Monday, August 04, 2003

editor's note: this is the third in an irregular series of blogs related to the recent house hunt of Cap'n Ken and his First Mate

The House Hunt
Tonight's Episode: Blueprint for a Caper


It was official ... there was no house in 30316, 30317 or 30312 that suited our needs and desires as well as the one 420 yards from our current abode - the home that was no longer for sale.

We had made a decent offer on the place, but that only prompted the owners to take the house off the market. Fate, it seems, was not on our side.

If fate wasn't with us, I'd need to enlist its sworn enemies - logic and perseverance.

It's logical to believe that a person who hires an agent, cleans the house up, sticks a sign in his yard, a lockbox on the door and welcomes random strangers in on a Sunday afternoon does, in fact, want to sell his house.

Perseverance comes in to play as the strategy to shake loose whatever is plugging up the process. The guy wants to sell the house, logic says. I just needed to find the right trigger.

The information we had on the seller - I'll call him Randy - was that he was selling the house in order to move away to join his wife, who had fled Atlanta due to a lack of job opportunities. So the motivation seemed clear.

Randy had bought his home new back in 2001. The counter-offer he had made to our original offer suggested he was looking for the 5% annual appreciation we'd seen in the EAtl back in the late 1990s. But the economic downturn of that sumbitch Bush has slowed down that growth.

He wasn't going to get that much anytime soon. Our offer would have given him a 5.5% return over two years; a realistic figure given economic conditions.

So he got a good offer, and he is motivated to sell. Why, then, did he blow us off?

There was only one way I knew of to get an answer and push fate to the sidelines.

About a month after of flurry of offers, I gave old Randy a call.

"I'm the guy who tried to buy your house" was the message I left on his answering machine. "Call me if you want to talk about selling it."

Within a couple of hours, Randy called back. "Would love to talk about selling without the agents ... but not anytime soon" was his response. Seems Mrs. Randy was living in a place where they couldn't have dogs, and they have a dog. So by the end of the year they could get a dog-friendly place in the new town and Randy & pooch would sell the house and move up then.

Fishy, to say the least. I told Randy I'd give him a call back if our laid-back timeframe for buying a house changed, and he said he'd call if anything with his situation changed.

Fair enough, but fate still had its sticky little fingers all up in my business.

We sat tight over the next couple of months, took care of some unrelated financial business to put us in a better position to buy a new place and continued to spend 2-5 every Sunday at open houses ...

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