The Search for Sanctuary

Let's Make A Deal!

We did a little research at the court house and found the sellers' name and address and knew the assessed value as well. All the information was helpful and publicly available.

The 'chase' for the deal was on! Erik began to write the offer. Liza and I continued on our mini-vacation business trip. Liza had an interview in San Jose. We wanted to see the coast south of Monterey and maybe get to the Sequoias. We kept in touch with Erik by phone and at night in motel rooms through e-mail. We got back to Salt Lake City a week later. Erik got the offer together and sent it to me in an e-mail. In Logan, Liza and I developed a Power of Attorney (PoA) so we could put the land in her name and I could do all of the signature work since she had to get back to work in Russia.

On March 6th I printed the offer to purchase that Erik had sent to me. I saw it was done correctly and according to our wishes.

The property was being administered by an attorney for a family trust. I assumed he might discuss it with his clients, but I had no way of knowing. I took the position I was dealing with a tough disinterested agent for the owners. I knew they wanted $15,000 and they did not want to pay extra costs for percolation tests, etc. I also knew they had just lost a deal that fell through with someone else. We had a slight advantage and I decided to press it. Our offer was for $9,000 with a contingency for a successful wet-weather percolation test with a conventional septic system. I had 'sweetened' the offer by offering to pay for the percolation test - IF it was successful. Otherwise we were making a cash offer. I signed the offer and faxed it to Erik.


And the Negotiations Began

On March 9th we got our answer, a COUNTER-OFFER. The attorney, and/or sellers, had pushed back to the full asking price and they wanted us to pay for the percolation test - even it failed. Preposterous! I had figured we'd get a reasonable counter, but this was a slap-back. So, it was time to play 'hard ball'. I knew we would probably settle nearer to $12,000, but I would not 'jump' to that, not just yet. It would be just a bit too close to their end of the bracket. That would have led to a final price higher than $12,000. I told Erik, we would not accept the counter-offer. We rejected it outright.

On the morning of March 10th I awoke to tragic news that my daughter had gone into sudden labor with her second child and the baby died almost immediately from complications of a 'cord wrap'. I drove two days to get to Wisconsin, arriving just in time for the funeral. It was a somber time for everyone. I stayed for the weekend and then started back to Utah. I arrived home at 9 AM on the 17th.

I had been totally silent on the real estate deal for a week. Erik had called me several times, but I did not answer. I would call his office after hours and left "On a trip in the mountains..." messages to put him off. I had barely gotten in the door in Logan when he called again and I answered. "Have you reconsidered?", he asked. I said that $15,000 was $5,000 more than the assessed value, which itself was too high given the collapse in the real estate market. And we would not pay for a percolation test in a foolish 'bet on the come'. We had considered making a new offer, but not anywhere near the $15,000. I briefly told him of our loss, that I would think some more and let him know in a couple of days. I stayed silent for another 6 days. But, I did not stay put.

At 1030 AM on the 17th, with no rest from driving the previous night, I got back in my car and headed to Yreka. On the trip back from Wisconsin, I had started thinking again about a lot in the KRCE that we had seen on Ruff Way in February. We had rejected it because it had no electricity poles within a mile, but Backhoe George had done a successful wet-weather percolation test the previous year. We needed to get more information on that location for electric power and a well-driller to estimate the cost to drill what was sure to be a much deeper well than on Mountain Street. In a very brief moment in time after I ended my call with Erik, I felt my intuition stir and I knew that we would buy one or the other of the two lots. Mountain Street was the favorite, but Ruff Way was a close 2nd. I grabbed all of my real estate folders, started driving west and grabbed my iPhone as soon as I got on the Interstate.

As I turned southwest toward Wendover, I called Backhoe George for the first time. I briefed him on my interest in Ruff Way and Mountain Street. George was a fountain of knowledge and told me that he believed either one would be 'OK' for the septic. He had done a perc test on the lot just below the one on Mountain Street a few months earlier. He said the soil was fine and that he had also walked on the Mountain Street lot and believed it would also pass. He said, "For the price and location, Mountain Street is best. Ruff Way has almost 'too much' good soft soil on it and it might take some scraping to get down to hardpan to stick a foundation into." We agreed to get together on both parcels when I got to Yreka. I arrived in Weed in the late afternoon on the 18th.

I decided to stay in Weed for a couple nights to change my perspective on the Shasta Valley. Erik called once in a while and sent e-mails with additional data on prices in KRCE and with listings for other lots in the area. On March 23rd Erik tried again to push me about the lot on Ruff Way. He knew we had looked at it in February, but we had said, "Not interested". I did not tell him that I was in the area and that I was actually standing on the lot as we were talking. I told him that I liked the lot on Ruff Way, needed more info about it and that I'd stop by on my next trip to talk about it. I went back to talking to George. With his practical experience from years of working in the KRCE, George quickly calmed my fears.

