Friday, January 22, 2010

To the New Owners

We recently bought a house. It's a nice log home in Montgomery Co., right outside of Christiansburg. We began moving and setting up the new house last week. One of the first pieces of mail to come to us at the new house was addressed "To the New Owners", postmarked January 12. At first we thought it might be an invitation to visit one of the local churches, but instead it's a somewhat puzzling letter from a couple who apparently had their offer on the house beaten by ours. I'm going to post part, but not all, of the letter here. I won't reveal the name of the couple who sent the letter to us, or any other identifying information. I've left the format, the spelling, and the rest of the letter as we received it.

To the new owners of the lovely log home on __________ Road:

You probably fell in love with the house as we did. And you probably plan to live there for many years. If anything should change, and you have to move, please give us a call.

We thought the house met many of the things we were looking for, a log home with large overhands and porches, a specially nice basement that my in-laws (in their 80s) could live in for 6 months a year( or even full time), near enough to Radford to hold home fellowship group meetings for the Radford church plant (PCA), plenty of space to have our 4 kids/spouses/grandkids home at Christmas, and a great setting. And close enough to Blacksburg where we go to church.

Perhaps we will find another nice log home, in time. Maybe it is best for us that we did not get the house, since we have a nice house one mile from VT campus, but in the country, that we paid $345K for 3 years ago. Who knows how many months it would have taken to sell, or how much we would have lost for a quick sale. So perhaps it is best. I have collected a lot of log home decor, that I thought was getting a home, but now has the thought of "someday".

The letter ends with "I bet you're really enjoying the house. I know we would have."

At first I was nonplussed by the letter. I've heard of people falling in love with a house for sale but not being able to buy it, so they give their contact information to the new owners just in case it becomes available again. Sure enough, the owners soon call to say that the house is up for sale again and the would-be-home-owners are soon living in their dream home. Seems like there's a story along these lines in the magazine Country Living every year or so. But then I reread the letter and realized what a hot mess of passive-aggressiveness it really is.

Are we supposed to feel guilty that the in-laws won't be living in the basement? That all the rest of the family won't be able to come home at Christmas time? That we're somehow impeding the religious activities of this couple?

Why on earth would you tell complete strangers how much you paid for your current home, or anything about it for that matter? To raise the specter that maybe we won't be able to sell our old house right away and we'll probably lose money on it when it does sell? And I can't decide if the author has been collecting log home decor for years now in the hopes that he or she would someday have a log home, or if he or she ran out and began buying it the second they saw this house advertised for sale.

Our offer on the house was accepted in early November. I get the impression that the author of this letter was so devastated to learn that someone else bought the house that he or she has been mulling over this "to the new owners" letter for two months. Sometimes therapists suggest that when you're really upset over something, you try writing a letter to the person who has wronged you, spelling out everything you want to tell that person in writing, but (and this is the important part) then you tear it up. Letters of this sort are to give you a chance for an emotional purge, so you can experience some closure regarding an issue and then move on with your life. You're not suppose to actually mail the letter.

I admit that we were tempted to respond to the letter, but nothing good would come of it. We're keeping the letter as a conversation piece and just in case we need a court order against the author. As a good friend mentioned, the first letter is a novelty, the second one indicates the need for legal action.

But why, yes, we are enjoying the house greatly. Thanks for inquiring.

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