Saturday, March 17, 2018

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire - The Ultimate Country Property

The Ultimate Country Property
Often I don’t remember how I get into certain listings or find buyers but some of the details usually come out in the writing and I at least come out with a conclusion of some sort or a lesson learned.
I think in this case I was contacted by a fellow on my Great West house that never sold. It’s a typical example that we advertise properties to sell “A” house (and not particularly that house).  Suffice it to say he wanted a large custom home where he could relax from his rather hectic business. He liked all the amenities but the house was far too old and outdated for him. He wanted all those things but something modern. Something he could be proud of.
Well, I knew of a place that pretty well fit his list of requirements in exactly the area he wanted to settle. There was only one catch. It was about a hundred and fifty thousand more than he wanted to pay. Forty odd years ago that was a pretty healthy sum of money. He didn’t care. He wanted to see it. Well okay then. I first arranged to go through the place myself so I wouldn’t look like an idiot when I showed it to him and his wife. The listing agent was the wife of a prominent lawyer I had befriended a few years before. She was very gracious in taking me on a tour of the now vacant home.
It was a couple of days later that my buyer came thundering up in his brand new white Cadillac. He was by himself, not having brought his wife or the children. Well THAT was a little disconcerting but the real estate business is always full of surprises.
Before we went into the house we entered the swimming pool building, a massive structure with everything in it, including a bar, change rooms and showers – everything needed for a rich man’s pool house and then some. The building was close to the residence, but before we went in, he wanted to see the property itself, which we did.
A little further back in a clearing stood a barn and hay roof. I was to learn later that it was visible from the kitchen and family room in the house. It was a twelve stall barn where the stalls were reversed and the horses would face outwards to a hallway that ran the length of the barn. Of course there were no animals there now. It was quite a set up.
The place belonged to a major grain buyer whose son-in-law had designed it for him. He had placed all the toys and would be toys in the property for the old man’s whim and fancy. Now as he moved up to the west coast, he had entrusted the property to my lawyer friend to dispose of. That was pretty well the long and the short of it.
But I digress. We went into the house through the mud room which was opposite the pool house. That in itself was quite a production. It was a large space with room to remove your boots and replace them with slippers, a couple of saddles and tack, and whatever else you wanted to drag in or out with you. The mud room opened into a spacious kitchen and – well like every other room in the place was well appointed and fitted with every luxury. Even the curtains and drapes were tastefully hung in the place.
It was several hours before we got through, going back outside again to re-examine the grounds. I went home in a totally confused state. I had no idea of what might happen to this deal. In fact I didn’t hold out much hope of it ever materializing. Yet the confidence of my buyer left something to be considered. I just swept it under the carpet and had my dinner.
Two days following that visit to the property I suddenly got a call from my lawyer friend. He’d been talking to my (potential) buyer’s lawyer and it looked like a potential deal was in the offing so I should call him. I was about to when the buyer phoned me. I was to come to his place in the Wildwood Park area, an upscale residential district in the city. I was to write up an offer on the place in the country and at the same time give him my opinion of the value of his own home.
It was one of those C. T. Lount slab homes with heated copper piping in the floor to keep it warm in winter. It was indeed a spacious and well appointed home. Taking the area into account and the quality of the property itself along with the urgency to sell, brought us to a reasonable asking price. I barely had time to organize a public open house. In fact, once I had the open house organized, the house was sold in the first half hour, lock stock and barrel. There’s another side story to tell about that, but it’s for another time.
The best way I can describe how this deal all came together is to compare it to putting it into a legal set of dough makers. The first one would knead it together, remove it and throw it into the next one that added something or other and continued kneading. I have only a vague recollection of machinations between lawyers with the occasional notice of how things were going and somehow, the first thing I knew, the deal had come together and my buyer was in possession of the new place.
That. it turns out, was only the beginning of the story. It wasn’t long before they had their own stamp on the place. He was busy thundering around the country side in his big white Cadillac or thundering around the property on horseback, having an absolute ball while his wife was enjoying the house and the pool, totally avoiding the barn with all those big beasts in it. Well really, the daughters enjoyed the pool more because it brought friends and boyfriends and happy times. Now they had it all.
About six months went by when I got a phone call from my buyer. He said he wanted to sell the place.
“WHAT?” I blurted out in disbelief. “You only just got there. What’s wrong?”
“It’s a long story,” he replied. And he proceeded to tell me. To start with, his wife had suffered an aneurism, not fatal but quite debilitating. She would be a long time recovering. I was shocked and expressed my condolences. She was such a lovely lady. But that still wasn’t any reason I could see to move. Well she liked the place but it was too big for her to keep and not only that, she was deathly afraid of those big scary horses. Still not a reason to sell, I figured. Well not only that, but his brother who had been his partner forever was pilfering clients out from under him. He needed a smaller place and he needed a shop in the city to set up his business on his own without a partner. Not only that, but he wanted it all to be closer together so it was more manageable. Okay, now it made sense.
In order to be an honest broker, I suggested we hand the place back to my lawyer friend’s wife because I had no idea of how to find another buyer for such a place. He agreed, so I got busy trying to find him a location closer to town and also a business premises. It pretty well all went sideways because he was busy finding his own properties. I couldn’t quite read his mind so I rather backed off and eventually lost track.
I don’t really know what I learned from this whole experience other than to try not to get involved with these high energy doers again. It’s far too easy to get out of your league.

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