9/29/79

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On the afternoon of September 29th, 1979, at the Interfaith Chapel on the C.W. Post College campus, Susie and I started what has truly been the Great Adventure of our lives, as we said our vows in front of friends and family, and became a married couple.  Thirty Nine years ago today, at a place where I graduated from and where Susie, at the same time I was going there, (although we never met), took academic classes while a student at Pilgrim State School of Nursing, she agreed to spend her life with me, and for that I have always been eternally grateful!  

I’ve always believed that our union was destined to be, and it was no accident that we were brought together by friends two years earlier.  There was a plan for our lives, and today we are still living out that script that was written in the stars!  She’s still my best friend, the one I want to be with when I’m down, the one I want to celebrate with when I’m up, the one who kicks me in the ass when I need it, and the single most important person in my life.  We don’t live our lives like others do, and that’s all right with us.  It’s our life, and we love it!

Lets face it, we’re dreamers and so far, they’ve all come true!  as of today, we have been married for 14,235 days or 341,640 hours or 20,498,400 minutes, but I can still remember that scared girl walking down the aisle of the Interfaith Chapel with her Dad  like it was yesterday.  My life has been a dream, because of the lady I’ve spent it with!  I love you now and forever Susie, and I thank God for bringing us together, and for giving us a wonderful life, filled with wonderful kids and grandkids, and friends that are like family!  

Have I been blessed??  You bet you ass I have!  

 

 

Ocean City – Part 11

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As you read in the last stanza of this epic story, we’d gotten rid of just about everything we could in the Mineola house, and now the next big task was selling the house!

We’d lived and raised 3 kids in a house that was built in 1928.  It was old, and needed some work, and we assumed it would go the way of other old houses on our street…demolition or gutting!  I was really concerned about the how and why of selling the house, but once people heard that we were moving,  we kept getting “keep me in mind” messages about the house.  By late summer of 2017, Susie had a list of 4 people that were interested in buying our house!  Who knew!!   When the first person dropped out because of financial reasons, Susie called the second person who’d messaged her.  This was a teacher that Susie used to call in when she arranged the substitutes at  Hampton Street School, and she was still very interested in the house.  She knew the house and the location because her cousin lived right across the street from us.

Susie set up an appointment late one afternoon for her family to come look at the place.  She came with her husband, two kids and her father.  They wandered from the attic to the basement, all around the property, and through the garage.  About a month earlier, we’d worked out a price with our Lawyer Glenn, when he told us our original asking price was way too low.  Susie had shared our price with the prospective buyer, and after the tour, we told them to go home and talk it over, and if they were really interested, make us an offer.  They called us that night, made a slightly lower counter offer, we agreed, and like that, we’d sold our house!

We felt good about the fact that a house that had been good to us, was going to go on and be part of another family’s life.  We probably could have asked more, and had the house on the market for months, but in the end we decided on a price that was good for us, and still left some money on the table so the new buyers could start to make our home their home.  The house sold quickly, we didn’t have to pay a real estate agent a commission because we used none, we got the price we wanted, and after all our expenses, we were able to replace the money we’d taken from my 401K.  We figured it was a win win for all!

So now, it was real. The house had a buyer, we had a closing date, and now we really needed to empty out the house.  We gave whatever we could of our furniture to friends and family, took what little we could to Ocean City, and called the guy we’d had recommended to us to clean out the house.  He showed up one morning, we handed over $3000 in cash, and before we we left for Ocean City, he told us he’d found needy families for our furniture.  That made Susie feel better!

 

The next time we saw the house was early on the afternoon of November 9, 2017.  That day, we drove back to Mineola, and after stopping at McDonald’s in Carle Place, had our

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Our Last Meal after 31 years

last meal in our old house.  It was very strange to walk around a now totally empty house, that in just a few hours wouldn’t be ours anymore.  After eating, we cleaned up, threw our camp chairs in the car, and drove to the lawyer’s office on Mineola Blvd.  Within an hour, we no longer owned 40 Fairfield Avenue, and walked out with a handful of checks, which we quickly deposited in the TD Bank in Garden City, before returning to Ocean City and our one and only home!

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A couple of days later, we went to the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission office in Egg img_0820Harbor Township.  We turned in our NY Driver’s Licenses and got NJ Driver’s Licenses, we got NJ License Plates for the Sonata (the Mustang already had them), and even registered to vote!   In every way we could think of, we were now New Jersey Residents, and 854 Pennlyn Place was our one and only home!

We’ve been back to Long Island a number of times, since that November day when we sold the house, and of course, there’s no way we can go without driving down Fairfield Avenue.  We’re happy to report that the new owners are well on their way to turning our old house, into their new house.  We are excited to see what they are doing, and looking forward to the tour we’ve been promised when the work is completed.  

