Just for continuity, understand that much of part five takes place at the same time as the developments in Part Four.
So, having made our decision, things were a little different when we came down to spend our 3 weeks at Denise’s house during the Summer of 2004. We had something else to do besides go to the beach, eat out, and do some gambling in AC during our vacation. We had to now add house hunting to our list!
Our local realtor Ray Elias had sent us listings all through the spring, and by the time we got to Ocean City in July of 2004, we were primed to start looking at properties. We met with Ray 3 or 4 times a week, traveled the island, as he showed us various houses at different price points and different parts of the island. Although we had always rented in the South End of town (first the 3200 block of Asbury when I was a kid, then the 3900 block of Central, and now the 4900 block of Asbury), there was something we liked about the newly found area of the island called the North End. I say “Newly Found”, because to be honest with you, in close to 50 years of coming to Ocean City, I had no recollection of ever traveling to the North End. I know that Susie and I had never gone beyond 9th Street with our family, so this was all new to us.
I don’t know what the legal definition is, but to our mind, the North End starts just beyond 9th Street, and runs till you get to the much more residential (not as beachy in other words) Gardens section of Ocean City. Ray had showed us several interesting houses, on the shorter East/West streets in that part of town, and we found them very attractive. First of all, having rented on Central and Asbury, where you have traffic traveling the length of the island, a house on a quiet street running just a couple of blocks was an interesting prospect. Then, those streets were also on the boardwalk…not the commercial part of the boardwalk, but an area just a couple of blocks north of Gillian’s Wonderland. That meant a trip to the boardwalk was a walking event, not a driving and finding parking event. That sounded good too!
The interesting thing was that during our summer hunt, we’d even looked at a couple of properties on Pennlyn Place, including the upstairs of our now good friends Jane and John! Yes, we continued to look at other places, in other areas of town, but we kept coming back to the North End.
Kind of like Las Vegas, Ocean City had been experiencing it’s own growth in property values. The yearly jump was quite substantial, and we even had a first hand brush with that growth. One of the properties Ray had to show us was an empty lot and plans of a house to be built on St. James Place in the North End. He’d showed us some of the builder’s other work, and wanted to show us the plans and the lot, but we had friends coming to town, and rather than go on Friday, we put it off to the following Tuesday. Well, over that weekend, the calendar changed from July to August. On Tuesday morning he came to our rental house, laid out the plans for a second floor and owner’s cottage 4 bedroom 3 bath condo, on the dining room table, and we liked what we saw. The price was at the top end of our range, but doable for such a nice property. Before we headed to look at the lot, he called the real estate that was the broker, wanting to make sure it was still available. Yes it was, but when he checked the price, it was $50,000 more than he quoted us, just because it was now August and not July! Needless to say, we didn’t see that lot!
Our vacation ended and we had still not identified a house we were interested in, but we had time because the Vegas house hadn’t been sold yet. We planned to come back to Ocean City between Christmas and New Years as we’d done for the last couple of years. Houses were much cheaper to rent at that time of the year, and we loved the empty city that morphed into a much fuller town as New Year, and First Night approached. Well, when looking for a rental that year, where did we find one, but right on Pennlyn Place! It was about mid block, and a perfect place for us to house hunt from. By now the Vegas house had been sold, so the clock was ticking.
Ray came over the day after we arrived with several houses to show us. We loaded into the car, and traveled to a brand new property on West Avenue. We were impressed by the newness, but had doubts about the layout of the property, and the fact that it was on West Avenue in the teens. First of all, it was a long walk from the beach, second, it was a very commercial area of West. It was nice, but we had our doubts.
Then Ray took us to the second property of the day, and that was just down Pennlyn Place from our rental. This property was a first floor, 3 bedroom, 2 bath, in a house that had been built just 3 years earlier. We loved the street, loved the way the property was decorated, loved the fact that it was just down the street from the beach. In short, we loved everything we’d seen. It was a little more expensive than the West Ave property, and to help us, Ray did a workup for us of what the mortgage costs of the two properties would end by being. It turned out that there was just dollars difference per month between the two properties. I think the kicker was that Susie and I agreed that if we bought the West Avenue property, we wouldn’t even consider vacationing there, so if we bought that, we’d continue to pay Denise to rent her home, rather than stay at ours. The West property would just be an investment. Those two week’s of rent would more than make up for a year’s worth of mortgage difference. The decision was getting easier.
It was December 28, 2004, and that was the day we saw our future home at 854 Pennlyn Place! After looking at the place again, we had Ray make an offer, and before we left from our week’s stay on Pennlyn Place, we got the word…if everything else worked out, we would shortly own a house in Ocean City. Our dream was that much closer to being reality!
To Be Continued…..