By Chaney Barton-Nichols

At the end of last year, my husband and I bought the first home that we visited in person.  You could say I have always had a knack for “love at first sight.”  For example, the wedding dress I wore when I got married happened to be the first wedding dress I tried on.  I didn’t expect to fall in love with the first house we toured with our realtor – but that’s what happened.  Officially on October 26, 2016, we secured our 30-year fixed-rate mortgage at 3.5% – just days before rates went up sharply.  I wish I could take credit for making the savvy move of locking in our rate pre-election, but the truth is, in the fog of buying our first home and turning our entire life as we knew it upside down, it was just another form to sign on a long list.  We were fortunate to have trustworthy people looking out for our investments and encouraging us to act.  Months later, I can’t help but think about how much we would have regretted the decision if we hadn’t acted when we did.

Fortunately, throughout our entire buying process, we were surrounded by advisors who made our first home purchase seem much easier, in hindsight, than we ever expected.  Between our incredibly knowledgeable realtor, our patient lender, and everyone at Lucien, Stirling & Gray (who gladly talked “real estate” with me for weeks) – we were in good hands.  As you might imagine, we’ve experienced an absolute rollercoaster of emotions. There are times we look at each other wide-eyed and, well… clueless, in the middle of Home Depot and say, “Are we crazy?!” More frequently, however, we catch ourselves contently gazing across our living room (which alone is approximately the size of the very first, very tiny apartment we shared in the Domain) saying, “We did it. We bought a house.”

In addition to our professional advisors, our parents played an important role in this process as well. From the start, both sets of our parents were supportive and encouraging of us becoming homeowners.  In fact, they were just as excited as we were about putting roots down in Austin. They spent two labor-intensive weekends helping us put our mark on this new clean slate.  We celebrated Thanksgiving on a folding table and lawn chairs in an empty house in paint-covered clothes – one of my best memories of 2016.  At New Year’s Eve my parents and my grandmother were able to stay with us and celebrate a late Christmas.  Amongst all the decorations and merriment, my dad helped Michael install a new toilet in the master bathroom, and best of all we rang in 2017 by grillin’ in the back yard (this is Texas, after all) with the new gas grill we got for Christmas.

As we’ve put new paint on the walls, replaced lighting fixtures, cleaned baseboards, and trimmed the grass in our very first backyard together, I’ve gotten nostalgic for the memories of my childhood when I watched my parents work so hard to make their house feel like home. I have also seen glimpses of each of Michael’s parents in him – both when he spent hours researching our new kitchen appliances and in his willingness to wander Ikea with me. I see my parents in me when I plan my weekend around building raised garden beds for our summer veggies and make time for composting.  We were never so naïve that we believed the “lessons” from our parents were over.  We just never expected that buying a new home would give us quite this opportunity to bond with our families and friends like we have over the past few months.

I’m nearing my two-year anniversary at Lucien, Stirling, & Gray, and my role here is to help market and promote our professional services. During that time, I’ve often heard my colleagues mention major transition points in life (and the worry and anxiety they bring) as frequent reasons why new clients contact us. But this is the first experience I’ve had personally with the obvious reason why. My colleagues have been the sounding board I’ve needed when I’ve been hesitant to move forward.  The wealth of knowledge they’ve offered has translated into a trustworthy realtor, tips on filing taxes now that we’re homeowners, and of course… the critical push to lock in our awesome interest rate.  I know that we have just crossed one big milestone of many as far as life transitions go, but this has been an eye-opener.  This process has shown me the importance of surrounding myself, in addition to family, with trustworthy people who care.  During transitions, no matter how smooth, anxiety and worry can make us all short-sighted, and it’s given me great comfort and confidence to have someone else looking at the situation.  So, if you or someone you know is approaching one of those big transition points in life – a career change, a new home, retirement or a new business venture – please give us a call. I have a whole new appreciation for what you’re going through, and I know some good folks who can help!