A LITTLE MORE ABOUT OUR BACKYARD PROJECT
It was a summer afternoon in 2019. We had just, months prior, finished renovating and moved back into our home of over 20 years. Things were still not quite settled after so much upheaval. I was doing the dishes when Clint came in and said, "The property behind us is for sale."
The wooded acres behind us felt dormant and stuck in a time warp. Super long and narrow lots with tear-down homes that felt like you could take them down with one strong push. We inquired. The price was outrageous, and the realtor made it clear that the owner had no intention of budging. "In fact, he doesn't really want to sell the land," she quipped. Uh, ok. Testing the waters? We made a few offers, and nothing materialized.
It was around this point that Clint, staring out the bedroom window, said, "Wouldn't it be great if we could have an in-law suite back there in case we need to take care of your parents or my Mom? We could create private studio spaces for ourselves. We are designers, but also artists, as you know.
Clint had planted the vision in my brain. We both wanted it to happen. We decided to try one property to the west, where there was nothing but a run-down home from the 1940s that was full of water and disintegrating before our eyes. It took some serious digging and traveling, and research, but we found the owners, thanks to my realtor friend.
Both owners were in nursing homes about an hour in different directions. The stepmother got 1/2 the property in the divorce. The stepdaughter didn't even know she owned it after her father died. They weren't speaking, as you might guess. The stepmom was tired of paying the taxes and minimal bills. I could go on, but you get the idea. We closed a few weeks before the world shut down in 2020. At the very least, we could build and drive around to get to it. It wouldn't be a quick trip through the backyard as we had hoped unless I could work something out with the first, non-negotiable property owner whose property backed up to ours.
While we tore down the house on the property we now owned, the for sale sign went away on the abutting property. No sale, no transfer, and now no sign.
I decided to write a letter to the owner directly. We had nothing to lose. We waited. And waited. And then, finally, one day, a message. It turns out the owner, Bob, was a nice guy, and he did want to sell. He did not, however, like realtors. I happen to know a few people who buy and sell property for a living, so I knew that we could come up with a fair, plain language contract and just use a title company. That made him perk up. Fewer fees. No realtors. We offered a little less than the first go around. After thinking for a week, he called me back to say 5k more, and it's a deal. By this point, I was skeptical. I agreed but said no more, and that's got to be the deal. He agreed. By some act of God, we finally had an agreement-- signed-- to purchase the second and key adjoining piece of property. The in-law suite with art studios was beginning to sound like it might actually happen. I even made a Pinterest Board so I could dream.
Next week, the progress and where we are today. Be sure to sign up for my email list for the latest.