Soon after returning home, we called our Realtor to let her know how excited about the place we were. We'd spent a large portion of the return trip discussing the potential and our plans for the Sea Spray, and we were anxious to get the wheels turning. However, before we could even begin with that, we still needed that ROUS, the financials. Mabel said she was on it, and would get back with us soon. A few days later, after no word, we called her again. She told us that she was leaving on vacation in couple of days, but should have something before then. Finally, one day before she left, we received an email of sorts, containing some fairly hard to decipher tax forms from the last few years, along with an explanation that it was all they could find, and was likely all that we would ever find. Without any occupancy data, and with just the tax forms, it was worse than we'd feared. We had pretty firm assurances that they were making significantly more than filed for, and in fact, from what I could figure, the only income reported was what had been run on credit cards, no cash or check income. Either way, it did us no good. If we were going to be able to get a loan for the place, it would have to be for a good chunk less than they were asking. We still thought it was a possibility though, as we were pretty naive about certain things then, and called her to tell her we wanted to bid. Mabel convinced us to wait until she returned from her vacation; the place had been on the market for over a year, and no one was buying now anyway. We (somewhat grudgingly) agreed to wait.
In the meantime, I was selected for a hard fought promotion at work, and left for a training weekend and classes in Salt Lake City, UT. The whole time I was there, my mornings were spent in conferences and classes, and my evenings were spent obsessing over our bid and our future.
A week later, when Mabel returned from her vacation, we placed a bid, at a significantly lower price than they were asking, but one that we felt was fair based off of the income that had been provided. We heard nothing back from our Realtor, and when we called to check up on it a couple of days later, she said that she still hadn't written the bid up and delivered it, she needed to talk to the listing Realtor and get some forms, but she'd get on it that night. By this point we were pretty fed up with delays, but we sat waiting, hoping desperately that she would get back to us.
The next day, we got a call from Mabel. That morning, when she was calling the listing agent to ask her what other papers were needed, the listing agent informed her that the Sea Spray Motel had received a bid, and the owners accepted. Our bid had never even been written up or presented. We were utterly crushed.
We had spent months at this point working towards the Sea Spray, fighting with Realtors and curmudgeonly caretakers, our hopes always lifted by the vision we were creating for the future,and that short phone conversation undid all of it.
This was our first real brush with finding a motel, and we learned a LOT from it, all of which has left us in good stead, but they were lessons that hit below the belt a lot of the time.
What we learned from the Sea Spray Motel Attempt:
1 - You must always be happy with your Realtor, and always be 100% honest with them, as they should be with you. Our current Realtor here in Pocatello, Jared Wilks (one of the few people I'll use the real name for here, and solely because he's been such a true help that he deserves to be recognised) told us that when we first contacted him about our worries with Mabel. He explained that his company prided themselves on being the easiest to fire Realtors around, because they plan to be so good that you wont need to, but also because you should do it if needed. We didn't, and we regret that more than anything. From the first contact with Mabel, we sensed that she wasn't thrilled about working with us, and that she may not know everything she needed for a commercial transaction like the motel. That should have been enough of a sign.
2. Getting answers and responses should be easy and prompt. It sometimes took us days to get an answer to a simple question, if we ever had it answered. We should have immediately smelled ROUS in the room when they said they couldn't find the occupancy data. Mabel was also notoriously hard to get ahold of in fact, there were times we had to actually contact the owners and the listing agents instead. That shouldn't have ever happened.
3. Never dive without all of the answers. We should never have visited the property without the numbers. That was a big, dumb mistake, and should have been obvious.
4. Use your resources. Here in Pocatello, we have a few select individuals who are smart, successful, friendly, and willing to help, amongst them, Jared, and we underutilized them all.
5. Be cautious and certain, but jump as soon as you are certain. We had been told by Mabel that someone else was looking at the property too, but she followed it with a disclaimer that the listing agent claimed that all of the time, so we kind of ignored the possibility. We'll kick ourselves for not being pushy in regards to the bid and the time frame of it for the rest of our lives. Would it have made a difference? Probably not, but who knows?
6. Don't assume that you can create something from nothing. For every ROUS we saw in the motel, we quickly rationalized it away with a brilliant plan for overcoming it. I think that if we'd really sat down and written out all of the things we would have needed to do to make it what we were picturing, we would have quickly become overwhelmed.
7. Never EVER fall in love with a place before the last paper is signed and it's official. Nearly all of these problems we hit could have been avoided or easily overcome if we'd followed this cardinal rule. We were in love with this place before we'd clicked through all of the photos on the initial listing view. Hell, we are still in love with the place now, after we've sat and re-evaluated all of the negatives there were, and what a load of work it would have been. There's nothing wrong with being in love with a place.... eventually, but it's got to be worth it, and it's got to be yours to love. Otherwise it's just too difficult when you realize you fell in love with what it could be, and that you'll never have the chance to make it that.
8. If you do make mistakes, learn from them. This is one we have taken to heart like nothing else. We still make a lot of mistakes in our quest, but for every one, afterwards we sit and discuss where the misstep was, whether it was avoidable, and what we'll do next time. Eventually, we will get it all right, all at the same time, and it will be glorious, my friends!