Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Cottage Crazy: Sandy Calls with several possible Cottage Finds!

Cottage Crazy: Sandy Calls with several possible Cottage Finds!: "We were excited to hear from Sandy. She emailed us a few listings and we made plans to go to Tybee for a quick trip. We decided we wanted to..."

Sandy Calls with several possible Cottage Finds!

We were excited to hear from Sandy. She emailed us a few listings and we made plans to go to Tybee for a quick trip. We decided we wanted to stay on the north quiet end of the Island and starting looking for a cottage to rent. We knew our budget would not be enough for beach property. We were hoping for something near or on the marsh since we love birding and kayaking. We found Mermaid Cottages.com and proceeded to look through the cute cottages on the web site. We got even more excited as we looked at the pictures of the cottages. We decided on a one bedroom on the marsh. Fiddler on the Creek...even the name was cute! All of the cottages had their own personality and name. Most were pet friendly which we found interesting. We have family and friends who like to take their dogs and they always struggle finding a nice place that will allow pets. We planned on staying 3 days and making the most of our time with Sandy. We called Sandy when we arrived and she asked where we were staying...she was surprised we were staying on Campbell since she lived very near by! We agreed to meet after lunch. She suggested we try the North Beach Grill near the lighthouse beach. She mentioned they had awesome Carmel Cake. We had lunch and made sure to take Sandy a slice of that cake she had suggested. We had not met and had only talked on the phone but we clicked right off. She was surprised we thought to bring her the cake and she surprised us with a CD of her singing group the Girl Friends! We quickly toured a variety of properties and most were pretty dismal. We had pretty much given up the search and would be leaving the next morning. Diane Kaufman owner of Mermaid Cottages pushed us a little further down the slippery slope by calling and offering us an " free " night at Fiddler on the Creek since we were there and it wasn't booked...how nice...but we probably would go on back home. Sandy changed all that when she called with what turned out to be the perfect Cottage for us...So we had lots of help sliding down that slope...John, Sandy, Diane, and then it dawned on me that some of the cottages on the Mermaid Cottage site looked familiar. I have been a long time fan of Southern Living, Cottage Living and Coastal Living Magazines. Diane mentioned that many of the Cottages had been decorated by Jane Coslick and they were featured in many of these magazines...that was WHY they looked familiar! Well that was the final push that nudged me over the edge into middle age Cottage Crazy!

Now we had thoughts of all the additional expenses that accompany a second home...especially one seven hours away that we could not use but a few weeks and weekends during the year. I started thinking about renting the Cottage. Mike was not a fan of the idea at first. We talked to Diane and decided we were up for trying it. I was concerned that we needed to make our Cottage stand out since we were not right on the beach. It seemed to me the way to go would be to at least talk with Jane Coslick about what working with her would entail. We made plans to meet Jane. We had decided to paint the entire inside of the Cottage white...it was currently quite dirty and every room was a different color. We also had some mold on the bathroom ceiling and it would have to be replaced not a job for novices. Sandy introduced us to Eric from Coastal Handyman Services. Eric was a jewell! We hired him by phone based on Sandy's recommendation. He replaced the bathroom ceiling and started the painting before we even closed on the Cottage. When we arrived for our first visit the Cottage needed a heavy duty cleaning but the ceiling was already replaced and the painting had begun. We brought a bed and a couple of chairs so we could camp out at the cottage while we cleaned, cleaned, cleaned, and cleaned some more. We were exhausted but as things cleaned up and smelled fresh again we were more and more sure that we had done the right thing. The light coming in the Cottage was awesome and we had a nice partial view of the marsh and could see when the tide was in or out...sounds silly but that and being able to see herons, egrets, and wood storks was just so cool. We brought our bikes and were able to ride on the beach. We took time out for lunch at the Sundae Cafe...the oysters were to die for! On the way back we noticed a nature trail that led out to a long walk into the marsh. The trail was named for Sally Pearce and we were amazed at how much public access their was to the beach and marsh on Tybee compared to other places like Kiawah and Sanibel Island. The beach even had old fashion wooden porch swings every so often on the beach. We walked up to the north beach and watched the sunrise each morning. Since the swings were there we didn't need to take chairs. We drank our coffee in the swing and watched the birds start to wake right before the sunrise. It was quiet, beautiful and much warmer than it was back home on Windy Gap Mountain in Virginia. Our only problem...we had to head back home after three days and we didn't want to go. We met Eric and discussed the painting and a couple of additional projects that the home inspection had turned up. Eric promised to call with an estimate and we reluctantly headed home...

