Vacation Home Purchase, Septic Tank

During 37 years of selling homes, I don’t recall selling a home with a septic system. I did sell some rural property – the septic system was never a big issue.

Why not? I think it was not a major consideration in the purchase. The property itself was always a much larger concern related to the size of the investment.

That’s not so true on a vacation home, where the parcel size is relatively small and the septic is a major capital expense. It’s also a big project if it needs to be replaced.

In most rural property purchases, the agencies are not watching closely. That’s not true if you purchase a lake-front home where county agencies are very concerned about pollution of the lake.

That’s why I’m being fussy about the septic tank at my prospective vacation home at Lake Almanor in Plumas County.

The seller’s agent suggested that the seller pay for the septic inspection. That surprised me. Then the inspector checked a box saying it was “unknown” if there are any records about the tank on file with Plumas County. This is a big red flag. Unknown ?@#%&*

Looks like there will be more than one inspector.

Rough Year for CTS

Yes, California Tiger Salamander (CTS) larvae were scarce this year. About three weeks ago we seined 13 ponds and found CTS larvae in two of them. In one pond, we netted only one larvae. The other had 40.

We went back to the pond with 40 larvae today and seined 39. They are now much larger, but not showing signs of morphing.

Here’s a couple photos.

pond 26-2 on June 13, 2018 Reaching for a couple larvae DSC_0595

Grabbing for two at once. They’re slippery.

One in the hand - pond 26-2 June 13, 2018 DSC_0590

Here’s one in the hand.

We’ll go back in about three weeks and these guys should be ready to morph and leave the pond.

The Search – Vacation Home

For years I’ve wanted to own a second home at Lake Almanor in Northern California. As a kid, my brother and I experienced the outdoors while staying with my grandparents during summers.

After they passed away, my folks decided it was too difficult to manage a home several hours away and sold my the home they inherited, which was located on the East Shore of Lake Almanor. At the time I didn’t think about it much.

Still young and able to camp and fish in the Almanor area, I didn’t need a house to slow me down. Later on marriage came along and the needs of my wife entered into the picture. She was and is not a camper and needed a house when we visited Almanor – we rented.

Renting is OK, but it’s different from owning and I’ve always preferred to be an owner. The problem? Owning a second home doesn’t create the same return as other real estate investments. Hence, we put off purchasing while investing in other real estate.

On the other hand, a good real estate investment is a good way to retain capital. That conclusion can reasonably be reached with the assumption that you are not forced to sell.

About five years ago Linda and I began to seriously search for a solution. We looked at many homes, but nothing really seemed to fit – until we checked out a house on the Lake Almanor West golf course.

It was a nice home with a good exposure, big trees and a nice view of the open space of the golf course. We made an offer. The asking price was $560,000. We thought the right price was $425,000 based upon our understanding of the market. The offer didn’t fly so we raised our offer to $450,000. Still no interest from the seller.

We let go of it and moved on. We began to remodel our home in Livermore and that ate up our money and energy. We didn’t get serious again until this spring. Ironically the same house came on the market. It had not sold.

We tried again, this time offering $475,000. The seller was still stuck on $560,000, but indications were that $535,000 might work. We passed.

We recently took a week’s vacation and revisited the entire program. This time we had saved up additional funds and had more options. After a few days we found a home I really liked and Linda could live with. It’s in escrow.

We concluded that nothing short of a lake-front home would motivate us to purchase. I had money in the bank that I’d been planning to invest in stocks, but I was having a hard time making that decision. As a real estate guy, stocks were not working for me.

So, our money market funds will be used to purchase a home at Lake Almanor West. It will cost just under a million dollars. The property will rent out for about $3,500 per week during the height of the summer season. Taxes will be about $11,000 per year. Insurance and HOA dues will be about $3,000 per year. Looks like we’ll need to rent it out for about five or six weeks each summer to break even.

We’ll come up with a management plan that, at least in theory, allows us to pay the major expenses and still have use of the property. The home will not require major work and it will probably meet our needs as is.

I’m fired up. Here’s a photo from the street. Not very good, but all I have for now.

109 Kokanee IMG_5306

View from the street. The house is about 200 feet from the front property line. Nice setback.

There will be more later. I’ll also post some info  related to escrow. We’re lining up septic, home and termite inspections. Most of the deferred maintenance is related to sun damage. At Almanor’s  4,500 foot elevation, the sun really beats wood up. There will be more later.

I’ll also post some info  related to escrow as things move along. It may be helpful.

 

Soda Creek

Soda Creek IMG_5300

My buddy Jerry needed to catch his first trout on a fly. Not only that, but he had to catch it on a bamboo rod he’d purchased year’s ago for $80 at a garage sale.

