I’m taking this morning to take a breath from all the business of our summer season. We have interns and teams that have been with us over the last 4 weeks and will be for another 3. It has been crazy. Super. Duper. Awesome. Crazy.
The other situation that has added to the craziness is the fact that Michelle (mostly her) and I have been packing up our apartment getting ready to move out to a new house. Exciting, right? Kind of. There is one thing missing from the excitement. A new house. We are moving out of our apartment, but we have been unable to buy a house yet. And as of early July, our mailing address will be a PO box.
So why move out?
That’s a long story. But I think it’s time to tell it. I’m going to try to make this brief and just stick to details. History says that I won’t be able to accomplish that though! Perhaps you should grab a coffee? Or print this out and read it the next time you go for a long sit down in the bathroom?
Just over a year ago I decided to see how much houses cost in our area. Someone had told me that they were very expensive, and I wanted to see just how much. And I found out that the houses in our area, while possibly a little more expensive than some other areas of Houston, were actually a LOT cheaper than the market we had left in Alberta. I then did the math on how much a mortgage would cost us compared to rent and saw that it would be a LOT less of a monthly expense to own a house. Intriguing.
But as we discussed the possibilities of purchasing, it became obvious that we would not be approved since we had only been in the USA for a year and self-employed for a little longer than that. To be approved for a mortgage we would need more time showing that we had the ability to earn money.
At that time we also were discussing if we would still be in Texas in a year. It’s not that we wanted to leave, but we had come down saying that our commitment to our work was “2 years to life.” Two years were going to be up in 2013.
We prayed about the whole situation and felt total peace that we would be sticking around in Texas for at least another two years after 2013. We then prayed about the possibility of purchasing a house in 2013 and felt the same peace. The decision was made, we were going to attempt to purchase a house in the spring of 2013 since our lease was going to be up in the early summer!
The criteria for us to be able to purchase were simple:
- something we could afford. And by “afford”, we didn’t mean the biggest house we could get approved for. The price of the house had to be low enough that we would actually be paying less in mortgage than we were in rent.
- 4 bedrooms. This may seem silly, but there are no basements here. And our kids are getting to the point in their ages that they need some privacy
- in the same school zone. We watched how our kids handled the move from Canada to the US, and it was tough for some of them to make friends. Emotionally they didn’t heal for a whole year. We weren’t prepared to make them change schools so quickly.
Because of my obsessive research desire before making a big decision, I started to look at the specific areas in our school district to see what we could afford. There were certain areas where the houses were well within our price range. So we just watched. There were always a couple houses available in our price range and they didn’t sell quickly. (Note, this is an important fact to remember for later on in the story.)
During the year of watching, Michelle and I also went through times of doubt. Should we really purchase a house? Especially in that area? Shouldn’t we be better examples of disciples of Jesus and move into a much more impoverished area? Something more low income and filled with the peoples we work with? We prayed a lot about this. Trust me. But we couldn’t shake the feeling that we were allowed to do this. So we stayed focused on the criteria.
Once 2013 came, I started talking to a mortgage broker and real estate agent. I found out what kind of timelines we would be looking at between offer and closing. All of this information led us to decide that we would not officially start looking to purchase a house until April 1. Any earlier than that and we would find ourselves taking possession of our new house while still holding onto the lease for our apartment. We didn’t want to have mortgage AND rent to pay.
And we waited for April 1. That was tough, because in the couple weeks leading up to the date, there were two different houses available. One of them we had been told about by a friend. And it fit all the criteria: area, price and rooms. But it wasn’t April 1. The other house was one we had actually been watching for a whole year. It was on the market in 2012, went off, then came back on in late 2012/early 2013 with a bunch of renos done. Could this be “our” house? It seemed so perfect! Either of them just had to be available on April 1.
Both of them sold the week before. It hurt a bit, but we were proud that we stuck to our decision on the date. We did not want to get ahead of the process and put ourselves in a bad situation. And anyways, there was plenty of time. We hoped to take possession of a property in late May, right before all of the interns and teams started coming in. It was a perfect plan! Take possession, move out of our apartment and then be able to focus fully on our work.
In fact, we were so confident in a house being available, that we gave our apartment management the required 60 days notice of us moving out when our lease expired in early July. There was no turning back after this!
The plan didn’t happen. Typical, right? The Diks family makes plans for a house and they don’t happen. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to have a house drama. Again. And again.
Since April 1, there have been exactly 3 properties come on the market that fit our criteria. And in reality, it was only 2. The third we went and looked at to see if it was over priced. We felt it was and our agent agreed. Turns out it wasn’t so much.
You see, since early April, the Houston and Sugar Land area has been experiencing the hottest house selling market in their history. There are very few houses coming on the market, which isn’t a good thing since there are so many people looking to buy. Every house that comes on that is any good will have multiple offers within in a day. And any offer that wants to be considered better be significantly over the asking price.
We’ve actually made offers on two properties. The first we offered full price and ended up not even being close to be accepted. The second property we offered quite a bit over the asking (in our minds at least) AND wrote a heartfelt letter about our situation hoping that the sellers would choose us. They didn’t.
Our emotions have been all over the map during this. “Why is this happening, again?” “Why can’t we just do something with a house that isn’t dramatic?” We’ve done a lot of prayer and trying to listen to God, and frankly it feels like He has been very silent with us. So I’ve been asking Him if I have done something to offend and cause Him to hold back provision. “Show me my sin so I can repent and restore your provision, please!” But there have been no answers.
Michelle and I have looked at our criteria over, and over, and over again. Perhaps we are being too greedy? Too selfish? Maybe we should just follow what many people have told us and just move to a different area, even though there really aren’t any properties in other areas.
But to sum it all up, this is what we’ve decided.
- We believe that God told us we can, and will purchase a house in the area to allow our kids to maintain their friends. We don’t believe we heard Him wrong or He has changed His mind. The kids have worked for and earned amazing opportunities in the upcoming school year. We do not believe God is going to take those away from them.
- We believe that God is fully aware of the pain and frustration we are going through. But He has a much better plan working that we just can’t understand. The pain will be worth it.
- We believe that God is fully capable of providing a house “at the last minute”. Only for Him it will be “on time.” We believe this because He has shown Himself to be faithful in all previous times of waiting for provision. What He has done in the past, He will do in the present and in the future. The crazy market in Houston is not too big of an obstacle for Him to over come. In fact, this will give HIM greater glory when HE comes through.
So we are moving out of our apartment, leaving tomorrow f0r Canada to visit friends and family and returning to Houston with no place to live. Somewhere in that time, God will provide a house.
(Interesting thought. We’ve actually been in a situation like this in the past. We offered on our first house in Calgary and then left for a vacation in the US the next day. Our agent at the time was freaking out trying to get a hold of us while we traveled since we needed to continue bartering on the price. But we ended up buying our first house in Calgary while being in the US. Could we end up doing something similar tomorrow? Thankfully, we are in the cell phone era now so our agent can find us easier!)
(addition to that interesting thought. At that time, Michelle was 7 months pregnant. This time she is not. We are happy for the difference.)
Don’t worry, we will have places to sleep. It’s not ideal, but I will be able to hang out with my interns since I am coming back earlier than Michelle and the kids. And when they return, we will have some apartments from the summer teams that we can sleep in. Not our favourite option, but it is something.
Thanks to all who have been praying for us in this time. We know we are close to seeing the miracle. We’re tired of waiting, but we thought we were done over a month ago and have made it to now.
It’s going to happen. We’re looking forward to giving the 2nd part of this story sometime soon.