Monday, May 30, 2011

Bellamy Print

Bellamy Print by kayakbanker
Bellamy Print, a photo by kayakbanker on Flickr.

This lovely painting was the inspiration for the colors in the front sun filled bedroom at our Paws and Paddles Vacation Rental Cottage on Tybee Island. We had not intended to buy it but after if was hung there was just no going back! Thanks to Jane Coslick for knowing we needed it to make a perfect space!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

We bought it...now what?

On our first trip to the Cottage we were excited and nervous! We are conservative average everyday people and we had just done something totally out of character of us! We now owned two homes. One in Virginia and one on Tybee Island which is seven hours away! We were concerned about the distance but we Loved the combination of Savannah being 15 minutes from our beach Cottage. It is the best of two completely different worlds. Savannah is steeped in history and has an amazing arts community. It is one of the most walkable cities in the United States and the 31 squares with spanish moss dripping from the live oaks are just breath taking. These green squares transition you from one mini neighborhood to the next. They are filled with flowers and art and I would be content to spend the day just sitting on one of the many benches and observing the goings on. A couple of first observations from the week we spent in Savannah. The people in the shops, restaurants and just on the street were all extremely friendly, helpful, and delightful. I always thought that Virginia was known for southern hospitality. I have to admit that Savannah is much better at showing vistors that true southern hospitality. The other thing I noticed was that the young people on the street in Savannah looked and acted differently. They all exhibited a sense of style that I don't see here in Virginia. I am sure this is in part due to Savannah being the home of SCAD the Savannah College for Art and Design. The campus is actually spread through out Savannah which has had a positive impact on the city. These young people may be biking to class in jeans...but they look different. I started noticing that while a young lady might be on a bike she would have on some type of nice shoes...pretty flats or leather throngs with decoration. She would have a scarf artfully arranged and other accessories to give her a put together look even though she might be in jeans. It isn't unusual to see the young ladies in skirts and dresses either walking or biking and again they always seemed to have that put together look. The young men also had mastered the look...shirts with collars turned up and shoes and sunglasses, and often hats that gave them a very current and attractive look. First I fell in love with Savannah...then we spent a day kayaking on Tybee Island...that is what pulled us down the slippery slope to purchasing the cottage on Tybee.

