Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Glorious Day (Part 1)

The photo above was taken standing on the balcony of my new condo before I moved in 2007.

It was 6 years ago today that I realized a lifelong dream. I moved into my condo six years ago today, I was 50 years old. I had been wanting to own my own place for decades before my wish became a reality, through a series of events too perfect to be just a coincidence.

Through the guidance and tenacity of my friend Bill I was finally able to purchase my own home. Bill found out about a program here in Chicago that was designed to allow people to purchase homes at a reduced rate. This program called  Chicago Affordable Housing, was implemented  by an Alderman in Chicago named Helen Schiller.

The program offered new properties at a reduced rate. A person is required to attend classes about first time home ownership, managing money, maintaining property and the like. Upon successful completion of the required classes and being financially qualified, a person is eligible to participate in a lottery whereby if your name is drawn, you are able to purchase a condominium at a substantially lower price than current market value.

After having completed all the required perquisites, I was now eligible to be placed in a lottery. A few weeks before a lottery is to take place you are notified and invited to tour the property or properties to be offered in the lottery. I followed all of the perscribed procedures and attended my first lottery. My name was not drawn.

A few months later I attended a second lottery. At these lottery drawings, there are usually multiple properties offered anywhere from eight to twelve, in addition to the names drawn for the properties, there are also alternate names drawn. These alternate names are used in the event the person whose name was actually drawn is unable to attain financing.

My name was drawn as an alternate in my second lottery. I really didn't think that much about it, because I felt the chances of getting a condo through the unfortunate reality of someone else not being able to get financing, was a slim possibility. A couple of months later I was notified that someone was in fact unable to get their property financed, which meant the property was offered to me. I was able to look at the property again, it was a small two bedroom, one bath unit in a high rise with no outdoor space, no parking included and a west view.

At the risk of sounding like an ingrate, and although I was excited at the possibility of home ownership, I was not thrilled with this particular property. It was small, boxy, in a large building with a doorman, not really my cup of tea. I preferred a smaller building, without the added expensive of a 24 hour doorman. I was in a quandary. Bear in mind that if I decided not to take this property it would not make me ineligible for further lotteries nor would it reflect badly upon me in any manner.

I enlisted the advice of three people. First I asked Bill what he thought of the possibility of me turning down the property? He said he felt that this was a very important decision, a decision that I should make on my own, after all I was the one who would have to live with the consequences of that decision. The  second person I asked was my friend Marguerite. She said that as long as I was prepared to live with the possibility that my name may never be drawn again, to follow my heart. She also advised that I should be prepared to cope with my decision regardless of what may happen in the future.

The third and final person I asked was my friend, Lorelei. Her advice was short and sweet, she said, "Never settle for less than what you want."  I kept thinking that although it was brand new and nice, after all was said and done, I would be alone in this tiny cracker box with no outdoor space. I turned down the property.

After a few months had gone by was notified of yet another lottery drawing. Bill and I toured all the properties, one of them I really liked was in a new complex they were building. We did not actually tour the property per se, because the models were not even completed yet, instead we met with the saleswoman, named January and looked at the artist's renderings of the property.

The last property we toured was right up the street from the other complex, when we walked in the building before the elevator had even been installed, I thought there had been some mistake. Upon entering this unit I was struck by the fact it was huge, with recessed lighting, a east facing balcony on the second floor and unlike any of the other properties, it included parking. Parking in Chicago is a very big commodity. I was flabbergasted by the size, the view, and the all important and valuable parking.

I immediately set my sights on the large condo with parking. I could not get this property out of my mind. I prayed about it, I visualized it being mine, I created a vision board, I threw all of my energy into getting this property. I used to drive by and park in front of the building and stare at the condo. At some point I had a real epiphany about this property, I knew and I felt in my heart and soul that this was going to be my new home. To this day I cannot explain the feelings and the certainty I felt within myself that this was really going to happen.

After what seemed like an eternity, which was actually a month or two, the day of the lottery arrived. When I walked into the area where the lottery was to take place, there was the saleswoman, January, from the complex we had previously viewed.  I walked up to her and I said I am walking out of here today with a condo, she smiled. I also approached a woman named Christina, she was a representative of the Chicago Affordable Housing Program, I looked at her square in the eye and I said, "Christina I am walking out of here today with a condo, I just wanted you to know."

Then we took our seats, it was exciting, a buzz with anticipation and the impending possibilities.

To be continued.......

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