Wednesday, October 10, 2012
First things First
It occurs to me that we haven't really talked about the nitty gritty of buying The Ranch. We had been following the place on a ranch-for-sale website for over a year, and made the 4 hour journey (each way) to look at it in early april. About an hour outside of LA, we stopped for breakfast at a roadside diner, and talked about the possibilities, as if we were teenagers on a first date. Both giddy and wary of what we would find.
We met our realtor and the listing agent at the listing agent's office. Sidebar...we didn't know we were meeting the listing agent...our realtor failed to mention it. We were under the impression that we were meeting a colleague of our agent. Loaded down with my multiple lenses and camera, mike's handheld video camera, our camera phones and a notebook, we jumped into her car and drove the 20 minutes (which seemed like an hour that first time). As we parted with the highway and made our way down the country road, i watched as pavement faded into the background, and green hills alternately laden with vineyards and livestock filled the gap like surround-sound. When I started to see signs for a u-pick orchard, I couldn't believe my luck. Organically grown fruit and veggies at $1 a pound, in my potential new neighborhood, was almost more than this cucinaphile could take.
As we drove mile after mile, the listing agent gave us a run down of the area and the other properties that were for sale in the neighborhood. 10 acres here, 40 acres there...but nothing quite as large as The Ranch.
Oh. Before I get to the actual arrival at the ranch, I want to mention that in my wisdom, I was wearing platform sandals. I looked fabulous, with the appearance of long strong legs....in the car. Walking on the back-acres of uneven land and a minefield of yak "droppings", I looked more like Lola (of Copacabana fame), in her latter years.
We first drove to the upper ranch, but not the house. We drove to the back acreage first. Driving among the grand oaks and rousing the three resident yaks from their afternoon nap. It felt a teeny weeny bit like a safari. The yaks really wanted nothing to do with us, and moved to a new, more private location, that I, in my get-up, could never follow them to. Smart yaks.
After falling in love with the upper ranch property, we pulled up to the house. From the outside, it looked just as it was billed, "charming doll house." Once inside however, my heart sank. I shouldn't say this...but major yuck. The house was clean, but without detail or charm. It had been built in the '80s using inexpensive materials and anyone who survived the '80s knows that it wasn't known for darling details. To further my complaint, the house appeared to have been built backward. The "front" of the house has a glass door that leads into the kitchen and attaches to the garage on the left. In the middle of the "rear" of the house is a small foyer with a fancy door with a peep hole. It leads to the back garden. I was sure it was a manufactured home and I couldn't be swayed.
The minute I got home, I looked up the parcel number, and requested a preliminary title report to verify my suspicions. Apparently I was wrong. Sort of. The house is a kit home. As i understand it, the house arrived in pieces...wall by wall and put together much like an old-fashion barn raising. Not quite a manufactured home, but close. Either way...it was placed backwards and it is ugly. Ugly aside from the really fancy, very attractive wood stove in the middle of the living room. That is nice. The view is nice too. This house, smaller than our city condo, isn't my dream home, and as I was falling out of love, I felt Mike falling in it.
I couldn't deny, the upper ranch is beautiful, private and full of potential. The lower ranch, direct to the country road with a horse training ring, majestic oaks, multiple corrals, fencing and cross fencing, pad to build on and access to a full 800 "public-private" acres is amazing as well. Top it with the u-pick it being directly across the street. What is not to love?
more to come...