Country Living Series

Thursday, October 29, 2020

"Hell is bureacracy"

My goodness, we've had a chaotic couple of weeks.

To let readers know, we've sold our homestead. We close on November 20, but until our property closes, we don't have the cash in hand to purchase another home. The timing of this closing is awkward. Why? Because every rural and suburban property in the Inland Northwest has been snapped up by urban refugees desperate to get out of the cities.

We can't blame these people -- we'd do the same thing in their shoes -- but because we don't yet have cash in hand from the sale of our homestead, we've been unable to find a place to live.

As the weeks went by, this became an increasingly urgent matter. We have a household, a woodcraft business, and a farm to move -- but nowhere to move to. And winter is coming.

A couple weeks ago, Don and I took an overnight trip and looked at a few properties. We had it in our minds to purchase a little suburban fixer-upper in a small town, a place we could live in over the winter, fix up, then sell in the spring.

However we discovered two problems with this idea.

One, even fixer-uppers are being snapped up rapidly, and we still don't have the funds from the sale of our homestead to make an immediate purchase unless it was based on a contingency (closing after our home closes). Banks have made it clear they're not making loans, even temporary ones. Sellers realize they don't have to bother with something as absurd as a contingent offer when they know someone with a full-cash offer will be right behind.

And two, such a plan would tie up our money if and when an interesting homestead should suddenly come available.

On this exploratory trip, we actually viewed a home on acreage that at first didn't much interest us -- until we viewed it in person. Yowza, it was lovely. The house was "meh," but the property was beautiful. We made an immediate offer...contingent upon the closure of our home.

Sure enough, another buyer outbid us within hours (with a full-cash offer), and that was that.

Frustrated, and increasingly desperate, we had a "Screw it!" moment and made a full-cash immediate offer on a really really cheap 1970 mobile home in an RV park. The outside looked like ca-ca, but the inside was in fairly decent shape. We could be satisfied there for the winter -- especially since we could fix it up and probably sell it later for a small profit. And it would give us a base to live in while we searched for property in the spring.

This was a terrific decision, and it brought us great peace of mind. We worked with the realtor, signing paperwork and getting all the i's dotted and t's crossed. We worked with the property management company to transfer the lot rental to us. We called and reserved a storage unit in a nearby facility. In short, everything was falling into place.

Until yesterday morning.

The realtor, a very nice young man, called to tell us the seller -- who had been cagey during the entire sales process -- suddenly and capriciously withdrew his offer to sell the trailer. The realtor was very apologetic and frankly sounded weary. I gather the seller has pulled this stunt before.

This suspicion was confirmed when Don called the property management company and explained the situation. "Let me guess, it's Lot X," said the woman. When Don affirmed it was, she let loose a very frustrated four-letter expletive. She immediately apologized for her language, but Don laughed grimly and said he felt the same way.

Back to square one. We were going to be homeless in three weeks unless we could line up a place to live. We embarked on a frantic online search for a short-term rental and finally located a Craig's List posting for a pet-friendly apartment by a student who wanted to sublet his lease. I called the young man and he explained his lease was in student housing. We said we didn't mind, so he gave us the contact information for the property managers. However when I spoke to that organization, I was informed the sublet was for one bedroom in a three-bedroom apartment. In other words, Don and I would be sharing a three-bedroom apartment with two other students. Um, no.

(Though we later joked this could have a profound influence on the other students renting the apartment to suddenly have two old fuddy-duddies living with them. Can't you see it? "Young man, does your mother have any idea what you're doing?")

At last, Don got wind of a rental house in a nice neighborhood with a lease that only lasted until July, which is all we needed. We called and talked to the property manager and explained our circumstances. She promised to expedite the paperwork. We filled in the application form, then took a trip to deliver the application in person. She said everything was acceptable except we needed to verify our monthly income, which had to exceed two-and-a-half times the monthly rental amount.

