Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Finding Sasquatch (aka land to move the house to)

If you read my last post, you know we (Joe) decided to buy a office/house to be moved as our plane landed in Alabama for the Aggie football game.  The house got moved to the Silver Wings parking lot while we were in Alabama.

My parents graciously let us "store" the house on their land but we REALLY needed a permanent home for our future home.  Our search was 100% in earnest... but going nowhere fast.  If you are familiar with with Washington County land/real estate market, you can skip the next 2 paragraphs.  For real.  

As our flight descended back into Houston airspace, I - rebel that I am - took my phone out of airplane mode and did another desperate search on HAR for land.

As our flight descended back into Houston airspace, I - rebel that I am - took my phone out of airplane mode and did another desperate search on HAR for land.

Land in the Brenham Area Market: it's expensive.  Brenhamites don't totally get the appeal of Brenham.  Houston/Austin/Anywhere else (my husband included) see Brenham as a picturesque small town with great value, schools, football games, Blue Bell and everything else from a Hallmark Christmas movie... and for good reason - did you go to the stroll this past weekend?  

What that means is, finding affordable land in Brenham was like finding a Sasquatch  - people say they have seen it (and the tax rolls prove they bought it) but if you look at HAR (or ANY OTHER real estate  listing) but it really doesn't exist.  

So back to what felt like my millionth search on HAR for land (just over the Houston airspace).

YA'LL... there were 10 acres for sale... in our price range... literally a pasture away from my parents.  It seemed unreal and impossible.  I sent about 100 (really it was closer to five but felt like a lot) text to our realtor, Carol Galloway.  Carol said the land had an offer on it already but there were lots of issues so it was in a holding pattern.  

It really was like a perfect scenario - the land was less expensive- primarily because it was landlocked... but my parents were neighbors with 2 of the 6 potential neighbors and had a very good relationship with the 3rd.  We could figure it out.  Scratch that.  We WOULD figure it out.  We asked Carol if we could see the 10 acres 1.5 hours after our flight landed.

Carol could not get in touch with the listing agent but my parents neighbor said we could check it out from their land.  We took the golf cart through a couple hot wires and gates as the sun was setting.  Joe and I knew we would make an offer (contingent on having access to the land), my dad insisted he talk to on of the neighbors my parents shared with the property to get the inside scoop.  Joe and I headed back to Conroe.

Dad called the neighbor, Mr. Theil, the next day and told him about the land, about it being land locked, his concerns, etc.  Mr. Thiel took my Dad to look around the edge of the property, talked it over and Mr Thiel  told him that the 10 acres were no good.  If we were serious about wanting land we should look at the Bailey property on the backside of the 10 acres.  

The Bailey property was not for sale.  Here is the back story: Mr. Thiel was friends with Mr. Bailey and apparently let him (Mr. Bailey) run cows on his (Thiels) land during a drought decade ago (really closer to 2-3 decades) when Baileys tank dried up.  Mr. Bailey lived in Dallas and as he got older the drive got to be too much for him.  He sold off his cows and let Thiel run his cows on Baileys land.  (If you couldn't keep up with all the his and hims, basically, Mr. Thiel was nice to Mr. Bailey so Mr. Bailey let Mr. Thiel's cattle graze on Mr. Baileys land.)  

Again, the property was not for sale but Mr. Thiel told my dad that Joe and I should really try to talk to Mrs. Bailey (Mr. Bailey had passed away some years before)... Mr. Theil had her lawyers number and gave it to my dad/us.  And he showed my dad the "back 20" property. 

While this entire excursion between my dad and Mr. Thiel went on, I was in Conroe and Joe was in Pennsylvania/ Puerto Rico.  We were anxiously awaiting news on the original 10 acres we asked about, completely unaware a totally different property was being discussed.  

