PORTLAND, OREGON — Every day in their new home is a treasured memory for Eric and Larissa Bailey and their 19-month old daughter Charlotte.
“We put a bird feeder in the backyard, and Charlotte has been obsessed with watching the birds back there,” Larissa said. “The other morning she saw a bird through the window, which of course flew away once she bounded outside. She starts belting at the top of her tiny lungs, ‘birdie, where are you?’”
Larissa and Eric laugh at the memory – still fresh in a home they’ve only lived in for six weeks.
It’s a memory they thought they’d never get.
“As Charlotte was getting older and antsy, our apartment just wasn’t enough. She really needed a yard to get her energy out,” Eric said. “But with the housing market the way it is, I’ve never seen a situation before where you are giving the seller everything they want and you are still getting completely blown out of the water. Every offer we put in, we were getting outbid by $20-$30 grand over the asking price.”
“And we put in about 7-8 offers,” Larissa added.
Then, one day, a house they had been outbid on came back on the market.
“I guess the other offer fell through,” Larissa said.
Their NextHome Realty Connection REALTOR®, Amanda Bennett, knew more than that.
“One day I received a text from a seller of a house we toured and lost out on,” Amanda said. “During our initial home showing the seller had left the child lock on the door. He ended up talking to us through the Ring system and getting us in through the garage. He remembered our interaction and asked his agent to call us as he had lost his first buyer due to buyer remorse. Although we were the first offer in, it was not the highest. But he liked our conversation, and that we were the first to show and put an offer in.”
Suddenly, Larissa and Eric’s dream of raising a family in a home they owned was within reach.
Then, one week before closing, Eric came home from work feeling awful.
“We walked away from the ER that night with a stage 4 colon cancer diagnosis,” Larissa said. “Those doctors told us he had 12-18 months left and we should probably go home and just live life the best life we could.”
After a second hospitalization days later, Larissa asked Eric a serious question.
“In that hospital room, I asked him if buying a home was what he really wanted,” Larissa recalled.
“Regardless of if I have 12 months or 20 years, I want to live out our dream and our dream was to raise a family in a home,” Eric said. “I don’t want to look back and know that I compromised on things that I would regret. If we didn’t move forward, it would have been just one more thing that I would resent about my sickness.”
Eric, weakened by the chemotherapy, did the best to move the boxes, but it was incredibly hard.
Seeing them in need, their dear friend Amanda Harp swooped in. She led a crew of 15 friends (who were more like family) in taking care of everything from moving, cooking meals, or mowing the lawn.
“Amanda actually directed the entire moving crew while I was cleaning house and Eric was still super sick,” Larissa said.
“If I’ve learned anything through all this, it’s a humbling amount of gratitude for the people in our lives,” Eric said. “I don’t know how we could possibly navigate all this without our incredible group of friends.”
Now, as the days get warmer, Larissa walks into her backyard when she needs a break from working from home.
“Our home backs up to this beautiful nature trail,” Eric said.
“And there are these amazing coniferous trees, and when the wind blows through the palms I can imagine I am on vacation,” Larissa added. “I didn’t know what I would think about all the yard work, but through the process of cleaning up and making it what we want it to be, that yard work has become an outlet. It’s where I can go when things get hard. Because we own our home, there are things we can do, dreams we can have, to make it our own. The other day we bought a new bed, and we spent evenings dreaming about what we want our home to be and the new projects we want to do.”
And despite Eric’s exhaustion after rounds of chemotherapy, there is always some little project that helps him have hope for the home and future he’s building.
“Every day here is a new memory,” Eric said. “Every day this place feels more and more like home.”