Mini-Metro Areas

Considering how nasty the weather was when driving out of town and back from the five homes I had to show in another community, I was just glad to have made it back without having encountered any road hazards. I sure would’ve liked to have taken a willow switch to some of those drivers today who must’ve thought they were driving down roads that were bone dry and sunny day. I absolutely could not believe seeing three vehicles pulling out in front of me at far too close a distance. I’m beginning to believe that people who drive those far too expensive pickup trucks, are of the mindset they’re in full possession of all road rights. One old codger with Floyd County plates driving a F250 was the worst, and by the looks of it, he was just out for joy ride to check on what his farm neighbors were up to.

The showings went well, and from what comments the buyers made, I suspect they have those five showings narrowed down to two possibilities. It’s no wonder those homes haven’t yet sold, and likely because of their poor presentations. One of them was still nearly full of personal “stuff”, another had every shade pulled and dark drapes closed, and another had soiled carpet that looked like it came over on the Mayflower. I have no clue why many agents don’t press their sellers to make their homes appear light, tidy, and above all, clean. Now on the flip-side, I’m still not at all a fan of other agents creating illusions of someone still living in a home, by having their listings staged with used furniture and home decor items. I’m of the belief such practices border on an un-ethical side of marketing homes. But, who am I to judge.

When I returned to the City, I made a few phone calls, and then headed out for my early afternoon appointment at a home I had listed about 13 years ago. I got there before the buyer arrived, just so I could get myself re-acquainted with it. Oh my goodness! Everywhere I looked, all I could see were dysfunctional butcher jobs. I would say the person who decided to rip into it, must’ve been suffering from attention deficit because there were numerous projects started, but absolutely none finished, which is a tried and true recipe for a difficult sale.

The following story is a brief timeline of that very home. First of all, I had it listed in 2007, but another agent sold it to a buyer who had to get an FHA loan on it because of how little downpayment she had. Well, about five years later, the bank foreclosed on her, and then sold it back to the Federal Government. About a year or more later, it was listed for sale at a greatly reduced price by the FHA. I personally had an investor who wanted to buy it, but couldn’t because there’s always a waiting time before they can buy government foreclosures due to owner-occupants coming first. Unfortunately, it sold for cash to an “owner occupant” who spent months and even years tearing into it, and then suddenly walked away, and there it sat for months and months.

Next came the unpaid real estate tax investors who are the bottom-of-the-bottom feeders, and as chance would have it, about two and a half years later, a tax sale investment group out of Omaha ended up taking ownership. One day, while driving by the home, I noticed a huge drop-off dumpster out front, and a group swarthy workers carrying anything and everything out of it and pitching. Many of the neighbors mentioned there were raccoons living within, and likely so due to the number of broken basement windows that were visible from the street.

When it did get listed, I was shocked to see the high price tag on it when knowing what that group paid for it, along with the years of abuse it endured. I believe it’s been reduced several times, and just recently the price dropped again, so I mentioned it to an investor, so we agreed on today as our first-look.

What continues to make me very sad and angry, is knowing what that beautiful early 1900’s Craftsman style looked like when I had it listed 13 years ago, and especially the loving children raised there. The kitchen had been ripped out, the bathroom gutted, all the plumbing had been removed, the furnace and central air units are no longer there, and almost all of the oak baseboards are gone, along with numerous broken windows.

For the strangest reason, someone decided to take the brick chimney down and leave the gaping holes uncovered on all three floors. When I had it listed, there was one large playroom/bedroom on the 3rd floor, but today it appeared as though someone was attempting to convert it to a master bedroom with a separate bath.

After getting a good look at the whole picture, and then talking about the time and expense it would take to get it back to livable condition, I said, “If you can get this for $10K – $15K, it may possibly be worth it, but still the big question mark in my mind, is how many man hours it would take.” After hearing all my reservations, I don’t think he’ll be purchasing it, and I don’t blame him a bit, because that home is going to need a crew of workers to get it back into salable condition. What a terrible shame for that once grand family home, to end up in the condition it’s in.

I checked the news today regarding the China virus outbreak in North Iowa, and it looks like we’re still holding steady, along with happily seeing our sister County to the north, still standing at zero cases. It’s unfortunate the Counties where our State’s mini-metro areas are located to the south, are experiencing all the more confirmed cases. I know it sounds crazy, but I’m now looking at the license plates of cars and trucks more closely. It’s amazing how many vehicles there are to be seen on our highways with out of County and out of State plates. Why aren’t people sticking closer to home during this crisis?

Tonight’s one-liner is: Life is like riding a bicycle, because to keep our balances, we have to keep moving in the directions our soul/spirits are calling us.

Joe Chodur

About the Author | Joe Chodur

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