October 14, 2020
Today we finally closed on our new house! I’ve waited until this day to write about the last three months progress because I wanted the deal to be sealed with no chance of unforeseen problems. It was a long, sometimes very intense time of seasonal change in my husband’s and my life.
We had been playing around with the idea of moving from Colorado for a while. Both Marty and I lived in Colorado for over thirty years and while it’s a beautiful state to live in, it has changed enough over the years that it was time for us to make a change to a somewhat warmer climate that is in a central location to our extended families. I was the hold out because of the kids but our children are grown and have their own lives and it was a sellers market in Denver. When you are young you go where there is opportunity for work and you tend to want to get away, create your own traditions, and break away from the norm, but when we reached a certain age we wanted life to be simpler, quieter, and less complicated if not predictable. It was a tall order but God had a plan.
Just after July 4th weekend, prompted by something that had happened in the news, I made a comment to my friend, Pam, that we were wanting to move but had no idea where. Marty wanted someplace warmer but I can’t tolerate a lot of heat and humidity so there were some limitations. She had grown up in the Oklahoma panhandle and said the Tulsa area was a favorite of hers. She specifically suggested Broken Arrow as it was a small but not too small suburb of Tulsa. So we scheduled a few days in mid-July to visit and get a feel for the area, attitudes, and real estate.
On the drive there I prayed that if this was part of God’s plan, to make it clear and if it wasn’t what He wanted, to slam doors shut. First, this was during the Covid-19 pandemic and the state of Kansas was experiencing an upsurge in Covid cases. With my husband being high risk, we found Sonic to be a Godsend while traveling as we could order and eat without leaving the car. We arrived in Tulsa Wednesday night after a 10 hour drive! Oh, the joy of the long road trips we used to enjoy when younger! They may have been a little overrated but the sense of adventure made it fun. We loved all the lush greenery and trees after having left a brown, crispy, arid, high altitude landscape. It was warm and humid but we had AC!
After a rest, we did an internet search for a realtor to help us look at houses. Marty showed me a few pictures with brief reviews and told me to pick one. I chose Penny Capron who had great reviews, was a seasoned realtor, and had a beautiful head of white hair. You know what the Bible says about white hair, don’t you?
The silver-haired head is a crown of glory,
if it is found in the way of righteousness.
We called Penny and it was set for her to meet us the next day to look at houses. Before we left in the morning I received a phone call from the Meal Ministry Coordinator at church in Aurora who said she felt led to call me and share a scripture she had just read that she understood in a different way than before.
a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, Ecclesiastes 3:2
She said a different translation used the word “harvest” instead of “uproot” which was a more positive sounding result of planting. She had no idea we were in Oklahoma with plans of moving. I was stunned and thankful for the encouragement that God placed on her heart to share with me. It was my first confirmation that we were on the right path.
That first day out we were disappointed that most of the houses we looked at were not what we were looking for. They were either too small or needed lots of repairs. We didn’t want a fixer upper. This was going to be our retirement home in a few years and we didn’t want to be saddled with major repairs and renovations. We decided to increase the price we were willing to pay in order to get what we wanted.
There was one house that looked promising from the outside but the renter was at work and her teenage daughter told us she wasn’t allowed to let anyone in without her mom there. We understood and Penny had her call her mom but no deal. We had to settle for being allowed to look into the house from the open front door. I believe if Penny had had the means she would have hoisted a ladder so we could have taken a peek at the upstairs, too. She was that determined to find us a house!
Unfortunately, Penny had a trip planned and was flying out the next day. She encouraged us to keep looking on our own and gave instructions on what to do to make sure the sellers agent knew we had our own agent. On Friday, we found one more house that looked beautiful on the outside. We called the sellers agent and told him our story and he agreed to show us the house which had only been on the market for a day and was scheduled for an open house that Sunday. It was perfect.
We were told that houses were flying off the market in Tulsa and we could see that on Zillow and Redfin, the online real estate listing pages, so we needed to move quickly. Penny worked with us over the weekend, on her vacation, to get the ball rolling to put in a bid. We offered what they were asking because we thought it was worth their asking price. They accepted our bid and we were on our way to buying what we thought was the house of our retirement dreams.
Now, back up a little. While this whole process is going on Marty hasn’t said anything to his employer about moving to Oklahoma but he’s pretty sure he might be able to work for the same company remotely. He’s pretty sure. I still had a job to go to in mid August when school started again but the start date wasn’t set in stone because of the Covid-19 restrictions going with the flow of infections at any given time. At any rate, when we moved I wouldn’t have a job waiting for me. If Marty couldn’t work remotely the whole deal would fall through because no bank is going to finance a mortgage to people who don’t have jobs. Can you say “GULP”?
The day after we put in a bid and it was accepted, Marty talked to his employer and got the go ahead to work remotely. It was a big relief to know he had a job to take with him to Oklahoma. I wasted no time in sending in my resignation to my employer the very same day. We had a lot of work to do and very little time to get our house ready to put on the market. We had twenty-two years worth of life to sort through and either sell, store, keep, donate, or have hauled away. We did a lot of each but ended up having four truckloads of stuff hauled away. Less than two weeks later we put the house on the market. Our realtor to sell, Tracy Alford, is the daughter of a woman I know from church and she very quickly and professionally helped us with getting our house ready, pricing it, and making it look its best for showing. It wasn’t easy but her help made it go very smoothly and seamlessly. Tracy also prayed for us. There is nothing quite like buying a house when you don’t have your current house sold yet. I don’t recommend it.