 

Early work to the latest progress..so happy to see it live on!

Since that fateful day in November, Susie and I have survived our first winter at the shore.  Sure, we’d been here before, but for just brief glimpses of what winter in Ocean City is like.  What we’ve discovered is that we love the small town Ocean City turns into in the winter.  We love the ability to go across town on any street you like, rather than UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_2d2aour summer MO of only crossing town on streets with traffic lights.  We love going to places like Ready’s or the Varsity for breakfast, and having staff know the customers.  We love the quiet of our street, but also seeing the many folks who call Pennlyn Place their full time home.  We did discover that it did snow a lot more this winter than it seemed to in the past, and that even though we gave away our gas snow blower, we might need something here, so we got a battery powered snow blower to supplement our shovels.

We celebrated our first Thanksgiving at the house, and had Susie’s sister and her family join us.  Although we’d always done Christmas decorating at the house, we did an extensive D’Elia Family Christmas this year, with our family tree and ornaments, and white lights all around the outside of the house, as we’d done in Mineola.  We were joined by Krissi and Mike and even Kenny and Chris came from the West Coast!  All the D’Elia Family traditions were in force, from the kids putting their special ornaments on the tree while decorating, to Lobsters,  Italian sandwiches and Cold Duck on Christmas Eve, to stockings Christmas morning!   It was a very successful transition of the holidays from Long Island to Ocean City!

 

As we had done the two years before, late January found us heading south to Florida, for 78FD7BA1-8112-43FE-9CD3-5E46701611C9what is fast becoming a Susie and Frank in retirement tradition! We love car trips and we traveled down the west coast, came across the Tamiami Trail, went down to Key West, spent 5 great days with my cousins Jeanne and Walt, and ended our stay at DisneyWorld.   It was wonderful to have a 3 plus week visit to summer, but when it was over, it was also great to get back to our home!  

As spring came to the Mid Atlantic States, we enjoyed the longer days and the increasing temperatures.  There was work to be done in and around the house, but knowing that we’d be the only ones to enjoy it, and not renters, made it fun to do!  Summer came, and so did friends and family, and the activity level in Ocean City ramped up.  While we do enjoy the quiet of the off season, there is a lot more energy in the town during the summer, and although we could do without a few of the summer renters, it is wonderful to see all the happy families that love our now hometown! 

So that’s our tale. We now call a place that I first went to when I was 5 in 1955, took Susie to in 1980, a place we both loved, and a house in a location we dearly love, our home. It’s a story about family and friends that are like family, about making choices for your future, and about making decisions that pay off in the end.  It’s also the story of a house that we’d lived in for 31 years, that was a great place to raise our three kids, go on to another life.  It wasn’t demolished, but rather a new family is making it their own, and it’s life, and memories of happy times will continue!  Yes, we could have sold it a lot sooner, could have spent less money carrying it for a year plus, could have realized our grand Tag Sale plan wasn’t going to fly, but in the end, we got what we needed, left a little on the table for the new owners, and started life in our “new” home that we loved. 

Our dream was to have a house in Ocean City, and to not only have that dream come true, but to have it come true as successfully as we now have, well, we figure we must have done something right along the way!  It’s a story with a very happy ending about living out your life, living your dream!  What could be better!

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Ocean City – Part 10

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 A young Billy and the Mineola house the day we first saw it

After I retired on January 29, 2016, we spent as much time as we possibly could down in Ocean City!  As I mentioned in Part 9, we no longer traveled on the weekends, and if we had to go back to Mineola, we did so during the week.  We’d spend a day or two at a time in Mineola, and then run back to Ocean City.  Unfortunately, my salary stopped about mid March, and carrying two houses without a paycheck became a bit of a juggling act.  To be successful, that juggling act necessitated taking funds from one of my 401K accounts on a pretty regular basis.  That would be our MO for the next year plus.

Back in Ocean City, we spent the most time we had at the house since we’d bought it back in 2005.  We saw winter turn into spring, and spring turn into summer.  We enjoyed warm temps and empty streets, and as the calendar moved on, even warmer temps and crowded streets.  We sat on our front porch and saw Ocean City go from a town of 15,000 to a town of 250,000!  We loved every minute of it, and resented when we had to return to Long Island!

As I mentioned, the Summer of 2016 was the last time we rented out the house, and that was because starting in late August, we were going on our Bucket List trip in the United States.  We knew we’d be gone for several months, and figured why not get a last bit of income from the house, before we moved on to our next chapter.  Early in August of that year, we packed up our “stuff” in the Ocean City house for the last time, and prepared for a 5 week rental we’d secured.  We’d been very lucky during our 11+ years of renting, to have some very nice folks join the 854 Pennlyn Family, but packing up our “stuff” before rental season,  was not something we loved doing.  This year, perhaps because we’d been living in the house since the preceding fall, it seemed even worse than ever!  Knowing, however, that this would be the last time we’d do it, we got the job done.  When the check for the 5 week rental went into our bank account, it was worth it!

