For the next three months, the Sanbowers visited houses that were in foreclosure, but found “they’re worse yet,” Charlie Sanbower said. Before lenders forced them to leave, many owners of such houses had “beat them up,” destroying cabinets and much more, he said.
When she had seen enough, “My wife looked at me one day and said, ‘Why don’t we just build a new house?’” Sanbower said.
Through a friend, they found out that a 4.93-acre section of a small farm further west of Hagerstown was for sale, he said. So he made an offer and bought it this past January, and they broke ground in April.
Sanbower figures the new house, at 15905 Shinham Road, will cost about $250,000. For now, they are financing the work by taking a new mortgage on their current house, which they’d paid off years ago.
Building the new house has become a family project.
With his uncle, Bruce Cunningham, “as sort of my general contractor,” Sanbower said he himself has been working hard on it, too. Over years of working with his uncle and others, he said he’s learned to pour concrete, build cabinets and do framing and roofing.
Meanwhile, Lorena Sanbower, who is 51, has continued working as a bus driver.
And the Sanbowers put their current house up for sale. They hired the Realtor “who had been so faithful to us all that time,” to sell it.
When it didn’t sell quickly, they pulled it off the market.
“Then, we repriced it. And now, it’s been on the market three, four months,” Charlie Sanbower said. “We got a couple nibbles, maybe three. But nothing firm, cut in stone. That kind of tells you what the economy is.”
Nonetheless, they are optimistic they’ll sell it by next spring, when they’re hoping to move into the new house.
“Hopefully, we sell ours and use the equity to pay for this one,” he said.
Regardless how quickly that happens, Sanbower said he and his wife are happy with what they’ve done.
“You got to take a chance,” he said. “And hopefully, you make it. And we’ll sell ours and come out at the other end — if we’ve got a little house payment or not.”