The Kayak trip from Tybee Island to Little Tybee Island was awesome. We met our guide John early that morning at Sea Kayaks of Georgia and he explained that we had an extremely high tide and that our trip needed to be planned carefully since the tides can rise and fall 9 feet! So our trip would be determined in part by the tide and by how we did managing our kayaks and the current. We are river kayakers and only have a chance to kayak a handful of times during the summer and fall in Virginia. I have some health issues which impact my arm strength and I have issues with my back, feet, and legs so I was smiling but concerned that I might not be able to manage the current. John was an excellent guide and he quietly showed us by his example how to navigate the marsh trail. He knew the area well and was able to identify the plants and wildlife we encountered. We love birding and have for many years made the 14 hour drive to Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island Florida. We were in heaven lots of egrets, herons, wood storks, ducks, pelicans and red winged blackbirds...with their signature ut-oooh sound that just screams we're at the BEACH! We were able to manage the current and made it all the way over to Little Tybee which you can only reach by boat. We were the first people to leave our footprints on the beach that morning. Some folks camp on the island for the night. I would think about it when the weather was cooler but it would be a bit daunting since once you decided to stay you would be stuck there until the tide changed. On the trip back we were blessed to have dolphins follow us and we stopped to watch them charge the banks and strand feed on fish. It was so cool to listen to them squeak and make their blowing noises! We started asking John how he came to Tybee and found that he had just relocated there about two years earlier. His wife had accepted a job with the City government and they were loving the laid back Tybee Tyme life style. He said that real estate prices had taken a beating with the recent economic upheaval. Lots of forced sales and some foreclosures. A highlight bulb popped in my head and I found myself asking him if he knew of a good local realtor...though I doubted that we could afford anything on the island but if there was a real deal just maybe we could. He told us how his realtor had helped them and gave me her name. We told John we were starving when we got back after 4+ hours of kayaking and that we loved local places that specialized in salads, fish sandwiches and seafood. He recommended the Sundae Cafe and said not to let their location in a small strip mall discourage us that they had the best seafood on the island! Just our kind of place. I asked John for his email address in case we had questions about Tybee or Kayaking...he was on FaceBook so I said I would just friend him since I would probably lose his contact info and FaceBook just makes it so easy to keep up with friends new and old. Making John a FB friend pushed us a bit farther down the slippery slope. Often when on vacation you get interested in looking at property, etc. but then you get back to the pressures of the real world and all is forgotten. Having John as a FB friend kept Savannah and Tybee on my mind. So I screwed up my courage...after reading Extreme Self Care...it had made me think about what I really wanted. One of the chapters posed and interesting question. What would you do if you were not afraid? So being me I didn't call that would be too much but I did email Sandy McCloud our interest and told her I doubted with our limited budget that she would be interested in us. We would probably be priced out of the market. I think I was being negative so I would be prepared to be disappointed...we had shopped for property before and it was always just out of reach. A couple of weeks went by and no response. I figured she probably thought we were a waste of time. But I kept seeing John on FB so I mentioned that I had not heard from her...a more courageous person would have just called her! John let Sandy know. She had indeed contacted me but her email got caught in my SPAM filter. So she called me...and we talked for almost an hour. I felt like I had known her forever. She wasn't discouraged by our budget but said it was going to take a distressed or foreclosed property to most likely work for us. She said she would be looking for us and to not get discouraged it might take a while. In a few weeks another email from Sandy...

Saturday, May 28, 2011

How many plates can one Gal keep spinning?

I felt like I had 100 plates balancing on sticks and they all required my attention and a quick spin to prevent them from crashing to the floor with a great NOISE! Mom was not doing well with rehab, work was crazy since we were in the middle of doing a complete computer conversion, Santa needed to come, 20+ guests for a sit down dinner on Christmas Eve and a second family dinner the weekend before, and we were in constant touch with Tonya our Mortgage originator and Sandy our realtor. Tons of emails, scanning, and phone calls about flood insurance, financial records, and when we would be closing on the sale. We had put a short fuse on getting the deal closed to help the seller accept our offer. So we were all in overdrive. Sandy and Tonya were awesome and they helped in every way possible but it was still a struggle to keep all the plates from crashing to the floor. Sandy even arranged with the seller for us to get started on the home repairs before we closed the deal! Of course she also had the perfect person to help us with the repairs. More about Eric later. Somehow Santa delivered on time and the entertaining went well...mom was about the same and boom it was the day after Christmas and we were still tying up loose ends on insurance and realizing that we would have to close the mortgage by mail since I wasn't able to get time off. The closing package was emailed to me and it was an inch thick. I didn't receive it till late the day it had to be signed by both of us. Mike was working out of town and would not be back until just before the time we had to have the package back to UPS! I was seriously stressed but carefully read the instructions and called the closing attorney asking what we could do since it would be too late to meet the UPS deadline if we had to sign it front of a notary. They agreed that we could copy our drivers licenses and they would notarized them when they received the package! I was shocked but decided I was ok if they were. I met Mike after seven at his company and he spent nearly thirty minutes signing the many many copies... Then we raced To UPS and just made it. Then I started worrying if had had missed anything! I have made many loans but never a purchase money real estate loan and with all the new rules and regs it is truly a nightmare even for experienced mortgage lenders. But an angel must have been on our shoulders through this whole process because the next day we got the call that We were the owners of a Tybee Island Cottage! Let the cleaning, painting, renovating, and decorating begin! Oh...and we needed a name for the Cottage?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Murder Trial is postponed...again...off to the hospital!

