Friday, October 5, 2012


Hi. I’m Gina.

I don't always look that mad! Promise!

And this… “Scarlett”.

Yes, Scarlett is a house. Technically, according to the realtor’s description, Scarlett is a “Southern Antebellum home circa 1850”. Since I am now Scarlett’s caretaker, it’s my job to tell you her story. She’s had a century and a half to develop some interesting history....births and deaths…marriages and funerals…tears and laughter. A lot of history has happened within her rooms and outside her front door. She survived Sherman’s March to the Sea while many of her counterparts burned. She is a symbol of a heritage we’ve lost. She’s fallen into disrepair and then was lovingly restored and updated. There have been many lives led here under her roof by many previous owners. It’s my job to tell you Scarlett’s story and maybe a bit of the known history of the people who have resided here and the local area. Hmmm…maybe I better start from the beginning. Let me explain…

In the Fall of 2011 after FINALLY selling off a rental property (AFTER 3 LONG YEARS ON THE MARKET!!!! Bygones.), I happened to see this house on a real estate site. I wasn’t looking for it on purpose! I swear! I have a bad habit of cruising the MLS listings when I’m bored. Normally, this is not a problem. This particular time, it became a problem. A 4,000 Square foot problem. I saw this place…and I was IN LOVE. Not little bitty puppy dog love. It was big time love. Picking out china patterns/booking the venue love. The house just kind of “spoke” to me. There was something very dignified and very “Old South” about it. At the time, the house was out of our price range. WAY out of it. We weren’t happy in our current house at the time due to a gun-happy neighbor who seemed to feel the need to reenact the Civil War 6 days a week from 8:00 am to about 5:00 pm. We will refer to him as “Shooter” from here on out. My husband Vince…

This is Vince…

Hangin' ten in Hawaii! Life's hard.

Hi Vince!

….hated Shooter. See, Vince works from home and Shooters endless shooting was causing Vince to have a shooting headache. Vince wanted to shoot Shooter. This was not good. So, we had discussed buying another house and getting out of the town we were in. Vince and I had talked about it at length and decided that we didn’t want to get a mortgage for much more than our current home. The housing market in our area (and around the country) was in really bad shape. Lots of home foreclosures, lots of homes for sale. No one buying….or no one able to buy….or both. We figured at the mark we'd chosen, we’d still be able to make the mortgage payment and eat if one of us lost our jobs. Eating is important. We do a lot of it around here….but more on that later! We had not intended to begin looking for another house until we had paid off a few bills. Financially, we were fine. Both of us had good jobs, a small business on the rise, and a rental property with paying renters. However, we wanted to be a little more settled with a bit more cash in the bank and a few less debts. Then, I began to watch that listing price drop. I’d check it every few days….then every day….and the price was dropping. Suddenly, it popped up at a price we could afford with a “motivated seller.” Suddenly Vince and I BOTH were interested. We had a pretty hard and fast list of “must haves”…and this house had them ALL. Every one. Fireplaces? Check. Horse fencing and a barn? Check. DSL for Vince’s job? Check. A garage? Check. A kitchen that was functional? Check. Could we get a mortgage for that much? Could we undertake one more move? Could we seriously be considering a 161 year old house? We must be NUTS. Then, we decided to go take a look at the place. We knew pretty well from vast experience that there is “real life” and there is “realtors world” which are two very different places. For example: in “realtors world” a “future pond site”….in “real world” a decent sized low place that only holds water when it rains for a week. “Horse ready” in realtors world means that in reality there are portions of what is probably 40 year old barbed wire that MIGHT keep a lazy unimaginative horse in the general area. “Waterfront” means that there is part of a swamp on the property. Yeah, we’ve been there. Call us jaded.

I won’t bore you here with all the minute details about negotiations (yes, there is a recession going on. You cannot refuse to participate), Home owners insurance (yes, I have every intention of burning this gorgeous old home to the ground. Idiots.), inspections (it’s a 161 year old house. Let’s see how good YOU look after 161 years), VA appraisers who hate us (I’m positive of it. There are no comps?? Ya think??), and lenders who think we're off our rockers, and my desperate attempts to save original windows….cause I’m apparently insane. And lead paint! OY! Lead paint! That’s another story for another time!

What? You thought buying an old home was going to be a walk in the park? Yeah, I did too.