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The story behind the story of Jim McElwain’s home sale

It's not what I planned to write.
The reason why Jim McElwain and his wife, Karen (seen in this file photo after his UF debut) was more interesting than I assumed. (Eve Edelheit, Times)
Published Apr. 6, 2018
Updated Apr. 6, 2018

Today's story about the real reason former Florida Gators coach Jim McElwain took a $400,000 hit on his Gainesville home started with a tweet that had nothing to do with the end result.

After McElwain's sale became public, USA Today's Dan Wolken tweeted about the difficulty of selling homes in college towns.

I started wondering about that, too. According to public records, only about one million-dollar, single-family home sells in Alachua County each month, so maybe it made financial sense for the McElwains to move on quickly.

Public records showed that Dan Mullen hasn't sold his home in Starkville, Miss. The sale on Willie Taggart's home in Oregon is pending.

Maybe there's a story here.

The obvious place to start was McElwain. I called his real estate agent, who didn't want to talk about it, which happens plenty in this business. No big deal. I didn't think the story would work without the news peg of McElwain, so I crossed it off my sticky note and moved on…

Until the real estate agent called back a few minutes later.

"The only reason … why the McElwains accepted that offer is because of the family who made that offer," she told me. "The family has two disabled kids. This house was a perfect fit for these kids."

Oh.

By the next morning, I was touring the home with its new owners and seeing why it was a perfect fit for them.

It wasn't the story I planned to write. It was much better.

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