If you read my previous post, you know that I've been looking at real estate in Cherry Grove. Real estate out there can be hit or miss. The houses are usually funky old beach houses. They are rarely glamorous. There are other parts of Fire Island that are very nice, but Cherry Grove remains ... modest. The first house that I ever stayed in had a shower without a drain pipe. If you looked through the drain, you saw the sand of the ground below – mosquitos would happily buzz through the drain to visit you while you showered. I was pretty sure that we were going to have to build our own house if we were to get something that could provide David with his creature comforts.
I was in Cherry Grove for a week this summer and took the time to look at some houses. There were no slam dunks. There were houses that needed to be gutted or razed. There were some houses that were beautiful from the outside, but needed extensive work on the inside. There were houses that were wildly unique, but largely unlivable. All of them were filled with baffling owner-decisions: why did they put a bathroom there? How can a legal bedroom be this small? If these floor are less than a year old, why did they pick this material?
At one point in my walks around the island, I looked at a house I had admired for years and thought "I wish that place was for sale."
I heard from one of my real estate agents that there was a house that was not on the market and the sale had to be kept quiet. We could go see it, but I could not let on in front of the tenants that I was looking to buy it. No problem. I was preapred to say that I was a movie director and we were scouting for locations. I really wasn't expecting much. I found out that it's on the ocean. Great! There are only 17 houses on the ocean, so I had ruled out the possibility that we would get a house directly on the ocean. We started walking to the far west end – the quiet end – and I mentally checked off one of my requirements: that it be quiet. Then, as we walked up to it, I realized it was the house I had been admiring for years! The house that, just the day before, I had said "I wish that house was for sale!"
We walked through the house and I was trying to remain cool. I don't think it's good to show too much excitement when you see a house. But inside, I was giddy. Besides being quiet, there were a couple more requirements to go:
- Spacious master bedroom
- Spacious master bathroom
- Room for guests
It's a two-story, two-unit house. One of the units is a two-bedroom apartment. It spans the entire top floor and half of the lower floor. The other unit is a one-bedroom that takes up half of the lower floor.
There's a nice big deck right on the ocean. It's set back from the surf just a bit, with dunes full of grass protecting the house. The ocean-side of the top floor has a big living space and a decent kitchen. There's a hallway that goes to a spacious master bedroom (next requirement checked off!). Off of the master bedroom is a small deck. The house is one house off of the edge of Cherry Grove, so you have big views of the national seashore parkland. And you can see all the way to Long Island!
The master bathroom is the only thing that really needs some work to be David-ready. However, there is plenty of space to make that a larger, more luxurious bathroom.
Near the ocean side of the house is a small staircase that goes downstairs. There's a spacious second bedroom with a nice bathroom. Off the bedroom is a second deck with an outdoor shower.
The second unit is on the island side of the house. It has a nice-sized deck, a living room, bedroom, bath and a pretty good kitchen. I'd be happy spending the summer in just the one-bedroom unit. I think the one-bedroom had been occupied by the owner's houseboy, and so it's in very good condition. In general, the whole house is in good condition.
The final bit of good news that I heard is that the house had been called "Ocean Spree". The houseboy that had been staying there got an "H" and a "U" and rearranged it spell "Peace House" - which is the final bit of good news for me to completely fall in love with it. David and I have been calling it Peace House ever since.
David was somewhat excited by the house but not really. When we drove home, I saw the lack of excitement on his face. I told him that we don't have to buy anything. I'm happy renting out a place here and there. But I think it's good to have a retreat now that he can't travel as much. We ran some numbers when we got home. We called Mr. R and he said we were crazy for buying on Cherry Grove because David doesn't like the beach and who knows where his career would be in five years, etc. We though about it over night and put in an offer the next day. I seemed to be the only one excited about the house. We didn't hear anything about our offer for a few days.
David was describing the house to a colleague at work and it turns out the colleague had stayed at the house. It's owned by friends of theirs. They described the house as "magical" and said that if we didn't get it, they wanted it. David was starting to warm up to the idea of a house on Cherry Grove. In that time, he has talked with other colleagues that have houses on Fire Island. He's coming around to the idea that he may eventually really appreciate coming out on a Friday night and having a quiet meal on the deck watching the waves roll onto the beach.
Then we got a call from the agent that they had accepted the offer with a very good counter: they would knock off a significant amount of money if we could close in 30 days. All of a sudden, David and Mr. R went in to HIGH GEAR to make this happen. All of their reservations went away. They couldn't pass up such a great deal.
After much nail biting and shouting at loan officers, we are set to close on Friday. We have plans this weekend, so I don't know when we'll be able to get out there. I'm thinking of going out during the week. Every time we had a walk-through, we had to pretend that we weren't trying to buy it, so I haven't gone through every nook and cranny to see what's in the house. I have been somehow avoiding shopping for anything for Peace House.
I also have to keep in mind that we will be renting it out a good amount of the time for the first few years. It's expensive and we need to pay down the mortgage. No big renovations for a bit. The good news is that there are people that have been renting it for years, know the house, and take good care of it.
And when they aren't free, you can bet that I will be out there in one of the units!
FYI: My camera was set on ultra-high ISO by accident, so the photos aren't so great. But they give you an idea.