The following are some of the lovely comments from folks who rented from us over the years.

After being on Long Island for a couple of weeks preparing, on August 22, 2016, Susie and I embarked on a trip that we’d talked about forever, been planning for years, and now was reality!  In the next 2 months, we drove just under 10,000 miles and saw things as divergent as the Spam Museum and Mount Rushmore.  From the Grand Canyon to a two week cruise in the Caribbean with son Kenny, we loved each and every minute of it.  You can find our exploits on this website starting in August, 2016 in the archives.  (https://rnewadventures.com/2016/08/22/our-big-adventure-day-one/)

When we got home from this epic trip, we needed a couple of days to regroup, but we were anxious to see how the Ocean City house had faired, and to claim it as our own forever!  We traveled down to OC and got the house back to normal and settled in.  It was always a pain after a rental to put everything back in its proper place and to switch out the rental items for the ones we used.  This time we were happier, knowing we’d never have to do the job again, however, the job was even bigger because now we were going to make two houses one!  After 11 years of having something in Mineola and a similar thing in Ocean City, now our task was to decide which was better and what was disposable. 

Back when my Mom died, we’d had a company come in and run a Tag Sale at her house in Bayside.  That was the plan we had in our mind for our home in Mineola, so our first task we decided was to get stuff from Mineola and exchange it with stuff in Ocean City.  For months, every time we traveled down to Ocean City, we did so with a trunk full of boxes of items we wanted in Ocean City.  Every return trip, the trunk was again loaded with boxes of stuff from Ocean City that we were bringing back to Mineola for the tag sale.  This continued through the winter and into the spring, until we’d gotten rid of all the stuff we had for renters to use in Ocean City, and had all the items that we deemed belonged in Ocean City either at the house or in our storage unit.  This included more than one trip of Christmas items, once we were done with our last Christmas in Mineola (December, 2016).  The back and forth took up most of the winter and spring of 2017, including a trip in the late spring when we rented a commercial van and transported several pieces of furniture.

 

By early June, we were ready to contact the Tag Sale lady, and make arrangements.  In the years since she’d done the sale at my Mom’s house, her business had grown and the times had changed.  She came over one day, looked at everything we had, and said that it was too small for her to take on.  She continued to burst our bubble when she said that we were just two of millions of Baby Boomers who were downsizing, and NOBODY wanted our furniture, dishes, silverware, or many of the other possessions we thought were salable!  Yikes!!  She did however refer us to a smaller concern, that she felt sure could help us. 

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Susie contacted the other lady and arranged for her to come to the house, and check out what we had for a sale.  We were hopeful that she would be the answer to our problem, but alas, she too said we didn’t have enough stuff for a tag sale, and repeated much of what the first woman had told us, regarding our furniture, dishes, silverware, and being part of the Baby Boomer generation.  She did however gives us the name of a guy that she used to empty out houses, so we did now have a last resort.  Susie then tried calling charities about our furniture, only to verify what we’d been told….too many Baby Boomers were getting rid of things, and even the charities couldn’t use them!  

At this point, we had a real “If we’d only known then what we know now moment”, as we thought back to all those trips from Ocean City to Mineola with the boxes that were now filling our back porch!  We had spent so much time packing boxes with items we no longer needed in Ocean City, and transporting them back to Mineola for a Tag Sale that was never going to happen.  If we’d known this months earlier, we would have disposed of them in Ocean City and saved a lot of effort!  Oh well, live and learn!

But all was not lost!  I was able to call Vietnam Veterans and get rid of a lot of those boxes we’d transported from Ocean City.  Much of it was kitchen items, which was something on their list of needed items.  We loaded the front porch of the house one day, and the next day a truck came and collected at least 20 boxes.  We realized we probably could have done the exact same thing in Ocean City, but at least some of it was going to folks who could use it!  As I said, live and learn!

Next time…we sell the Mineola house, and officially make Ocean City our permanent Residence!

  

Ocean City – Part 9

img_0788If you’ve read every chapter in this saga, you’ll recall that our original plan was to buy and then flip this house down the road.  The details of the plan were simple….to buy the house and then sell it in a couple of years for substantially more than we’d paid for it, and then do the same thing again.  It sounded good when we bought in 2005,  but several factors intervened and changed that plan.  

