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Replacing the Decks

  The Craigslist House  
 
 
On Wednesday evening, November 19, 2003. I was on Craigslist, clicking around, bored. I spotted an ad for a home here in Mill Valley.


Mill Valley Fixer, Great lot, water views, three beds, two baths.

Needs lots of work, but the house is salvageable.
As-Is. Will go on the market with an agent in one week.

The house was just over a half-million, and here, in southern Marin county, a half-million was considered a bargain.

I sent an email, "I can visit the property tomorrow; will you be there?"

The broker replied, "I am showing it mid-day. Can you be there at 12:30?" I agreed.

I visited the property on a cold, drizzly day and fell in love. My wife and I had visited perhaps 40 properties over the prior couple of years. We weren't seriously shopping for a home, but we did have a sense what you got for half a million dollars. Not that much. And we'd also learned that if you bid the asking, you did not get the house. (We had bid on three houses in three years, offered the asking, and missed each by an average of $60,000.)

This particular house had 40 steps to the lower level, 50 to upstairs, and buckets in the kitchen and bathroom, catching the rain water dripping through the ceiling. The house was fully furnished; the closets were full; there was even food in the freezer. Yet it had not been occupied in a year-and-a-half or so, except by rodents. The lot was the prize. Great location, nice garden and a killer view!

Terry worked an hour away, and I wanted to bid on this house before it appeared on the MLS. That night, when Terry got home from work, I took her up to the place. We needed to get a bid in before Saturday morning. To Terry’s credit, she agreed to be part of this craziness without even seeing the house in daylight. The following evening we met the broker outside of a closed Starbucks, and put down a deposit. It was a strange way to do business, but the deposit check was written to a Trust company so I didn't really care. If this was legitimate, we might have a house in 48 hours.

The next morning, Saturday, I took Terry back to the property. She had her doubts.

On Monday we received word that our bid had been accepted. We had beaten the house to the MLS and we were home owners in 94941.

 
At first glance, it was not impressive.

Buckets inside - to catch the rainwater.

But the view...
 
 
 
 
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Last Updated Feb 2014.