Wednesday, May 10, 2017

There's a First Time for Everything

Now that I've got you all singing that Little Texas song in your heads...

It's an age-old saying. There is a first time for everything. And it is true. It never matters how old you get or how wise you think you may be, there is always something new out there. Last May and June showed me all kinds of firsts. Some were great, some made my head spin and some I am still trying to figure out to be honest.

Our real estate agent warned us about the farm. But as I said in the last blog, when speaking to Byron and I sometimes a warning comes off to us as more of a dare. You see, the farm wasn't just one parcel of land. It was two, well...technically 3, and each had its very own set of issues, which explained why it had been on the market forever (kind of like our sweet house in Athens, I sense a theme here). The first parcel was the bulk of the land and the house, pictured below.

This looks easy enough, right? Well it was an estate deal that required about 14 signatures and 14 people agreeing on a price to sell their family land. I can say this now, this part went much easier than I had planned.

Well, remember that river that I fell head over for? This beauty right here (those other 3 I am head over for as well)...

Here's where this deal got interesting. The river frontage that lined up with the main property was owned by someone else. Someone that has a very vital role and is invested in the river itself. And it just so turns out that that person and the family that own the large parcel have bad blood. Cue Taylor Swift. So, these two parcels of river frontage pictured here

were a whole other ballgame. Owned by a man that had absolutely no interest in selling. This is when it all started to get very interesting. Byron and I went back and forth quite a few times as to what the best thing to do was. We would decide on not buying the river frontage (we had been given permission to use it by the owner) but then go back to wanting it all to make it easier. Back and forth, back and forth until one day in the OR someone mentioned to Byron that you cannot land-lock a property owner. Well, those 2 river parcels were exactly that, we did some digging and turns out there is an easement that runs all the way from the road on the main parcel down to the river. This sealed the deal for me, there was no way I wanted the main parcel with an easement running down the side of it for whomever owned the river frontage to use at will. With the current owner, I saw no issues...but you just never know down the road, especially with this being a river popular to kayakers.

Byron and I had our budget, but now we needed to squeeze 3 parcels of land into that number versus 1. Sadly for the main parcel owners, the value went down since the land was almost useless to us without the river frontage, and the owner of the river frontage knew that. He too, had a number in mind - and this man is no stranger to land deals. Well, we thought his number was a bit outrageous for the acreage until he brought out the big guns, showing us that instead of the 3 acres that showed on the tax record, it was instead 11 acres of frontage since when you have a "non-navigable" river, the owner owns up to the middle of the river. 

You still following me? I am leaving out numerous other issues that presented themselves during this trying time mostly so you don't question our sanity and honestly, I have blocked many as I just didn't have that much extra storage in my head for the nonsense that went down. Just thinking back I am wondering if I should be proud of us or maybe a bit afraid of our stubbornness determination. By now, our poor agent was probably banging his head against any and every wall he could find as we went back and forth, back and forth, back and forth with numbers. And then one Sunday the man that owned the river frontage invited us to his property to chat. While I am giggling just remembering this meeting, I feel I cannot share all of the crazy details...other than the thought that ran through both of our minds at one point that we may not be making it out of this alive. You know those moments in which you question what in the heck you've gotten yourself into? Now I know, that this was just part of this man's character (I've learned he is quite a character). That's who he is and how he is, but not knowing that day standing beside a roaring river in the middle of nowhere you kind of wonder. But at this meeting, this entire deal got thrown a curve ball. River-frontage-owner made us a deal. He had a piece of land he wanted, and had an agent working on a deal. If we bought that land and then signed it over to him at closing, he would sell us the river frontage for a price that we could manage. All I thought was, "Yay he wants to sell!" But, in my head the voices that weren't screaming "WHY are you still here??" started to laugh and then say louder, "NO MAM. This is now crazy and you are in way over your head." I then heard ones screaming, "Amy this is shady you need to get the heck out of dodge right now." 

I don't know about you, but I don't always listen to the voices inside of my head. Turns out this is totally legit, it is called a land swap and is done quite often, but this was all new to me. Another first.

Fast forward about 2 weeks of number-dealing and contract-signing and here we go again for a first time. (For all of you real estate agents out there thinking this is a nightmare, I will have you know I need to nominate ours for saint-status) I drove to Elberton, Ga. to sit at an attorney's table with a check to buy a piece of land I had never laid eyes on. I sat beside a real estate agent that I had never met before, but had already worked the deal for me. The sellers sat across the table from me with eyes big as saucers when I announced to them I had no idea what I was buying or where it was. I think I even made the attorney a bit uncomfortable. You know those shirts that say "I smile because I have no idea what's going on?" Exactly. To tell you all the truth, I was wondering what in the world I was doing. And then when the plat was shown to me, I really questioned my intelligence. I was sitting down to close on an island. In Elberton, Ga. Oh the irony.

Let's just talk about how badly my armpits sweated the next few weeks. I was now the owner of an island in Elberton (this one really was land-locked at the time as no easement had been made) that was only accessible by the river on a canoe or kayak. Or tube, depends on how much of my sanity I had left. I was sitting on land that was absolutely useless to me. And I sat on it for 2 weeks, and then another week as the closing for the other parcels was pushed back. By now the voices in my head had stopped trying to talk sense into me and instead had comfy seats and bottomless bowls of popcorn watching this all unfold in front of them. 

The next time I sat down at an attorney's closing table, I had Byron with me, but my nerves were not any better. Due to the bad blood between the landowners, we thankfully learned that the river-frontage-owner had already visited the office that day and had signed his paperwork and all that was left was me signing over my Elberton island to him. Buckets dripped from my underarms with that signature. And the sweat didn't stop until all signatures were done. I was the long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.

But we walked out of the attorney's office the new owners of a farm. 103 acres of beauty on the river. I couldn't hardly contain my excitement as I realized again, this was a first. We just bought a whole lot of land in the middle of nowhere and I quickly realized that I had no clue what I was in for. One glance in Byron's direction to see his ear to ear grin that I don't often get to see reassured me. We've got this. We think... (cue the voices in my head to get refills on drinks and popcorn)

And you know what, if not, it's the farm. ;)