Memories fuel purchase of home next to family

First-Time Homebuyer

Atlanta native Dr. Wendy Gray attended Emory University and moved to the Northeast to finish her medical training. As she was approaching the end of her fellowship in Boston, where she was living in a 600-square-foot high-rise apartment, an opportunity arose for her to return to her old Atlanta neighborhood.

The four-bedroom house next door to her family’s Sandy Springs home was for sale. Gray, an internal medicine physician who focuses on the health care of adults with developmental disabilities, chatted about purchasing the familiar two-story residence.

Q: How did you hear the home was on the market?

A: My mother still lives in the house that I grew up in. My childhood next-door neighbors had come to her and said they were moving and already had another house and were wondering if anyone in my family was interested in buying their house. I immediately was like, yes. It was kind of sight unseen, but in a way, I really intimately knew his property. I used to come over here when I was a little kid. The most important thing really was I was excited to be able to live so close to family.

Q: What did you remember about the house?

A: I remembered the backyard, and the yard in general, being very beautiful, with a lot of the really gorgeous trees that I really have loved this neighborhood for. There is plenty of space in the backyard. Someday my goal is to have a pool in the backyard. It’s part of my American dream.

Q: Was it difficult to buy a home while living in another city?

A: I had a very busy schedule up there in Boston. I did fly down to Atlanta a few times, but then there were a lot of other things that were able to be done over the phone and faxing and email. I was expecting that to be more difficult than it was. It wasn’t as hard as I thought.

Q: What changes have you made to the home?

A: We have taken some walls down and redone some flooring.

Q: What’s something fun you’ve done in one of the rooms?

A: Down in the basement we’ve converted that into a real Middle Eastern sort of tea room. We’ve traveled a lot to Israel and the Middle East and found some really wonderful Persian rugs and artifacts from there. It’s really fun to have this kind of hidden area of the house for relaxing, and it seems like an adventure and a different world when you’re down there.

Q: What is it like to have this home?

A: It’s like a dream come true. The moment that my mom called me, I remember exactly. I was in the car and headed up to a weekend in Vermont with some friends. It was kind of out of the blue that this came up. I knew the moment that she called that I just had a great feeling about it.

At a Glance

Dr. Wendy Gray’s home in Sandy Springs, built in the late 1960s, has four bedrooms, four-and-a-half baths, and about 4,500 square feet. She was assisted by Rachel Callihan with Harry Norman, Realtors, in the October 2010 purchase (she moved in during October 2011). Single-family homes in the area are listed in the $200,000s-$400,000s.