First, the collapse of the housing bubble and the subprime mortgage crisis that occurred between 2007 and 2010 severely reduced housing prices across the country, including in Ocean City.  The bottom line was that we’d bought the place near the top of the curve, and our house just wasn’t worth what we’d paid for it.  Unlike many others, we’d made a pretty substantial downpayment, and had no problem paying our mortgage. We were not in risk of losing the property, but the ability for us to be able to sell for more than we’d paid just wasn’t there.

The second reason was that we no longer had any desire to sell the house, and it really didn’t matter to us if the house was worth more or less than we’d paid for it!  We were surrounded by friends who we’d started to think of as family, and between our perfect location, and our life we had in Ocean City, Susie declared that there was no way we were ever going to sell this house!

She was soooo right!

U1%FWAFbRJGRlp2oEKUPZQ_thumb_31a1Living right next door to Pennlyn Place’s Mayor, Doc Anderson, just made it a perfect location.   Everybody on Pennlyn Place knows Doc, so anytime we’ve ever met new people on the street, we just say we live next to Doc, and everybody knew where we were!  I met Doc the morning after we bought the house, and he has been a huge part of our life ever since.  Doc has been the one who has introduced us to neighbors, who has made sure we’re included in events, and who has helped our Ocean City Family grow.  I’m not just using that word, because to our minds, these friends are our family.

For example, let’s talk about when that wonderful hurricane Sandy decided to aim at the Jersey Shore!  The Governor had ordered an evacuation of Cape May County, but several of our full time neighbors decided to stay.  Doc on one side, and Patti and Meade on the other side were here through the storm, and fed us updates on what was happening on Pennlyn Place.  Luckily, Sandy decided to make landfall just a couple of miles to our North, which lessened Ocean City’s damage.  That’s not to say that it wasn’t a devastating storm, and that there wasn’t millions of dollars worth of damage on our island, but it wasn’t as bad as some of the pictures you saw on TV of other Jersey Shore communities!  

So, as the storm approached, Doc would send us pictures and reports from Pennlyn.  Even before the storm hit, the high winds caused us on Long Island to lose electric and cable.  We continued to communicate via our cell phones, finding info on the web that img_0806we shared, and hearing first hand stories from OC.  I remember Doc sending us the first pictures of the Atlantic Ocean rolling down Corinthian towards Pennlyn after it had breached the dunes north of us.  Then there were pictures from Patti and Meade’s of the river Pennlyn had become, and pictures Doc took of what our houses looked like.  Our Ocean City Family had weathered the storm on Pennlyn, but there was a lot of work ahead for all!

On the second day of no electric on Long Island, we went over to our friends Pat and Steve’s for dinner.  Steve had hooked up a generator and had satellite TV, and for the first time in several days, we were actually seeing the damage the storm had caused.  As we were sitting in their den, Fox News cut to a feed from their Fox 29 affiliate of a helicopter flying over the Jersey Shore.  We were shocked when we realized that they were over Ocean City, and even more when we recognized Pennlyn Place!  By this time the water had receded, and everything looked normal, but it really wasn’t.

On the third day, we heard from Doc that electricity was back and that they were going to open the island at noon.  At that point, we were still without electric or cable in Mineola, and laughingly decided to evacuate to the Jersey Shore!  After waiting in line for more than an hour for gas, we started on a roundabout route down to the shore, attempting to avoid any of the bottlenecks we’d heard about.  As we passed our first rest area on the Garden State Parkway, and saw a line for gas that backed up onto the parkway, we realized we’d made a good decision to gas up before we left.  Those conditions also existed at the next rest area we passed, but as we got further south, there were no lines.  As we got off at exit 30, we realized why…electric was on, gas supplies were plentiful, and it was business as usual!

We decided to stop at Acme in Somers Point before heading to the island, and were shocked to see fully stocked shelves, including shelf after shelf of bread and cases of milk.  Both had been long gone from Long Island.  When we got to the house, we found all that the receding waters had left behind, but we had electricity, heat, and even cable TV.  We decided that we were in much better shape than we’d been in Mineola that morning!

Because of the way our house is built, we were fortunate that no living space was damaged.  The ocean water invaded our under-house garage, coming up about 2 and a half cinder blocks from the floor.  Yes, we’d lost some things, but we’d been lucky that the water stopped about half a cinder block from our furnace.  We lost our garage refrigerator, some golf clubs, a lot of booze and soda, but boy did we have a mess to clean up!

For the next couple of days, we were dragging everything out of the garage, power washing and bleaching the floors and walls, shoveling “sludge” in the street, throwing out things that had been ruined, cleaning everything else, and trying our best to erase the effects of Sandy.  It was hard work, but the great thing was we were all out there doing it together!  We laughed with each other, we realized how lucky we’d been, we ate and drank together, and we continued to solidify the relationships that turned friends and neighbors into family!  It was the Silver Lining of the Cloud called Sandy!

