Found In the Woods

June 18, 2010

Movin’ on up, to Brookeville, Part 1

Filed under: Blogging — bsullivan @ 3:17 pm

Most of you are aware that we have moved. Then again I don’t really know who the audience here really is, so let’s assume that all my wonderful friends and family are tuned into this blog, awaiting each post with bated breath. Sound good? April 15, nigh eight years to the day we moved into our first house on Thornden Rd., we left Rockville for the town of Brookeville, MD which is about 20 minutes to the North via Rt. 28 & 97. Kris in particular had been looking for houses avidly on Redfin and other real estate sites. She pored over listings, checking a few times a day for months, looking for possible places for us to relocate to. The whole thing happened so fast and furious and we’re so thankful that we came out on the other side nearly unscathed.

Rockville had gotten a bit to clogged for us. The city is growing and traffic in and around just keeps getting worse. Intersections that several years ago were just a bit difficult are now nightmares most rush hours. Our neighborhood saw more traffic and the overall flavor of the area just didn’t appeal to us. We had done research on the elementary school and made the decision years ago to find a new one for our kids. It just didn’t match up with what our expectations were and what our own personal ideas were for where our kids would have their education. We decided a few years back to send them to Oakdale Christian Academy for preschool & kindergarten which worked out nicely because it gave us a rough time frame to consider moving. And now, the time had come. There were also some wonderful tax incentives being offered which we knew would expire soon if we didn’t take advantage of them and that turned into a big motivator for us too.

Our decision was guided by a few factors. Schools, housing costs, neighborhood, accessibility to name a few. We discussed moving to places as far away as California and as near as elsewhere in Rockville. Ideas of moving up to New England or Delaware didn’t pan out after we realized the complications with family proximity (we want to stay near our folks, who are mainly in the DC area) and house values. Also, job markets haven’t been to hot lately so that was unappealing to me particularly since I have an excellent job which I’ve been at for over twelve years. (for those of you keeping score, that’s more than a third of my life) We couldn’t really afford to move into Potomac, which was also high on our list. Despite housing prices coming down quite a bit the P-mac market stayed relatively out of our range. Virginia was also an option but that was the opposite direction of our friends and family. Moving up Rt. 270 also was an option, but the idea of moving into one of the really crowded neighborhoods along the exploding corridor didn’t appeal to us. I also didn’t want to move WAY up North to, say, Frederick county.

Olney/Brookeville appealed to us in many ways. The land out there is underdeveloped. There are still working farms out there (yes, a few dairy, but mostly turf, but hey! I’ll take what I can get) with just incredible amounts of park land and opportunities for exploration. The schools are great, the neighborhoods are bursting with children and the area overall is very friendly. There’s a laid-back feel to the area that many of the other nearby towns don’t have. Olney/Brookeville is isolated  – it’s sort of in the middle of a triangle between 270/495/29. It has proximity to DC/Frederick/Columbia in different ways. It sort of leans in a few different directions, which means it offers opportunity for work and commuting. (more on this in a later blog post) The houses are relatively new (aside from the ancient farmhouses dotting the area), infrastructure is good, cost is reasonable for the region and when were looking the market was favorable for us. It also allowed us to keep decent proximity to our family and friends in the area which we really liked. So this became our target.

Selling our house was a rough process to begin. I have to be honest, Kris really fronted this effort from the getgo. She lit the fire under my ass to get the house sold, she had the get-up-and-go to start things moving and then keep them rolling. All of the years of watching home improvement shows on TV was about to pay off. Like a force to be reckoned with she swept through the house, planning out a course of attack for each room and area. What was going to stay, what would go into storage (thanks Mom & Dad!), what needed repainting, what needed removal, what needed dressing-up, and so on. She had a really good eye for staging the house and set about doing so in as much of a frugal manner as was possible and what a job she did. In a period of a few weeks she had the house read to go on the market. And so we did.

Our realtor, Beth League, was a client of Kris’. She had cared for Beth’s father and they had forged a friendship over the time she worked with him. Beth was wonderful from the get-go. She really helped us take baby steps from the beginning and not get overwhelmed with the process as a whole. She started by outlining the rules of the game, talking about how things work and explaining what we could and couldn’t do. I fired a ton of questions at Beth and she was able to give me good answers across the board, something that is important to me. If someone who is in a service position blows me off I tend to do the same to them. It’s not worth wasting my time unless it’s a very special person. She did a great job and maintained that throughout our time working with her. We filled out a lot of paperwork, got the house listed and went to bed. Mind you this was right in the midst of what would be dubbed the “snowpocalypse” when we received over 2′ of snow! Our house wasn’t exactly “show quality” at that point. The trees were bent, there was an 8′ high pile of snow at the base of the driveway alone. You could hardly see the place from the street! Ice everywhere, pathways carved out of snow around the house, sore backs and worn-out lungs. But, the inside of the house was immaculate.

Maggie had moved out weeks before to keep hair & dust down. We were on high alert. A regimen of cleaning up dishes quickly, vacuuming, neatness, care and upkeep was the norm. We had just got used to it. So when the snow storm came right when we planned to list the house it was kind of a bummer for us. We had to push it back a couple days which was a bummer since we were so jazzed to get going, but we pressed on and the house went live on Wednesday night. The call came in on Thursday morning that we had got an offer. And it was a good offer. We scheduled time with Beth to go house hunting in the snow on Saturday and to sit down with the seller’s agent on Friday evening to review the contract. It was happening so fast. After reviewing the contract, we really felt good about it and we were ready. All the stars were aligning, now we just needed a house to move into.