Josh's Assistant came on the line and told me that the trial had been continued since he had changed his mind about pleading guilty. I was disappointed but relieved at the same time since now I could go on to the hospital to see how Mom was doing. Off to the hospital with Tybee and the Cottage far from my thoughts. Mom had broken her pelvis in four places. She did not require surgery but was in pain and she would need to go for rehab until she could walk and care for herself. I spent the week in the hospital with her. The first night I tried sleeping in a chair but gave up and moved to the floor. I stayed with her except for a couple of hours each morning  when I went home to shower and change clothes. I brought my camping pad and was pretty comfortable at least compared to the floor. I was also busy making arrangements for her care when she was released. By the end of the week we were able to move her to the nursing section of her retirement community. She was not progressing very well and I was concerned. Monday I was back at work and trying to go to see Mom each evening which meant leaving home before eight each morning and getting home at eight or nine each evening. There was little time for anything else. I was lucky that Tonya our Mortgage person was making it easy for us. She was sending me everything my email and I completed, scanned and returned things to her as we went. In a few days we had a formal approval. We still had to find flood insurance, home owners insurance, get the property appraised and start making renovation plans! Whew...oh...and Christmas was coming!  I have to admit to several late nights of What the heck were we thinking!  Santa arrives...

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Cottage Crazy: Back to work...what were we thinking!

Cottage Crazy: Back to work...what were we thinking!: "We were excited and had lots of thoughts to share on the ride home. Back to work at oh dark early the next morning to catch up on email and ..."

Back to work...what were we thinking!

We were excited and had lots of thoughts to share on the ride home. Back to work at oh dark early the next morning to catch up on email and get ready for a 9:00 a.m. Meeting. Ten minutes in to the meeting my assistant pulled me out of the meeting. The call was from the manager of Knollwood at the Richfield retirement community. My mother had fallen in her apartment and was being transported to the hospital. I was on call as a witness that morning in the murder trial of one of my employees. I called the Commonwealth Attorney's office to figure out what to do. I was lucky to catch up with Josh's assistant. The murder happened in July 2009 and we had been waiting to testify for 18 months in the hopes of keeping Susan's killer in jail. Susan was a delightful employee and everyone it seemed loved her. Her husband had abused her and she had left him. He continued to stalk her and the restraining order did nothing to protect her. We went to her apartment when she did not arrive at work as scheduled. Susan was always thirty minutes early so we were all concerned. Another employee and I drove to her apartment and could not get her to the door. Her car was parked out front and had been since the previous evening according to a neighbor. In my heart I knew right then she either was not in the apartment or it was too late. We called the police and they indicated they would send a car but they could not break in without cause. We needed to get in touch with the landlord. We talked to an elderly neighbor but she was no help. The young man who lived next door pulled up and I explained what was going on and he ran in and got his lease. We were able to reach the rental company and they were sending someone with a key. The police arrived first. We quickly explained our concerns and they knocked on the door with the same lack of results. The officer walked back and asked a couple of questions. I told him I had thought of looking through the large mail slot on the door but I wasn't able to bend over that far and I was concerned he might still be in the apartment. The officers went back to the front door and we watched as he bent over and looked through the mail slot. He jerked upright and pushed the other young officer back with his outstretched arm. He stepped back, raised his right leg up and with one motion he planted his size 12 foot in the middle of the door and it flew open! I tried not to look and we got back in the car. They started calling for back up and it was clear to us that Susan was dead. We tried to get the officers as much information as possible from our personnel records and from her friends at work. We were able to get a description of the husband and a description of his truck. The officers would not tell us what had happened but it was clear Susan was dead. We stayed as long as they needed us and then we had to go back to work and talk to her team members and confirm what they feared. It was a day we will never forget...and I had been waiting for 18 months to tell my story and try to get justice for Susan. So I was torn about what to do I was under court order to testify at the same time my 79 year old mother was being transported to the hospital. I was on hold with the clerk at the courthouse and all of these thoughts were replaying in my head including what was I thinking getting involved in buying and renovating a beach cottage seven hours away with all of the things I was already trying to juggle. I must be out of my mind...what had I done!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Seller's Answer...

