Small Town Politics
Now that I think of it, I probably got the joint listing for the property out west because of the Matlashewski farm. Well that, and the fact that the owner of the company I worked for was busy bringing in foreigners from Europe to buy farmlands at exorbitant prices. But the small town agent was known to me over some other matter so he chose me to co-list with him, much to the chagrin of my boss. I think I wrote about this some time ago but I can’t find it in my computer anywhere, so I’ll do it again. This series of disasters is too good to keep hidden.
The other agent in question, I’ll call him Club Wilson because he always carried a flask of Canadian Club in his vest pocket (for emergencies) was on the town council, a veritable pillar of the community. The property in question had been in the Green family for generations and Elmer Green, the long time mayor of the town had sold the whole bundle to his two sons, Stan and Earl at going prices which were exceedingly high at the time. Well it was a time of the European influx so the boys had no trouble getting a huge mortgage from the TD Bank.
As I said, it’s not what you know, but who you know that counts in this game of high stakes real estate. That would certainly play out in this case. Of course, the boys had to submit a business plan for all of this to fly and they did that too. That was something they were good at. They were after all university graduates – one in civil engineering and the other in agriculture. They could write a proposal like nobody’s business.
The proposal all done and the cash in the old man’s pocket, the boys set out to execute their plan. Each lived in a house on opposite ends of the land that they got busy renovating and they began building huge feeding stations for their cattle. It was a very efficient operation as far as I could tell. The idea was to feed and fatten the cattle from their own grain and then ship them off to South America.
Well I’m not much of a farmer but I couldn’t see how the Green boys would compete with the Argentinean cattle market (from what I’d read). I guess the bank didn’t notice either because they kept shoveling money into the boys bank account like there was no tomorrow.
And this was no cheap operation either, what with Stan flying up to wherever in South America to talk to buyers and so on. They had the same idea with the sale of their operation by the time I got into it. Well, of all things, they wanted me to hire an aerial photographer to take a picture of the farm operation. THAT certainly wasn’t in MY budget. That’s one thing you can say about the Green boys: they weren’t cheap with the bank’s money, or mine either.
I should explain how this whole deal came to be. At the time of their business plan and proposal, interest rates had been extremely low and so seemed to work, which is why it was approved in the first place. Then suddenly the banks deemed it necessary to raise the rates to some 23 – 24 percent – more than double what it had been. Well on a multimillion dollar mortgage, this was a real blow. It just didn’t work anymore. Old Elmer wasn’t about to step in. He had his cash out of the deal already and he was keeping it. Neither of the boys was worried either, nor was the bank. This was the time Europeans had been coming over with deep pockets and an appetite for Manitoba land. And so the bank let the Green boys proceed with the operation.
Well now I had to come up with a sales strategy that satisfied them and fit into my budget. I reckoned (rightly or wrongly) that having an aerial photo taken would take weeks to accomplish while I, with my Polaroid camera could shinny up one of the ninety foot silos and accomplish the same thing while I was right there on the farm. They bought the idea and I removed my coat, strapped my camera to my belt and started up the outside ladder of the ninety foot silo. NINETY FEET? UP AN OUTSIDE LADDER? What had I got myself into?
As my Missus likes to quote, ‘once you say “a”, you must also say “b”.’ So I stiffened my resolve and started up. It was a straight ladder all the way to the top with a sort of flimsy cage around it (supposedly to prevent being blown off the ladder by the increasing winds). That was a time when I could run up stairs two at a time – just like Rocky Balboa. I kept this in mind as I ascended (slower and slower).
Finally I was at the very top, railing against the wind, taking pictures furiously and hoping they would turn out. Looking neither up nor down, except for where the next step was, I came whizzing down like a lead balloon. I made a mental note never to do anything that stupid again.
For whatever reason, the Europeans didn’t materialize. It could have been the wrong time of year, or there were better deals elsewhere, or it was too cold here. Well, they just didn’t show up. It came to the point where the bank was putting on the brakes, so the boys had to consider doing something else like pursuing their professions.
Well I never did sell the property, but I heard some of the back story which was just as interesting. The bank finally foreclosed on the property and as far as I know they still own it. Old Elmer, with his bundle of cash stashed firmly away somewhere, convinced the bank to allow subdivision of the property to the extent of the two residential properties so they boys could live there (which they continue to do) and give up the rest of the property to the bank. I guess that cost him a penny or two but he got it done.
I’m sure there might be some differing opinions but as far as I’m concerned everybody was a winner in this situation. For one, I got an education of what it was like to climb straight up a ninety foot silo and get down in one piece. The boys managed to stay in their homestead houses now completely renovated and pursued their professions. Old Elmer still had most of his ill gained money which was stashed somewhere safe and could rightfully retire, having done a good turn for his boys. As for the bank, well . . . . Don’t get me started.