It had been over 5 years since any property had sold on the lake – so no one really knew what the property should sell for. The high listing price caused quite a lot of mumbling around the lake – lots of speculation. But one thing everyone was in agreement with was that the price was outrageously too high. The realtors kept insisting that lakefront always goes for more.
For some reason, we didn’t wish this was our lake house. Instead, we just instinctively knew it was ours. We didn’t know how it could ever become a reality – we didn’t have a clue. But something seemed to tell us it was ours.
We called for a referral for our own realtor for that area. We went through the lake house and looked hard at it. It needed lots of rouge and lipstick. Maintenance had fallen by the wayside, and grass was growing out of the gutters. Maybe it had good bones – we weren’t sure. I walked through the property with my oldest son, and I found a stone, carved years ago, with the name “Suzie.” The handprint perfectly fits my 9-year-old today.
Once we had seen the place, we made, what seemed to the owners, (but logical to us) a ridiculously low offer. So low, they didn’t even reject it. They didn’t even acknowledge it. The longer it sat, the more we worried that someone would snatch it up – someone with more money. But, for some reason, the place just sat there, unnoticed.
Summer turned to fall. They finally dropped the price – a little. We made another offer – a little higher than our first offer, but still lower than the new asking price. Nothing – not even a counter. We kind of smiled as winter came, because we realized it wouldn’t sell this year, and we wouldn’t have to pay property taxes for the winter.
Spring came. We got a little worried about spring fever hitting more potential buyers. So, we talked to our realtor about the price being so high. Our realtor’s response was that lake front property always sells high. If the selling price was higher than the appraisal, we could pay the difference out of our own pocket. To us, that seemed absurd. Why would we ever overpay for a property? But, to her benefit, our realtor was very direct, and had years of experience listing and selling these kinds of properties. She knew all about the emotions such a place stirred, and she was kind and supportive. She knew, too, that it was ours — and would frequently say to the listing agent, “They’re the buyers.” But, none of us could see eye to eye on the price.
The sellers agreed to have a professional appraisal done – just to show us what it was worth. Days went by – no phone calls. So, we followed-up only to find out that the appraisal was done, but they were choosing not to share it with us.
This was a good sign. We also suspected that the listing agent had a 1-year contract with the seller. Time was running out for this listing agent. If he didn’t sell it within the year, there was a good chance the buyer would find another listing agent. And in the small town, word would spread that he had lost this house. Now, the agent was motivated to sell the property quickly.
We called our bank, and asked for them to do an appraisal that we would use in the closing. Done. Based on those numbers, we submitted another offer, our third, contingent on a home inspection. This offer was not too far from our first “ridiculously low offer.” This one at least earned a counter offer. So, we went back and forth over a few weeks. Our offer was accepted on Mother’s Day weekend. The home inspection revealed no major flaws. On Father’s day weekend, we closed.
One of the first things we did was to hire a cleaning service to bring out some of the house’s charm. What an amazing transformation. My husband worked all weekend cleaning out the gutters, and raising the canopy of the trees, revealing a
breathtaking view of the lake. And in addition to the garage, there is also a guest house. Contact me if you’d like to rent it.
Now that we have it, everyone is coming out of the woodwork to tell us that they were thinking about buying the place. But, thankfully for us, no one else officially put an offer on the property. Which is pretty amazing for lake front property—places that seem to sell themselves by location only.
But, like I said, it is on a small lake, where it can get lost to the other 100 lakes in the county. Who knows, if the realtor had been more aggressive in marketing it, and been more patient to let more buyers roll in this Spring, and had paid to have it cleaned and fixed up – it probably would not be ours. But, it was just meant to be…
Our first day at our new lake house. What a view!
And here we are, with our Aunt and Uncle.
The Lake House, Part I
More lake house posts, here.