While we were waiting to hear back from our offer we decided to ride the bikes to the north beach and the lighthouse. It was low tide so we were able to ride on the beach and it was awesome. Just as we reached the end of the island and were looking for the path back my cell phone rang! It was Sandy and she had good news. The seller had accepted our offer for the asking price and was willing to pay up to $5,000 in closing costs and after some fussing he agreed to the home inspection.  We quickly met up with Sandy and signed all the papers. Sandy gave us Tonya's contact info so that we could get the mortgage application started. We gave Tonya our email address and basic information and she quickly said it should be a slam dunk and not to worry. Sandy called in a favor and was able to get a home inspector out to the island so that we would be there for the inspection. He found a few things that would run about $2200 to make the repairs. The owner was insistent that he wasn't going to make any repairs and that the whole home inspection thing was a racket. Sandy suggested that we just lower the price and that worked! We were headed back home and our closing was less than 4 weeks away!  We would be closing right after Christmas. We knew we would have a busy busy 3+ weeks...little did we know there were more suprises ahead.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Cottage Crazy: Time To Fish or Cut Bait...

Cottage Crazy: Time To Fish or Cut Bait...: "Our heads were whirling. Thoughts of down payments and mortgages were intruding on the Coastal Living Cottage Dream! I had met with my finan..."

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About public pages

Time To Fish or Cut Bait...

Our heads were whirling. Thoughts of down payments and mortgages were intruding on the Coastal Living Cottage Dream! I had met with my financial advisor/friend John and he did not think we were crazy for considering buying real estate In the current economy even at the beach. My thought was that property values had dropped and that thirty year mortgages were still at and all time low. We were fortunate to have excellent credit which is a big deal after the mortgage debacle. Rates were less than 4.50 and would likely only go up. We had purchased property back in the eighties and were lucky to get a 12.00 mortgage...so under 4.50 sounded great. Plus we really were going to need a tax deduction...and we could deduct the interest...so that was a big factor in favor of going cottage crazy! We could swing 20 percent down which was required to get that rate for thirty years! Yikes thirty YEARS...that was scary. We were concerned about the additional closing costs and Sandy had mentioned that might be a bargaining chip. The owner was a serious man who just wanted to close out this chapter of his life. He was estranged From his wife who was living in the cottage and a divorce was likely. Fate stepped in and his Elizabeth had a serious accident and later passed away. He did not trust realtors and had priced the property to sell to someone he knew. But it was not to be. They were unable to get financing. So he was now having to decide what to do next. Along comes Sandy and she just rings him up and convinces him to let her show the cottage. No contract just her word and his on what he wanted for the cottage. Sandy realized he really did need to move on and that Was good to know. After more hand wringing and stomachs knotting up we both said you know if not now when. After some of my health issues I recognize that it is important to make the most of today...so we called Sandy and agreed to meet at her place so we could ink a contract. We discussed our offer and truly felt like his price was reasonable and had he agreed to pay Sandy a commission so that was lowering his net proceeds. We decided to ask him to pay our closing costs...but offer him full price and a closing in thirty days! Sandy hooked us up with Tonya and with our down payment and excellent credit she assured us she could meet a thirty day closing! We felt strongly that we wanted a home inspection and we were all three worried that the seller would balk since he had said that was the price as is...but we really didn't expect any serious issues but we were not prepared to take a chance and this was coastal property so we included the inspection, inked the deal and decided we needed some food...Sundae Cafe next stop and let the waiting begin! Stay tuned for the rest of the story!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

We Found Our Cottage...now What!

