“Well, I guess you have new neighbors now.” That’s how our journey to creekside living began. I had called Ralph Dawson, a bit of a legend in our parts through his work as a stone mason, tech school teacher, school maintenance supervisor and Christmas tree farmer. He had a beautiful home on Town Creek, and near him sat a two-story home that I knew had been for sale about a year before.
“No, it never sold,” he said. “It’s still sitting there empty.”
Not only was it empty, it was in foreclosure. Michele and I had driven down the driveway when it was on the market, but it was out of our price range so we never even looked at it.
Living on a creek, in fact, was a “someday” dream for us. “Wouldn’t it be nice,” we’d say, knowing that creek front property was scarce and expensive in and around our town. But we were quite happy where we were — a 70’s brick rancher with a screened in back porch and a fantastic, secluded back yard. It wasn’t quite our style, but we were happy there. Content.
After my call with Mr. Dawson, Michele and I immediately drove to look at the home on Town Creek. What we found was a bit frightening. The front yard was so overgrown that we had to stomp around in the high weeds to find the “for sale” sign to get the real estate agent’s phone numbers. The back yard was so overgrown that it was impassable, and would eventually ask the agent to have it bush-hogged so we could tell what we were making an offer on.
And then there was the creek. Town Creek. At this point in its course on the way toward Lake Guntersville, it was wide. A friend of mine once said “if Little River is a river, then Town Creek is a river.” He was right. At this point it was certainly wide enough to qualify as a river, especially when compared to some we’ve seen in Tennessee’s national park areas.
Trouble was, you could barely see the creek from the back deck. Everything was so overgrow.
Fortunately, the unkempt nature of the outside did not continue into the interior. There were several problems that needed attention, but it was in very good condition. More than livable.
We saw the potential, and we fell in love with the property. This could be our forever home. We took steps to make an offer.
And then, the roadblock.
As a Fannie Mae foreclosure, the bank would not accept an offer with a contingency — meaning we couldn’t base our offer on the sale of our rancher. We thought the deal was over, that our dream of creekside living would have to wait.
That’s when we decided to visit our banker and tell him our story. I want to plug hometown banking here. Few of the big banks have the flexibility to do what ours did for us. He listened to our story, then began to think through all his options. After inspecting the house the bank made us this offer: they would take a second mortgage on our rancher, loan us the money for the creekside home and thereby give us the time to move the home we were in.
“Now if it doesn’t sell in six months, we’ll need to be making some plans,” our banker said. We knew it was a gamble, especially considering that we were entering the slow season for real estate sales.
Long story short, we bought our creekside home at a good deal — and sold the rancher in just three months. Whew.
Before moving in, we handed the inspector’s report to a crew who fixed the numerous electrical and plumbing issues. In October of 2005, we moved our furniture and officially called the place “home.”
We have made many changes to our creekside cottage over the years, and you’ll find posts and photos of the work throughout this site. We continue to transform the house and property into a reflection of our tastes and lifestyle. It has been a journey we’ve both enjoyed, and one we look forward to continuing for many more years to come.