No problem. We're self-employed and so our income varies, but we have documentation up the whazoo. The property management rep said the first page of our tax form should be sufficient. We came home and pulled together tax forms, affidavits from freelance sources, and other necessary proof of our monthly income.

Not good enough. The tax forms showed our net income, not our total gross income, and we were told that "Word documents" (with affidavits from our freelance sources) "can be forged" -- even though we provided contact information from these freelance sources (editors, etc.) for verification.

"Oh for Pete's sake," Don exploded. "After November 20th, we'll have enough money to buy the house outright if they were selling it." But we scrambled and found the Schedule C forms for last year's taxes, which showed our gross income. We offered a massive, massive security deposit. We even offered -- and this is really jumping the shark -- to have my elderly parents co-sign for us. C'mon, folks, throw us a bone!

"Hell is bureaucracy," Don growled at one point. But we got the additional paperwork submitted and finally -- at last -- signed the contract to rent the house.

In short, it's been a roller coaster over the last couple of weeks.

So that's our status. Now that we have a place to live temporarily, we'll start moving things into it so the new owners can take possession of our homestead by closing.

It's an adventure, we keep telling ourselves with gritted teeth. That's it, an adventure.

28 comments:

  1. I went to an estate sale at a house with a great view of the freeway, it was an older home well maintained, finished basement, fruit trees in the yard and a detached garage with a storage shed in the front, all on a small lot, small town but right up against the freeway. So I ask the lady running the sale, how long did it take to sell? She said 12 hours, and it sold for an outrageous price for the area. Glad you found some temporary digs. Don't unpack much, I hope your next move is a little calmer. We had a sales man selling meat drive up our driveway, when we said we were not interested he asked if we would sell the house. People are really desperate.

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  2. Praise the Lord! Soooo happy for you guys. Been praying for you!

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  3. We are just a couple months ahead of you. We finally decided that a house wasn't going to happen and settled in an apartment in CDA. Not two weeks later and we managed to find a decently priced bit of acreage and jumped on it.

    Now for finding a builder. I heard those are pretty rare as well.

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  4. Like they say, "life's a b_tch!" And it really can be!

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  5. And after a year all these city dwellers will have had their fill of the great unwashed rural areas and move back into their versions of paradise... sell prices will plummet, mark my words.

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  6. I think given all the uncertainty we would have elected to stay where we were and called off the sale. It may well be too large for you but at least it is secure and wholly yours.

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  7. In case (God forbid!) that doesn't work out, or in case it is helpful information to your readers, many folks a few hours to your north purchase an RV, live in it (with their many children and pets), shop for property, build homes, then sell it to the next family interested in doing the same. I could probably list at least a dozen who I know of...

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  8. Man o man I hope you guys made the right decision to give up what you had. Guess time will tell.

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  9. I have mentioned it on here before but our last move was real close to being a disaster! The old house was sold contingent on the buyers home selling. Ours had been on the market for almost a year and theirs had not sold in 3 months. I called the realeator and told him I would take 10K off mine if they would take 10K off theirs. Theirs sold in less than a week and we only had a week to get out of the house. The closing took place 1 week before the stock market crash back in 2008. For about 2 months I owned two houses. I really dodged a bullet and it sounds like you have as well. Good luck with the house / property hunt.

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    1. Offering to take 10K off your house if the potential buyers would do the same for the house they were trying to sell was pretty smart thinking on your part.

      - Charlie

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  10. We've been on the same roller coaster, and boy howdy, is it stressful! Due to my husband's work, we've been provided housing and utilities for over 18 years, and after 24 years of marriage are buying our first home. Time after time after time, the homes on acreage we looked at were snapped up. We finally settled for a small town home with a big shop- it will work for a few years, and we close in a few days. At least we'll be closer to mountains, even though we'll have to deal with close neighbors for the first time in a very long time. Best of luck in moving- we'll be thinking of you as we do the same.

