`Nasty divorce' yields home to couple in love


Luck : The Feldmans lucked out. First, when a divorce freed their future home for auction. Second, when the winning bidder dropped out.

January 06, 2002|By Lisa Wiseman | Lisa Wiseman,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Sometimes one couple's misfortune is another's good luck. That's how Drs. Orly and Larry Feldman wound up in their 7,000-square-foot home near Greenspring Valley Country Club.

The couple started their house search four years ago when they got married. The Feldmans, who are both 46, had known each other for years.

They first met and became friends while students at the University of Maryland Medical School. Both went on to marry other people and pursue careers as physicians, she in Baltimore County and he in Carroll County.

They met again by chance five years ago.

Orly Feldman was divorced from her first husband and dating a lawyer. While working on a personal injury case, her boyfriend asked if she knew any dermatologists who could testify as expert witnesses. She knew two dermatologists, one of them her friend from medical school, who also was divorced.

"She called me up and we started talking. From there we started talking more and we got to be great friends and we wound up together," Larry Feldman said.

Since it was a second marriage for both, they were eager to find a home that was theirs. (During their house search, he was living at her home in Mount Washington.)

"We spent a lot of time looking for a house, almost a year and every single Sunday," Larry Feldman said.

One day, while she was driving around Greenspring Valley with her real estate agent, she passed a plain-looking house near the golf course.

She didn't think much of it until the agent made a passing remark that the house was on the market due to a "nasty divorce."

"That piqued my interest," she said.

The house had been foreclosed and had sat empty for nearly three years. The bank was eager to unload the place and had put it up for auction.

"It was an unfortunate situation, but often, those are the best deals," she said.

There were no curtains on the windows, so she took a peek inside. Through the front double doors, she saw a grand foyer with cherry-colored Georgia pine flooring and a majestic curving staircase.

Although the house, which dates to the 1890s, was in some disrepair after being vacant for so long, it had been renovated in the mid-1990s by a developer who owned it.

Not only was everything modernized - from the windows, siding and roof to the walls, wiring and plumbing - but an addition had been put on the house and a four-car garage added.

There were five large bedrooms, each with its own bathroom, plus central air conditioning and five gas fireplaces. The kitchen had been remodeled with new cabinetry, granite countertops and new appliances. The family room had a wet bar and a built-in wall unit with an enclosed sound system.

The Feldmans fell in love with the place.

But there was a hitch. The house was up for auction and one other person had submitted a bid.

Unfortunately, "We lost out," Larry Feldman recalled. "We figured it was not meant to be."

Wistfully, he drove by the house a few times. Then, more than a month after the auction, he noticed the house was still empty,

"I wondered what had happened," he said. Apparently, the buyer, who bought the house because he was relocating to Baltimore, was no longer moving.

A few days later, the bank called the Feldmans and asked if they were still interested in buying the house at the price they bid. The couple paid a little more than $700,000 for the house, which was an incredibly good price, they said.

"The house was assessed at more than $900,000," Orly Feldman explained, adding that the previous owner's improvements had certainly made it worth more than $700,000.

Still, the place needed work after three years of neglect. The land had turned to weeds. Neighborhood kids had taken over the basketball court. The in-ground pool had become a swampy lagoon with a collapsed pool cover. Part of the house had been vandalized. A sink was missing in the downstairs powder room.

The Feldmans have worked hard to restore their home's grandeur. They've landscaped the property's 3 acres, planting trees as a border with the golf course.

Living on a golf course has some disadvantages.

"We had 2,000 golf balls on our property last year," Orly Feldman said. And occasionally a golf ball zings through a window.

Nevertheless, "the golf course is a great neighbor. They're very good to us," her husband said. "Occasionally, I get to go over and play a round or two. ... I love golf."

With the help of a decorator, the Feldmans added new lighting fixtures, carpeting, wallpaper and paint.

There's still work to be done, they say. Rooms on the upper two floors need decorating, including a guestroom, home office and third-floor bedroom for her 15-year-old son who lives with the Feldmans. Larry Feldman's son and stepdaughter also need a place to stay when they visit.

Orly Feldman, who paints as a hobby, has been eyeing a large unfinished room above the garage as a possible studio.

For now, the Feldmans are content sitting in their family room and looking at golfers wandering from hole to hole.

"We call this our home on the range," Larry Feldman said.

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