Real Estate Cover Feature
The Commercial Appeal
August 31, 2014
California Transplants Pick House in Germantown
California transplants sold on neighborhood
By: Stacey Wiedower
Holley and Greg Dickinson were living north of Sacramento, California, when they received the unexpected news that Greg’s company was transferring him to Memphis.
Even more unexpectedly, they learned Greg’s cousin and her family were being transferred to Memphis, too, from Atlanta.
“We found out we were moving a day before they found out,” said Greg, a district manager with Syngenta, a Swiss agricultural company that sells seeds and crop protection chemicals.
“Greg and I have never lived in the same city as family, ever,” said Holley, a nurse who’s currently a stay-at-home mom to the couple’s two children, Thomas, 8, and Lily, 5. “We’ve always been five-plus hours from the closest family member.”
Still, both Holley and Greg grew up in the South — Alabama — so a move to Memphis wasn’t a culture shock. Neither was the idea of relocation.
“This is our sixth house, and the fifth one that we’ve bought,” said Greg, whose job has also taken the couple to Mississippi and North Carolina.
Still, the Dickinsons were happy with their former house and neighborhood, and so they wanted to find a home in Memphis that rivaled what they had in Northern California. To aid in their search, they contacted real estate agent Stacia Rosatti of Crye-Leike’s Germantown-Forest Hill Irene office.
“With them coming in the middle of the year, they needed to be in a place where their children could jump right into school,” Rosatti said. “They wanted … a great neighborhood with a great cove and young families and friends and kids that all went to school together.”
Rosatti worked to find a list of likely candidates for the Dickinsons to view — because they only had a four-day window to search. The couple found out they were moving in December. Greg started his new job Jan. 1, so he moved on to the Mid-South before the rest of his family.
He shared an apartment with his cousin’s husband, David Laney, for about three months while Holley and Greg’s cousin, Erica Laney, stayed behind in their respective cities to prepare for their moves.
Holley visited the city in mid-January to conduct a whirlwind home search. Meanwhile, she and Greg didn’t rush to put their former home on the market.
“We didn’t want ours to sell too quickly and have to get out,” Holley said. “I think we actually found a house before we ever put our house on the market. We put the house on the market at the end of January, and our house sold in two days.”
When Holley joined Greg in Memphis for their house hunt, the couple had researched neighborhoods and schools, and they’d narrowed down their search field to East Memphis, Germantown and Collierville. On the first three days of Holley’s trip, they spent one day viewing houses in each city.
“(Rosatti) did a good job,” Holley said. “She researched ahead of time. She knew that we were in a time crunch, and I think she saw almost every house before we even got here. She’d say things like, ‘I already saw this one. It’s not worth your time.’ ”
Nonetheless, the perfect house didn’t appear until day four of the Dickinsons’ search.
“We hadn’t planned on looking on that Sunday,” Holley said, “but (Rosatti) knew we were pretty bummed. So she found this house and another house in this neighborhood and a couple more we went to on Sunday.”
As soon as Greg and Holley walked inside the 5,000-square-foot house in Germantown’s Grove Park neighborhood, they knew they were home.
“After moving five different times, you get the feeling,” Greg said.
“You can walk into the front door of a house and tell your Realtor, ‘Let’s just leave.’ And sometimes you can walk into a house and say, ‘This could be it.’ ”
Rosatti said it was the neighborhood that sold the Dickinsons on the house.
“It was down to probably three or four houses in Germantown, and the one at the end of the cove, we went back for a second look and the sun was setting and we could hear laughter coming from the driveway next door,” she said. “There were kids out there playing, and I think that did it for them.”
“We came from a really active neighborhood in California with just tons of kids, so we really wanted that again,” Holley said. “This house had all the rooms that we wanted, it was in a good school district and we liked the neighborhood. So we just kind of went for it.”
The couple purchased the six-bedroom, 41/2-bath home in mid-March for $622,750. The house was move-in ready, so the Dickinsons did little more than change paint colors and replace a few light fixtures.
Holley settled on Benjamin Moore’s gray horse in the kitchen and family room, a soft gray with hints of blue. The couple has decorated the house with a mix of antiques, including a dining room suite that came from Holley’s parents.
They love their house, especially the big backyard and the shuttered, screened-in porch. But what they love most is the neighborhood’s family-friendly vibe.
“We really wanted a neighborhood pool, and that’s been a great way to meet other moms and kids,” added Holley. “I think it’s taking all of us a bit of time to get adjusted to being back in the South. But overall I think we’ve done really well. We have a great neighborhood.”
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