Despite the hundred-and-something degree heat yesterday, Mark and I spent the afternoon viewing raw properties with our agent, Janet. “Viewing” is a strange word, really, because it’s just a matter of actually finding the properties, which we were unable to do on our own last weekend. Few of the properties in our price range are currently accessible by car, and the definition of accessible up here is fairly loose.
After meeting at Village Real Estate in Sutter Creek, Janet is driving us to view a property at the top of God’s Hill, which is nearly impossible to locate. Mark and I tried (and failed) the weekend before. As it turns out, the seller has had four property signs stolen, but they’ve just erected another for our trip. This one too is gone. Janet’s jotted directions take us into the back hills of Amador Country, off a main road, onto a dirt path and still further out. But regardless of being obviously lost, Mark and I stay quiet, enjoying the scenery neither we nor our Audi could access on our own.
Out the front window of her truck, I watch a giant bug land on the side mirror. I am delighted. “Look, it’s a cricket! We don’t get those in the city.” Janet just looks at me, the practiced poker face of a real estate agent letting a chink of sadness slip through. “Sweetie, that’s just a horse fly.” She speaks to me slowly.
We turn around at a farm house, and return to the original road junction, where we ask a gardening woman which of the three roads will lead us to the property that’s up for sale. She ignores us, now watering with a scowl. But Janet is not put off, and finally gets the woman’s attention. After a long, embellished sigh, she scowls more and says,
"Yes, the property is up that road…MY ROAD…but there is an easement, so you can drive it, even though if you drive up there you’ll block my driveway. And I don’t know if you have four wheel drive, but it’s too steep to go without it. And I don’t know what kind of shoes you have…"
She peeks in the Pathfinder and spots my heels with delight.
"But you’ll need boots. And it’s a long hike. And there are snakes, so watch it. I killed two rattlers just today."
The snake killing sign thief sneers into the Pathfinder at Mark and me. I expect her to continue the laundry list of rural threats, but she just returns to her watering.
At this point, I am too scared to view the 10-acres, despite the promise of a 360-degree view. It’s not the snakes or the hike, but the thought of neighbors worse than even the ones we have in the city. Mark and I ask to see the next property.
Janet tells us that just off Highway 49, there are a few foreclosed parcels, and a ten minute drive later, we are on our dream land. It is in our price range. There is water and power. There are stunning views. There is only one neighbor. We’re not out of the car, and I tell her we will take it. Mark and Janet laugh. I am serious.
An hour later, Mark and I hike up the property on our own. We’re dripping with sweat by the time we reach the top and arrive next to a ranch fence. The views are incredible. The building site is perfect. I was right; we will take it.
We immediately drive back to Village Real Estate and put bids on two of the three bank-owned parcels. The papers are signed. Mark is shaking. I convince him to overbid on the parcel we really want, and underbid on the adjacent parcel, which would be nice to have. We are done.
Or so we think.
Later that night, we’re walking the grounds with our potential future neighbors who are the perfect opposites of the sign thief, and they politely inform us that we’ve bid on the wrong parcel and misread the county assessor’s map.
We are so city.