I received a call, someone with foreign voice and hard to understand. I have noticed it is much easier to understand folks with accents when talking face to face than over the phone. But phones have a certain expediency. So, I listened close and asked him to repeat when I didn't get it all. When we were done, Hyung Sup Kim (his real name, you can't make these things up) had given me a listing on 40 acres on a dead end road bordering State Forest. These are very salable listings, provided the price was right. But it wasn't. Not like it was out in right field, but rather somewhere between first and second base. But we tried, anyhow. Some of the hard-to-sell places do sell.
For many months we had no success whatsoever, then, Praise God!, I had not one, but 2 interested parties. Defying belief, both made identical offers and on the same day, offers that should have been accepted with alacrity. So, I called Mr. Kim - and got a recording. His phone was no longer in service. Not a good sign. Worried, I wrote to his Malone address, and then told both parties that there would be a delay as I had been unable to reach him by phone. In due time, my letter was returned. Definitely not good. So I called his old Post Office for a forwarding address. They wouldn't give me anything, against regulations. The time frame for forwarding had long expired. Speaking of this to my local Postmaster, who is a great guy, Shawn said that he knew the other Postmaster as he used to live near there. He volunteered to call him and learn what he could for me. He did, but didn't come up with much, just that Mr.Kim had moved to the LA area. If you have ever been to LA, that is not very close. It takes hours to travel across the city in any direction, even without the fierce traffic it is famous for.
With that little bit of knowledge, I did an internet search in a reverse phone directory for Hyung Sup Kim. With a name like that, it shouldn't be too hard, provided he had a phone. Wrong, way wrong. There were hundreds of Hyung Sup Kims in Lost Angeles! Hundreds. Incredulous, I tried another way and got the same result. I knew the name Kim in Korea was like Jones in the US, but Hyung Sup?
Flummoxed, I called both parties to tell them what had happened. One party was indignant and just knew I was doing something underhanded. They withdrew their offer (can't really blame them for that) and let me know that they would not deal with me in the future (now, I can blame them for that). The other party was real nice and were understanding, saying that if I could find the guy, that they would remain interested, provided they found nothing else in the mean time. Can't ask for better than that in these circumstances.
Months passed and I got an inspiration: his taxes! So, I went to the County Treasurer to get his address name from the tax rolls. It stated Malone, NY, where he used to live. So, I asked them if they had a newer address. They didn't, nor do they worry over such trifles. If you fail to pay your taxes for a couple of years, the County takes title to your property. Then they sell it to someone else. Simple, and effective. It is your responsibility to keep them informed of your whereabouts, not theirs to find out. Furthermore, there are apparently a number of folks who do not give the County their correct address and just remember to call up twice a year, find out how much they owe, then pay on time. I checked further, and, yes, Hyung Sup Kim was behind on his taxes.
A year passed and I checked with the County once again. The only change was that he was further behind in his taxes and now was in danger of losing it in a few short months. So, I dug up the number of the party who still wanted to buy it and let them know the latest. This was a bit self-serving, as I figured that if it went to tax auction, maybe they would hire me to get it for them and I could salvage something for my efforts. This can backfire too as they could easily drive up here themselves and buy it directly at the auction, cutting me out entirely. But I had a hunch they were not this type of people.
As it turns out, none of this was needed. Two months later, out of the blue, just like last time, I received a call from Mr. Kim, asking for an update. Thank God. I told him two things, 1) that I had an offer but had been unable to reach him and 2) that he was in danger of losing it for unpaid taxes. Then I carefully got his new number and contact information. And, to make sure the lines of contact were correct, he also mailed me the same information. In the letter was his business card. It seems that since he left Malone, he had done two things. 1) Gone into the ministry business and 2) changed his first names to "Mike". I could have called all 150 (or whatever) Los Angeles Hyung Sup Kims and never have found him!
So, I called the buyers and they repeated their offer, which I relayed to him. "Too low". My heart sank. After all this time, he refused it! And, crazier yet, he was about to lose it for taxes; this is no time to play games. But they upped their offer, and we bargained a little bit, then they all agreed upon a cash price with a closing quick enough to avoid the tax foreclosure and it all ended well. Mike got his money and got rid of what was a continuing liability which he no longer had a use for. The buyer got what they want and at a fair price (prices having risen over the years), and, most important, I got paid.