It’s a good thing we’ve done some of this before. Practice, if you will, for the big game.
Selling a house is never fun. We expected that one way or another we’d be moving this summer, so we were doing some home improvements toward a July timeframe. We’d listed the house last year, so we knew what needed to be done to make it attractive, and were pacing ourselves towards the goal. The work changes accelerated that timeline, and we were very thankful for the help of our parents in quickly getting some of the big rocks moved. We did as much as we could ourselves (or with free familial help) and paid only for the work that required a professional: a plumber for the new undermount sink and tap, the guys who sold us the countertop did the install, a new furnace was put in, and the water softener was serviced (and then stank up the house for 2 days!) The house looks better than it ever has — particularly the kitchen and backyard — and we’ve got a pretty good system down for having our lives neatly tucked away whenever there’s a showing.
And there have been showings! We were on the market about 3 days, had 5 showings, and got an offer yesterday morning. Last night we settled on the terms and accepted. Before paying real estate agents and lawyers, we made $39,000 on the house — minus the $10k we put into getting it ready (of which we’ll get $3k back from the relocation agency.)
Meanwhile, we’ve been wrestling to figure out how to secure a mortgage in the US — given that we have no US income to report. We do have an excellent credit rating there (no thanks to HSBC, and plenty of thanks to our own ability to plan ahead!) and if necessary, I was able to set-up a line-of-credit against our equity here that we can use to put up for a down payment. It doesn’t look like we’ll need that — our potential buyers have 8 days to firm up on their conditions, and are bringing in a home inspector today, and we’re in-motion to close on this house by the end of July. We have corporate housing in Seattle for two months, starting June 24, so hopefully the timing lines up to find a house there… and have our stuff arrive!
The stuff will be packed and shipped for us (they’ll even ship the family van) but could take anywhere from 7 to 20+ days to arrive. We need to give 3 weeks notice before we want to move out, and book the family’s travel (return airfare for me from Seattle) to correspond to that.
All of this is dependant on immigration. We’re being sponsored for a Temporary Nafta Visa — although of what class, I am unclear. I don’t yet have my official job title or description, both of which will impact the visa application. I’ve been on a technical TN before, and they’re generally pretty straightforward to get. Nic and the kids will be on TD (dependant) Visas — although with Ben and Abi having been born in the US, we’re unclear if they need a Visa at all.
Unfortunately, the immigration lawyers have been the least responsive in this process, and yesterday I had to make some significant noise to draw attention to the fact that I essentially have a week and a half left to make a Visa entry, and still no papers or guidance. TN’s are a little scary in that if you’re turned down, you’re done. Completely.
On that front, we’re pursuing, in parallel, US Passports for our two American children, and I’m doing my best to maintain an excellent standard of performance in my current role, in case I have to beg for it back.
In background threads, we’ve been working on having legal wills prepared, so that the family is protected if something should happen to one or both of us while we’re out of the country, and in securing a “leave-behind” vehicle, so we’ll have wheels when we visit home. This will always be “home” for us, and Nic and the kids will likely spend extended summer and Christmas stays here. On top of that, I have one more core course left in my Theology program, for which I’ll have to return for 2 lectures next semester. Nic’s dad is helping us by being the owner of the car, and my old roommate will be borrowing it for next semester so that it’ll be close by when I need it.
Next weekend, Nicole and I will go on an all-expense-paid house hunting trip in the Seattle area. We already know where we want to live, roughly what we can afford, and what we need out of a house. We have a real estate agent there who’s shown us around once before, so hopefully it will be a productive trip. By then our US bank account should be flush, and our US mortgage pre-authorized. Nic will return, while I stay on for end-of-year training activities for my current team. We’ll meet the next Thursday night in Toronto, stay the night in a hotel downtown, then visit the US Embassy for Ben and Abi’s Passports.
Once that’s done, if the timing continues as planned, I’ll pack-up, and begin my cross-country road trip to Seattle. This plan isn’t just a fun adventure, it ensures we’ll have a vehicle when the family arrives (since the van will trail them by up to a month), and allows me to get started on vehicle and driver licensing, and establishing insurance. The journey will take a week — so of course I’ll be taking my car in for a thorough inspection this weekend in preparation.
If these details seem overwhelming to you, then you’re probably a sane person. Trying to manage these things while covered in paint from renovations, with 3 little kids, a demanding job, significant volunteer responsibilities that we need to transition, and daunting financial responsibilities in two countries… is just crazy. There is no way humanly possible that we can make this work — so much of this is timing, and only God can control it. The fact that we had our house listed for 3 months last year and got barely a nibble, yet this time the house sold in 3 days… that’s not coincidence. God’s hand of providence is at work in our lives, and we are so thankful for Him. And for this opportunity!
We’d appreciate prayer for the immigration stuff. The paperwork is finally being signed and is on the move. We need to get it early next week, so that we can make our Visa run in time… and of course, we need the Visas themselves. Pray we get a good Customs agent!!