There was a time in life I wish I can get back to and make better financial decisions. Paying too much for a historic motel was one such instance.
When the time comes to make a big decision, try not to let emotions get in your way; step back and take a day or two to reflect on it, do some research and seek professional advice.
My husband and I purchased a historic motel in a beautiful area of the Wisconsin River valley with an architectural design directly influenced by our most famous American architect, Frank Lloyd Wright.
When I look back at that process, I remember that while we were awaiting a response to our offer I was a little afraid that we might loose the opportunity of buying this property. I was starting to envision myself working here, being my own boss in this new venture that would put us much ahead in life. This was all the emotional side of me. (Much later, we concluded that our offer was too high.)
Taking the right steps
Although we hired a state inspector and had the property documents reviewed by a lawyer, it didn’t occur to us that some work will be required — and that always means more money spent. Soon after I started to run the business, we had to make another big decision to replace the windows. We acquired a few bids and we chose a contractor for that improvement, and the total cost came to $16,000. That was a big chunk of the savings we had started to build. But I was determined to offer better lodging to our patrons, and immediately after the first winter we started the project.
The Financial Regret Was Setting In
Looking back, I could have been satisfied with our accomplishments and been ready for the next project. But the regret I had was knowing that we paid too high a price, and there was so much more to do to bring the property to our high standards. And that was despite having researched many contractors.
The next major project was remodeling all the bathrooms with all the green upgrades a property of this significance would require to suit our customers’ needs. Around that time we received the recognition from the state agency as a Travel Green Wisconsin certified property. These were all good things happening to us. I enjoyed every new project we were working on along the way. However, all these projects kept reminding me of our decision to purchase this business, and again and again, the main thing that would come to mind was strengthening the realization that we paid too much for it! This is the case still today, and it is my biggest financial regret.
We did put the business on the map once more, and as I like to say, “We restored the integrity of the building and its business.” I feel a great satisfaction about that.
Looking Back — My Financial Lesson
If I were to do anything different, I would be more assertive in my considerations for offering a lower price, provisioning for all the work that would have to be done to the building, the obvious and the not so obvious. And I would ask questions about the age of the roof and windows, the amounts for utility bills, and any other specific item that comes to mind and helps with making a well-considered decision when purchasing real estate.
If you happen to make a financial mistake, share it with others, teach them a few things and have others learn from what you did wrong. Recognize when you have to seek professional advice and rest assured knowing it’s worth spending the money for it.
In “the good ol’ days” when we purchased the business/property, there was less uncertainty regarding the growth of our economy. Had we known more, had we considered the possibility of such a lengthy and deep downturn, our decision would surely have had some additional considerations.