Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Old Winchester - Part 3

Part 1

Part 2

I've got to start this with one of those typical late-night TV warnings - This post contains material that may be disturbing to some old house lovers. Reader discretion is advised.

There, consider yourself warned.

So we made an offer on Old Winchester. And we waited to hear back from the bank. And we waited. And we waited.

And we waited.

While we waited I finally gave in and visited the library to do some research on Old Win. And I found the following:

And I was over-the-top. In shock. Somehow, I drove the van from the library back to the babysitters to pick up the kids. I scared Miss Nicole a bit, because she took one look at me and said, "Are you okay?!? I mean, you're shaking!" I just held out the picture and stammered, "Isn't it beautiful? Just...... beautiful......"

And we could bring it back. I knew it. The shutters, the porches, that adorable boxed out window, the fish-scale shingles and the leaded glass attic windows.

I had paint colors selected, fabric samples collected in a binder. I spent hours tinkering with Old Win's floor plan, trying to find the best way to make the layout work for our family. The plans below show both Old Winchester's original layout and how we planned to change it. In the first floor, we planned to remove the current bathroom and relocate it and a laundry room in the original kitchen, moving the kitchen to the adjoining room. The biggest change upstairs would be the conversion of a closet into a bathroom.

And meanwhile we waited. In the end, there was more drama involved with the bank than I care to type out here, but (nearly two months after our initial offer) we learned that the bank had sold the house to another buyer (for an amount $5,000 less than our initial offer). We still had a standing offer on the house at the time it was sold.

My only question for the listing agent was, "Are they going to tear the house down?". She assured me that the buyers were going to fix the house up and live in it. And that was enough for me. Were we disappointed - of course. Very much so. But we still had not sold our current home, so at least financially, losing Old Winchester was actually a relief. I was primarily concerned about Old Winchester herself, but I told myself that anyone willing to buy a house in Old Win's condition must surely see the same potential that we saw.

So I watched the county auditor's website, and about a month later the property transfer was recorded. But if I was looking for reassurance it wasn't forthcoming. A search of the new owners' names brought up multiple properties in a nearby town. None of those properties was valued at over $50,000. Several had delinquent property taxes. One was in foreclosure. And with a sickening realization I knew - Old Win was going to continue her life as a cheap rental property.

I should have left it go at that, but I didn't. It wasn't like Old Winchester was in a location that we drove by often. But 10 days after the closing was recorded I went out of my way to drive by Old Win and check out the new owner's progress. There was definately a visible change.

I pulled in the drive, sat there in the van and cried. They had owned the place for ten days. This is a small town county and of course I asked questions. I was told that the fire marshal investigated, but could not prove arson. Old Win's owners collected their well earned insurance money and then, since her role was done, they let Old Winchester sit. More than 6 months later they milked another $8,000 out of Old Win by selling her burned out shell to the neighboring farmer who cut down all the trees, finished pulling the house down, and plowed the entire property under as farmland.

The End.


  1. AWwww..What a crappy ending. :(

  2. this is enough to make you cry... and others also. aunt j

  3. That's terrible! I knew something bad was gonna happen when I read the warning...but that's worse than I thought. Some people are stupid. That's all there is to it.

  4. Oh, that is so awful.

    I really feel for that poor house, and for you.

    The house I grew up in, a double decker, went up for sale, and I really struggled with the hope of buying it, but it would have been beyond my means. But it was about half its value of a few years ago because of the housing market, so I just struggled with trying to convince myself.

    I had a whole set of plans in my mind for bringing it back from the remuddling that had happened over the years.

    In that case, though, the house was lucky. I drove by a few weeks after the sale closed, and a nice new fence was being put up. So the real estate lady who told me the new owners loved the house was right. I still miss that wonderful house, though.

    Why did the bank sell the house for less than you offered?

  5. Oh, gee, I just saw the post with the interior photos of that house. What a loss...

  6. Karen,

    There was quite a bit of drama between the bank and us. A few months before finding Old Win we had put a bid on another bank owned property. It was a full price bid the first day on the market. But we wound up in a bidding war and were outbid. This was fresh in our mind when we found Old Win. Because of this we made our first offer slightly higher than asking price. That offer was good for 48 hours.

    But the bank didn't accept our offer. We didn't hear anything from the bank for two weeks. By that time it was obvious there would be no bidding war on Old Win and since our offer had technically expired more than 10 days earlier, we put a new (lower) offer in. Well, then we heard from the bank real quick. They claimed they were going to accept our first offer the next day. We refused to go back to the higher offer and the bank responded by yanking the listing. We had to wait 3 more weeks before Old Win was listed again with a different agent.

    Of course we put our second, lower offer back out immediately. Every time our offer expired we had our agent present it to the bank again. We never got a reply from the bank to any of these offers. It took about 6 weeks before there was anyone other than else us to make a bid on the property. That other bid was from the people who eventually burned the house down.

    (And I'm very glad that your childhood home was luckier than Old Winchester!)

  7. Kimberly, you've made me cry all over again! I am the great grandson of the original owner of "Old Win" and the one who sold it back in 1998. Having the photos you took of the interior as well as the actual floor plan are treasures for me and my family. How we would have loved to have had you folks as our neighbors! Just thankful that you did find a home that you could love.

  8. Noooooooo! Wow...I don't know what else to say. Beyond sad!