And that’s the way it continued to be.  On any given Saturday night, year round, there is always a group from Pennlyn out to dinner in a local restaurant.  It can be 3 or it can be 18, but it’s one of the givens in our life! Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall, if we are in Ocean City, we feel like we are home!  From the minute we drive over the new 9th Street Bridge, we know we are home and that our friends and family are close.  If we need help, we know where to go.  If were on our front porch, we’re just as likely as not to have someone walk, bike, or drive by, and stop up and join us.  It’s just a place where we have a life that we really never had on Long Island!

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Just part of our OC Family on a recent Saturday Night

We were very fortunate when it came time to retire, because we knew exactly where we were going to go!  We didn’t have to be scared we didn’t know anybody, or were unfamiliar with the lay of the land, or wondered if the decision we made was the right one.  We knew all along!!

As I said earlier, all through our ownership of 854, we would spend at least 2 out of 4 weekends a month here.  As the years went by, we rented less in the summer and kept more weeks for ourselves.  The last full year I worked at WABC, we spent the entire 5 weeks of July here, and much of the shoulder season.  When I retired at the end of January, 2016, one of our biggest thrills was Sunday nights in Ocean City!  Having always had to head home for work on Monday, Sunday nights seemed to be a “forbidden fruit”, if you will.  Now that we both were retired (Susie had retired a couple of years before me), we NEVER traveled anymore on a Friday or a Sunday, and discovered how much easier it was to make trips to and from Ocean City on a Tuesday or Wednesday.  Sunday nights were just Sunday nights, and we loved it!  

In the next 2 sagas of our story, join us as we rent 854 for the last time, empty out a house we lived in for 31 years, and turn a second home into our primary residence!  Next time on Our New Adventures!

 

 

Ocean City – Part 8

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When we bought 854 Pennlyn back in January of 2005, the building was 4 years old, and we were the 3rd owner of the first floor unit.  In the thirteen and a half years we have owned the first floor, the second floor has had 4 different owners.  This part of our story will deal with the relationship we had over the past 13 years with these folks.   Our first owners were the two young couples we spoke of in the last chapter.  They were truly absentee owners, and with the exception of a couple of winter rentals they had during our early years, they were good to interact with.  

I should tell you that when Susie and I bought 854, we found out that the former owners were the ones charged with the insurance needs of the Condo Association, and after buying, we continued with that task.  It involved a Liability and Comprehensive policy and another for Flood Insurance.  We used a local insurance agent, so all that really was involved was collecting the other owner’s share of the premiums, and getting them to the agent.  The Condo Association’s documents specified that because of some differing footprints between the 2 floors, the second floor owned 54% of the building and we owned 46%, so that was the split on expenses too, like the insurance.  Easy, right?

Yes, it was with most of the owners.  We’d get the bills, copy them to their attention, and a check would be returned in short order.  It was like that with our interactions with most of our co-owners, but as with every rule, there are exceptions.  We woke up one day, and discovered that the upstairs unit had been sold to a new owner.  Let’s just call this owner “Bob”, and like on Dragnet, the name has been changed to protect the..well, you get the idea.

img_0791Bob had a wife and three sons.  Bob, I think, was going to go into real estate and make enough money to send those three boys to college.  In addition to our upstairs, Bob also owned a rental property in Brigantene.  Sounds like just the kind of person you want to co-own a building with, right?  Well, we hoped so as our relationship started.  He had a good job with a company car, and provided us with all his contact info.  That was the good part.  The first year when the insurance bill came due at the end of May, I guess he hadn’t yet pocketed any rent money, so the check was a little slow in returning and I believe we carried him for a week or so till he made us whole.  Okay, new owner, new procedures, we were good with that.  Well, we really shouldn’t have been, because it was a pervasive part of our relationship with him.

Turns out that he had bought the two properties on a shoestring, and was stretched really thin on the money side.  That made him do stupid things.  The first of the stupid things was taking a “Senior Week” rental.

Most people in Ocean City, avoid “Senior Week” rentals like the bubonic plague!  The idea img_0789of 4 or 5 drunken high school or college seniors doing God only knows what in your beautiful beach home, is just not something that most owners can stomach.  Factor in that since “Senior Week” is in early June, and you will be getting the least rent of the entire rental season, and its a no win situation for most.  I guess that $1200 was too attractive for Bob to pass up, so he went for a “Senior Week” rental.  

While we were thankfully not there during this rental, our across the street neighbors Georgia and Vinny told us many stories.  Like the piles and piles of black bags that were filled with empty beer cans on trash day.  Or the reveler that they saw sound asleep on said pile of empty beer cans one morning.  Or the people they swear they saw sleeping in the garage, and the loud parties that they had a clear view of from across the street.  

