Houston, I Have a Problem!

Jul 15, 2021

Welcome to the Fearless Innovator Podcast, my name is Mechiel Kopaska and I am your host.

This week’s topic is Houston, I Have a Problem! A real estate problem that is!

My goal in 2005 was to sell the house I currently lived, take the profit and buy another house.  One night after arriving home on my motorcycle from attending a Wednesday night bike night, I decided to start my search for my next house, because quiet frankly I didn’t fit into my current neighborhood.  I drove a truck and I was the only motorcycle (at the time) that was embedded between beamers and Mercedes, as my neighbors.  They clearly didn’t take kindly to my loud pipes.  I couldn’t even exit the property on my bike, because it wasn’t heavy enough to trip the security gate. Luckily, another biker arrived in the neighborhood and he had the same problem, we had to go in front of the HOA to request they change that.  They did, but it took some time.  I digress….

My hunt began on Realtor.com simply because I wanted the ability to search for a home without a realtor involved.  It wasn’t that I didn’t want to work with a realtor, I just didn’t need anyone driving me around to look at the area or the exterior of a home. I first wanted to find the right location.

I found 5 listings that intrigued me.  On Saturday, (because I had a regular J.O.B. back then) I started my search.  I drove aimlessly for hours driving through neighborhoods about 10 miles north of my current house.  I ran scenarios through my head about the distance it was from work, did I want to live on a gravel road?  Was the grocery store close by?   Where was my bank in proximity? How far was this from my friends? Did I mind that one property was on a main road?  Was I looking for privacy?   I narrowed my search down to 2 properties.  Over the next several weeks, I continued my random drive-bys at different times during the day and night.

This whole time, one property kept me coming back.  It had a long driveway and was quite intimidating to drive down because you couldn’t see the house from the main road. I wasn’t even sure if I was in the right place, but there was a realtor sign out front.   It was very secluded, dusty driveway and at night you would have thought this is where kids would say that’s where the wicked witch lives.  Yeah, that kind of place!

However, at the end of the abyss it opened up into this beautiful, secluded  1.65 acres surrounded by trees  There was a double wide on the left and on the right was a 2-story building that was baby blue vinyl.   On top was a 1200 sq ft apartment like and 6 car garage below.  It wasn’t a mansion by any means but this place, to me, had great potential.

I never approached the buildings, I would just sit in my truck away from the vacant house and day dream of what the possibilities could be.

On Mother’s day this year, I went and picked up my little Sister, Elizabeth.  She was my “little sister” from Big Brothers Big Sisters.  I never had children so during this time in my life I was single and thought it would be cool to share part of my life volunteering with the less unfortunate.  This is another story, but we were together for 5 years.

I was ready to tell Elizabeth that I may be moving soon and I’d like to have her go with me to see what I may be buying.

Nothing was different this day, I drove down the drive-way and parked in my usual spot, positioned my truck so we could look at the house and day dream except this day, the front door to the 2 story flew open and there was a big guy in the doorway with what I thought for sure was a shot gun!  He waved that shot gun as if he was motioning us to come close.  I wasn’t sure and held off, now he was approaching us and then I realized that shot gun was a cane!  I was never so relieved, after all I had my little sister with me and couldn’t imagine putting her into a bad situation.

Once we approached, I realized he was the nicest guy ever.  He said to me, I’ve seen you sitting down there several times, would you like to come inside and take a look?  We said yes, and then we met his wife Laurie.  Once inside the 2 story, I quickly realized that I loved this place!  Charles told me that he and his son had designed and built it themselves and they had the double wide there for other family members.  He told me they had lived there for roughly 15 years and his brother had owned the adjacent 1.65 acres and they lived in a single wide on that property.  He told me when they moved there years ago a bunch of bikers lived there and they were still finding beer cans laying everywhere.   We walked the property and he told me everything he could about the property.  Charles said that he and Laurie were now retired and they wanted to sell so that they could buy a new truck and RV because they wanted to travel.  He asked if I was interested in purchasing and my gut replied, Yes, I do think I’d like to live here.  After all, I was thinking this place kind of reminded me of Iowa.

He said ok, but there are 3 things I want you to know.  1) Let’s wait until my contract expires with my realtor – which was just days away 2). They had  had some financial issues but were hoping to get them resolved quickly 3)  If you buy the house, would you please take a care of our momma kitty?

I told him, I had no issue waiting on the contract to expire.  You tell me when you’re ready and we will close on your terms and of course, I’d take care of that sassy orange momma kitty!  She had already swiped me!

Charles gave me the go ahead to place my property for sale.  Back in 2005 properties were flying off the shelves.  I kept Charles and Laurie in the loop with my progress and they kept me updated.  However, as luck would have it, my place sold within 30 days!

I called Charles up and I said, Houston, I have a problem!  He said, what’s that?  My house sold and now I have no where to go!  He said, yes, you do!  I said, what do you mean?  He said, Mechiel after your closing, you bring all your stuff out here.  Laurie and I will move into the double wide and you can live upstairs.  Now, listen, he said, we don’t want rent either. He said you’re doing us a favor and you won’t have to pay rent.

The day of closing, I moved in with my sellers for about the next 6 months.  Now, I couldn’t pay rent but I damn sure paid for anything that broke! and I bought them groceries and even had a Ford connection that when they were able to close, enabled them to buy a FORD dually for under invoice!  We shared evening meals and me and momma kitty became the best of buds.

The FORD was delivered sight unseen, they picked up their RV and off to Virginia they went on their next chapter in life.

I’m very grateful for my friends Charles and Laurie and today we remain friends and now I even know their kids!  I run into them often at concerts!

This is the way real estate deals should be handled!

Stay tuned for next week’s continuation saga entitled Just Move It!

Thank you for listening,  I hope you were inspired, entertained or you learned something new!

If you’d like a free copy of my book Why my J.O.B. Quit Me, jumpstart Your Firing, go to fearlessinnovator.com/freebook.

If you’d like to attend my Innovation Roundtable where we talk about everything Real Estate, go to fearlessinnovator.com/roundtable to sign up!