Our house sold in five days. Now we were cooking!
The closing date for our house was set for September 24th and for the Oklahoma house on September 25th. Since we were picking up the U-HAUL truck on the 22nd, Marty arranged for us to sign the closing papers on our house a day early on the 23rd so we could finish loading the truck and clean the house before we left on Thursday the 24th. The time crunch was wearing on us especially when during this whole time period, Marty continued to work full-time and was on call 24/7 the week before our move. There were times when our heads felt like they might explode from the stress. Marty said he had been holding his head while sleeping in the fetal position but we were on the downhill side of a new adventure in a new house in a new place.
I looked at pictures of that house every day and planned where furniture was going to go and where to hang pictures. I even took virtual walks around the neighborhood and looked up phone numbers and addresses nearby for all the stores we would need for groceries, prescriptions, pet food, as well as doctors, dentist, and veterinarian. We were all ready to make ourselves at home in Broken Arrow, OK until…
Two weeks before our closing, our mortgage banker called and told us we needed to immediately have an onsite appraisal of the Oklahoma home. We were told by this same person when we first applied for the mortgage that a Rapid Value Appraisal was all we would need because we were making a nice sized down payment on the house. We had banked there for thirty years but knowing that this particular bank had been in the news often in the last few years for some very costly mistakes and unethical practices resulting in lawsuits, we started getting a very bad feeling. Not only could our loan process be delayed but the loan itself could be in jeopardy and we were so close to closing on both houses.
The appraisal was scheduled for that Friday but the appraiser canceled at the last minute and rescheduled for the next Tuesday. On Wednesday, nine days before we were supposed to close on our dream house, we got the results: the appraisal was $30,000.00 less than the asking price because of recent sale prices in the neighborhood. We couldn’t put down thirty grand more of our own money and the seller refused to lower their price. We offered to go halvsies with the loss and give them fifteen grand more than the appraisal, but they refused. So we walked away knowing we would lose our good faith money and prepared to be homeless when we moved to Oklahoma.
Our Penny was livid. She is relentless, and found out that our banker in the process of talking with the sellers realtor, who incidentally works for the same agency as Penny, divulged some privileged information about our finances which was probably instrumental in the seller refusing to lower their price. As it turned out, they finally did want to renegotiate by taking us up on our offer to split the thirty grand but by that time it was too late as the whole deal had soured. Then the seller went to the title company to collect our good faith money and the title company couldn’t find the check! We had confirmation they had received it so they told us to cancel the check since it hadn’t been cashed. Would God do something like that?
In the meantime, Penny was on the lookout for another house for us and two days later sent us a listing for a brand new house in Bixby, another small but growing suburb further south of Tulsa. It wasn’t quite finished yet but the builder reluctantly agreed to let us live there rent free for three weeks until closing. If we didn’t like the house we would pay a set amount for rental while we looked for another one. Either way, we would put down a hefty $5000 deposit which was nonrefundable unless we bought the house and then it would be deducted from the mortgage. Penny sent us more pictures and videos that she took with her phone and it looked pretty good so we took the offer. Her husband is a builder also and they work together as a team. He knew the builder of this house and said he does good work so we trusted their judgment and sent the $5000 deposit check for a house sight unseen; money that we would possibly lose if we didn’t like this house. Trust and faith were majorly at work here. God paved the way for this move and we know He works all things for good.
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28
On Thursday afternoon, we tied up loose ends, picked up our check for the sale of the house, and left Denver for Oklahoma. We were exhausted mentally and physically so decided to take our time and arrived in Tulsa on Saturday. We got to see the new house on Sunday and moved in on Monday.
God is so good. We absolutely love this house even more than the other one. It’s like city living in the country with most everything we could need only five miles away. The house backs up to a belt of woods and the subdivision is only about twenty-five percent finished so we are all newcomers. It’s an awesome house for Marty who will be working from home and needs some solitude.
When we decided to buy the house, Penny recommended a lender who got the ball rolling on financing and streamlined the process into a closing that happened in three weeks instead of the typical 4 to 6 weeks. She also contacted us to let us know her employer, McGraw Realtors, had decided to pay the amount of our good faith money for the first house to both the seller and us, splitting it evenly, even though the check remained missing in action. For those who have never seen it, this is what good business ethics look like.
We marvel at the fact that all of this occurred in less than three months time. I don’t think we ever felt like giving up. At times we wondered if we were doing the right thing or if we were out of our ever loving minds, but we were steadfastly assured that God started it all and would finish it according to His will. We knew He was watching and had everything under control, so we pressed on and here we are; with strengthened faith, loving our house, and loving the people and the area. We found a church within two weeks and went to a home fellowship group and God willing, I’ll be going to the women’s retreat in November in the hills of the Ozarks. Penny and Hal gave us a beautiful concrete bench as a housewarming gift and we plan to have them over for dinner soon. I met someone yesterday who recently moved here from Aurora, Colorado, too. It truly is such a small world. It makes you wonder how we can seem so far apart but that’s another story for another time.
Pressing on until God provides another assignment!