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  11. I agree with all the above reader's statements. My husband and I were following your lead and were under a similar circumstance. But the Lord directed our path differently. Please keep praying, the Lord know His plan for YOU! We had a destination restaurant on our 55 acre property. We were also ready to downsize and "retire" from the restaurant business. So, because we had so much money equity tied up in the restaurant and the house, the plan was to sell our house, barn, restaurant dining lodge with 20 acres, and relocate to the remaining 35 acres with our liquid cash. While we had lots of "lookers"....everyone looked at it as an investment property...no one it seems want to actually WORK the restaurant!! This went on for about 9 months, when after lots of prayers, we decided to pull the property off the market. But we were still in a pickle, because in anticipation of a move, we had built a 60 x 80 building (with a building loan) on the property we intended to move to. Se would still be in debt. We kept praying, and then the Spirit told us to reverse and sell the new barn building with 20 acres Then, some long time friends made us an offer on that parcel...they could see the writing on the wall in regards to everything! We closed in July, paid off the building loan, paid off the house, and closed the business (we have a very successful business, but have notice in the 13 years we were open, a more "entitled" and "ungrateful" type of clientele coming to dine with us. On top of that, even in Texas, the government's mandate on restaurants in regards to Covid, was too much for us.) Now we are thankful of God's timing....not OUR timing. Even though we still have the big house, we believe it is for a future purpose, and the dining lodge was partitioned off for make my weaving studio. The commercial kitchen was repurposed into our "pioneer kitchen" complete with a Pioneer Maid wood stove. And we have some fantastic like-minded neighbors right next door! God is Good! Praying fervently for you and Don that the Lord provides you all your desire <3

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  12. I agree with all the above reader's statements. My husband and I were following your lead and were under a similar circumstance. But the Lord directed our path differently. Please keep praying, the Lord know His plan for YOU! We had a destination restaurant on our 55 acre property. We were also ready to downsize and "retire" from the restaurant business. So, because we had so much money equity tied up in the restaurant and the house, the plan was to sell our house, barn, restaurant dining lodge with 20 acres, and relocate to the remaining 35 acres with our liquid cash. While we had lots of "lookers"....everyone looked at it as an investment property...no one it seems want to actually WORK the restaurant!! This went on for about 9 months, when after lots of prayers, we decided to pull the property off the market. But we were still in a pickle, because in anticipation of a move, we had built a 60 x 80 building (with a building loan) on the property we intended to move to. Se would still be in debt. We kept praying, and then the Spirit told us to reverse and sell the new barn building with 20 acres Then, some long time friends made us an offer on that parcel...they could see the writing on the wall in regards to everything! We closed in July, paid off the building loan, paid off the house, and closed the business (we have a very successful business, but have notice in the 13 years we were open, a more "entitled" and "ungrateful" type of clientele coming to dine with us. On top of that, even in Texas, the government's mandate on restaurants in regards to Covid, was too much for us.) Now we are thankful of God's timing....not OUR timing. Even though we still have the big house, we believe it is for a future purpose, and the dining lodge was partitioned off for make my weaving studio. The commercial kitchen was repurposed into our "pioneer kitchen" complete with a Pioneer Maid wood stove. And we have some fantastic like-minded neighbors right next door! God is Good! Praying fervently for you and Don that the Lord provides you all your desire <3

