Our dream spots in the area have fallen off. The red house, on the other hand, is still for sale and every time we see the signs Til salgs when we run or come from Lillehammer by bike. It acts as a recurring reminder of something we don't really want to think about.
'If I lived there, I wouldn't look forward to coming home,' Zoë says as we walk past the house again.
Olivier doesn't find the house so ugly at all and is gradually beginning to feel really at home in the area. His head is turning more and more toward the house, though the full conviction is missing. It is only when a cute little house comes up for sale on the other side of Mjøsa, the big lake near Lillehammer, that the process goes into second gear (photo below). Together with our neighbors, we go to the viewing and try to listen to our feelings. That house is cozy, the view is beautiful, but the area has some major drawbacks. Along both sides there is a steep slope, in winter there are six weeks without sun, and a road runs right across the property. We can't change those factors, whereas we can change a house. We are soon certain that we will not bid on this house, but it does stir our feelings for the house for sale on our street. We call the broker for another viewing.
This time we try to look at the house with different eyes. Where do we see opportunities? What can we change in time to make it a cozy place? Can we feel at home in this place? Peter and our other Dutch neighbor are with us during the viewing. Four extra eyes with a lot of experience with old houses help us to look critically at the house. Actually, they are quite positive about the condition of the house, although they also see the big challenges to make it a beautiful place.
When we look at the exterior, Zoë sighs deeply. "I really don't get any feeling about this house.
Zoë is a feeling person and that feeling is often right. Olivier has learned to trust that too, especially since he knows that Zoë's happiness is linked to it. When Zoë has a feeling about something, she goes for it one hundred percent. Zoë is trying to get a feeling for this place, but her head is still with our other dream house. She knows there are not many opportunities in this area and that she should try not to look too critically for her dream place. Peter, on the other hand, thinks we should be patient. Is i magen, some ice in the stomach, patience, as they say in Norway. We should'nt buy too quickly and be patient until a place comes along that we do feel for. Our choices change from yes, to no, to yes, to maybe. All the doubting doesn't do us good. We know the only solution is to tie the knot and make a decision.
'Sunday night we have a decision,' says Olivier.
On Sunday, we go to the nearby lake all day. We fish, cut spoons, enjoy the sun and put everything together. Olivier questions Zoe about the house. He already made his choice, though he would do better to ask all these questions to himself. His decision is to make an offer on the house, but he hasn't properly researched why he really wants to. Nonchalantly, he says he is satisfied with either solution. Buy the house or rent a place for the winter. "As long as I know where I will spend the winter," he says. The question is whether he listened carefully to himself instead of letting Zoe's feelings be the guiding factor in this choice.
Back home, it's time for the final decision. We've had time to think about it long enough, in fact far too long. Zoe her decision is to make an offer, but she doesn't want to go higher than €125,000. Olivier is willing to go €5.000 higher. We don't feel this place is worth more. Almost at the same time, we get an email from the owner. We had sent him an email yesterday to hear their experience. In that email, Zoë also wrote the sentence that we are thinking of making an offer, but below the asking price. The owner enthusiastically replied that they have enjoyed living in the house and talked about their experience. He also said that they will not sell below the asking price. 'We have absolutely no need to sell. Maybe we will keep it as a vacation home if no good offer comes,' he writes.
'Here's your answer to your choice,' Olivier says a little angrily.
The difference between our maximum and the asking price is huge. Is it perhaps the owner's bluff? We don't know, but we think the asking price is too much for this house.
'I really think €160.000 is way too much for a house I feel nothing for,' says Zoë.
'Well, then we won't make an offer. But it's bad that someone else has to make the decision for us, though. I think this is weak of us," replies Olivier.
At that moment we make our biggest mistake. We decide not to make an offer this week, thus not giving our feelings a chance to really go for it. A few days later we get that mistake kicked back in our faces.