I was in Maine. Doesn’t every blog of mine begin that way? If not, it should. I digress, dear reader. Here I was in Maine driving up 95 and headed to look at an 1829 farmhouse, replete with barn, for an investment property. This was going to be a rental vacation home to furnish and style, market and rent on behalf of Seersucker Cottage. It was close to Portland, ME with their craft breweries and some of the best lobster rolls. In my mind’s eye, I pictured the ideal renter for this property and was ready to source spindle beds piled high with LL Bean flannel sheets. Then I saw how little insulation and original (yes, original) windows and thought that I’d need to own an oil empire to heat this farmhouse. That property felt personal because I’d envisioned how special it would be for renters and the way I’d specifically style for Airbnb photographs.
In my head, Yankee Magazine had already done a story of how Seersucker Cottage was the “it” way investors and hosts of New England needed to style their rental properties. Hold on, let me run some numbers….carry the one…wait. a. minute. The record stopped and the story in my mind did too. I looked at the margins to see the profitability of this potential Airbnb. Doing that, I realized this property heating costs wouldn’t allow me to break even, even with fantastic occupancy. Back to the drawing board. May as well get the best lobster roll in Maine in the meantime, though! So, left the hydrangea bushes and wide pine hardwood floors behind. A few days later after client meetings on Martha’s Vineyard, I flew back to Charleston, S.C. A notification popped up on my phone of a listing in Charleston and all of the sudden I was in the market for a personal primary home. I wasn’t looking to buy property in Charleston, never mind a primary home. Something about the outdoor living space spoke to me and for once I envisioned myself there vs. guests, renters and clients. This was going to have actual mementos and framed photographs and mismatched mugs, simply because I liked them. This would be where a fridge would be stocked for me and not spotless and awaiting renters. After leaving Los Angeles, I couldn’t picture wanting to put down roots. I’d loved that home so much, to put myself out there again felt risky and uncertain. But here I was scrambling to schedule a showing before my plane took off.
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Just 48 hours later, I had made an offer and the seller rejected the offer. Super bummer. I felt so differently than just days earlier in Maine. There’s a big difference between our rental properties and vacation short term rentals and where we envision a day to day life unpacked in all it’s mismatched and sentimental glory. Those few days after “losing” the home based on a better offer for the seller, I felt sort of down. I’ve slowly realized as the days have passed that the experience sparked something that’s been overshadowed this last year of growing Seersucker Cottage with furnishing and staging vacation rental properties coast to coast. A feeling of personal connection to a place has taken root here in Charleston and that’s why a sense of belonging and stability with a primary home here for me has taken root. Crossed fingers the right one comes along, but if not, there’s always a flight to catch.