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    1. I agree. We have no idea what the future holds for our economy and for housing in the near future. Selling a paid off property with all the farm implements, tools, barns, established fruit trees, garden, cattle, and land may bring you lots of bucks now, but holding cash in a plummeting economy with the inflation we (at least in Alaska) are seeing may not amount to much in a few months to a year from now. That's why, even though my husband and I don't need or want any other property -we currently have 5 paid off acres and no mortgage, we are looking to purchase a small 1-2 acre clear parcel just to hold as an asset rather than just holding cash which can become worthless in a New York minute if a depression ensues. Already many are feeling the hit to the pocketbook with the food prices headed through the roof. Even if President Trump is re-elected, the climb out of our astronomical national debt and a return to normal employment will be a while in coming.
      We had earthquake damage from the 2018 7.1 quake that hit AK, and we have just gotten around to completing work to a room in one corner of our home that was badly damaged. Thank goodness the roof, walls, floor, floor tiles, and windows were finished in 2019, but we have just now have gotten around to finishing the interior walls, window sills, paint, stain, new hearth, etc. Those building materials are VERY expensive now! I mean, as in "You wouldn't believe how expensive!" Our woodstove was purchased new a few years before that, because we had intended to put a second one in our upstairs. If we had not purchased it back then, we would be paying double for it now. Just thinking about your handy cooking/wood stove in your kitchen you were so proud to get. I think you also will find that you might end up with some pretty undesirable neighbors in this day and age. So you may think living in town is okay for now, but people who have lived out in the boonies for a long time and then move to town often find themselves pretty miserable. If your cash is gone due to inflation, you may never be able to purchase land again, especially if you are then older persons with more medical issues and less ability to work. All that aside, I wish you Godspeed, as it is really difficult to know what to do since none of us have crystal balls. Praying for our nation - that we might return to normal -although I don't quite see how we can do that anytime soon. But only God knows, so praying that all works out for you and Don.

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  13. Stay put in your home and land you currently own.Call it off before the 20th. Hunker in. So you put time and energy into fixing it up. If too much upkeep, let some land go fallow. The property worth will go up. Why leave now? Why settle for less? I'd sit still. Why go through this high Russian grand drama?
    ...RangeFrontFault

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  14. Yea it's been nuts here in the Bitterroot also...Glad you found a place for your temp home...

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  15. Glad it's coming together. Prayers for a smooth ride here on out.

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  16. I can empathize, we just bought 5 acres in NW Georgia. Will need to find a temp house while we build the new one. All the houses in the area are being snapped up right and left !

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  17. We bought our home after our realtors showing it to us on FaceTime. That seems very risky but we then went to see it during the inspection period and were happy with it. It isn’t everything we wanted and the neighbors are too close but it is the best we could do with the amount we had. I understand the hot properties in rural areas but houses in California are going that fast too. Seems strange to me.

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  18. Taxed off a property in N.y and sold it a third the tax assessed "value" and realized we were paying 1/3 it's sale price return in taxes yearly..

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  19. My email should show up with this comment. There are several properties available in my area. There is no need to publish this comment, but contact me if you are interested in more information.

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    1. Your email doesn't show up, so I can't send you an email. What part of the country are you in?

      - Patrice

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    2. I’m in the southernmost part of Illinois, very near Kentucky. Cook County (the Chicago area) is liberal, but our part of the state is conservative. Search the Shawnee National Forest to see where I live. We’re a farming area with some coal mining also. We have Mennonite and Amish neighbors. Neighbors help neighbors. Is there an email that I can use to send you some links for farms for sale near me? If you're not interested in moving that far or to Illinois (which I completely understand), that's fine.

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    3. You're very kind to think of us, but we plan to stay in Idaho. Seems like the best plan at this point (smile).

      - Patrice

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  20. I am shocked you are selling! I would think an asset like your home and property could easily make you tons of money right now and would be a massive asset for you and your daughters in the future. If I had to rent out the house and live in the barn I would to keep it.

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  21. Wishing you all the best in your move!

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  22. Sell high, buy low.
    This is in the cards. Wait another 6-12 months and the market will crash.

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  23. Lot of pessimistic comments here.

    Patrice, congrats on a step forward.

    Anybody predicting a collapse next year is going waaaay out on a limb. Yes, I agree that one harsh winter is going to scare a number of folks back to their big cities, but the other factors that drove them to the country are all still going to be there in all likelihood.

    IMO the single biggest driver for these purchases is the huge number of companies allowing WFH (work from home) now. I think it's been overdone, and I also think it's going to take a number of years for companies to see the faults in this new system.

    Don't forget our economy is in uncharted waters. Thus, predicting the future is more difficult than ever.

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