Why my daughter was one, my husband and I wanted to move to a house that would accommodate the second child we hoped to have. Our first house was a small two-bedroom home, and the second bedroom was a little smaller than the average walk-in closest. Our choices were limited due to our rather tiny budget, and after searching for several weeks, we were getting very discouraged. So we were thrilled when our agent showed us a four-bedroom, two-bathroom home in a suburb that had good schools and was an easy commute to my husband’s job. And best of all: it was in our budget, because it needed work and had sat on the market for a long time with no interest, so they had just reduced the price. We immediately put in a very strong offer and confidently waited to hear the good news that we could begin packing.
I was so sure that the house would be ours that when our agent called to say the sellers had already accepted another offer, I actually cried, just a little. I had been so happy that we had finally found the perfect house for our family, with plenty of room to grow into and loads of potential for a couple (like us) who were willing to do some rehab work. Losing that house was devastating, but all we could do was keep looking, and we eventually found another fixer-upper in the same neighborhood. It was smaller (three-bedroom, one bath), but it was in our budget and although we weren’t particularly excited about it, we decided it would do.
The first few times I drove by the house we lost, I felt a little tinge of jealousy for the people who had been lucky enough to buy it. I wanted that extra bedroom for my home office, and that extra bathroom sure would come in handy when we had house guests. But eventually, I became a little more knowledgeable about real estate and realized that not buying getting that house I had wanted so desperately was actually the best thing that could have happened to our family.
Being young and naive, my husband and I had been so busy counting bedrooms and bathrooms that we didn’t pay much attention to the fact that the house sat on a busy street with no sidewalks, two blocks from active train tracks on the north and two blocks from a major highway on the south. It also had a steep asphalt driveway which would have been impossible to navigate in icy weather, and was probably slippery even in rain. The house we ended up with may have been smaller, but it sat on a quiet street where kids could safely ride bikes, had a flat driveway, and was within walking distance to a grade school. Yes, we had to put time and money into it, but when the time came to sell that house, we were able to make a small profit from our efforts. That wouldn’t have happened with the house we lost.
The point of this story is that I have learned, over these many years, that sometimes what we think is a bad thing actually turns out to be a good thing. And conversely, what we think is a good thing can turn out to be bad. So I try very hard these days not to get too excited when I believe something good has happened, at least not right away, until I see how things play out. Even more importantly, I try not to be too despairing when things aren’t going quite the way I wanted. Because I can’t predict the future any better than anyone else, and sometimes the best thing to do is simply wait and see.