In your face, short sale

So there's a good reason why I haven't had a post in a long time — I've been stumbling along the road to home ownership. I didn't want to post anything while the whole thing was going on, because this one was close enough that I didn't want to jinx it.

But it came through, and now I own a lovely condo in downtown Silver Spring, MD. Those of you who've been reading this blog since the beginning know that I've always been on a quest to find a great coffee shop, and I've always wanted to live really close to one. Ideally within a short walking distance.

And now I'm a max 5 minute walk from Mayorga Coffee Factory, which I picked out pretty early on after moving to this area as my favorite coffee shop in the area. So, finally, after years of not living near anything (except Target and the metro at my last apartment), I live near LOTS of stuff, and I'm really excited about that.

Getting here, though, had a fair amount of drama. The thing about condos is they're not very big, so there aren't as many variables about them as, say, a house, that you can judge them on. I had a pretty small list of requirements for my new place, and a lot of nice to haves. But a lot of the places I looked at would have required compromises — jettisoning some furniture, living farther from the metro than I wanted to, street parking, etc.

I looked at a lot of places and saw a lot of places that would work okay, but none that jumped out at me. Then I walked into this one, and immediately, I could see myself living there. It met all of my requirements AND all of my nice to haves. The problem was, it was a short sale.

If you don't know what a short sale is, you're not alone. I didn't either when I first started looking, but there are a lot on the market right now because of the housing crisis. Basically, it's where someone owes more on the home than it's worth, and they make a deal with the bank to sell the property at a loss. It's a step before foreclosure, and many don't go through, so making an offer on a short sale is a bit of a gamble. This one was even more of a gamble because there were already two other offers on it.

I thought about it for awhile, and decided that the place was worth the gamble. As my sister likes to say, if it was meant to be, it would be. So I put in an offer. And then my realtor and I went several weeks without hearing anything. The property was eventually listed as being under contract, and that's when I gave up on it and decided I was going to have to start making those compromises.

I was almost ready to make an offer on another place that was smaller and farther from the metro, when my realtor called. The property had been listed as under contract because they were getting too many offers on it (there were 15!), but mine was one of the top offers, and they were going to make a decision the next day.

And they chose my offer! My sister is right — if it's meant to be, it will be. What came after was still not easy — my bank, Wachovia, nearly failed before they could fork over the money for my mortgage.

My furniture's moved in now, and in a sort of bizarre epilogue to everything else that happened, I woke up my first official morning there and smelled something burning in my foyer. I could hear beeping in the hallway, and, eventually decided that it was probably someone's smoke alarm going off. I waited to hear if the beeping would stop, indicating they got what smelled like a cooking fire under control. But it didn't stop.

I decided to grab my laptops and exit the building to see if there were fire trucks outside. No fire trucks. I didn't really want to be the person who called in the fire department for a little cooking fire, but at the same time, I'd rather be the asshole who calls the fire department than the asshole who doesn't call the fire department when there's a real problem.

So I called 911. The dispatcher told me to set off the building alarm. So in my first morning at my condo, I evacuated a high rise building. The fire department got there super quick, and it turns out it was indeed a cooking fire, but that the people had left something cooking, and weren't in their unit.

That's been the largest bit of drama since I moved in, though. I've been caught up in the holidays lately and not as able to take advantage of living near all this stuff, but there will be plenty of exploring in order in the new year.

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