That afternoon/night, my dad called me and said we did not need to get the 10, we needed to get the "back 20".  And it wasn't for sale but he already called the owners lawyers Mr. Thiel said this was better property.  Dad said we needed to make a trip to Brenham asap to see this land that was not for sale.  

sidenote: it is going to seem like my dad is going all the work for a bit here and my dad did/is doing a TON for us and the land.  If you know Jimbo he takes on projects and gets things done.  And Joe was working on the 2016 election and was seriously CRAZY CRAZY busy throughout this time.  Like our regular routine was him in Conroe  from about 2am Monday-4AM Wednesday, Wednesday through late Friday in Pennsylvania, then late Friday/Early Saturday in Puerto Rico until late Sunday.  It was great for Joe's career but left ZERO time for making land deals.

Joe wasn't coming back to Texas for a few days so as soon as the kids were out of school for the week I took another trip to Brenham without him.  Dad drove me around the "Back 20" and it looked pretty and had some unique features and a defined homesite.   (Moment of truth: It may just be me but it is pasture land and every time my dad drove me around telling me about the different features I was completely lost.)  I called Joe and tried to tell him about it... but honestly it was hard for me to describe beyond saying its really good and you need to come. 

Joe met up with us in Brenham a couple days later and we showed him the land.  After Joe's first visit and my 3rd, we decided to move forward with the lawyer and see if Mrs. Bailey would be willing to sell.  

My dad left a message with the lawyer who responded and said he would talk to Mrs. Bailey and see if she was interested.  She said she was interested if we could go straight through the lawyer and not real estate agents.  We talked it over and made an offer... and heard nothing. 

My dad checked back with the lawyer a day later.  The lawyer said Mrs. Bailey was going to talk with her kids over the weekend and he would get back to us once he heard something from her.  And so began one of the LONGEST wait times/family meetings ever.  

It took a several days to hear back from the lawyer. Meanwhile Joe brought our trusted Conroe contractor, Jose, to the house to layout our vision and get his input.  Jose was in.  He put tougher a quote and it felt like the next day he was pulling out ugly carpet and a bright red kitchenette.  

My dad asked his lawyer and friend, Mr. Hailey to look into both properties.

Monday came around and my dad put in another phone call to the lawyer.  And left a message.  We were approaching becoming pest.

Finally the lawyer called back.  It was good news!  Mrs. Bailey would sell under two conditions:
- She wanted to handled directly through her lawyer (no real estate agents) 
- She wanted to wait until January 1 to sign the papers.  

We had found our Sasquatch and it was now time to plan and turn the office into our home.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

We are Diving In, Part 1

About a year ago, we made a jump, a leap, a dive off the high dive: we bought a house -  to be moved - in Brenham.   We did not have land for the house.   We were living contently in Conroe.  An entire section of the house was boarded up and unseen. Joe had a vision and I was along for the ride.  

We knew we wanted the kids to grow up closer to our families and in a small town.  We had started looking for land and house in and around Brenham and the search grew more and more intense by the day.  We found two houses - both requiring intense work - but they tugged at our hearts.  Neither panned out.  We scoured HAR listings, Craigslist, message boards, local newspapers, the appraisal district, and drove for miles and miles on old roads looking for property marked for sale or that appeared abandoned.  It seemed completely hopeless to be able to find exactly what we were looking for but we were in for the hunt and were confident if it was God's plan it would all work out.

Then, Joe did one of his famous crazy searches and found an office in Brenham that was to be moved.  It had been listed for sale at least a month or two before but we never saw it because it was posted (one time) on a random Brenham group on Facebook. 

We sent my parents a picture and told them the street it was on (Becker) and they recognized
it but didn't know much about it.  We called the contact listed and the seller had literally just sold it.... to a house mover that would probably be reselling in.  The original seller said he would send me a few pictures and the house movers (Larry J) contact info.

