There is no delight in owning anything unshared. ~ Roman Philosopher
The question was . . . “How would you like to live next to Jim’s parents?” Huh? At first I had no idea what Jill was talking about. However, thankfully she picked up on the silence on the other end of the phone and quickly proceeded to tell me what had happened after we left the auction showing.
I don’t remember the sequence of how it all came about or what was discussed, but apparently Jim and Jill did eventually talk to Jim’s parents about the property sometime between when we left the auction and before this phone call. All I know is that they did go out to look at the land and decided they would be interested to go in with Jill and Jim and us and see about purchasing the whole 25+ acres. Really? I quickly told Jill that I would love to have Jim’s parents as neighbors as we get along with them so well and spent many a holiday with them. But, I did say I better check with Bill before answering for both of us. (Of course, when I talked with Bill later that night he was in agreement that it would be great having all of us living close to each other.) And, it must have been okay with Jim’s parents to have us as neighbors or else they wouldn’t have even gone this far, right?
So the questions started surfacing. What do we do next? How does a land auction work? How are we going to bid? How much money do you think it’s worth? Do you think we even have a chance at winning the auction?
We only had one week before the auction date – Tuesday, October 7 at 6:00 PM. Earlier in the summer, Bill and I had made some arrangements for $$$ to purchase land. The rest of the group would quickly make their financial arrangements. Then, we hatched a plan. The first part of the plan was to decide which area of the whole 25+ acres would each of us be interested in buying. Turns out each couple wanted a different part of the acreage as their first choice! Yay, maybe this was going to work out after all. Bill and I were only interested in the 2-1/2 acres in the front of Tract 1 which included part of the lake. Jim’s parents were interested in Tract 2 and 3 (5+ acres) which included all the buildings on the property and part of the lake. Not sure they wanted that house, but it came with Tract 3. Jill and Jim were interested in all the back farmed acreage of Tract 1 (18+ acres). The second part of the plan was to determine the maximum amount of money each couple would be willing to pay for the land they wanted. The third part of the plan was to agree to pool all three maximum dollar amounts together in order to bid on the whole 25+ acres. Verbal agreements were made via many phone calls.
Jim explained to us how the land auction worked since they had purchased their other land with Jim’s parents at a land auction. They were experienced. Yes! It was kind of confusing but went something like this:
The process starts by using the traditional auction format to take bids on the individual tracts. Once all of the bids are posted, the auctioneer will ask the gallery of bidders for bids on combinations of two or more tracts. If a bidder would like to create and bid on a combination they simply add the bids posted on the individual tracts together and raise the bid above that price. Then the individual tract bidders are offered the opportunity to raise their bids in order to retain the lead on the individual tracts. If at any time a bidder would like to bid on the entire property they simply bid on all the tracts. This process continues until the bidding stops and the property is sold. Bidding results are tracked and displayed on large screens.
Did I fully understand all of this? No! But, I figured the rest of the group knew what they were doing. Basically, Jim said we would not bid on the individual tracts and would wait until the bidding began for the entire property. Okay, who’s going to be the bidder for our group? We voted our son-in-law Jim to be our representative. We were told to bring our checkbook and have 10% of our maximum bid money ready to spend as a deposit if we won the final bid. Honestly, I was a nervous wreck and extremely excited about the whole process. My mind and body were going in all directions – something like this:
And, I prayed and prayed and prayed that week. My prayer was, “Lord, if this is the direction you want our lives to go then let us win this land auction. If it is not the direction you want us to go, so be it.” And, I actually felt at peace with that. After praying that prayer over and over again up until the auction started, I knew the decision was out of our hands. That didn’t mean I was any less anxious, but I felt okay no matter which way it ended.