We toured the cottage and tried to imagine what it would look like if it wasn't dirty, smelly from pet urine,and what it would look like without the loud loud colors that changed from room to room. We have always bought and renovated homes and usually homes that were distressed. So the condition actually wasn't as bad as some we had purchased in the past. Distressed houses with NO structual issues are relatively easy to renovate. We used to be able to tackle some structual issues and more serious renovations when Dad was alive to help us. He did teach me to look beyond the surface and to concentrate on the bones, structure, roof, floor plan and exterior style and condition. He used to say a bucket of hot water, spic and span, and lots of sweat and elbow grease can create miracles...many people just aren't interested in working that hard...and IT is hard work. He also taught me that paint is another miracle worker and can dramatically change the appearance of a house both inside and out. He always insisted on buying the best quality paint, brushes, etc. He said the labor was the expensive and time consuming part so cheap paint and tools provided very poor value and also just made it harder to do an excellent job. He never tackled anything without giving it his best. I guess you can tell I miss him everyday but carry his wisdom in my head and heart. He always thought I could do anything...which is an amazing thing for a parent to give to their child. Back to the cottage...It had it all...good bones, cute cute cottage style...but it was in great shape structurally which was very unusual for a Tybee Cottage. The floor plan was awesome and included french doors to close off two of the three bedrooms and the adjoining bath...how perfect for rentals...allowing two groups their complete privacy or a great way to put the kids to bed while the adults play. The best part...the owner had just added a three season porch. Tons of windows and french doors to a small deck in the back yard...with a giant live oak with spanish moss dripping down. I was in love. I quickly went outside and walked the property and then went next door and checked out the neighbors and was pleased to find plenty of privacy and that one was a full time resident...likely quieter than renters and the other cottage that was just as cute as ours was used as a rental office which was great since they would only even be there during business hours! We also had a very nice utility area as part of the house with a high ceiling and concrete floor a perfect storage area for Kayaks, bikes,outdoor gear, etc. and could later be converted to a nice small shop. We told Sandy we were in Like but needed some time to discuss and would call her. She provided lots of info on what taxes, flood insurance, etc. would cost...considerable costs since you are on and island. She mentioned lots of folks rented their cottages to offset the expenses and of course we couldn't be there all the time. We left with our heads spinning and retired back to Fiddler on the Creek to sit on the dock and start making lists of what we would need to spend to make the Cottage Tybee Cute! Stay tuned it gets interesting...a conservative banker who doesn't believe in having debt and had just paid her home off...is faced with a big decision...the coastal living cottage dream...how to pay of it and not freak out...could I possibly do it...Mike was right there with me and was in exactly the same place. Lots of discussion and hand wringing...more tomorrow!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Day Two of the Hunt...

Sandy was determined to find a cottage for us. We were feeling a bit down after our two best possibilities didn't pan out. We looked at a number of cottages that were really in such bad shape not to mention the smells that after a while I wouldn't even make it across the threshold before giving Sandy a thumbs down. She said she appreciated the fact that we did not mess around but said what we thought! Shooting straight saves a lot of time and hot air.We seriously considered a fairly large home on the lighthouse side of the island. The house was roomy with parking under but it really was just a house not a cottage. It also was a short sale. A short sale is when you have to deal with both the mortgage holder and the owner. The owners had bought the house at the top of the market and they owed more on the house than it was currently worth.  Somehow that just put a cloud over the deal...I felt like it was just bad ju ju to be part of taking someone's house out from under them...they were still living there and according to Sandy were very nice people in a bad spot. The house also did not have any view to speak of and again had lots of steps...so another disappointment. We were supposed to leave the next day so it looked like we were coming up empty on this trip. We went back to Fiddler on the Creek and sat out on the dock looking at the marsh and discussing that it was looking like this wasn't meant to be. We would go home tomorrow. Then we got two calls one from Diane Kaufman at Mermaid Cottages our rental company and later one from Sandy. Diane called to offer the cottage to us for an additional night at no charge...no one was coming in after us and we were welcome to stay and they would just delay cleaning by a day. How nice...we probably would go on back since we were striking out but what a generous offer. She said to just let her know if we changed our mind. About an hour later Sandy called and I could tell she was excited...she is always very animated but it was apparent something was up. She wanted to know if we could go look at just one more Cottage. We said sure but we had pretty much given up the hunt. She picked us up at Fiddler on the Creek which is on S. Campbell Ave...and we just went back down S. Campbell and stopped at a cottage we had passed driving to Fiddler. They were having an estate sale at the Cottage and I had noticed it the day before and teased Mike about letting me stop to shop the sale...no deal. We were shocked that this was the Cottage that Sandy wanted to show us. It only got stranger...the Cottage was not listed for Sale with any realtor. Sandy knew the lady who owned the Cottage and that she loved cats and dogs and she had recently passed away. Sandy had learned from the Cat Rescue Lady that the Cottage was going to be sold by the estranged husband to settle the estate. The gentleman did not like realtors. But Sandy being Sandy she just called him up and convinced him that it was ok for her to show us the Cottage...even though there was not a contract in place. More tomorrow...I will say we called and let Diane know we needed to stay one more night...we had things to do!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Hunt for a Cottage begins...

