by Ron Chin
I gave a talk about the relevance of waiting on God in Silicon Valley. God has been teaching me about waiting on Him, as I have been without a full-time job for many years. Waiting on God is an essential part of one’s spiritual journey. It happens when a person feels that something should be happening – they have a calling, were promised/desire a blessing, or are in an undesirable situation – but nothing is happening despite their best efforts. During my period of waiting on God, my wife Jill and I were forced to move out of a townhouse that we were renting.
We had been in that townhouse for almost four years, and the rent was reasonable by Silicon Valley standards. But now the owners were going to sell it, and we didn’t know what to do next. In the past, we had some desire to buy a single-family home, but it didn’t seem possible because of the rising home prices in Fremont and our financial situation. We had a good chunk of money in the bank from the sale of our last home, and Jill’s piano teaching business was doing well, but we didn’t have very high income because I only had a part-time job.
Not only did we need the right house within our limited budget, but we needed the house with a space large enough to hold Jill’s business. Our house was not just our residence; it was also the location of Jill’s business – she taught piano lessons in the townhouse. Also, we had another matter to consider – taking care of my mother. My mother was in her 80s and was living by herself in a large house in the Berkeley area, about 40 miles from Fremont. She had lost a lot of her hearing, which made it difficult to communicate with her over the phone. She was still relatively healthy, but from time to time, she would have a physical ailment, and we did not live close enough to help her. Therefore, Jill and I felt that it might be a mutually beneficial situation if we bought a house together, and my mother lived with us.
We approached my mother with the idea, and she was open to purchasing a house together. She told us that the ideal situation would be if she could have an in-law unit that was not in a separate building from the main house. She wanted to have the security of living in the same house but at the same time wanted to have her own living space and independence too. With the addition of some financial resources from my mother, we felt that it was possible to find a single-family house in Fremont that could be renovated to meet our needs.
When we began to look for a house in Fremont, we became somewhat discouraged because it was clearly a seller’s market. On one occasion, we went to an open house, and the owner didn’t bother to fix the flooring in part of the house. The flooring was literally lifting up off the ground as people walked on it. It was definitely a tripping hazard, but it didn’t matter – there was a ton of interest in the house. When we put in an offer on a different house, we were not close to getting the house because it sold for about $65,000 over the asking price. It was quite discouraging.
However, one day, I saw a house for sale on the internet, and we went to go see it. When we arrived at the house, there wasn’t a “For Sale” sign in front of the house, so I texted my real estate agent to ask him if the house really was for sale. Initially, he could not determine if the house was on the market. Later the same day, our agent found out that the house was for sale, but the seller’s agent apparently wasn’t putting much effort into selling the house. On top of that, the seller’s agent, who was based in San Jose, listed the house on the San Jose MLS database instead of the Fremont MLS. Therefore, most real estate agents in Fremont did not know that this house was for sale. Less competition!
We quickly met our real estate agent at the house, which clearly needed some renovation. When we walked into the two-story house, I thought it was kind of unusual because the first story had a small office and a large room with a bathroom in the back of the house. The kitchen and the bedrooms were upstairs. Despite its oddity, Jill pointed out that this would be a good house for our needs. The large room with a bathroom could be converted into an in-law unit, and the small office could be used for her piano studio. We decided to put in an offer, and because there wasn’t much competition, we were able to get the house for only $10,000 over the asking price. In the end, God took care of everything. From the budget, to the piano space and in-law space, and our dream of owning a single-family home, God provided us a house with everything, in the midst of the competitive housing market of the Silicon Valley. God showed us that He “acts on behalf of those who wait for him.” (Isaiah 64:4)