Home of the Speckhals Family

As of last Friday at around 6:00pm, Andrea and I officially own our first home!  I don’t think that I realized how much was involved, but I am extremely happy with the responsibility we have been blessed with.  We even had a few visitors to: our friend, Salome, from Switzerland, visited last week, and helped A LOT with packing; then, my family came two days after we moved, and helped tremendously with hanging pictures, putting up blinds, and unpacking.  Andrea can tell the rest of the story sometime in the next week…

Anyways, I wanted to share with everyone a few things that I really enjoy about the new house

Sunsets from the back porch (and better yet, sunrises...but no pictures of that yet)
A light post in the front
Someplace to put a grill

And other things, including:

  • A room for the baby
  • New neighbors to get to know
  • Somewhere to spend time outside
  • A nice place to invite friends for dinner
  • A spare room for visiting family and friends
  • The sound of crickets at night instead of cars
We look forward to making many good memories here!

All of the Change

I could say that we are busy–but if you know me at all, I never like to admit that Andrea and I are busy.  I could be wrong here–and I’m not trying to be dogmatic–but I have noticed that people who are truly busy never go around saying how busy they are.  I never hear my pastor saying, “Oh, I’m just so busy!  I don’t have time to do anything!”  And I know that he is one of the busier people that I know.  So, it’s hard for me to confess business…

A baby is on the way, due on February 6th, and we are overjoyed and blessed to have this responsibility to raise a child for God.  Summer at church has been full of our camp, Vacation Bible School, and a blossoming bus ministry, all of which we love serving in.  Along with the baby, which will change our way of life completely, we have been in the midst of another huge change.

It all started in 2008, when the bottom started to fall out from under the housing market, which caused housing prices to drop dramatically.  Two years ago, soon after we were married, we moved into a beautiful apartment right on the main drag in Red Lion, PA.  We could never complain about how nice it has been for us.  We created a multitude of memories here, and it has always been more than we thought we deserved.

Earlier this year, I started to get curious about actually purchasing a home.  We then started to save at or above half of what we make for whatever God might have us do with it–whether it be a home, or vehicle, or something else.  I talked to my parents and many others about what our options might be with buying a home and what we could responsibly afford.  Starting in May, I began to gather every last bit of personal financial information I could find to begin the pre-approval process.  We waited several weeks; then sat on it, took a deep breath, and observed what we could and could not do.  In early June, I was convinced that we would wait for another year or so.

Camp was coming in a little over a week.  The mortgage company that we were dealing with called and said that we were “pre-approved” for a certain amount, and the interest rate was actually much better than I expected.  I began to look intently at neighborhoods that would like, and then specifically at houses–and without a real estate agent: we did not feel quite ready for an agent yet.  In late June, just before camp, my parents came to bring Adam and Catie (my brother and sister) to camp.  Just after church and bus Sunday afternoon, they said, “Hey, let’s go look at houses.”  So we piled into the car and left.  I had neighborhoods that I liked, but nothing particular in mind.

We came to a brand new neighborhood about a mile and a half from where we live now.  There was a model home open as well.  We went into the beautiful home, of course knowing we could never afford it.  The neighborhood manager that worked for the builder told us the price range for it, which was less than I expected, but still well out of my range.  Then, he told us of a house just across the road that had been custom built by someone, but in the end, that person ended up not purchasing the house.  It was close to perfect from the moment we stepped in.  My parents even said that the styling of it is very “Dustin and Andrea.”  The manager told me the price, which was still out of my range, but fairly close to what we could afford.  He then said the magic words, “We really want to sell this house.  I’m willing to take any reasonable offer, especially if you can close within a month or two.”  Hey, that was us!  Our lease expires on our apartment, we have no property to sell or other contingencies.  If we can get the price within our range, we could definitely do this.

Well, camp started the next day–all day and night every day for the next week.  That was a perfect time for me to take a step back, think, pray, and get advice if this was the right path and right timing for us.  I was sure that it was.  I called the builder on Wednesday of camp, and told him that I wanted to meet with him and make an offer right after we get back–two hours after we got back home, in fact.

So I wrote up the proposal (I wanted them to build a deck and get us a refrigerator as well, on top of our price).  I wasn’t really low-balling either–reasonable is the word.  We met with the builders, handed them our proposal, and then I expected to wait over the weekend before they countered.  Nope.  She called her manager right there, and five minutes later, they had a counter proposal, and still with the 10 foot by 10 foot deck and refrigerator!  And only $5,000 more than we had offered!  I came back $2,500 less right there.  She called her manager again, and a couple minutes later, they were $2,000 above my proposal, and still with the added things.  Then we left.  Just for 15 minutes though!  We wanted to take one more look at the house.  We still loved it.

We came back, I gave her a nice little speech about compromise, and we ended up settling right in the middle, still with the two things that I wanted as well.  It was all done in an hour: offer, counter-offer, counter-offer, counter-offer, sign papers, make a deposit, done.  We had a tentative closing date of August 10th!

Now, over the last month, we have jumped through all of the financing hoops, and now, as of last Wednesday, our loan is approved with contingencies. (They still want to see that we have the cash for closing, as well as one clarification on tithing, of all things!  They thought it was undeclared debt at first –well it kind of is!)  So, as of now, the only thing left is to pack, close, and move.  I have a few pictures below.  We will have more as we start to make this house our home in less than two weeks!

The front of the house.
The kitchen, and part of the dining area.
View from the back, looking out into the PA countryside
Looking out the back from the living room area.