My last entry a few days ago contained mention of an old farmhouse I’ve had my eye on for over a year now. I pass by it at least a couple times per month, always wondering who owns it and what the story is behind it. I stopped to shoot a few pictures to share in the previous entry to point out my tastes in old houses.


Even as I was writing, the wheels started turning. My sleep became erratic. I knew I wasn’t going to rest until I got the bottom of the mystery.

Friday morning, I drove out to see my great-uncle Glenn. He knows everyone around, and he thought he knew who the owner was, but wasn’t entirely sure. But a cousin of mine lives just right down the road from the old house and her husband Johnny runs a big farm there. As luck would have it, Johnny was unloading a dump truck load of seed corn when I stopped by. He knew immediately which house I was talking about and who the owner was. I started to go then, but for some reason I decided to wait, and think it over. I needed to reflect on what I should say.

The house wasn’t for sale, so how do you approach someone and ask if they’d be interested in selling, without the conversation turning into a gruff “No, now get out of here!!”?  Well, sometimes, that’s just going to happen. I had to be careful to exhibit the right amount of interest. Not too much, or they’d likely ask too much money, but not disinterested, either, or they wouldn’t care about selling.

I went back Saturday afternoon and there was no one home at the owner’s house. I went back to the old house down the road and found the grass freshly mowed. Obviously, I’d just missed him. I decided to hang out and shoot a few more pictures. I was just finishing when I heard the clatter of a diesel engine and saw a tractor pull in and stop. A man hopped down and I asked if his name was Ralph (the owner’s name). He was, and shook my hand and I introduced myself and simply said I was interested in the house and wanted to know if he’d ever considered selling it.

We had a very pleasant conversation, over an hour, and he isn’t the only owner, ownership is divided among five members of the family. And it wasn’t clear whether they’d have interest in selling at all. The contents of the deceased owners were still inside and the family wasn’t sure what to do with all that. They didn’t have room in their homes for all of it, but apparently they weren’t ready to sell the belongings, either.

Ralph agreed, the house was reaching the point of needing serious attention. I got the overall impression he might be very willing to consider it, the house plus about a third to a half acre. But it would take getting a consensus from all five owners, plus some kind of disposition in place for the old furniture and belongings inside. He mentioned there had just been two break-ins recently, and some high value furniture items were stolen.

My guess is that is a plus in my favor. When a house has been targeted like that, it is often revisited and more things stolen. Hopefully, that might be an impetus for them to consider disposition of the property. It is not a high-crime area at all, just rural and secluded.

So, I wrote a nice letter today, thanking him for his time and hospitality in speaking with me about the house. I reiterated my desire to place a fair-market offer on the house, sometime after the first of the year, and I would work with them to alleviate any concerns they might have. I will mail it tomorrow afternoon and see what happens.

Likely, nothing will. But like my father always said (didn’t everyone’s father?), “The worst that can happen is they say no.”

For now, I wait and see…