“You mean, it’s ours? It’s really ours?”
They were so excited. Even after I handed them the keys, they were slow to believe that the modest Spanish bungalow was now in their adoptive custody. Over the course of four exasperating months, we must have seen and dismissed close to a hundred homes. This one needed too much work. That one had a poor kitchen layout. Yet another sat on the “t” of a subdivision’s entrance: bad feng shui, or so I was told. Before the market skies parted and yielded the seventeen hundred square foot, clay tile miracle that appeared to have met extinction in their price range, our flagging spirits were all but ready to pack it in. The fated mid-April discovery saved them from another year of apartment living. A challenge, at best, with a ten year old daughter in tow, let alone with a half-baked bun in the oven.
“Can we go in,” the wife asked in a small, cautious voice.
“Of course,” I responded. “It’s your house, Liz, you can do whatever you please.”
She ignored my extended hand and engulfed me in a fierce hug. Her husband clasped my shoulder in a vice grip which betrayed an adolescence spent laboring on the family farm in Iowa. His curt nod spoke volumes.
“You’re welcome, Mel,” I replied.
“Thank you both for hanging in there. I know it hasn’t been easy, and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the patience and trust you’ve shown me. It’s been a tough slog, but I think we got it right.”
“Yes, we did,” Mel said, breaking his silence for the first and only time that morning.
“We would like to have you and your wife over as soon as we get settled,” Liz added.
“I’d like that,” I told her.
I meant it, too. I like just about every client I take on, but felt a special kinship with this couple for reasons that surpassed the extended time spent in each other’s company. After bidding the happy couple farewell, I glanced in the rear-view as I navigated my way down the tree-lined street. Instead of going inside, they remained rooted in place, holding hands and staring up at their new home.
I received a phone call from Liz this morning. Circumstances have it that Mel has been out of work for some time now. Another casualty of economic war. Unsure of what to do or where to go, their only readily apparent truth is that keeping the house is an impossibility at this point. Perhaps they'll move back to the Midwest, where Mel can look for a position on the farm. See just how much life is left in those old, gnarled hands.
This evening, I'll grab some Tums and make the long, short drive to the pleasant abode with the placard beside the front door that reads "Heltzer Residence: Est. 2005." I'll leave the reams of data indicating a value of 40% what they paid in the car. No sense in beating a dead house. We'll plant a sign in the front yard and add yet another chapter to the painful narration of the Greek tragedy that is post-bubble Phoenix Real Estate.
With an epilogue that is yet to be written, we soldier on.
*Names and specific circumstances altered for privacy purposes
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