We arrived on Tybee in November and stayed at the Mermaid Cottages rental Fiddler on the Creek on South Campbell. The Cottage was located on the marsh and was adorable! We raced around looking at all the special touches...my favorite the thrash can in the bathroom was a old white enamel chamber pot! The cottage had a small screened porch and two outdoor spaces directly on the marsh. We were able to sit on the dock and watch huge blue herons and great egrets! We settled in and called Sandy to see when we would hook up with her to start the hunt. We needed to grab some lunch first and Sandy had mentioned that the North Beach Grill was close and near the Lighthouse...another favorite thing of ours! She also said they had Carmel Cake to die for...so we made sure we ordered a piece to take to her. When we met we started off my giving her the cake which earned us a hug from the get go! We clicked with Sandy right off and she totally got what we were looking for and knew the budget was the driver. One perfect property had sold for a "steal " just the month before so the window on low prices was starting to close. We looked at a house on Lewis Ave. and the lot had a nice marsh view but the house was full of mold, nasty, with water damage in some areas. We walked the property and walked back through as I was figuring renovation costs in my head and how much work it would take and I quickly realized that while I had high hopes for this property from the pictures that Sandy had sent...I couldn't see how we could get involved in a project this large and even if we bought in for $100,000 they were asking $140,000 I was concerned that it could easily cost another $100,000 or more to put it right. The only thing it had going for it was the marsh view...and we would not be able to stay in the house while we were working on it so that really was the deal breaker. Sandy had sent us a couple more pictures we roared off in her mini van to check them out. We looked at another house on Lewis that was on the other side of the street and it had a much better marsh view. It was clean inside but that was about the only other good thing I could say...it was a hodge podge of add ons and had a strange floor plan and lots of steep stairs. I have some issues from spinal cord surgery in 2006 and stairs are getting to be another deal breaker. So our top two possibilities were really not working out. We agreed to meet the next day and try again.  Stay tuned more tommorow.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Back to the Beginning...we fell in love with Savannah and then Tybee Island...

John our sea kayak guide mentioned that real estate prices on Tybee were down and that Tybee was an awesome place for anyone that loved the outdoors. John did us two big favors...he told us were the locals go to get the best oysters for lunch...the Sundae Cafe and then over lunch we starting talking about real estate and then John gave us his realtor's name.  I also found out that John was on Facebook to keep up with the children and grandchildren. We became friends over Facebook and that kept us in touch and helped my resolve to follow up with his realtor after we returned home. I called Sandy McCloud and was prepared to hear that we probably couldn't find anything in our price range. Instead Sandy seemed very interested in trying to find us a foresclosure or a distressed property...which was what our budget required. She agreed to keep her eye out and get back if she found anything. After a couple of weeks and we had not heard anything I thought that was the end of our search. Sandy actually had emailed me and it hit my spam box...when she did not hear from me she decided to phone me and actually caught me at home...which is rare. The first of a string of interesting twists and turns. She had a couple of properties that she emailed us that were interesting.We decided to take three days and go to Tybee and see what she had found. We knew our budget would not handle a beach front property and were hoping for something on or near the marsh. We looked for a place to stay that would not be a condo and would be on the marsh so we could experience what living in a cottage would be like on Tybee. We found the Mermaid Cottage website and spent a couple of hours poring over all the cute cottages. We decided on Fiddler on the Creek since it was on the marsh and was a one bedroom. We made reservations for three nights and went down in November.

Stayed tuned for the next part of the story tomorrow...

Paws and Paddles ready for it's first Mermaid Cottage Rental guests!

We are decorated by Jane Coslick and cleaned,fluffed, and organized to please our guests!
The yard will be done this week, the new deck and stone patio is decked out with nice comfy chairs ( pads in the pantry) and the webber charcoal grill was tested on ahi tuna steaks with pineapple salsa and it was seriously the best tuna ever! Used a hand full of wet hickory chips and it made a huge difference. I organized the cabinets, pantry and laundry area and labeled all so things are easy to find and replace. Tried to think of the extra touches we have appreciated in our travels. Spices, coffee filters, stamps, note pads and cute note cards with paw prints located in a box with all things office like pens scissors tape staples...ok I am a type A! We sincerely want our guests to love Paws as much as we do. Sitting out on the stone patio under the huge old live oak and grilling and chilling with a cool breeze off the marsh with the salt air and the hickory smoke was so perfect I don't remember being more relaxed. More later...off to work and putting on the big girl pants and high heels!