George and I finished walking and talking about the lot on Ruff Way. We went over to Mountain Street. He volunteered that his son-in-law had been thinking of buying the lot down the hill, that faced onto WhitePine, which was why George knew so much about the Mountain Street lot. And his brother could give me some ideas about the costs of wells. We went to the Gold Rush Cafe in Hornbrook. I met John Ebejer who was 'guest cooking' there. In between short orders John gave me some idea of the costs for drilling and his 'best guess' about both places. He said Mountain would be about 300 feet deep, and Ruff Way about 300 to 400 feet depending on how close to the 'edge' he drilled; ten to fifteen grand overall. George knew about electricity installation costs as well. He said Mountain would be about $5 to 10 thousand and Ruff Way, just under a 'bazillion bucks'. Electricity was to be the deciding factor, if cost was the only issue. But, we had intended to build a total solar home independent from the grid.

So, on balance, either one would work. Mountain had a power pole on the center lot line. Ruff Way had poles about a mile away, in all directions. That would be serious cost if we wanted the power. But, in the final analysis, the real deal breaker would be the price we would have to pay for whichever lot we bought, if either one. Asking prices were: Mountain $15K and Ruff Way $25K.

There was a sudden lull in our conversation because John and George were engrossed in a cribbage game and had reached a critical moment, the last two holes.... That was the moment when Erik called again. He said, "Good news. The sellers on Mountain are willing to do the percolation test as part of their costs. What do you think?". I said, "Well, maybe I will write a new offer then. I'll get back to you. It was just past 2 PM. I thanked the Ebejer men and headed into Yreka. The look on Eriks' face was pure shock as he caught sight of me standing near his desk. I told him, "I have time now and want to do a new offer. It will not be what they want, but we will see where they are at." An hour later he had a NEW OFFER to take to the Mountain Street seller.

I was only offering $10,000, with the seller paying for the percolation test and we would split the closing costs 50/50. I had already moved to the swank Motel 6 in Yreka that morning, so I left Erik and went 'home'. Mid-morning on March 24th, we had our answer, COUNTER-OFFER #1 to our 2nd Offer.

The Counter-Offer was 'more like it'. They wanted to get $12,500, they accepted paying the costs of the percolation test and sharing the other closing costs. Erik was ecstatic for us. I was feeling a little surly. Eriks' smile went 'cool' when I said, "Should a done that the first time, we'd be closing by now! Let's send him a COUNTER-COUNTER."

And counter we did. Our Counter-Counter was for $11,500, with no other changes. If they wanted to dance then we were going to do a tango on a dance floor covered in broken glass for a while. It was dated for March 26th, Friday. I wanted a two-day gap in negotiations to build some suspense. I was leaving Yreka for Fresno for a couple of days to visit an uncle and his new wife. I'd come back to Yreka on Saturday to sign the Counter-Counter. When I gave Erik these terms, I made it clear that I had already been researching Ruff Way as a viable alternative. I briefed him on our plans and that either one would be "OK" for us. And, I assured him that either way, we were committed to buying through him. He smiled again. Now, he had some skin in the game.

I arrived in Erik's office on Saturday at 10 AM. I signed the forms and left at 11 AM to return to Utah. I took a liesurely drive across Nevada, stopping in Winnemucca, then Wendover for rest and gambling. I arrived home in Logan on the 29th. Erik had no firm news yet except to say the other broker was not happy, but was thinking the sellers would accept. At worst, she thought they'd try for $12,000. That was the moment of the 'tell'. I had sold real estate for 16 years in Wisconsin and whenever a salesperson made such a comment, it was clear, that was the advice she had given her clients, and that she had probably already done that when she fax'd them the Counter-Counter. I celebrated. On March 31st, Erik called and then e-mailed me a copy of the expected COUNTER-COUNTER-COUNTER."

It was as I had predicted, $12,000. I signed, scanned it and e-mailed the APPROVED PDF file back to Erik in fifteen minutes. The deal was finally on its way to 'closure'. March 31st is also my daughter Lisas' birthday. A double reason to celebrate.

I had already been seriously involved in the process of developing drawings and exploring ideas for the new house/home that we were going to build. I got into high gear after April 1st. Literally hundreds of hours were spent in front of the monitor searching Internet for ideas, companies to contact, calls to make and drawings to draw, and.....a thousand other things.... Eventually Closing Day, May 7th, was drawing close. I left early to drive to Yreka. I wanted to make another tour of the land, take a large number of photos from every angle, take dimensions on the land, talk to contractors, have lunch again in the Gold Rush Cafe and just start to get 'used to the place'. I was 'pumped'. I arrived at the title company office a little early with the money to cover the CLOSING COSTS and settled in for what I expected to be a lengthy process. The closing itself was so boring and went so smoothly that I was out the door and in the Recorder's office to file the DEED within 30 minutes of the start of the closing process. Thanks to Mt. Shasta Title & Escrow Company for the smooth process.

Go to the "Land" section


Terms Of Use: This website contains information about the development of the land and home of Liza and Will Jensen. We make it public to help others in their own home development projects.

Information about the Klamath River Country Estates (KRCE) is of a public nature and is put here for your convenience. It can be helpful if you are considering buying land in this subdivision.

The Information and Images about our home are subject to all International Laws of Copyright. You CANNOT make use of these images for any reason of a commercial nature nor transfer possession to others without permission of Liza and Will. See our "Find Us" page for contact info.

Trademarks and Copyright © Since 1992 are Owned by Will Jensen, U.S.A.