James Frangella, Monterey, Carmel, Pacific Grove real estate specialist
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Monterey real estate, James Frangella
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I'm a Coastal Property Specialist.

I don't do country.  What was I thinking??

Spring-fed? What the … ?  What kind of water system is that?  I’m thinking a garden hose siphoning from a babbling brook running along aside your cabin.  Creek runs dry – you got no water. Outhouse is the septic tank?  I don’t belong here.  This is real country stuff.

I’m having second thoughts about helping my client buy property in the foothills of Fresno County.  Ooops.  I meant to say in the mountains – there’s at least a gas station in the foothills and reliable water sources and most importantly, flushing toilets.

I sold Mary’s house on the Monterey Peninsula so she asked if I could help make a 1031 exchange in the little town of Auberry just north of Fresno.  I’m a real estate broker and can practice anywhere in California.  Duck soup, I’m thinking.  So I join the Fresno Board of Realtor’s MLS system.  Equipped with my laptop, droid phone and a list of homes for sale, I make the couple-hour drive planning to spend the weekend.  By Monday morning I should be an expert in country property values.  Fresno or Monterey County should make no difference.  It’s all the same.  For cryin’ out loud, I’m a real estate broker.  I know my stuff!

I’m up for the adventure and learning experience but also very anxious to see what 200 grand can buy.  Once there, not much I find out soon enough.  Mary picked three or four listings located just a few miles outside of Auberry.  However … a few miles means up the mountain without climbing gear or even a tank of oxygen!  We’re driving up and up by the minute.

The roads are more like trails just wide enough for a rickety horse-drawn wagon and not Mary’s big Ford truck.  I’m definitely out of my comfort zone.  The only earth I want to feel between my toes is beach sand and not anything consisting of bear dung that might be mixed with human remains.

Locating these listings on remote mountain trails is not easy, I must say.  House numbers are not in sequential order and to make matters worse – the directional arrows on the signage make no sense at all, especially when they point neither right nor left.  Mostly they point up.

This mountain house hunting is not working for me and to my immediate joy, neither for Mary.  She realizes we’ve reached the snow line as we see the broken snow markers a long side the dirt road, which is barely wide enough for her truck.  One can only imagine it’s definitely not wide enough for the snow removal equipment, thus the badly bent markers. 

Mary also realizes that turning around to go back down is not simply just turning around in somebody’s driveway.  There is no somebody out here.  We can’t even find the houses! Driving back down in reverse is definitely not an option.  I wished I had brought a survival kit.

Mary is a good driver but I’m hanging on to dear life.  I’m really hoping we don’t run into a road block manned by the crew from Deliverance.  I shudder with utter horror as I imagine what they will do to a beach boy real estate broker in an Aloha shirt with my $100 Tommy Bahama flip flops.  I start to pray real hard.

Up ahead in the middle of nowhere in the shadows of the sun-blocking redwoods or pines or whatever these ominous tall plants are, we see a man in jeans … with shirt (that’s a good sign) and a smartly dressed woman standing a long side the road.  Both carrying no guns, as far as I can tell.

“Mary, pull up please and let me talk to these folks”, as I roll down the window.  I notice the man is missing a few teeth.  Not a good sign.

“Are any of you a real estate agent by chance”, I politely ask.  I'm on my best behavior with all due respect.

“Why yes, I am.  Are you looking for one?” she replies.

“No, actually I was praying for one.” I was filled with much excitement, needless to say.

After proper introductions, we explained our desire (maybe not Mary’s but certainly mine) to buy a house in the flat lands today.  Not tomorrow or next week but today.  I want to be so done with my recently floundered country property specialty. 

My new cooperating colleague tells us that she just listed a 5 acre 3 bedroom 2 bath with a huge workshop down in Auberry.  The listing has yet to hit the MLS too. We would be the first to see it. She is going there right this minute and she asked if we would like to follow her.

“Does a bar do No. 2 in the woods?” I asked in reply.  I try to be funny and used my best country twang accent. 

By backing up into a tree, turning around is way easy.  Nobody is going to miss it.  There are so many up there anyway.  We were down that mountain faster than you can say cowabunga!

To be continued ...