Wednesday, November 7, 2007

the millionaire next door

In the middle of nowhere, in an unincorporated town consisting of a deli, general store, Church of Christ, grange hall and elementary school, in the absolute boondocks of hobby farmville, we have evidently struck gold.

Or maybe fools' gold.

When I was a little girl, my dad owned a tree planting business. This took us out of Oregon several summers in a row, to the great sky country of Montana. While Dad and the crews reforested, Mom took my brother and me on day trips to ghost towns and butterfly hatchings, canyons and rivers and amazing natural features. But the thing that I remember best is the fool's gold. We brought huge chunks of it back to our rented cabin and were so excited to show it to my dad, who of course turned it into a history and geology lesson.

Anyway, here in Oregon, in our 1887 church-turned-farmhouse, we live smack next door to a quaint B&B resplendent in cedar ciding, custom cabinetry, and deep front and rear covered porches. It's a small bed and breakfast, with just two guest rooms, but very charming and wine-country-chic.

Today it went on the market for $650,000. I received a couple of calls from fellow Realtors wondering what could make the tiny collection of buildings on two acres worth nearly twice their own personal estimates. I was stumped. In fact I told both real estate agents that it must be one of the mini-wineries on the hill just down our road. 3000-plus square feet each, with private vineyards covering acres of hillsides. This made much more sense. But then this afternoon, while sewing new curtains for the den, I received a third call, this time from a friend's husband who works on the county road crew.

"I'm out pulling signs from the right-of-way," he said.

"Do I have something in the county truck?" I replied. Signs cost money and I'd rather mine didn't linger in the county boneyard for the crime of misplacement. No, he just wanted me to know about the Re/MAX sign next door and the fact that my dog was digging up the grange's side yard.

After hauling the dog home with an unidentified bone, and incidentally herding our free-range chickens off of the B&B front porch (I have NEVER seen them leave our property before), I confirmed the Realtor rumors for my own self.

I hope it sells for a quarter million more than it appraised one year ago. But I hope we don't get any neighbors who want the rest of us to start living like the millionaire next door.