So Bob made his $1200, but in the end, it probably cost him that and more.  There was the hole in the master bedroom wall that he had to fix (somebody put their fist through it).  Also the rugs he had to replace because of the burn holes in them, from the cigarettes that were not allowed to be smoked inside the property.   Let’s just add that after they left, there was a great deal more than the usual after-rental cleaning to erase their stay.  All in all, a mistake from beginning to end!

In addition to his bad decisions, Bob and his wife also had 3 sons who made questionable decisions.  Like the time they managed to lock our garage door, so that when we came img_0793home and hit the garage door opener, instead of opening, the door folded like an empty Budweiser can.  Or the time that they were in the house alone, and decided it would be fun to stand on the second floor front porch, and hurl glass soda bottles at our neighbor Doc’s recycling can.  Unfortunately, their aim sucked, and they left Doc with red stains and a number of shattered bottles to clean up, and never admitted they’d done it!  Oh yeah, they were lovely little boys!

I think Bob owned the place for about 3 summers, and as time went on, it appeared that his financial situation got worse and worse.  Like the summer we had to replace our original air conditioning unit.  Of course, both of our air conditioning units were installed at the same time, but for some reason he thought he wouldn’t have to follow us img_0792and install new AC.  We discovered it was because he couldn’t afford to change it, but alas his AC unit suffered the same fate as ours.  Did he replace it?  Nope, he installed a WINDOW AIR CONDITIONER in one of the living room windows.  I’m sure his renters were dismayed and probably mad when they showed up at the house they had rented that listed it had Central Air, only to find a noisy cheap window air conditioner!  There was no way that one window AC unit was going to cool the house, and in addition, the evaporation drain dripped on and ran across their front porch, and right onto ours!  This was really the beginning of the end for Bob.

I say that because in addition to our having to wait for his part of the insurance money even longer than usual that year, we found out that he’d apparently also stopped paying the mortgage.  It wasn’t long before we heard that his place was up for sale as a “short sale”, because it was on the verge of being foreclosed on by the bank.  While the new owners got the place for a reduced price, they also had a lot of work to do because Bob had been scrimping on everything!  

He’d apparently never had the air conditioning/heat plant serviced, and even was too cheap to install a couple of dollar air filter in the system.  Not only did the new owner have to update the air-conditioning, he also had to have the ducts professionally cleaned since the system was run filterless!  In addition, walls needed to be repaired and painted, carpeting needed to be replaced, and the whole unit updated, as Bob had done nothing that wasn’t absolutely necessary during his years of ownership!

With the exception of Bob, we have been very lucky to have good neighbors and co-owners during our 13 years in the house.  We are fortunate to have had our current co-img_0790owners John and Kim for the last couple of years.  There is never a wait for insurance money, plus they have been great partners as we update and provide upkeep for the building.  From power washing, to new fencing, to landscaping the property, we’ve handled it all as partners. Our home is better for their partnership, and we hope they remain our co-owners for many years to come.

Would we like to own a home that was all ours and not have to share with others?  Yes we would, but the reality of our situation is that there is no way we could live where we do, just 500 feet from the beach without living in a two unit dwelling.  It’s just the way it is, and for the vast majority of the time, it is just fine for us.  However, once that lottery win comes…well, that’s a story for another time!

Next…a House becomes our Home!

Ocean City – Part 7

img_0788So, when we last left you, we’d taken possession of 854 Pennlyn Place, and started our life as a landlord.  Now, was that something we wanted to do?  Ah, no, not at all, but with the help of our summer rentals, we could afford to own this wonderful place, but it was not without it’s issues!

Let’s start at the very beginning, the night of January 28th, 2005!  We’d closed on a Friday afternoon, and that was to be our first night sleeping in our new beach house.  Let’s just say, there were times that night when we wondered what we’d done!  It all had to do with a very interesting upstairs tenant.

Let me back up a bit, and explain a bit about 854 Pennlyn.  In the old days, we’d call this a Duplex, or a Two Family House, with two 3 bedroom 2 bath domiciles in the same building.  Today, it’s called a condo, and when we bought the first floor of 854, we also became members of the 854 Pennlyn Condo Association.  So the “upstairs tenant” was a tenant of our co-owners, who owned the second floor unit.

The reason we wondered what we’d done, was this upstairs tenant had a small dog, that spent the entire night running from the back of the house to the front of the house non-stop!  I haven’t thought about that night in a long time, but just writing that last sentence brought back the feeling of absolute frustration we both felt that first night.  The tenant was a pip, but as they say on TV, wait, there’s more!

