Long-term renters make triumphant return to homeownership

2013-11-30T09:00:00Z Long-term renters make triumphant return to homeownershipMichelle Krueger Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
November 30, 2013 9:00 am  • 

Some things are just meant to be.

When her husband retired from the US Army in 2005, Robin Reed and her family were looking forward to settling into a new routine and a new home in Fort Knox, Kentucky.

“It was time. After 22 years of life in the military, we needed our own place. We purchased a home, but then my husband couldn’t find a job nearby,” she recalled. “When he was offered a job at US Steel in Portage, it was a very difficult time to sell. We made what we thought was the right choice at the time. The kids and I were going to stay put in Kentucky until we could sell the house.”

For the next 10 months, the Reed family traveled to and from their home in Kentucky and an apartment in Michigan City.

“At that point, we all wanted to be together again,” Robin added. “It was just too far. When you travel around with the military, you never really feel at home anywhere. Now we knew that we just had to be together for it to feel like home. We found a great apartment in the back corner at the Hills of Aberdeen on Marcliffe Drive in Valparaiso. It was on the ninth green of the golf course in a nice, well-kept complex with a pool and workout center. It was perfect for us at the time.”

By the time the Kentucky house finally sold, the Reeds weren’t quite ready to buy right away.

“When the economy was so bad, it really soured our taste of the housing market,” Robin explained. “We were afraid to buy, so we just saved the money for a while. My husband was oversees - in Saudi Arabia - with a government contractor at the time, and when he returned he was pushing and pushing to buy. At that point our youngest was starting to look at colleges, and in the end, we agreed to start looking at homes because we wanted her and her sisters – now ages 29, 23 and 18 - to feel like they will always have a home where their parents are.”

So last January and February, the Reeds started looking at homes in Valparaiso with a realtor. As a home-based business owner, Robin’s primary concern was finding a finished basement where she could leave tables and chairs set up for Stampin’ Up! demonstrations, as well as a separate home office.

“We looked at pretty much everything that met our criteria in our price range,” Robin said. “My husband kept a notebook with all the details. There was one house on Flint Lake that we really loved, but it just didn’t work out. Valparaiso was an absolute must for our high school student, and we couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. The schools are excellent, and it has such a quaint downtown with great cafes and shops. My husband comes from a really small coal-mining town in West Virginia, and I’m from the city (Alexandria, VA) so I appreciate all the energy. Every time I drive through town I just get a smile on my face. I can’t imagine living anywhere else.”

After continuing to look at homes on and off for the next couple of months, the Reed’s realtor suggested they consider a home that was under construction and in their price range. Located in Mistwood, the Riverton by Olthof Homes quickly won Robin’s husband over, but she wasn’t so easily swayed – the basement wasn’t going to be finished, and their budget wouldn’t allow for it to be done right away.

“Seriously, my husband was sold the minute we got out of the car. The neighborhood was definitely great – it’s just a few minutes from town, but very quiet and really beautiful,” she explained. “I definitely tried to keep an open mind when we walked through since it wasn’t complete.”

According to Robin, thoughts about the house started keeping her up at night, and she made frequent visits to Mistwood, asking Jodi Gheaja, the onsite Olthof Homes Sales Consultant, if she could walk through the model home one more time.

“The next time we went through the Riverton, I started planning out how I could make the basement work, and, by the third time, I knew I could make it work,” she added. “With four bedrooms and two and a half baths, there was plenty of space to work with. Plus, there was definitely something appealing about that soaking tub and shower in the master bath.”

It wasn’t long before the Reeds were settled in their new home.

“I love being five minutes from everything,” Robin said. “To be really honest, I was nervous about the trains. Maybe it’s because we spent so much time on military bases, but we don’t even hear them. Not long after we moved in, one of our daughters and her boyfriend decided to move back home from Omaha, so we’re glad we have plenty of space to help them out until they get settled. Now, having us all in this house makes me realize how miserable we were before. The whole dynamic of apartment life just wears thin after a while. You don’t even realize it until you actually have a place of your own.”

Beyond that, the Reeds’ story is truly one that reminds us of how timing is everything. Shortly after getting settled into their new home and reunited with their daughter, Robin’s husband was diagnosed with cancer.

“It was a rough time for all of us, the treatments were very difficult for him,” Robin explained. “In all honesty, I think he was able to make such a great recovery because he was so comfortable in his home with his family around him. I don’t know if that would have been the case in the apartment. I’m so thankful everything worked out the way it did with this house. We are finally home.”

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