Perimeters

A few clicks south along a gravel road and you’re there, a property serendipity or dumb luck or the Fates queued up for a look last Wednesday, just as I was giving up on the ridiculous Montgomery County, Va., housing market. Figured I would be renting indefinitely because who can spend all that time online sifting for leads, then schedule and go for a showing, only to find “pending” by the end of the day. Escalation clauses to 50k over asking. Same day cash offers. Waived inspections. But against the grain of improbabilities, then there’s one, and you only need one.

At 5.8 acres in an unincorporated part of the county, I thought it was a long shot. Right-priced. Low taxes. House plus a small guest cottage in back. Pair of workshop-studios. Went to see it. Another prospective buyer crowding in behind us, arriving early as we walked the perimeter, much of it across angular inclines then declines of as much as 200 feet, what in this region is, if you’re talking about the landform, known as a hollow, and if you’re talking about the auditory call-across-a-distance, then it’s a holler. Hollow or holler, it’s always only pronounced holler. Neither a valley nor a cove, a holler comes with a watercourse and little to no flat land. So I put in a good faith bid and waited. Extenuating circumstances had me waiting an extra day and then part of another. On Friday night, a decision: there was a second matching bid, but if we’d waive inspection, it was ours.

Aerial (drone) photograph with approximate property boundary added for southside Christiansburg house now under contract.

The waived inspection doesn’t worry me too too much.

Offer accepted and heaps of paperwork in motion, we went again this evening, a week later, to walk the perimeter again—having also done so on Saturday when we met the sellers who spend 2.5 hours generously going over the finer features, in addition to some idiosyncrasies I’m going to need reminded about. The water pump especially. For the creek or the pond. The electrical configurations for the two wired garages. The quality of HughesNet versus HollerNet. The spigot buried in the front yard. The location of the septic and drain field. Dwelling sorts it out one way or another.

But bears! This evening while walking the perimeter, there a mossy shelf, maybe 15×30-feet, there a knuckled ledge overlooking the holler, there a place for chickens, there a hoop house and garden, there a series of hooks for ladder storage, and there a dispatch of bear scat. And another. I think? I mean, what else? And it’s not like there is a cell signal available to Google bear isht til you get back to the apartment later on. No apps for identifying it definitively. Seller said they’d had a bear pull a trash barrel better than three-quarters of the way up the embankment. Presence of a bear or two accentuates a holler with special caution ahead of moving and planning. But they’re no more worrying than a waived inspection, and obviously they aren’t especially concerned about the location of the septic or drain field.

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