June 2006                 Volume 45,  Issue 5

      From the Editor
         the issue at hand

Back Home in Arkansas

A few months ago, my family embarked on a new adventure: we moved back to our home state. We lived in Memphis, Tenn., for six years. In February, my husband, Jeff, took a new job as general manager with a steel furniture manufacturer in Conway, Ark., a bedroom community to Little Rock. Luckily, my work as this magazine’s editor can be done from anywhere.

After Jeff accepted the position, we went to Conway, looking for a place to rent with the notion that we would rent for a year, save our money and then buy another house. (We sold our house in Memphis in a week.)

We looked at about four or five rental properties. Some of the rental properties wouldn’t take pets, and we have two cats. The rent was too high at a couple of places, when what we were trying to do was save money. And too little square footage ruled out another.
We found one that we felt would fit our needs, put a deposit down, waited for approval and proceeded to move Jeff’s belongings over to Conway a couple of weeks later. The boys and I, and all our belongings, followed a week after that. 

One perk to renting our new property was that our landlord, Carolyn Robinson, was a realtor in Conway, and if we bought a house with her as our agent, then we would be released from our lease without penalty. Carolyn said that as soon as we were settled and wanted to start looking to let her know. We talked with her about building versus buying, and she said that a lot could change within the housing market if we were to wait three months, six months or a year (home prices and building material prices could increase).

Carolyn’s knowledge of building versus buying was extensive, since her company, Watson-Rankin, is versed in both—they have realtors, developers and builders within the same company.

About a month after moving into our rental house, we went out riding through the countryside outside of Conway (not anticipating anything just curious how much houses were priced). As we spotted houses, we wrote down several addresses, and we picked up flyers from several lots that were for sale, too.

One house stuck out to us—a four bedroom, brick house on an acre of land near a lake. Since the house looked vacant, we both got out of the minivan and peered in the windows.

When we returned home, we looked up the house online and decided it was in our price range.

The next day, I called Carolyn on the phone and said that we would like to look at the brick house we saw. We made an appointment for that Friday, and we went and looked at the property. While the house seemed to still be having repairs done (tape on the ceiling indicating places that needed to be touched up with paint, fixtures still not installed, etc.), we were really impressed with what we saw. 

We put an offer on the house the next week. Carolyn helped us determine a fair asking price for the house, which was accepted without a counter offer. After the inspection came back, we made a list of repairs that had to be made before closing, which was also accepted by the homeowners.

While our house in Memphis sold in a little under a week, buying and closing on the house we bought in Conway was an even simpler process. This time, we had a realtor that wasn’t excitable and didn’t expect us to do everything. Quite the opposite was true; she was calm and acted as our liaison during the whole process.

All our interaction with Carolyn was a reminder that professionalism in any field leaves customers with a good experience.

We’ve now moved into our new house, and we are all enjoying it immensely, especially our three-year-old boys, Clay and Owen. They really like the tree house in the backyard, hearing their feet pitter patter on the wood floors in the house, running all over the house and yard and “baaing” with the sheep that pasture in the field right behind our house.

I’m sure we will be making immediate, simple improvements, and we may even embark on some more costly and difficult changes to the house in the next few years, such as replacing the deck and replacing the aluminum windows (I’ll be sure to take note of all the windows offered on page 20).

For now, I just have to keep unpacking the boxes that are stacked up in the garage. Anyone want to help?


Samantha Carpenter, editor
SHELTER magazine


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