General January 30, 2014

Old Fashioned Real Estate

I often tell people that I could market a hit reality show based on my real estate experiences. Every day is different, which is why I love my job, but some days are REALLY different.

Yesterday I closed on a property where I represented both the seller and the buyer. It was a long and difficult transaction, but overall a wonderful experience that INSPIRED me and gave me HOPE that there really are people out there that trust someone’s word and a handshake. This is the kind of story that I am inclined to share, that I generally would not because of my fiduciary duty to uphold confidentiality. In this case the story is so EXCEPTIONAL, that I got permission from both the buyers and sellers to tell it! It’s such an inspirational story…and we can all use inspiration in a world where there is so much cynicism.

It all began last March while I was on vacation. James found me online while searching Post and Beam homes in the Finger Lakes. He called to inquire if I’d be interested in helping him sell his post and beam home. Of course I was thrilled to meet him and to see his property. As I drove to Lodi, a small community on the east side of Seneca Lake, I wondered what his place would look like (Tax Assessment, my usual reliable source, had no photos so I really had NO IDEA what to expect). Boy was I surprised when I drove up the long driveway to see this adorable, charming home tucked back alongside woods, a creek and small pond. As I approached the property I saw beautiful stone paths that led me to a patio just outside the front door. The exterior reminded me of New England and Cape Cod, batten board siding painted a pale grey. James greets me and invites me in and all I can do is smile. He tells me how he used recycled materials on about 50% of the property, which includes the post and beam component that came from an old dairy barn on Rte. 414. He goes on to explain that the house is off the grid, meaning there is no electricity running to it. He uses propane gas for his lights and mainly heats with the wood stove, but for rare emergencies he has a gas wall heating unit. He has some solar components too that power the outdoor lights. He shows me the main room, complete with rustic pine floors, a wood stove and cathedral ceilings with exposed beams. There’s a small kitchen with a refurbished 1920’s refrigerator, now used as a pantry, a gas stove and wood counter tops. Towards the back is a utility room where the refrigerator is and a door that leads to a covered back patio with rocking chairs, overlooking woods and the small pond. There’s a small full bath with an antique claw foot tub, fresh, clean and inviting. Upstairs is a balcony overlooking the open living room and behind me is the one and only bedroom. Newly stained and sealed wood floors, and again, a fresh and inviting feeling. It felt like Little House on the Prairie. I knew I wanted to sell this home and I knew it would be a special buyer that would love it.

1 Main 32 Nice Yard 6 Kitchen

3 Interior View7 Refrigerator  24 Kerosene Lanterns

A few months later we put it on the market; I host an Open House and many couples come and are just as romanced by it as I am. Unfortunately, none of them make an offer, but then in August I get a call from a peppy young lady asking to see it. I’m on my way out of town so I arrange for my husband, also a licensed agent, to show it to them. He calls me to tell me that they are in love and B want to make an offer. We arrange to meet in my office the following week. Amber and her fiancé Dave arrive and they are beaming with excitement. I review the comps with them, but let’s be honest, nothing really compares to this. They want to use a USDA loan and I’m skeptical because I’m not sure they will approve a loan on a house off the grid. I call their banker and discuss the property with her explaining this but she assures me that it qualifies. After much negotiation, both buyer and seller agree to price and terms and we go Under Contract. I won’t bore you with the details, but let me just say that Amber and Dave became friends with James after so much back and forth with their bank and the conditions they required. Much of the transaction was made on hand shakes and all three even spent a weekend together digging a ditch to bring electricity to the house. Yes, the bank required it. James said – you pay for it, I’ll help you dig the ditch. It was a race against mother nature too. Soon the ground would be so frozen it would be impossible to dig.

During all this Amber and Dave got married! They switched from a USDA loan to conventional and used gift money from their wedding to put down 20%. They were committed to each other and to this house. Most buyers would have given up, but not them and had it not been for James’ easy nature, I know this wouldn’t have a happy ending. After digging the ditch, changing loans and loan officers, they get hit with another hurdle…the bank says they need a qualified heating unit certified by a heating expert. Again, Dave and Amber problem solve through this and find a unit that costs less than they thought. If James will allow them to install this, they will pay for it. They spend another weekend together installing this heating unit and getting it certified. They have now satisfied all bank requirements and they finally get their commitment letter. We are now 2 months past the targeted closing and James is anxious to head south and escape the bitter cold.

The attorneys work fast to process the title work and fingers are crossed that they close before Christmas for the best gift ever. Unfortunately, things don’t go as quickly as hoped, but on January 23rd we close and three people are very happy. I stop by to pick up my sign and lock-box, drop a gift and see that James’ cat is there. Amber and Dave adopted him, allowing James the freedom to head south. As I sit in the closing and watch this young couple full of life, love and a bright future, I am filled with inspiration. This was an extremely fulfilling transaction. Financially there was minimal compensation, but emotionally I was refueled. Old fashioned real estate does still exist. What a great way for me to begin a new year: inspired and hopeful.

Amber & Dave 3 Amber & Dave Amber & Dave 2

“The process was difficult but it was well worth the wait. It feels like our slice of heaven. when we go to the store we actually miss it, ” say Amber and Dave.