On the Block: Is renting the key to happiness?

On the Block: Is renting the key to happiness?



So…Now Renting is the Key to Happiness?

Every self-help book touts a key to happiness. I say the key to happiness is flexibility, particularly when it comes to buying houses. It’s not as if I’m the first to say, “when one door closes, another opens.”

When I was pregnant with our second child, my husband and I scoured the neighborhoods we liked for months searching for the perfect house. We finally found an older house on a lovely tree-lined street where a median slowed traffic and provided a lovely park-like view from the front porch. It seemed perfect for our growing family with three bedrooms and a bath on the second floor and plenty of room to build a large kitchen addition.

We made an offer, which the owner verbally accepted with the line, “I am so happy you are buying the house, I really wanted a family here. Someone else made an offer but I want to sell it you because I am afraid she will just jeeter it up.” She agreed to sign the contract and return it to us.

We hired an architect to design an addition and applied for a loan (sure, it seems obvious NOW that after a week of putting us off we were being a bit optimistic about her commitment but she kept assuring us that she would get the contract to us, “don’t worry”). The bank wouldn’t move forward without a signed contract (again, obviously) so we pressured her. Actually, I ambushed her at her workplace. She confessed that she had sold the house to the “jeeter it up” competition for $2000 more than we had offered.

We were heartbroken. We wept. (Well, I did.) Later we found out that the main joist of the house was not attached at either end and the upstairs supports were for some reason not tied into the exterior walls which were in danger of collapsing. In fact, one person who worked on the house said he couldn’t believe it was still standing. The people who bought the house from the jeeters have spent two years working on the house and have evidently spent about $150,000 on repairs.

Meanwhile, less than a month after our deal fell apart we found a much nicer house, which cost less and needed much less work. We were able to move in before the baby was born, which we certainly would not have been able to do if we had bought that OTHER house.

It took a while, but eventually we decided to be grateful that an angel disguised as a greedy bitch shut the door on that particular house.

Now it may be more important than ever to be flexible about real estate. Last week one realtor told me that he advised his clients to take their houses off the market until February. This may not tell the whole story, but it does appear that, for the short term anyway, there may be fewer houses on the market.

Fear of committing in a time of economic uncertainty or a desire for something different without the conviction for the commitment of a mortgage makes renting a tempting option. Particularly when given the option to rent an awarding-winning house that was featured on HGTV and will most likely not be offered for sale anytime soon, if ever.

Chesney Turner moved into town from the house which sits on twenty acres near Sadieville in Scott County when her teenage son and daughter, who are “very social,” no longer liked living so far from the things they like to do. She loves the house so she doesn’t want to sell it but wants someone to use it and take care of it until she moves back or converts it to a retreat.

The house, designed by Scott Guyon, won the Award of Design Excellence from the American Institute of Architects/Kentucky Society in 1998 and was featured on HGTV’s Homes Across America.

Guyon describes the house as a “structure reminiscent of the ‘dogtrot’ house that can be found throughout Kentucky and neighboring states. The house is made up of two separate sections under one roof with a five-foot wide dogtrot opening between them.”

One section holds only one room; stained concrete floors and cedar siding warm the 20 X 30 foot room. Birch cabinets and kitchen appliances line the back wall while the opposite wall provides warmth in the form of a fieldstone fireplace. Windows offer views of the woods that lead to a Native American burial ground just beyond the boundary of the property.

The other half of the house is divided into four bedrooms, all of which also have fabulous views of the woods and beyond.

For a would-be homebuyer who either isn’t finding what he desires, or wants to get his feet wet without committing to jumping all the way in, renting this house could be the opening of a door. For anyone who might like to live in the country or in a contemporary award-winning architect-designed home, this stunning house, with its rural setting, offers the ultimate opportunity to try on a lifestyle.


FOR RENT 10.11.2001:

875 Burgess Smith Road

$890/month six-month or one year lease

20 wooded acres

1600 Square feet

4 bedroom; 2 bath