Sunday, October 14, 2012
First things First part II
We saw the place and drove the 4 hours home. Both of us were relatively quiet, each ruminating in what we thought the next step should be. The listing agent had made a few comments about the county being very difficult regarding making any changes to the property. She basically asserted that we probably couldn't do anything with the place. Yes....this was the listing agent.
By the time we got home, we had a plan. We would make a list of all the things we wanted to do with the ranch and have our realtor find out if it was possible. So we made a list as long as my arm....literally. Pie in the sky. And sent it off. What we received from the realtor was a link to the county, saying we should call them. I know, I know...not really what we are used to...but I went ahead and called the county. They basically said all of our plans sounded fine. The area was settled by Native Americans, so there are archaeological reports that have to be done before building, but as long as we aren't making a subdivision, we should be fine. That was a relief.
If I am to be honest about myself, I get very revved up about things, and my first instinct is to jump into it at full speed without really weighing all the options. That is fine when buying a loom (for example) but maybe not the best approach to uprooting from the city and moving to the country. So, we decided to take a break from the house. To sit back, wait a while, look at other properties, and see if this is really what we wanted.
Fast forward 4 months. Mike and I had been looking on line for different properties and our realtor was sending us some places in nearby towns. Some really great, but way out of our budget, and some of them real clunkers. At the end of the day, we felt the place for us was these 60 acres in San Miguel. We booked another trip to look at the ranch. This time we decided to spend a few days in the area, and make a nice trip out of it. We enjoyed the quaint town of Paso Robles, with its village square, surrounded by small boutiques and wonderful restaurants. We drove through the small towns of the area, dropping by the ocean and the mountain lakes each only a half hour's distance from town. At the end of the day, we drove to the ranch, to take a look at it, before we met with our realtor the next morning.
As we pulled up to the place, we saw the woman who lives across the street picking up her mail. Mike pulled up, rolled down his window, and struck up a conversation. An hour later we were driving away, having met a few other neighbors, and made a new friend. The afternoon was still young, so we decided to take a drive further north on the country road. As we moved further out, the properties grew from 60 acre parcels to thousand acre ranches. Hobby plots to real farming operations. True beauty that went on mile after mile. I was getting hooked.
The next morning, we met with our realtor before making the drive out to the ranch. He invited along a local builder who specializes in eco-friendly building (passive solar, reclaimed materials, etc) along. We were also told, that the listing agent was showing the place to someone else that morning, so we would have to delay our trip out. What? The place had been for sale for 2 years, and it just so happens that in the middle of the week, on the same day we were going out there, someone else was looking too?!
When we arrived, there was someone else there. The seller. He was delivering some hay and tidying up a few things. I casually found the opportunity to ask if someone else had been there before us, and he said no. He hadn't seen anyone, including his realtor, and had no idea we were coming by. I was liking his realtor less and less. It was great to have the builder with us, because he was able to to a bit of an inspection and make determinations as to the structure of the house. It so happens the seller is also a builder, so he was able to speak to some of our questions. The place definitely needs a new roof, the rest of the concerns all cosmetic. We left that meeting with a good feeling and the idea we would make an offer.
Short story, long...we made an offer. Because we were coming in quite a bit lower than the asking price, we felt that a cash offer would be our strongest bet. We also went for a short escrow and no contingencies. We put together the offer and our realtor presented it. Not surprisingly the listing agent continued her ruse that she had received another offer (from the phantom people who had looked at the place that morning), but did add that our offer seemed stronger. And then we waited. 48 hours passed, then 72 hours, and the offer sat. After a week, I called our realtor to ask what was happening. As a coincidence, he was "just getting ready to give me a call" (insert my sarcasm vibe here)--and that he just received a counter to our offer. It was $10,000 over asking price. Not $10,000 over our offer, over asking price. I lost it. I began ranting and raving and using explicatives that would put a long shoreman to shame. I was angry and irritated. After talking to Mike, I told our realtor that we were OUT. At this rate, we just didn't feel that we could ever come to an agreement on price, and that the seller was wasting our time.
Again, we began looking in earnest at other properties in the area. Again, we couldn't find anything we liked as well as "the ranch". We felt it just wasn't meant to be. Some time later (maybe a week, maybe more) we heard from our realtor. The sellers wanted to go back into negotiation. They wanted to sell us the place, but needed a bit more to make it work. We let that information sit for another week, while we drove back up to Paso Robles and looked at a few more properties. After finding absolutely nothing we loved, we made another offer on the ranch, and after a few "back and forths" we were under contract.