a million bucks

In some ways we are still in recovery mode from our housing exploits of 2011. Still, it’s easy to forget how our whole adventure got started, particularly given that we ended up a mere 18 blocks from where we started and in the same schools – which was entirely not our original intention. Funny how real life happens that way, huh?

So, just what was our intention for those who may not remember or heck, even have cared? In our dream of dreams, it was to find a gem. A diamond in the rough, if you will. Yes, we had some very specific ideas in our head of what that might look like – lots of glass, light, built in the 60s, maybe, mid-centuryish, clean lines, something that was cheap enough to take and make our own. That was, well, as I just mentioned – our dream of dreams. The flip side – and this is where Jeff and I didn’t always agree – was that I’ve always personally really liked ranch-style homes – if not built in the 60s, then the 50s could work, too. (Jeff’s issue with many ranches was their long, narrow, closed in-feeling.)

One night several months ago when we were really searching, Jeff came across a home in Dunthorpe, which we’ll just call a very beautiful and very expensive neighborhood of Portland, just outside of Lake Oswego. In fact, this is a neighborhood that operates its own very small, “public” (read: basically private) school district where like some 158 percent of kids who graduate from the high school become president of the United States. Okay, clearly, not really – but you get the point.

Anyhooskie, when Jeff first saw it, the home was listed as a foreclosure with very few pictures, but from what we could see of it…wow. The whole front was glass with huge deck with views of Mount Hood. Built in the 60s, it was unique for sure and definitely looked like it had potential. We wondered: could this be our diamond in the rough? The lot was half an acre, but seemed in need of some TLC. Shortly afterward, the house disappeared from online listings until it later reappeared, but not on traditional sites like Redfin. You had to really search for it. The house was dirt cheap for Dunthorpe. There definitely seemed to be some sort of story there. We – and I must say, Jeff in particular – were so curious/interested that we drove by a couple of times. There was some visible damage to the garage, and one time, some youngish looking men out on the deck…renters…maybe?? It was like our intriguing mystery house. Finally, we had our agent find out about it. That’s when we learned that the house was in such disrepair, apparently, that the listing agent said it would be difficult to get financing on it. After that, it was officially removed from the consideration list w/o a visit.

Believe it or not, I still peruse homes for sale on Redfin every now and then, mostly when I’m avoiding actually doing something productive at night. Plus, let’s face it – I happen to enjoy keeping an eye on the local housing market, and seeing what has happened (or not happened) with homes that were on the market when we were looking. Let’s just go ahead and call it what it is: a “hobby” of mine, shall we?

So, last night I’m doing a quick Redfin scan, which I can pretty much navigate with my eyes closed at this point and well, well, well, what do I come across? Yep! A brand new listing for our mystery house – all redone and looking like – not to mention listed at – a million bucks. Not only has the entire thing been renovated, but based on the 16 photos (no virtual tour – bummer!), it’s essentially the original vision in our heads come to life. On a house we had repeatedly eyed and then dismissed. In a school district that would have guaranteed Elena and Ian spots at Harvard before they graduated from elementary school. Oh man.

Given that this discovery was well past Jeff’s bedtime (and of course should have been well past mine), I sent him an email with the link; subject line:

You’ll want to check this out.

Now, as my oh-so-realistic husband reminded me, there’s about a .002 percent chance that this was actually a missed opportunity for us. One, someone likely paid cash for this house and then had the financing on hand to put Lord-only-knows how much money into it – though I’m confident they’ll be selling it in a jiffy at a nice profit. (Um yeah, so not even close to what we would have been able to do.) Two, besides all the cosmetic stuff, who knows how much extra they had to spend to fix all the structural issues. (Again, um yeah, unless we have some reserves in Switzerland we’re both unaware of, so not what we would have been able to do.)

Here’s where I feel compelled to add that this post is certainly not meant to sound ungrateful or regretful for the home that we did end up in, which was absolutely a wonderful choice for us after all was said and done. But hey, when you enjoy looking at, and dreaming of beautiful homes like I do, and you come across something like this (the listing says something about iPod system hook up in the surround sound for crying out loud!) after knowing what it was – well, it’s notable, that’s all. Even Jeff said he had a little twinge of something when he clicked on the link and saw which house it was…looking like – and selling for – a million bucks.

That, and if anyone ever sat around, as I know many people do, wondering what our dream, dream, dream home might look like – well, here it is. (Oh, and yes, I’m SO there if they have an open house.)

Now, for some closing trivia: What’s missing in this photo below? Right! It’s Melinda and Jeff with a glass of wine watching Mount Hood from their glass-enclosed living room at sunset while Elena and Ian frolic on the deck.


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