I recently found a house for Chris Kringle and Sandy Claus, a lovely couple referred to me by mutual friends from the little town of Bethlehem, Pa.
During an initial 10-minute phone call, Chris told me that he and Sandy would be coming to town for a week to search for their dream home. We arranged to meet at Starbucks the following week to discuss their housing requirements over a vente eggnog latte in a controversial holiday-themed cup.
As I had requested on the phone, they brought with them a pre-approval letter from the North Pole branch of Guild Mortgage. (No joke! Guild Mortgage is an established firm with offices up and down the West Coast. It has been in business for more than 50 years and, according to their website, enjoys an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and four stars on Yelp.)
We spent some time discussing how I could best help them find the winter wonderland that would become their new home. “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas,” said Sandy. “I understand,” I replied apologetically, “but I’m prohibited by fair housing regulations from discussing racial demographics.”
While we continued to sip our nog, they told me that they were heavily involved in charity work and would soon be receiving an influx of cash for their down payment from the Trump Foundation in Manhattan. The kicker: they had to be settled and in the house before Chris left on a business trip on Dec. 24.
“Let me take the reins,” I suggested. “This is the most wonderful time of the year to buy a house.” When I asked what they were looking for, Chris got a list of necessities out of his backpack and checked it twice before handing it to me. As our discussion ensued, I realized that this was going to be more of a challenge then I had thought.
The house itself needed to have 8 upstairs bedrooms, 7 ensuite bathrooms, 6 fireplaces, and a view of the Capitol dome. They also wanted a sturdy rooftop and a commercial kitchen to prepare meals for a large crowd.
So far, so good. There were 15 properties in our multiple listing service that met their basic criteria.
But wait! They also wanted a home office where Chris and his pals could tinker with toys over milk and cookies while Sandy downed a couple of wassails with a bourbon chaser. I suggested that their house should have a large basement that could be turned into a workshop.
Then they mentioned needing a guesthouse too. “No problem,” I said, knowing that many luxury home buyers have large parties, fundraising events, weekend visitors and extended family who relish their privacy.
“How big does it need to be?” I asked. “Well, let’s see,” mused Sandy. “I think we can make do with 20 bedrooms, but they don’t have to be very large. We just need space for our vertically challenged seasonal migrant workers and an occasional visiting cabinet secretary, if we can find one who’s not on the naughty list.”
Now things were looking a bit more difficult. We were down to six homes to select from after I added a minimum of two acres to their search criteria and checked zoning requirements for multi-family residences.
It was then that Chris stroked his hipster beard and asked Sandy, “Did you mention the stables?” I bit my tongue to avoid saying something naughty and, while Chris went outside to smoke his pipe, I eliminated every community with a homeowners’ association from our list.
Since there was only one home left, I scheduled a viewing appointment, paid the bill, and brought the car around. As we headed out, Chris thought aloud, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.” “Let it snow,” replied Sandy. “House hunting is tiring and all I want to do is deck the halls while you sit back and roast your chestnuts on an open fire.”
“Don’t worry,” I chimed in. “I’ll soon have you rockin’ around the Christmas tree spreading joy to the world in your new home.” And when we arrived at the house and walked into the foyer, I knew we had found the right one. We wrote a cash offer and they settled this morning, under budget and ahead of schedule.
We parted ways then, but as they Ubered out of sight, I heard Chris exclaim, “Sandy, baby, I love our new house, but all I really want for Christmas is you.”
Valerie M. Blake is a licensed Associate Broker in D.C., Maryland and Virginia and Director of Education & Mentorship at Real Living| At Home. Call or text her at 202-246-8602, email her via DCHomeQuest.com, or follow her on Facebook at TheRealst8ofAffairs.