I've been in the country awhile now, and I love it in part because of the very different values here that I found in the many cities I have lived in. We bought the New Bedlam Farm from country people and it had the most wonderful feeling about it. There was no posturing, no faux negotiating, no guarded affectations to keep the price down, no non-negotiable demands. We said we loved it and they said they would love us to have it, and that was the way it went. We both did what we needed to do to make it happen, in trust and good faith.
Talk about good energy. I sometimes feel a different energy when city people come through the farm to look at it. This morning a couple from Westchester, N.Y. came through. They were grim, suspicious, silent. I wondered what they were like at a funeral, if it was the same. In the other world, realtors caution people to hide their emotions, to show little, as it might cost them in negotiations. Country people do not do that. They either like it or they don't, and they say so.
When people look at the farm, Maria or I need to be around, because of all the animals, gates, dogs. So I see more the prospective buyers than home sellers usually see. I can't say I love the experience. City people quickly list non-negotiable demands, "deal-breakers." They squawk about the taxes, or fuss about the old cabinets in the kitchen. They sort of wrinkle their noses, even if they love what they see, and cast guarded glances at one another. They let you know they are seeing other properties, and they let you know that this one has its shortcomings. There is a tension around them. Country people don't do that. They figure they can work things out, and they usually do. One couple from New York City asked us if we could measure each room in the farmhouse and send them a floor plan. We said no, this isn't the house for you. A man e-mailed our realtor and demanded from us a list of things he could do with the farm that would make money, A woman from Massachusetts said she could not live with a kitchen as old as ours, and added she was very used to an attached garage. Not for you, not for you.
Bedlam Farm, I realize, is all about values, and it should remain that way. In challenging times, it seems all the more important to retain my humanity, my values. It sometimes seems naive, but to me, it becomes more important every day that I live.
A couple from Florida came to see the farm with their two children, and they just melted with love for it. They crawled over the barns, loved the view, imagined the animals they could have with the good fences and water. "We just love it," they both said, "we want to be here." But the husband lost his job after the trip and can't get a mortgage. They e-mailed us to let us know. We liked them. They were warm, open, passionate about the lives they wanted. We saw that these are the kind of people who should live at Bedlam Farm.
We have evolved in an interesting way. We want to sell the farm, but not in a panic or a scramble. We told Kristin Preble, our realtor that we won't sell the farm to anybody who isn't willing to love it, who we don't feel comfortable with. Neither of us could do that to the farm. It is a creative and magical place and whoever buys it will thrive there, as I have, as Maria has. I would never sleep again, I told Kristin, if I sold it to a jerk. Kristin laughed and said she thought that was wonderful. She supported the completely.
We've lowered the price enough – no regrets - and we aren't doing that anymore. So there won't be much, if any, negotiating. And we won't sell the farm to anybody who shows up. I told Kristin I owed it to the farm, to myself, to only sell it to people who had a spirit of openness and generosity about them. A love for animals and a desire to live a meaningful life would also be important. Maria completely agrees. We want to sell the farm in the same spirit as we bought the new one, and from people who want the same thing. Buying and selling a home is difficult these days, but it doesn't have to be cold and confrontational. It is also a spiritual experience, and while I accept the realities of the new marketplace, I will not yield on this: only loving, trusting and open people will get to live in this beautiful place, even it costs me the last penny I have. When we sense that spirit, we will know the right people have come to buy Bedlam Farm.