We drove down to Jim and Jill’s house on that Tuesday afternoon of the auction. It seemed like the longest trip we ever made down there. Jim’s dad met up with us and we drove to the County 4-H Center for the auction. As soon as we pulled in we noticed a lot of cars. Oh no, that means a lot of people are interested in this auction. We went inside and the place was filling up. The front row of seats was empty. Jim signed us in and the five us took our seats in the front row. We found out later it’s better to sit in the back so you can observe everyone in front of you during the auction. Oh well, there were no seats in the back. Jim sat on the end of the row by the middle aisle, his dad sat next to him, then Jill, then me, then Bill.
I decided I would sit with my hands under my thighs once the auction started because I have this bad habit of using my hands when I speak and didn’t want to cause someone to think I was bidding. The auctioneer started to explain the proceedings of the auction and before we knew it, the auction began. First up was Tract 1. Slow start and then some bidding started. Our row was quiet. Bidding stopped for Tract 1 at an okay price. My heart was racing. Bidding started for Tract 2. Hardly anyone bid on Tract 2 and ended very low price. Then, bidding started for Tract 3. Again, slow start and few bidders. Our row was quiet. Then the combination of tract bidding began. This took a little longer. People would group together. I got my nerve up and turned around a couple times to see what was going on. Jim told us the gentleman who owned the property behind this property was there. Maybe he was interested in bidding. Nerves were on edge.
Finally, we were at the point of bidding for the whole property. It was quiet. Then Jim started the bidding. (OMG! OMG! OMG!) Someone else placed a bid. Oh no! Honestly, I do not remember how many times the bidding went back and forth. But at one point the other guy had the top bid and the five of us were just sitting there. It seemed like forever after that last bid. No one was saying anything. I was afraid to even turn my neck one way or the other. We had not reached our maximum bid amount, but Jim wasn’t bidding. Was he using a scare tactic? I didn’t know what was going on. All of a sudden with the clock ticking, Jill leans over to Jim and said quite excitedly, “YOU BETTER BID!”
And with that, he did! Our final bid was still well below our maximum amount we had allocated. The auctioneer kept asking if anyone else wanted to bid and then we finally heard the words that we were waiting to hear, “The auction is over!”
I would love to say that with those words the property was ours . . . but it was not . . . at least not yet! We did not hear the words, “The property is sold to number bla bla bla.” We were wondering what would happen next. I wanted to be excited, but I didn’t know what eventually would happen. Everyone was told to leave the 4-H Center except us. When the place emptied out the only people left was a group in the back (which we found out was the seller’s family members), us and the auctioneer group. The auctioneer went back to talk to the seller. The five of us anxiously gathered around to discuss what could be going on. The auctioneer approached us and told us that even though we were the highest bidders, the dollar amount was not at the seller’s lowest agreed amount. He asked us to talk it out among us and decide whether we wanted to come up with a higher amount to offer the seller. We agreed on a higher price and called over the auctioneer. He then went back to the sellers to discuss the higher bid.
Now, we’ve done counter offers before when we’ve purchased a house but never when the seller was right in the same spot as us. It was different and a little awkward. Soon the auctioneer came back to us again and said the seller would not accept our last bid. We re-grouped again. I remember Jim and his dad talked about it a lot and Jim’s dad didn’t want to go up any higher. Finally, Jim looked at all of us and asked if we were willing to throw this all away even though we had not even reached our maximum we said we would pay for the property. We all agreed that we were not going to let it go. We came up with our last and final bid and the auctioneer took that info to the sellers in the back of the hall.
We waited. Then all of a sudden we finally got the news that the seller accepted our offer.
We then talked with the seller (an older gentleman) and his family members. They were happy for us but sad to see the property go. We all said we would take good care of the place and we all planned to build homes on the property. They were pleased when they heard that. While we were putting down our deposits on the land Bill went outside and found some people were still hanging around waiting to see how it all ended. One of the guys was the one who was bidding against us. Turns out this gentleman’s family had owned the property years ago before they sold it to the seller. He actually lived right next door to the property. He was going to be our future neighbor! He did come in and congratulate us afterwards.
Bill and I had to part from our group to head back home. It was another long 3-1/2 hour drive. But, this time, boy did we do a lot of thinking and talking and dreaming on the way home.