Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The History of Honey Hill Farm, Part 1

The story of Honey Hill Farm begins on Christmas Day, 2008. On that day, Debbie wrote an email to a complete stranger named Steven, and they started corresponding. By April, they were in love; by June, engaged and shopping for a house.

Good grief, did we look at houses! Debbie worked in Baltimore, MD and lived in Halethorpe, MD; Steve worked in Falls Church, VA, and lived in Crofton, MD. So we started with two circles on a map, each one about 30 miles in radius, centered on our jobs. We started looking for houses everywhere that the circles overlapped. We called this area "The Football".

We knew, going in, that we wanted to have some land. We weren't entirely sure how MUCH land, but we started at 1/2 acre and went up. We needed 3 bedrooms and 2 baths. We had to watch our budget, so we had an upper limit on our price. And experience taught us that houses built before 1960 were usually too short for Steve. In fact, our realtor, Chrissy, frequently previewed houses for us, and had a piece of PVC pipe 6-and-a-half feet tall with a tennis-ball "head" she called "Stick-Steve". It let her see which houses had doorways and stairwells that were too short.

After placing offers on 4 houses, and losing all 4, we began to worry. We had looked at nearly every house that approached our standards inside the Football, and it was worrisome. In short, the Football was BEAUTIFULLY defined on the map by where the kind of house we wanted, WASN'T. We had to expand the Football to 40 miles.

In early September, then, Steve was searching for new listings on We HIGHLY recommend Frankly--it gives the BEST view into the MLS database in the MD-VA area of any realty website. It's a little cryptic to use, but it has POWER that other sites don't.

There it was--5 bed, 3 bath, built in 1998, 6.31 acres, $289,000 (!), a short sale with a single bank. There was a house, a barn with a paddock, a chicken coop, and 5 acres in agriculture. Steve sent the link to Debbie, and said, "We have to see this. Now." We went that night, without our realtor.

And fell in love.

We called Chrissy and said, "We want this one. Get us in to see the interior tomorrow, please."

Wood and tile floors. Jacuzzi tub in the master bath. Huge kitchen (by our standards). Wrap-around deck. A FOOT of insulation in the attic. Double-hung, double-pane windows with vinyl frames. Oil heat, A/C, electric water and cooking. Fireplace.

We wrote a contract that night, and offered EVERYTHING we had: $350,000, with no contingencies.

Then, we waited.

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