After selling their house in Rome earlier this year, Darrell and Valerie Miller have been living with Darrell's mother in Cedar Bluff, Alabama, for several months.
But with one stroke of a pen Saturday morning, they became the proud new owners of one of Bartow County's hottest pieces of real estate.
"We've gone from living in a spare room to an 8,300-square-foot house," Darrell said after his winning $455,000 bid for the spacious, riverside property at 50 Jones Slough Road in Kingston was made official.
More than 50 people turned out for the "absolute auction" hosted by Rome-based Dempsey Auction Co. — not counting the kayakers and canoers who kept paddling down the muddy green waters of the Etowah during the dramatic sell-off.
The rules of engagement were straightforward. The auction was contested under "one tract, by-the-dollar" rules, so the highest bidder was guaranteed to walk away with the house keys — pending they were able to foot a 10 percent down payment and agree to close the property within the next 30 days.
The home sits on a nearly acre-sized lot, complete with 360 feet of river frontage. Whereas other homes on the market have basketball hoops in their backyards, this one sports a paved boat ramp.
Bids for the lodge-style home — which has six bedrooms, eight bathrooms, three kitchens and a seven-car garage — started at $325,000 (much to the chagrin of some spectators, whom jokingly threw out bids of $2 before the formal auction began.) Although the Millers said $430,000 was supposed to be their cutoff, the allure of the massive home made it worth the additional $25,000 investment.
Valerie, 30, is a registered nurse. Her husband Darrell, 31, is a welder.
"It's exciting," Valerie said. "We really wanted it."
Her mother-in-law, Lynda Kay, seemingly, was even more excited. A good 10 minutes after her son's winning bid went through her hands were still trembling.
"It's going to be wonderful for my grandchildren," the 54 year old said. "They're both hard workers and they deserve it."
The property was previously owned by Troy Chadwick Carroll, the owner of Cornerstone Heating and Cooling and Big Daddy Construction.
He died in January 2017 at age 50.
While the auction was exhilarating for the new homeowners, it was bittersweet for Troy's father, Bill Carroll.
"It's an emotional event," the 80-year-old Woodstock resident said. "We just hope whoever buys it enjoys it as much as my son did."
The Millers' $455,000 bid, he said, was an incredible bargain considering his son's investments in the property came close to totaling $1 million.
Bill said Troy spent years building onto the property, annexing extra rooms and amenities to his home.
"This was his dream," Bill said. "He got ideas from all the homes he did heating and air for, so this is the culmination of all the houses he's worked in."
A litany of Troy's belongings also were auctioned off Saturday. Among the items that attendees bid on were an assortment of Native American antiques (including headdresses, weapons, lamps and miscellaneous art and wall hangings), a Golden Tee arcade game and several mounted animals, including stuffed coyotes, pheasants and moose.
Bill said he would've loved to have donated some of the Native American antiques his son collected to a nonprofit or charity — alas, the mortgage on the home prevented that.
The most cherished mementos he took from the residence were mounted fish. He vividly recalled fishing with Troy, recounting the joys of catching a 38-pound striped bass and a 40-pound catfish.
Still, Bill said he was happy to see his son's dream home go to a "wonderful little couple" with their own dreams of starting a family.
In fact, he even offered the new homeowners some advice on childrearing.
"They better hurry," he said. "They've got a lot of rooms to fill."