Adventures In Housing, Take Two

So, I just found a new place to move into. Just like last year’s adventure, this spin around was every bit of a madcap little hunt for a house. It started out in late July. Poking around made it clear that real estate prices had dropped significantly in the past year. Instead of paying a very sizeable chunk of change for a two-bedroom house that was rented to us as a three-bedroom

(they called the living room a bedroom!), it occurred to Jay and I that this might be a good
time to look for a new place. At the end of July, we resolved to discover a place and move into our new home on August 31.

The first two weeks were frustrating, and turned up very little that seemed tempting or palatable. We thought about it, and decided that it would be really nice to live with a bunch of other people, so we decided to look for 5-6 bedroom homes. (There aren’t many 6 bedroom houses in the Bay Area!) We eventually found a place in Sunnyvale, right by Apple’s Cupertino headquarters, that looked like it was going to be perfect. Brand new,
never-been-lived-in, nice commute distance, spacious. Perfect. I ran back home after touring the place and posted pictures of the house online. I sent off a post to Craig’s List asking if anyone would like to room with us. I was expecting five or so replies; I got well over two dozen.

It became clear that we’d need to interview these folks for compatibility; we brought a number of them over and talked with them. Some were clearly not good fits, but there were a lot of very cool people. Unfortunately, we only had four slots open to make six of us, so we had to turn away some potentially cool roommates.

The day after I toured the place, we put down an $1000 “hold” check on the place. The lady told me that this gave us exclusive rights to take the place, if our forms cleared. I’d have 48 hours to back out. I asked her explicitly if that meant that I needed to have the forms in within 48 hours; she assured me that this was not the case. So we’re sending in the forms one-by-one as we finalize roommates. We pick out our sixth roommate three days after we had put in the forms and ask her to send in her info to the realtor. No response. We call the potential roommate. No call back. Ack! After another 48 hours, the roommate informs us that she’s changed her mind and can’t live with us. Eep. So we scramble and I find another cool person to take her place within 24 hours. The new person’s in process of faxing her stuff over to the realtor when I get called saying that the 48-hour deadline was the time in which we’d need to get our forms in and that indeed another person had marched in and put an $1000 hold on the place after our 48-hour timeline expired. Needless to say, I was not happy at this point. My mom (and some of my friends) suggested making calls with innuendo regarding reporting to the Better Business Bureau…but whatever.

So there I was; I had promised people that they’d be able to move in by the 2nd of September, which was less than a week away, and we had no place to live. I had to call all of them and tell them that our housing situation was in flux and that I could no longer guarantee them a place to live anywhere. They might be homeless. This was pretty hard to do; I had let them down.

Amazingly though, and some testament to the character of these people, all of them decided to rough it through together and collectively find another place ASAP. It was a beautiful bit of teamwork, with even poor Sheila way out in South Dakota emailing in pointers of potential places to check out. I took a day off from work to check out over half a dozen houses. None really seemed right to me though, which was frustrating. The next day, I decided to check out two of the houses that Sheila had emailed about, one of them in Woodside: further north than we had previously considered.

I wasn’t expecting to be driving up curvy mountain roads, but there I was, slicing through forest on my way up there. My eyebrows raised, I found the street, with driveways hundreds of feet from each other and forest all around. I found the address, drove in, and was amazed at what I saw: a two story high gigantic mountain retreat, overlooking most of Silicon Valley on a giant deck. The whole property is 3.5 acres of woods. (Hence “Woodside” I suppose!) Wow. And the mountain air was making me tingle. San Jose air just didn’t do it for me. I giggled. I was sold. It was a Friday and the landlord wanted to rent the place out that weekend.

That night I saw another house, and it was a very nice one, but I just couldn’t even compare it to the Woodside house. I scooted home and told all of my future housemates about it. They were all kind of skeptical, since it was further north than any had really been hoping for. On Saturday, though, they got to take a look in person or see the pictures I took of it. I frantically tried to get in touch with the landlord, but couldn’t reach her all day Saturday. I ended up leaving four messages on her machine. She called back on Sunday, having been out on Saturday, and was impressed by my earnestness at getting the place; she promised me over the phone that the place was ours if our credit checked out.

Monday morning, the 3rd, four of the five of us rode up there, signed the lease, paid checks, and got the keys. We also figured out who got which rooms, which, while tricky, ended up working out quite well for everyone. =) On Tuesday evening, the landlord called me to let me know our credit had passed. The place was now ours. Woohoo!

We’ll be having a housewarming party very soon. =) =)

The only downside of the place? No easy-to-get broadband service: we’re 300 feet too far away from the telephone company’s central office and Sprint MMDS is a few too many miles away. That leaves us with dialup (eep!), IDSL, or 2-way satellite. Of course, we
may just try to rig up our own 2.4GHz AirPort connection to a house down in the Valley that we’ve got line-of-sight to, but…we’ll see, won’t we? =)

At any rate, I’m housed! =)

David E. Weekly
155 Sunrise Dr.
Woodside, CA 94062