"You guys are welcome to stay a few days in our condo."
We left home late, and arrived Destin at about 2 A.M..
We grabbed an adult beverage and went out on the balcony. Overcast... no light at all, we couldn't see much. BUT...
We could hear the murmuring of water hitting the beach and could smell the sea.
We finished our drinks and, worn out, retired to bed.
In the morning we returned to the balcony and our jaws dropped...
We were separated from the beach by old highway 98, but the view was absolutely breathtaking!
Sugar white sand. The water ranged from deep emerald green to aqua in color.
Where can we sign up for more of this?
So we went to the manager and asked, "Do you have a list of people who would like to buy when units become available?"
She answered, "Yes, and I'd love to see some new, YOUNGER faces around here." She recorded our phone number. I expected a call in a year, maybe two.
Three months later I answered the phone and heard, "The unit next door to the one you stayed in is for sale. I've talked with the owner and the price is reasonable. Act NOW!"
Try as hard as I might, crunching the numbers didn't make me comfortable with the purchase.
So, knowing they had the money and might be interested in a second unit, we called our friend that had generously allowed us to stay in their unit those months earlier...
"We can't afford it. If you want the condo, here's the number to call."
"Would you be interested in owning half of it?" they asked.
And the answer to that question put me smack in the middle of my comfort zone.
That was April of 2000. Together we bought the condo with the gorgeous view of the Gulf, put a solid week of sweat equity into painting, wallpapering, repairing, replacing old appliances;
All intended to make the place attractive to add to a rental program so others would pay the bills.
At least that's how it was supposed to work.
In 14 years, the place has never fully paid for itself.
Oh, don't take me wrong...
We've LOVED owning it.
We've loved the idea that at some point in "the future", we'd be able to come spend Winters here, away from sub-zero temps and snow plows running up and down the road.
But every time we came down to spend time here we've had to bring a hammer, screwdriver, and a paint brush. The blinds inevitably have been screwed up by renters. The carpeting ALWAYS needs minor or major cleaning.
In 2005, if our crystal ball had been working, we could have sold the property for three times what we paid.
But our crystal ball at that point was just an interesting piece of glass. The market pretty much collapsed and the value of the condo returned to just about what we paid.
But it has slowly, surely, been going up since.
And then came the anxiety.
Our country is changing. Our economy is changing. Seemingly EVERYTHING is changing.
I don't like what I see.
As much as I love being here looking at that gorgeous beach, I think having money in hand to buy things we might need in case of "trouble" might be more important than owning a piece of property most of a day's drive distant.
We burned the mortgage two months ago.
We have what appears to be a solid contract for the condo.
The sale won't make us rich, but will put some money in the bank and, almost as important, will take the worry/expense of always having to fix something renters have broken off our shoulders.
This week we're spending what may be our last week in this second home as "owners"...
The table where I wrote the first post for "Pitchpull" in April of 2005 will no longer belong to us.
Our sadness is somewhat tempered by the fact that money in the bank will allow us to come rent here most anytime, anyplace we want.
And we DO still LOVE Destin.
We'll be back.