Summer In The City
We returned to Houston empty handed and disappointed – just in time for the heat and humidity to descend on us. It had been so nice in Tennessee and North Carolina, especially in the more mountainous areas where it was cool and crisp. But here we were back home; and it was time for summer in the city. We were discouraged and confused. What should we do next? We had a grand plan but things just weren’t going our way.
On the one hand, we were drained from our unsuccessful property search, but we had our two Alpacas and one of them was pregnant. That gave us something fun and exciting to look forward to. Would it be a boy or a girl and what color?
And our thirst for knowledge grew. That summer we spent quite a bit of time reading more about Alpacas. After all, we owned some now and we wanted to know "everything" and we wanted to know it right then! We quickly learned that "everything" is an awful lot and it’s best absorbed over time. We’re still learning day by day.
When we purchased our first Alpacas, we purchased two white suri females. The fiber on a suri Alpaca hangs in a defined dreadlock structure. Candace really likes suris and so do I – more now than I did at that time. Back then, I really preferred the huacayas, which are more "poofy" and teddy bear-like. In fact, they are just plain cute! We really liked gray and black and decided that we needed either a gray or black huacaya female to round out our herd.
The Tennessee farm owner where we purchased and boarded our suris, located a gray huacaya female, with a two-month-old female black cria! Wow, maybe we could get both gray and black! We got some photos and fiber samples; and after doing some number crunching, we bought them both. We arranged to have them transported to Tennessee to reside with our two suri girls. In the meantime, our pregnant suri mom had her cria. Two Alpacas had quickly become five. Our herd was growing.
Back To The Hunt
In late October, we traveled to Tennessee again to see our new cria and our newly purchased huacayas. We spent four days at the Tennessee farm working with our Alpacas and just relaxing – a vacation from our previous vacation. Then we headed out to look for property again.
One of the primary goals in our property search was to find a place that was cooler than it is on the Texas gulf coast. A cooler climate would be better for the Alpacas – and for us too! Our initial focus had been on the mountainous areas near the Tennessee and North Carolina border. Obviously this hadn’t worked, so maybe we should try something different – but what? Where should we look? We really weren’t sure.
Checking Out Crossville
During the summer, Candace’s parents had made a trip to Crossville, Tennessee and remarked how nice and cool it was there. We had actually been in Crossville several summers back around the Fourth of July. We remembered being outdoors in the evening and needing a light jacket to stay warm. That certainly qualified as being cooler than the Texas gulf coast. What the heck, we’d check it out.
At that point we still weren’t sure if we wanted to purchase raw land or acreage with a house and barn, so we were open to looking at either. We made reservations at a B&B in Crossville and it turned out that one of the owners was a realtor. All right! Things seemed to be clicking again.
Is This "It"?
Our realtor asked all of the usual questions – what are you looking for, when are you looking to buy, what is your budget, etc. With all this in mind, he had several properties for us to view, but one in particular that he wanted us to see. We met his broker and took off to see what they had. We went first to their choice property. It was fabulous – very picturesque! It was 90 acres with about 70 acres in pasture, a 4 to 5 acre lake, and the rest wooded. There was no house but there was a small storage barn. The place was beautiful. When you drove up, the property just spread out before you. The gentle rolling hills of the pasture were ringed at the rear and right side by the woods. And the lake – I was salivating just thinking about fishing in that lake!
How much was this incredible place I asked? Interestingly enough, it was exactly the amount that I had told our realtor was the top end of our budget. That should have been a clue but we were totally absorbed and excited. We had finally found something that could be "it". The logic part of our brains shut down and our emotions and dreams took over.
We looked at several other properties that day, but after that first place nothing else compared. That evening we went to the nicest restaurant in Crossville to celebrate our good fortune and discuss our offer for the property. Our realtor had advised us that the property owner was firm in his price so we figured that if we wanted the place we’d have to pay up and offer top dollar. After much discussion, a nice dinner and a good night’s sleep, we met at the broker’s office the following morning and signed the papers. Gritting our teeth we offered the full asking price. We then left town thinking all that was left to do was to wait for our copy of the approved contract and to secure financing.
Heading South To Georgia
Glowing in our success, we headed south to Conyers, Georgia (30 miles east of Atlanta), where we attended the Southeastern Alpaca Association’s Fall Festival and showed one of our Alpacas in competition. We were a bit disappointed, only placing third, but figured we had to start somewhere. This was our first competitive event like this, so we learned how to show and what the judges look for. The third place finish was quickly a distant memory, as we kept thinking about our property. We had found our ideal place. It was ours and nothing could stop us now!
