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Photos by Andrea Morales
Erica and David Laney have moved a lot in recent years, following David’s job in the transportation industry. They’d grown accustomed to living far from family.
So it was a great surprise when his latest promotion — to terminal manager for CSX Transportation in Memphis — came at the same time Erica’s cousin, Greg Dickinson, was moving to Memphis with his family.
The timing and location of the two families’ moves were completely coincidental. Holly and Greg Dickinson were living in California when Greg’s agriculture industry job moved them to Memphis, and the Laneys were transferred from Atlanta.
“It’s nice to have that built-in friendship,” said Erica, a stay-at-home mom to Caden, 4, and Ava, 3.
That goes not only for Erica and David, but for the kids. Holly and Greg have two young children as well, which means all four kids are living near family for the first time in their lives.
“The kids love getting together and having their cousins nearby,” Erica said.
The simultaneous move was helpful to the Laneys in another way. David’s employer had a relocation company introduce the couple to a real estate agent in Memphis.
“But we were disappointed in him,” David said. “We’d had a bad experience with that in Atlanta, as well.”
Since Holly and Greg were thrilled with their agent, Stacia Rosatti of Crye-Leike’s Germantown Forest Hill-Irene branch, Greg put the Laneys in contact with her.
“(Rosatti) ended up being awesome,” Erica said. “Of all the times we’ve moved, she’s been my favorite Realtor. And she’s kept in touch with us — she just brought us a huge platter of cookies.”
“It was neat to get to work with both of them and help them find houses in Germantown,” Rosatti said. “And it’s great that the cousins are going to grow up together.”
Because David came to the Mid-South a couple of months before Erica and the kids — she stayed behind in Georgia to sell their previous home — he spent as much time as possible driving around and getting a feel for Memphis’ neighborhoods and suburbs. He was most drawn to Germantown and Collierville for their highly rated schools and community feel.
Plus, the Dickinsons were looking in Germantown.
“When Greg and Holly bought here, that had a lot to do with it as well,” David said. “We’re both so far away from all the rest of our family that we wanted to be close.”
Rosatti worked closely with David — and with Erica from a distance — to find houses that met the Laneys’ criteria. They wanted a home with an updated kitchen, a playroom for the kids, a fenced backyard and a fourth bedroom for out-of-town family.
Erica was able to fly in only once to conduct an in-person house hunt.
“I did the first day of house hunting by myself because (David) was working,” she said. “I went with (Rosatti) that first day, and we were quick. She took me to so many houses.”
As it happened, Erica found “the” house during that initial whirlwind trip.
“It was one of the ones that really stood out in my mind,” she said. “You just kind of get a feeling. Every house that I’ve bought I’ve just had that feeling, you know, that this is it.”
On the second day of the search, Erica and Rosatti returned to the house with David.
“When he came in here he was already like, ‘OK, I like this one,’” Erica said. “We wanted to keep looking, keep our options open, but we kept coming back to this one.”
Because the Laneys hadn’t yet listed their previous house, let alone sold it, they waited before making an offer. After her two-day trip, Erica returned to Georgia and made quick work of getting the house ready for sale.
“The first people that came (bought the house),” Erica said. “It was on the market for one day.”
That was the sign the Laneys were waiting for, and within two weeks of viewing the Germantown house, they submitted their offer. They purchased the five-bedroom, 3½-bath, 4,000-square-foot house in the Sweet Oaks neighborhood for $362,500 in mid-March.
The house had the updates the Laneys were looking for, plus it had more than enough space for their own family and for out-of-town guests to stay when they visit.
“It had a lot of character too, like the porch off the kitchen and the big front porch with the columns and dormer windows,” David said. “It’s my favorite style of house, and it’s so different than everything we’ve bought before. This is the fourth house that we’ve bought.”
“Every other house has been brand new,” added Erica. “This is our first time with an older home.”
The house has a wide entry hall with hardwood floors. To the right, a formal dining room features soft blue walls and a natural fiber rug, and it leads into a spacious kitchen with white cabinetry, dark granite countertops and a black-painted center island.
A big breakfast area gets loads of natural light from a row of three windows, and a doorway leads to a small side porch where Erica often sits to watch the kids play.
“I like the kitchen,” she said. “I spend the most time in the kitchen — this area is so big, and it’s the brightest place in our house. I like the sunlight that comes in.”
The master suite features the same soft blue-and-gray color scheme that runs throughout the house. It has an attached bath with dual vanities and a separate tub and shower. Upstairs, the kids’ rooms are spacious, and a big bonus room provides plenty of extra room to play.
Both Erica, who grew up in Texas, and Greg, a native of Kingsport, Tennessee, love their new community and their new neighbors.
“They’ve all been super-friendly,” Erica said. “One neighbor brought by cupcakes, one brought a gift basket, and others have stopped by and introduced themselves.”
“Germantown has been a friendly place to us, as well,” David said. “It’s probably been the most welcoming place we’ve lived.”