Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Side Note

Before I get to 2011, I just want to say that eventually (and sooner rather than later) I will get on to the business of talking about the Electic Cottage, and show you the neat things we've done and bought and found.  I like pictures too.  Actually, whenever I get a new idea for something to try, I look online to see if I can find pictures of other people's attempts (for the better or worse).  Like whitewashing pine walls, and using beadboard on ceilings.  And of course, whenever we are going to buy something NEW (which isn't all that common, but some things I just want new, like electrical componants and our wood stove because we didn't want to install it, lol) it's nice to see them in use rather than the manufacturer's stock images.  Even if we vary the idea (like our pickling whitewash that isn't really either and completely disregards the directions from Minwax on how to apply it) it's fun to see what others did.  Then there's the great upcycling ideas like our wood crate wood box and totally trash picked display thing (I really don't know the proper name for it) in the dining room. 

Anyway, if anyone out there in internet land is even reading this yet, I just want to let you know it won't always be words and stories (but there will be those too, like about the pine cone).  So hang in there, especially if you like eclectic cottages, cottage style, or even nautical or shabby chic.  Because we've got a bit of all that, as well as junkmarket (aka fleamarket) and antique shop style mixed with some architectural salvage and craigslist finds.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Spring 2010

In the spring of 2010, a new listing popped up on the lake. A familiar address. It was the cottage with the out of town owner and previously frozen pipes.

So, we decided what the heck, we would call the agent. Wow. We've dealt with a lot of real estate agents over the years, and even held licenses ourselves for a while. This one was a winner for sure. He didn't even know the name of the town, he called it something completely else. And he didn't want to show it to us, he wanted us to come in two weeks when he had an open house. We almost didn't go after that call.  But we did in the end.

And it was cute. And small. And had no basement, no garage and a wood stove. And foundation problems. Big ones. And smelled like mold. And wouldn't qualify for a mortgage, even though the agent thought it would. And...well, you get it.

But it was cute. So we filed it away in the "think about it" file.  And went to another open about a month later, and asked if the agent would see if the seller would do an owner hold instead of a mortgage. And he blew us off, and messed around, and generally turned us off of the property.

We noticed the place from the year before was knocked down now, just like the a-frame a few years ago.
We decided to save enough to buy a place without a mortgage. And kept an eye on the pre-foreclosure. And as 2010 faded into 2011, we saw the sign disappear from the one bedroom bad-agent place with the foundation problems and out of town owner. A propane tank appeared, and a riding lawn mower too. Must have been sold...

Friday, October 14, 2011

Wha was that about reasons?


This vacant house was really just a cottage.  And it was just a few more doors down.  He told us it should be on the market soon, the owner was ready to sell.  See, he bought it for his brother when his brother got divorced so he would have a place to stay.  Then the brother moved away and the owner contracted the agent we were speaking to as a rental manager for the place.  And the tenants moved out in the winter without notice, let the propane run out...and inevitably, the pipes burst.  The agent assured us all that damage was fixed, and the out of town owner was fed up with it.  But, he didn't have the keys.  He figured the asking price would be lower than the one we were looking at too.

We decided to try to make a go at the place the agent showed us instead of the one he told us about, but we got a different agent this time.  Why?  Well, while the first agent was showing us the place, he kept trying to talk us out of it because we wanted to fix it instead of knocking it down and it was one of few buildable lots (due to minimum lot widths).  See, he had some buyers that were looking for a buildable lot and the other place would be better for us anyway.  That might not have turned us off, but seeing him SHOWING the place to those buyers later that day did.

So, the second agent showed us the two bedroom fixer again.  And we found out he knew the family that owned that pre-foreclosure we had been saving for.  And we started thinking everything happens for a reason...if the lake cottage didn't work, maybe he could help with the pre-foreclosure...

And that agent screwed us too-he never even put in our offer, and less than a week later, THAT property sold.

We gave up for the year.  Maybe 2010 would be better.  

Friday, October 7, 2011

Everything happens for a reason

We searched for years for a cottage on the lake. Well, really, it was a house we were looking for at first. After many years of working on our first house, we had some pretty specific things we wanted, and a longer list of things we DIDN'T want. We "needed" an attached garage, the bigger the better. It HAD to have a basement, we didn't want to deal with frozen pipes ever again. Our new house absolutely must have a fireplace as well. Not a wood stove, but a proper stone hearth fireplace. And three bedrooms. It couldn't have wood siding, or a gravel driveway either. Anyway, you get the idea.

The problem was, our budget wasn't that big. Well, that was one problem. Another one was the fact that there's only so much lake shore which means there's only so many abodes on the lake to chose from-and an even smaller percentage that are for sale at a given time.

So after a few years, we decided we could live with a cottage, and just make it what we wanted. We started to consider a place without a basement (gasp) or a garage-but it HAD to have enough room for a big garage to be built. And it still HAD to have a big fireplace in a big living room.

After a several years of fruitless hunting, we found a little place. It was an added onto cottage with no basement, but there was a two story garage, three bedrooms and a stone fireplace in a big lake facing bedroom. We met the owner's grandson, who was living there at the time. He didn't want to leave. He told us the story of the place, how it was originally smaller and how the family built it in the 40's and added on as the family grew and expanded. How his uncle made a common little cottage into a cute a-frame. And how the kitchen addition was built on the dirt, and the electric and plumbing didn't work in the upstairs, and how the foundation was shot. And how he had to leave because Grandma had to go into a nursing home and the state wouldn't allow her to have any assets-like the cottage.

We were overwhelmed with the work and the asking price, but we forged ahead and spoke to a mortgage broker. Who promptly told us that it would never appraise high enough for a mortgage. We were trying to get creative when our realtor called and told us the sellers accepted a cash offer. A year later the little A-frame was a pile of rubble and a new modular has sprung up in it's place.

Fast forward to 2009. We had given up on the lakefront and were now trying to buy a pre-forclosure. That is a whole entry in and of itself, and I promise to tell the story so far (we still keep tabs on it, and it still has no ending). We decided to forgo our usual vacation and rented a little place on the lake instead to save money towards our new dream house.

Have you ever rolled your eyes at the saying "everything happens for a reason"? Don't. Because it does. That crazy years long attempt at buying an abandoned house lead to us owning The Eclectic Cottage. And I have the pine cone on my desk to remind me of it (I'll tell that story sometime too).
How could that possibly lead to our piece of paradise?

Well, two doors down from our vacation rental was a cottage for sale. We had seen it before but deemed it not worthy of buying-it was in pretty rough shape (we thought). Well, we wandered down to look at it one day and found a pretty nice little place that needed some work, but was workable. And it had the requisite garage and at least two bedrooms So, we called an agent to show it to us. And he did. And he also told us a story about this vacant house...

{to be continued}