WAUCONDA, Wash. — This town has a gas pump, a restaurant, a small store, a four-bedroom house and its own ZIP code, 98859.
And in a few weeks — after being listed for sale on eBay — it’ll have new owners. It’s a story of the travails of selling property on the site, the winning bidder backing out and finally a couple stepping up who had previously fallen in love with the town.
It takes an unusual person to try to flip a town on an auction Web site. It takes unusual people, too, to buy this isolated place that’s surrounded by cattle ranches, vast stretches of evergreens, grazing land and the occasional sagebrush rolling along Highway 20.
On this highway, Wauconda is a pit stop at elevation 3,600 feet, a windy 25 miles east of Tonasket, and 12 miles west of Republic, the nearest towns with actual city streets.
But sell it did on April 12.
Daphne Fletcher, 42 – who once was homeless — sold the place for $360,000. She bought the four-acre property in 2007 for $180,810.
Maddie and Neal Love, respectively 48 and 50, of Bothell, Fla., put down five per cent earnest money last Monday. The Loves are both unemployed and are selling their home and all their possessions to buy the town and move there. The deal is expected to close in six weeks.
It’s not like Fletcher will walk away with a huge profit.
After all the improvements to the property, paid for in part by a loan from her mom, Fletcher figures she’ll walk away with about $40,000 for all those hours of labour.
Still, the sale will enable Fletcher to pursue her latest dream, and for the Loves, as they explain, “to come off one mountain, cross the bridge and walk up that other mountain.”
Fletcher says maybe 100 families live within 10 miles of Wauconda, which is a long way from Wauconda’s peak population.
According to the Okanogan County Historical Society, Wauconda in 1900 had 335 residents, three hotels, a store, boardinghouse and four saloons.
These days, in the busy summer months with tourists driving by, the restaurant employs maybe five people; in the winter, it’s a couple.
Locals stop by to pick up mail from the one full-time employee, and to gas up, shop at the small store, maybe have coffee.