The pictures came through and Joe and I were instantly charmed.  It had the farmhouse feel we wanted but was built in the 90's so it shouldn't have all the old farmhouse problems.  There was shiplap and moulding throughout the building and it seemed to have enough charm to warrant a in person look.  It had a surprisingly big footprint and the square footage was larger than our current house.  It was in 3 separate pieces and was already being boarded up to be moved.  

It was time to call Larry J and get more details and see if it was actually for sale, pricing, logistics, etc.  I called and Larry answered right away.  He confirmed he had bought the house and was planning on using the large section as offices for rent in Plantersville and selling the rest... but he could sell everything for a price.  He said the house was charming, sturdily built and came from the business out of Giddings that used to sell small cottages.  

Larry J said the whole thing were 3 separate parts - the big section and two small add ons.  The big section was actually 2 of the Giddings houses connected by two large rooms.  The add ons were supposed to be attached to the back of each of the Giddings cottages.  

Larry J wasn't exactly forthcoming when it came to the price but he was very upfront with his timeline.  The buildings were being lifted onto the trucks and if we were interested and wanted to see them we needed to get there by the end of the day.  Joe was in Pennsylvania for at least a few more days. I loaded the kids up after school, coordinated with my parents and asked Larry J to keep the door unlocked so I could get in when I arrived that evening.  

My parents and I arrived at the house just before the sun was setting.  The building was already taken apart into sections. The smaller add-on was already boarded up and we could only barely look through 1 window.  The other add-on had a bright red kitchenette and glass walls. 

 The main building was oozing with potential.  Shiplap throughout the two Giddings cottage sections. Exposed beams on top.  A loft above each of the living spaces.  Some built in shelving features.  My parents and I couldn't figure out how the layout would make sense but the building really was spot on for what Joe and I were looking for.  I took pictures and sent them to Joe in Pennsylvania.


Larry called the next day and said we needed to make a decision on the house within 3 days because he already had the permits  with the State to move it on the highway.  It seemed like an impossible time crunch with Joe being away.  I passed the news onto Joe and he said he would figure something out.  He was scheduled to fly home the next night to repack to go to the A&M -  Alabama football game in Tuscaloosa the following day.  

I was back in Conroe continuing the rabid search for land for the next 1.5 days.  Joe landed in the late afternoon and we went to the house together.  He was quiet during his walk through and saw even less of the house than we did because of its being boarded up.  At dinner that night my dad said we could probably put the house on the side of Silver Wings if we decided to buy it but did not think buying the house was a wise decision.  

That night as we packed for our early morning flight we agreed the house had a ton of potential - but there were so so many hurdles in order for it work out.  Primarily we did not have land to put the house on yet and there was no chance to stall in hopes that we found some.  Our deadline with Larry was the next day.  Then there was the dilemma of whether or not we should spend the money buy a house (to move to land we didn't have) or wait to buy the land and build a house from the ground up as we were able. 

The next morning we took off for Alabama and had seemed to come to an agreement that as much as we like it, we would have to pass.  Joe had barely walked through it one time, I had seen it twice.  IT just didn't make sense for such a huge investment.  Apparently the planes in flight altitude effected Joe because as we got in the taxi after we landed, Joe casually said "We need to get the house.  Im going to text Larry.  Call your dad and let him know we will need to store it at Silver Wings."  And so we did.

Took a brief break for game day!

While we were away, my dad coordinated with Larry on the move and the location we would store it.  Joe's dad TC came to Brenham to ensure it all went smoothly (and we weren't being swindled).  TC and my mom went to the land to pick up anything and everything of use that was left behind (even sprinkler heads).

We got pictures once it was moved and came back to Texas excited to figure out what it was that we just bought (and saddened by the Aggie loss).

Back in Brenham, the house was just as we remembered it.  It was time to make a plan for the layout... 

And like the adventure we have been on with our house, the retelling of the first part of our adventure with the house has gone on much longer than I anticipated.  Thanks for reading, I will post another day with more pictures from our adventure until we get to where the status we have today.