Upstairs was owned by two young couples who had bought the property as an investment.  The husbands worked together and they both lived nearby in Egg Harbor Township, that was until one of them got transferred to Chicago.  It was the couple that got transferred that was the point person we were dealing with.

img_0786Turned out that the upstairs tenant was a co-worker of the husbands who was just in as a Winter Rental.   The couple we dealt with was very nice, and when I mentioned the dog, the wife said to me, “Wait…he’s got a dog?”  Turns out that the tenant had asked the landlords if he could get a dog, and they emphatically said, “NO”.  Strike # 1!  Then I discovered that he’d also asked if he could get a satellite TV dish installed on the house, and again the answer was, “NO”.  I’m sure you can guess what was hanging off the back end of the house…wait for it….yep, a satellite dish!  Strike #2. 

We had very little interaction with the tenant, who apparently couldn’t figure out that we were coming down most weekends that first winter, because on a number of occasions, we’d find he or his girlfriend blocking the whole driveway!  That was until one weekend where we came on a Friday night and every light upstairs was on.  Same thing Saturday night and we never heard a sound all weekend.  When we came back the next weekend, we found the lights still glowing brightly, and again no sound upstairs.  I called the woman we dealt with, and told her that it looked like their tenant was gone.  Gone he was!

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We saw his car…as close as we got!

 

As I said he worked with the husbands, and later found out they worked at a nationwide mortgage concern.  Turns out that this “friend” they rented to, who had very obviously done whatever he wanted as a tenant, had done much the same at work.  There were rumors of embezzlement, and one day, he just didn’t show up, and was never seen again!  I never heard what happened at work, but know that he not only skipped out still owing the upstairs folks rent money, but cost them money as he’d trashed their rental.  An expensive lesson they learned….never rent to friends!!  Strike #3!

img_0785Luckily, our rental history was much smoother.  We rented via three real estates in Ocean City, and had a web listing on Summer Shore Rentals that we used to rent directly.  Other than the annoying woman, who bitched daily about the noise from the new house being built down the street (our friends Patti and Meade), until we gave her back some money, we were lucky.  We had great repeat renters, who wrote lovely things in our guest book, and treated our beach house like their beach house.  We loved the location, and so did they.  

IMG_2979Other than the fact that we weren’t here for much of the summers, and we hated preparing the house for others to rent, we appreciated the money we made each summer, and loved using the house the rest of the year.  I’d have to say, that during the first 12 years or so of ownership, we were down in Ocean City on the average of 2 weekends a month.  We loved being down here, and as we spent more and more time, our Ocean City Family grew.  We attended weddings on the beach, parties at neighbors houses, Saturday night dinners out, several Pennlyn Place Block Parties, St. Patty’s Day and New Year’s Eve events, and even went to a couple of local fund raisers.  Let’s not talk about the Kentucky Derby party we went to one year where Susie “claims” I got drunk on Mint Juleps!  

 

 

 

 

Yes, our plan to flip this house was long gone.  Turns out that even if we wanted to, there was no way we could leave Doc and Doie, Patti and Meade, Denise and Chris, Bob and Karen, Dale and Barbara, Rod and Helena, Georgia and Vinny, Jane and John or all the other folks we consider to be our Pennlyn Family!  Yes, we are anchored here in many ways, but the biggest for us by far, are the people that make up our Ocean City life!  That’s why it was an easy decision to make, when we had to decide where to retire.

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Coming up next…owners!

Ocean City – Part 6

 

We first saw the property of 854 Pennlyn on December 28, 2004. Exactly one month later, on the afternoon on January 28, 2005, we were sitting in the office of NJ Title Company on West Avenue in Ocean City signing a ream of legal papers.  By the time we left the office, we were the proud new owners of the first floor of 854 Pennlyn Place!  Our dream of having a house in Ocean City, had turned into a reality!  

 

img_0780 It was a great feeling, knowing that although we would be renting out the house during the summer, we also would be using it as much as possible.  Unlike the Las Vegas house, this was by no means just an investment, it was a real place just 3 hours away from home in Mineola.  Speaking of investments, let me tell you what our plan was when we bought 854.  If you remember, in Part Five of this epic, I spoke about the increases in property values Ocean City had been experiencing.  Fantastic double digit value increases had been the norm for the couple of years before we bought, and although our place was only 4 years old, we were the third owners.  The others had bought it, held it for a couple of years, and then sold at a substantial price increase.  That was also our plan before we spent that first night.  We’d keep it for a year or two, flip it for something bigger and more expensive, continue to do that, and eventually perhaps have a million $ plus house right on the beach.  Then something changed.
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On the morning of January 29th, 2005, I came out the front door of the house and was standing on the front porch surveying my kingdom.  As I was standing there, a gentleman came out of the small bungalow to my left.  He said good morning, and asked if we were renting the place for the week (that’s mainly what had been happening to our place as the former owners rarely used it).  I replied that no, we’d just closed on it yesterday, and were the new owners.  The gentleman walked down his steps, crossed to ours, came up on the porch and shook my hand.  That was the morning I met our next door neighbor, Doc Anderson, and the beginning of our first “flip house” turning into our forever home!  