Things Start To Unravel
When we got back to Houston, I began the process of securing a loan for our property. I contacted the Farm Credit Office in Tennessee and got the paperwork started. And then things started to unravel. We still didn’t have a copy of the signed contract. The contract stated that we would apply for financing within a fixed time frame; but we needed the signed contract to complete our loan application and get the financing rolling.
We called our realtor – "what is going on up there?" First we were told that the seller approved the deal but his wife was in Hawaii. When she returned, she would sign the contract and we would get our copy. Several days later, we were told she was back but didn’t want to sell and wouldn’t sign. Supposedly the broker was spending quite a bit of time in discussion trying to get the wife to agree. We talked to our realtor and/or the broker daily and the excuses seemed to change at least that frequently. We were wasting time and getting nowhere. There was way too much foot-dragging going on here; and we were confused and getting a bit angry. For crying out loud, we had offered the seller’s asking price. Did they want to sell the place or not? Well yes, but not really.
And Then It All Fell Apart
Next the broker told us that the seller wanted to sell, but his wife wouldn't agree to the original asking price; and the new asking price was 20% higher! What? I don’t think so! We were stunned. Questions – we had lots of questions! What in the world was going on here? Every state is different, but isn’t there a law that if you offer to sell a property and someone offers the asking price you are bound by law to accept that offer? Our heads were spinning. We consulted with Candace’s dad who was a licensed realtor in Alabama and he agreed – something strange was going on here.
We were getting nowhere playing phone tag with the realtor and broker, so we decided to go straight to the horse’s mouth. I called our loan officer at the Farm Credit office, told him what was happening and had him look up the seller in the phone book. Phone number in hand, we bypassed the realtor and broker and called the seller ourselves. We at least got answers to some of our questions. Was the property for sale? Yes it was. Other than the price, were the terms of our contract acceptable? Yes they were. Was his initial asking price still valid? No it wasn’t! He would sell the property but only for the new higher price. Confused? So were we. We didn’t get into the legalities of the situation but politely thanked him and ended our conversation. And with that, the deal was dead.
What Just Happened Here?
Wow! We felt like we had been blindsided by a runaway truck! The next day I called our loan officer at the Farm Credit office and told him all that had transpired. He had many contacts in the area and offered to check and see if he could get the real story.
Here’s what he found out. Turns out the seller had never actually listed his property for sale with the broker. The broker was handling the seller’s purchase of another piece of property and the seller had mentioned casually, just in passing, that he might be interested in selling his land. But since the property was never listed there really wasn’t an asking price. Then we came along. Our budget magically became the seller’s asking price. But the seller was not bound to sell it by the nonexistent asking price, since it was never formally listed. Did you get all that? What a racket!
To be fair to our realtor, we feel he was caught in the middle and didn’t know what was going on either. I think he and the broker have since parted ways. The broker was the unscrupulous one in this deal. If we had wanted to push this with the state of Tennessee, I imagine that the broker might have lost his license. But we felt we still might look for property in Crossville and didn’t want to be known as the outsiders from Texas that cost old so-and-so his job.
Some battles are worth fighting and some aren’t. Sometimes it’s best to just let things go.
As the Kenny Rogers song says, "You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away and know when to run". One bit of advice – if you're ever involved in something like this, keep your wits about you and don’t get emotionally attached to a property. Don’t play the game with sucker written on your forehead. As we learned, this is sometimes easier said than done.
Side Notes - A Bit Of Trivia
On a side note, we are now very glad we weren’t able to purchase that property. It probably would have been a financial over-extension and added extra stress to our lives. And who needs that! Going into our search we prayed for guidance and protection. We were certainly guided and protected from making a potentially costly mistake. But I still do think about that lake from time to time.
An additional bit of trivia - we found out several years later that the seller passed away in the spring following this fiasco. We’re not sure how his wife is doing. She may still be in Hawaii, or for that matter, she may not even exist. It is an interesting world that we live in.
On A Mission
So there we were, like a jilted bride, left standing at the altar once again. We were frustrated, but this time we were wiser from our experience
We did make one additional trip back through Crossville that year during November, while in route to visit our families at Thanksgiving. After our original land purchase fell apart, our Farm Credit loan officer connected us with a local businessman that bought and sold land. We stopped and met him and looked at several of his properties; but still didn’t find anything that suited us.
And then the year was over. Even with all that had happened, we ended the year with a sense of calm and a good attitude. We now had all winter to gear up for another round the next spring; and we knew somehow, someday, we would find our ideal place. We were on a mission! Click here to read the continuation of "Our Story"