The rod was ok. The reel was fine. The line would work. We practiced a few knots and selected the right flies. He’d be using a deer-hair dry-fly and a bird’s nest nymph on an 18 inch dropper. The deer-hair fly would mainly act as a strike indicator.

Soda Creek is fairly small and an eight incher is a good fish. The stream is not too deep, but the slippery boulders are dangerous.

I wasn’t certain I’d remember how to get there, but some refreshing on a topo-map supplied by a helpful salesman at Ayoob’s Hardware in Chester did the trick.

The trip was a pleasant one-hour drive. The area near the trail head had burned a few years back and there was a lot of brush at the start of the trail. In fact the trail was so obscured that we just headed down hill freelancing.

It was only about a quarter-mile down to the creek, but the canyon was steep. Steeper then I recalled. We slipped and slid our way down. The dirt was deep and loose. The climb out would be a workout.

The bottom of the canyon was just as I remembered it. Lot’s of boulders, big logs and a slippery creek bottom – so slippery that it wasn’t long before I took my first spill. Jerry was working the north side of the creek about 30 yards ahead of me. I glanced at him several times, but didn’t see him catch any fish.

After the first two riffles, I hadn’t had a sniff, which was not unusual as the number of fish in the creek seems to increase as you get further from the “trail.”

Eventually I pulled a small rainbow out of the creek, but the fish dropped off the hook before I got a hand on him. Not an official catch, but a start.  Trout fever was beginning to take effect. I wanted the action to improve as I fiendishly adjusted my flies, dropper length etc.

I was looking for the perfect set-up, but each hole demanded something a little different. I had to pee, but didn’t want to stop fishing. Putting on my 2X readers to tie on flies and adjust knots was tedious. I sprang a leak – damn it.

Oh well. I quit fishing for a minute and finished the job properly.

I continued to take glances at Jerry. So far there was no indication that he’d caught that elusive first trout on a fly. In his youth, Jerry had caught quite a few “creek” fish with bait and a spinning rod, so I figured it wouldn’t be long until his experience would translate into a fish. It appeared that he wanted to catch this first fly rod fish without any more help from me than necessary.

It was 30 or 40 more minutes before I actually put my hand on a trout. Sometimes the first fish is the hardest to catch. Ironically this down-stream fish grabbed my fly just as I began to pull it from the water. I wasn’t even looking. Accidents count.

The fish seemed to all be in the fast-moving riffle, so that’s where I began to concentrate.

A little further down stream I pulled three fish from one riffle. I was satisfied and it was almost noon-time. Amazingly we had been fishing for nearly three hours. I looked down stream for Jerry. He was not in sight.

I could see that I’d have to cross back to the north side of the creek in order to go further down stream where I guessed Jerry had disappeared.

I moved a little too quickly as I headed up-stream and my left toe caught a rock. Down I went, face first. I put both hands down to break my fall and I watched as my left thumb bent backwards too far. Scary.

When I got to my feet, I was a bit shaken, but it looked like my thumb was not severely damaged, just overextended. I figured I’d had enough, but I wasn’t happy about how slippery the creek was, so I searched carefully for the best non-slip route I could find.

The excitement was a bit too much. Now I was faced with an unplanned bowel movement. “Oh dam,” I thought to myself as I headed into the bushes and dropped trousers, ” No toilet paper.”

I used a stick. Not very effective. Oh well, now I had too smells to take home.

After relaxing a bit, I found a good walking stick to use during the creek crossing which I completed uneventfully. Where was Jerry?

I walked down stream a ways and sat down. I wished that we had set a rendezvous time, but we hadn’t expected to fish independently. After the rest stop, I headed back towards the “trail.”

After awhile I began to climb the hill. Jerry is in good physical condition and an experienced outdoorsman so I wasn’t overly concerned about him. I’d continue to watch the creek as I climbed.

Eventually I came to the point where I could no longer see down into the creek bottom. I waited there for a while. No Jerry. He had either climbed the hill ahead of me or traveled farther down stream. Again I wished that we had made a better plan.

When I reached the truck, I turned it around and rescued my dog, Lola from the back seat. We went for a short walk. Now it was something like 1:30  PM. My wife Linda sent a text message. “ETA?”

“I’m at the car waiting for Jerry,” I responded.

Linda texted me again. “Pat (Jerry’s wife) is concerned and wants you to go search for Jerry.”

I texted back. “I think I should wait a while longer.” I didn’t want to even think about climbing down into and back out of the canyon again.

Fortunately it wasn’t long before I could see Jerry ahead of me. He looked a bit tired, but not at all in trouble. I apologized for leaving him behind and he told me he wasn’t sure what to do when he couldn’t find me. We agreed that we should have set a time to rendezvous and made a plan.

Jerry caught two trout, so the day was a success. He could now relegate the bamboo rod to his trophy room wall.

I wore my smelly clothes around the rest of the day.