The phrase “third time’s the charm” doesn’t normally apply to home buying, but in the case of Danielle and Travis Meyer, it’s hard to think of another description.
The couple moved from Pittsburgh to the Philadelphia area with their three children about five years ago, and rented a house in a tranquil, leafy neighborhood in Morton, Delaware County.
It was in the Springfield School District, which they really liked, and close enough to a regional rail station that Travis could walk there and ride to his job as a researcher in neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania.
And both have family in the area.
So they decided this was where they wanted to buy and settle. But there was a huge obstacle: All the houses they considered were well beyond their budget — except one a block away.
The house was in rough shape, but the asking price — a bank had foreclosed on it — was right. And since one of Travis' brothers was a contractor, they believed that the needed renovations might be affordable.
“That way,” says Danielle, a full-time substitute teacher, “we could do everything we wanted. We knew we’d never be able to afford that in a finished house” in that neighborhood.
And there was character under the neglected surface, such as the wood floors and intricate siding.
So in May 2016, they put in a full-price offer, but then the bank raised the price, and the Meyers said no.
“We walked away,” Danielle says. “We knew what it needed, and we weren’t going to pay more. We kind of washed our hands of it and lived our lives.”
A year later, the house was back on the market, at $40,000 below the bank’s original price tag. After enjoying a good laugh, Danielle says, “We tried to put an offer in, but it was already under contract.”
They looked at houses on the other side of town, but nothing tempted them. A crush is a crush.
The following month, for some reason, the house was back on the market, and this time, the Meyers got it.
“I said, ‘We have to go for it,’” Danielle recalls. “We knew we were going to gut it.”
“I still couldn’t quite believe it. I knew the potential of the home. By the end of the summer, we had our final floor plan and ideas.”
Although the construction genes that run in the Meyer family skipped Travis, he knew enough to figure out square footage and sketch what he and Danielle wanted on graph paper.
“I spent a lot of time on Pinterest, which was where we got a lot of our ideas," Danielle says.
The house was built about 1890 (or before) and had only 1½ baths.
The Meyer remake has four bedrooms and three baths, a new back deck, and major revisions to the front porch. There was already a two-car garage.
Danielle picked the slate blue color from what she had seen driving around the Jersey Shore. She says she wanted the house to stand out in that respect but still blend tastefully with the neighborhood. She did all the landscaping herself and still considers that aspect of the house a work in progress.
The spacious back yard — rare in the neighborhood — was already an asset, and the couple made sure it was visible from the kitchen, so they could see kids playing there.
The front steps were flanked by leftover stone from the old Federal Reserve Bank in Center City Philadelphia.
“We feel that we brought it back,” Danielle says. “Not just for us, but for the neighborhood.”
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