Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Origins of My Cottage

My story begins five months ago as I watched my relationship with my boyfriend of 8+ years crumble right before my eyes. It was one of those situations where you think that with enough time the guy will realize that marriage isn't the end of the world and that marrying you will be the best decision of his life. Needless to say, it was definitely an embarrasing blow to me when I realized that no amount of time in the world could change the fact that my ex and I wanted two different things and that it just wasn't going to work out. To say I was crushed is an understatement.

Like most modern couples we had been living together for several years. I probably don't even have to say that this made our break-up about ten times worse especially when it came to deciding who would move out, who would take what, etc. Neither of us could afford to stay in the house by ourselves so the question arose of who would be moving out. Seeing as I owned most of the furniture and all of my family lives out of state we decided it would be best for him to move out and stay with his parents until he found his own place. I was able to cut a deal with my extremely understanding landlord to stay in the rental for a few extra months at a slightly discounted rent while I also began the search for a new place to live.

Based on the current economy it seemed that renting another place, while not of the question, would be a waste of money and resources. Why give my money to someone else every month when I am living in a buyer's market and the real estate in Atlanta is so affordable? Not to mention that finding something safe and decent in the city would cost just about as much as I would pay in a mortgage payment if I found something decently priced. So, with that in mind and the help of one of my co-workers I found a local realtor and began my search around the Decatur and East Atlanta area. I didn't have the biggest budget--especially being on my own--so I was a bit disheartened when I started looking and realized I may be relegated to the world of condos and townhomes rather than the perfect little house I had dreamed of to begin my first foray into property ownership. Not that there is anything wrong with condos or townhomes--there were many things that appealed to me about owning something attached. For instance, no yard work, an instant community of people, saftey, etc. I just ultimately realized that I wasn't a townhome or condo kind of girl. But after a few weeks of hunting I had accepted the fact that a condo may be the only thing available to me at my price range in a safe neighborhood. I was disappointed but decided I would keep searching the house listings on the MLS every day just in case my perfect little house would pop up.

The day I got lucky was a Saturday and I had finally found some houses that looked decent, were in my price range, and were in relatively safe areas. At this point I had been looking at places for several weeks and had almost convinced myself that I could live in a condo and be okay with it so I was prepared to be disappointed by the houses I saw and move on. The first stop of the morning was a loft in one of those old converted school buildings. It was cute, and I loved the concept--it even had the old blackboard still on the wall--but I wasn't super in love. It seemed the day was going to be like every other trip I had made so far where I would find myself liking a place but not absolutely loving it. As we pulled up to the first house on my list I readied myself to be disappointed. Sure it looked cute on the outside, but certainly the inside was a mess and there would be a thousand things that needed to be fixed. You can imagine my surprise when I walked in and immediately fell in love. The house had everything I was looking for--2 bedrooms, a remodeled bath and kitchen, a separate laundry room, dining room, living room, and even an extra room that could be used as an office space. I knew it was perfect but decided to press on and look at the rest of the houses on my list for the day. It was no surprise to me that all of them were exactly what I was expecting when I began the day--complete disasters. After talking with my loan officer at the bank, I made an offer on what was to become my cute little cottage the next day. Within 48 hours the selller had accepted my offer. Life was good...or so one would think.
As my luck would have it, I fell in love with a house that was being offered as a short sale which means a great price for me but a potentially a long wait for the seller's bank to approve the sale if they even decided to accept the offer at all. Although I knew it was risky I felt pretty confident with my offer (I was willing to pay the full asking price) and trusted my realtor when she told me she felt everything would work out okay. We began process in November of 2010 and I knew I had some time before I had to be out of my rental in February 2011. As long as the sale was approved within 3 months I would be fine.

Of course once I started the process and began to talk to people about it I heard all the horror stories--people waiting months only to getting rejected, people waiting months and not hearing anything at all--and all I could do was wait. Luckily I am a very patient person. Let's remember I waited 8+ years for a guy to propose to me, what was 3 months for a house? As it turned out my realtor was right and everything went perfectly. My short sale was approved right after my 29th birthday at the end of January 2011. I closed on February 11th and moved in the following week.

Since move-in I have completed a lot of projects. Some of my first posts will be recounting those projects to get up to speed but then I hope to be writing about all the projects I will be working on, posting before and after pictures, etc. I am really enjoying the new house and am looking forward to beginning my new life in it (I've been calling it Operation Freedom 2011).

So that's the story of how I came across my "cottage," and I'll leave you with a photo and the assurance that there will be plenty more to come!


  1. Ashley, this is wonderful!!! I love it! You are a great writer and I look forward to reading more from Operation Freedom!! Your house is adorable. Congratulations!!

  2. Congrats on the house again! I'm glad to see you've gotten all moved in. It's always a little overwhelming when you get your first place. Just make sure you get insurance and not a warranty like I did. The warranty just covers appliances which is only useful if they are old. FYI... Replacing doors is EXPENSIVE! Can't wait to read the next installment!