My adorably ugly little house
Maybe I should just do one more drive by. But I had driven by before and this house looked hideous. It looked tiny. It had a tarp nailed to the roof. Visitors would never be able to find us there. It is so UGLY. But our need for an affordable place overruled the cringing I felt at the idea of touching the dirty old place.
I had been glued to the Zillow website for weeks. We had relocated to NW Indiana when my DH had landed a job here. He had been working here for six months before we had enough cash to make the move. He found us a great little rental here in the town we had chosen for its proximity to his work and for it's stellar schools. Although we had a wonderful landlord, we prefer home ownership to renting and since we were only a few months from the end of our lease we were looking for a house to purchase. This is a great market if you are looking for a home and I had found several that met our criteria. We wanted to remain in our school district, we wanted to stay close to mid-town so we could ride our bikes on sidewalks, - and we wanted something cheap.
Like I said, I had been watching the listings for weeks. The beauty of the Zillow site is that it will notify you when a property's price is reduced. I found some amazing deals. I even dragged my DH to view a few of them. Two of them were perfect; they were big enough to accomodate his tools and my quilting studio and they had two car garages. The prices were amazingly affordable. I was so excited to have find such amazing buys, but both were sold before we could make an offer. I blame two people: my DH and my realtor. Neither of them could be available to make an offer in a timely manner. By the time I could contact either of them another offer had been accepted on both properties. It was pretty frustrating.
So, here I was looking at the picture of the ugly house again. It was in a neighborhood close the the middle school my DS would be attending in the fall. It was close enough to town that we could ride our bikes to the library, town hall, the center of town where the European Market takes place on Saturdays from early spring through late fall, and it is only a coule of miles from the beach on Lake Michigan. It had a nice size yard with reasonable distance from neighboring properties. It was sheltered by a great old maple that must be at least a hundred years old. It even had a great price - and the price had gone down the night before. The asking price was now around $30,000 - a huge deal in this town, even for a really ugly house.
So before I knew it, I was sitting in front of this sad, lonely, little house which was surrounded by a sea of chest-high grass and wondering if we could make it work for the three of us. We don't need, much, I thought to myself, just a place of our own. There was a huge board strapped to the clothes line post with the asking price and a phone number spray painted on it. I said a prayer and called my realtor. Of course he wasn't available, so I left a message with his assitant and I waited. And waited. I recalled the other two houses we had lost out on because of delays on the part of my DH and my realtor. I determined that would never happen again, so I picked up the phone and dialed the number myself. I was given the combination to the lock on the door and was given permission to enter.
Having been disappointed before when someone else snapped up good houses at bargain prices, I was afraid to get excited and I actually dreaded going in to this old place because it looked very small and pretty rough, but I was NOT going to miss out on another great deal. I waded through the swaying grass and hoped my allergies would not set off and that I wouldn't step on some living thing that might bite or scare me to death. I stepped onto the tiny porch and was surprised that it was in reasonably sturdy shape. The whole place smelled mouldy and birds fled from openings in the eaves and around the door as I worked the combination, opened the door, and peered inside.
I was immediately amazed at how much sunlight filled the decent sized kitchen as I stepped through the door. The 1970's era vinyl floor was missing in places and had been patched with checkerboard contact paper. The drop ceiling was missing some tiles and I could see the lath and plaster ceiling above it was sagging and missing huge chunks where the insulation hung down. I moved through an arched doorway to the dining room in which part of the ceiling was crumbling where there had been a leak in the roof. The celing looked dry, despite the recent spring rains. Huge sheets of paint and wallpaper were peeling from the ceiling and walls and the painted wood floor appeared to have buckled from the humidity. But there were lovely elements, too. The ceiling was 9 feet high, making the smallish room feel much larger. The double window appeared to be a good quality replacement which was true to the size of the original window and the around the window and baseboards was beefy; unlike the kitchen, this room had maintained the charm of the decade in which it was built.
The next room was in better condition. I looked through a wider arched door to the living room in which the ceiling and floors were intact. The window and the door which opened onto the big porch, although badly painted, appeared to be original to the house. I was beginning to get excited. Once I pried open the door to the porch, I knew I wanted a shot at this house. The porch had windows on three sides and the windows all appeared to be originals. It was horribly dirty, but the glass that survived was wonderfully wavy and slightly distored the view which was of lots of trees and grass. When I turned back into the house, I found two very tiny bedrooms and a really icky little bathroom. I was in love with the place already.
When I returned to my car, I got a call from the realtor's assistant who said she had the code to the house if I decided I wanted to look at it she would arrange it with the realtor. I didn't tell her I had already been in the house. As I thanked her I was thinking I would ignore the realtor this time and go for it myself. I called the owner/bank again and asked about terms for a cash purchase and was amazed that I could get this little house for a third less than the asking price!
I could not reach my DH by phone, and the hours until he got home from work really seemed to drag by in an unbearably slow manner. I dragged him over to see the house and I was so amazed that his reaction to the porch was similar to mine; this is nothing short of miraculous since this man hates old things and antiques.
So that is the beginning of the story of our adorable, ugly little Union Avenue house. I have included a copy of the picture on the Zillow listing so you can see why it took me so long to check out the house even at it's very affordable price. In the months since we acquired it, our ugly duckling is slowly changing into a swan.
This is so like our Savior's great love. He sees beyond the ugliness of our sinful souls and finds value in someone that has been abused and neglected. Through his saving grace He makes old things become new again and even appreciates the character of the individual. Under his care and attention our battered lives become worthwhile and we are warmed and begin to thrive in the sunlight of His love. Old scars may remain, but the healing of the Great Physician is deep and complete. Thank you, Lord, for Your loving compassion that sees beyond what the world sees and restores our souls.