August 07, 2022
Right. So. It's been a month. I've been busy and when I'm busy I worry I'm not spending enough time processing and by processing, I mean writing. Truth.
For those of you not watching the housing market (for some reason we've got no place for anyone to stay anymore) because you're distracted by those pesky issues, like Roe v Wade and such, I've got updates.
Note: I am also distracted by those same pesky issues in addition to a job that came out of nowhere and has me drinking from the firehose. However, finding a place to live is my personal two ton gorilla in the room.
800 square foot box with a reasonable foundation, more or less OK roof, and actual plumbing on a piece of property in the middle of nowhere. Preferably on top of a mountain nobody wants anything to do with except during leaf season. I would also like a well. A drilled well is preferable, but I can work with a lot. Ah, yeah, also, lead paint, pipes, and black mold are a problem. Otherwise, how hard can this be?
I find the 800 square foot box in the middle of Rutland City. It's on less than 1/10th and it doesn't appear to have a driveway. I'm going to need to build a 40 foot privacy fence with concertina at the top and probably acquire a pack of really angry dogs. I drive south, out of the mountains twice (came home too). Fifty miles to the 800 square foot bungalow. I do this twice. Two hundred miles for a drive by and this is when I reset the search filter to Maine.
And the Answer:
Me: What does FEMA flood zone x mean, exactly? Does it mean the property will be under water in three years or six months?
Vermont: Six months, at best.
Me: I'm out.
Vermont: Are you sure....
Me: OK, so that was the Rat King in the driveway, broad daylight, giving me the Rat Finger. So the trailer's situated on top of a dubious mound system, and uh, the first 12 inches of the front of the trailer are hanging off the mound. But they laminated the inside of the trailer so beautifully! I could live with this?
Vermont: Did you notice the neighbors?
Me: OK. This is a really cool house and I could probably live in it if nobody bothered to check the Certificate of Occupancy. It's on an acre in the middle of nowhere, a lovely antique...I can scrape the black mold and buy bottled water. Look! A drilled well!
Vermont: There's a damn good reason this property's been on the market for 382 days. Move along, nothing to see here. HEY! A HOLE IN THE FOUNDATION IS NOT AN INVITATION TO GO SLITHERING INTO THE CRAWL SPACE. For the love of dog, call an agent if you're going to do that.
Me: Well, shit. VT's got some amazing photographers but you know, it's 300 years old and the possibilities are endless.
Vermont: Cough. That's bamboo. Somebody put that in the back on purpose. It's the only thing keeping the house from sliding down a 16 mile embankment. And furthermore, I think the grove planted against the back of the house is holding the circa 1725 foundation in place. Also, are you aware that you're standing in the middle of the Northeast Kingdom? Lovely people but the woman in the black 4x4 slapped a tracking device on your little RAV4 at the gas station and you're officially on the watch list.
Me: I still might make an offer.
Vermont: Too late, somebody just bid twice the asking price. All the way from Park Slope, sight unseen. Cash. Going to contract in three days, waived inspection, yadda yadda, nothing to see here, people.
Me: Um, Vermont? Why is this property listed at last month's value?
Me: Why can't I get an agent to return my call?!
Me: OK, Imma leave a note...
Vermont: Tampering with a US mailbox is a felony.
Me: I shoved it under the front door.
Me: There's a white board in the kitchen and it reads: BUY ME!!! So I left my name and number and another number 50% above asking.
Vermont: Too late. Somebody just went to contract.
Me: But it was listed yesterday!
Vermont: Brooklyn. Again.
Me: Dammit. Now I'm never going to find out how many bodies are tucked under the foundation.
Vermont: Listen, Heather, it's not that we don't love you, but have you considered crossing the lake?
Me: Vermont. That's New York.
Me: I'm not going back.
Vermont: Ah... New Hampshire's to your right...
Me: Too far.
Me: Widening search now...
SJ: Hey, there's a piece of property a mile down the road. Sign just went up, want to have a look?
Me: Just let me grab my checkbook...
SJ: You know, leaving money in a mailbox... never mind, here's an envelope.
Me: I just called the agent. I left a message.
Me: Please call back ASAP! VERY motivated buyer. Seriously, dude. Please, don't make me beg.
And Then What Happened:
The 6.5 acre Vermont parcel that just happens to be EXACTLY where I'd live if I allowed my wildest dreams to manifest and make an offer right this second (less than 12 hours after listing hit the interwebs) and hope I know how much I'm supposed to bid over asking price...
Happy days: Property has a well permit! Property has a grey water waste permit! The building envelope is within reasonable proximity to the graded, town maintained dirt road... I only have to bring power 200 feet in from the road! High Speed Internet! (DSL)
I have two weeks for due diligence and I've not a clue what I'm doing, and the back up on drilling and excavating looks like six months at best and I've got a damn good tent and there's a fresh spring at the back of the property, and yeah, you know, I could get a portapotty maybe end of September...
I was outbid by enough to make a difference. Offer accepted anyway. We asked all the right questions. The refugee from California asked all the wrong questions so I got it anyway.
If I could just get him to give me a list of those 'right questions' so I'd know where to start my road map... Never mind. Just write the check and start moving.
The two ton gorilla lands in my lap and hands me a co-dependent bouquet of poison ivy and jewel weed. Princess, it says, go ahead and dream that little dream. You might really have a home and it might really be OK.
Me: I did that, didn't I?
Two Ton Gorilla: Did what?
Me: I dreamed a little dream.
Two Ton Gorilla: Yes you did. Good job!