IMG_2654We call Doc the Mayor of Pennlyn, and with good reason…he knows and talks to everyone on the street!  Doc was also our introduction to so many of our friends, that we feel like we’ve known them forever!  Over the years, our group of friends has increased, be they full time residents, of which there are many on our block, or the summer/weekend friends that get down here as much as possible.  In a very short time, we’d met lots of them, and we found that we were down at the Ocean City house an average of 3 weekends a month!  Oh yes, we had indeed found our special place, our sanctuary, our place populated with friends that feel like family.  Our happy place that just getting to, no matter what our moods, made us feel happy…..854 Pennlyn Place!  

So now that we were owners, we really took a good hard look at the place, and what we saw really didn’t thrill us.  The house was decorated with a real tropical theme, with lots of wicker furniture, but the closer we looked at some of the furniture, the more issues we saw.  It turned out that some of wicker furniture was held together with tape, that was keeping the wicker from unraveling.  Of particular concern to us were the chairs of the dining room set, that sagged every time you sat in them.  We could just imagine that a renter would sit in one, end up on the floor, and a lawsuit would arrive in our mailbox.  Also, it only provided seating for 4, so a new table was in order.  Looks like a trip to Platts was in our near future!

 

              Old to New

Platts is a wonderful beach furniture store that you pass in Somers Point on the way into Ocean City.  We’d wandered in there several times, fawning over the incredible beach furniture, and now we were going to get to buy something!!!  In short order we found the perfect table and ordered it…the first of many, many orders we’d place at Platts over the next couple of years!  Before long, we’d bought a new coffee table, new snack tables, a couple of chairs, lamps, and even a bed.  Then there were other chairs (including one that went home to Mineola), more lamps, and assorted other items that upgraded the house.  As I said, the more we looked at things, the more issues we saw.  We honestly wondered if the former owners had furnished the place with garage sale finds or even things picked up at the curb on trash day!  Boy, had we learned our lesson about beauty being skin deep!  But the good news was that the house itself was in good condition, so as long as we were just dealing with decorative items, we were happy!

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When we bought

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After our Platts visits

Our first year, we listed the house with 3 local real estate brokers, and in pretty short order, we’d rented most of the summer.  That first Spring, we took a week off from work to make sure the house was ready for our guests.  We’d loved the houses that we’d rented that seemed like homes, not just investments,  and that was what we wanted our renters to feel. That was one of the things we loved about renting Denise’s house on Asbury.  A funny story…when we told Denise (who’d become more a friend than a landlord) that we wouldn’t be back the summer of 2005 and why, she told us that she and a friend were starting a Saturday House Cleaning business.  We ended up being her first customer!  She was an important part of our team during those first years of rental, and treated our house like her own.  Every week after she cleaned our house, she’d call and tell us everything was ready for the new tenants and rated the tenants who’d just moved out!  Perfect!

Of course, we’d kept 2 weeks mid July for us, but as the first renters moved in, we were already anxiously counting the time till we’d be back!  For us, the two worst parts of renting were those last moments when we left before the first rental, and the day we returned.  The first was hard because we knew there’d be somebody else living in our home, and the second because we knew there would be work getting the house back in shape!  It may seem like a little thing if you’ve never rented out your house, but trying to find where pots and pans had gone, and bringing some semblance of order to the kitchen cabinets and drawers left us wondering so many times, “why would you put that there????”  We quickly learned it was just part of the summer house rental game.  

We had some great rental experiences and some not so great.  One of the not so greats was the Saturday Denise called us to report that our last renters had left the house a mess, and she’d found mustard in the bathroom tub and hair in the refrigerator.  Interesting, to say the least!  Then there was the renter that kept calling and complaining because they were building a house down the street (our good friends Patti and Meade’s new place), and she couldn’t enjoy her vacation.  We sent her back some money, and she surprisingly had no problems!

Then there were the great ones.  Like the family that battened down our house, put away our porch furniture, and treated it like it was their house, when a hurricane approached Ocean City late in the summer.  They were with us for a number of years!  There was also a lovely lady who came from Arizona every summer to return to her South Philly routes and vacation in Ocean City.  She loved Ocean City and loved our house and sharing it with her family.  We were very sad after she was with us for 4 years, to get an email from one of her friends that she’d died of cancer.  She said one of her best memories was the time she’d spent with her good friend at our house by the sea.  There are some good times when you rent to people who love your house as much as you do!

Coming next…the joy of being a landlord, and the thrill of stopping!