in Oregon moved to a big city, stopped and wished someone had told you to enjoy the slow pace life there, and now you are trying to get back to the country.
    Thank you for making me stop and look at my life. My husband decided on a whim to put our house for sale (I was horrified as I like order and planning and this was complete chaos)
    Well, fast forward a month later to the present and the house is sold, we have one week left before we have to be out, and our dream, it turns out, was to move right back to where it all started-my family farm. My life is crazy, I don’t know if I’m waring shoes half of the time, and I keep forgetting to make sure we have enouch milk for my daughter’s breakfast. Somehow, we are making it work..thank you. Your posts are heartfelt and warming. Funny amd charming. You have made me think to myself “If she can do it, so can you” Good luck!!

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