Foreclosures, Sad stories

  Cieling_3                                                                                                   This week I have spent quite a bit of time with a home buyer who is looking for a place that needs a little TLC.  He wants to buy, the home and fix it up, and then live in it for a long time.

We have seen many homes, including several foreclosures, or as I call them bank owned properties. 

The ceiling in the picture is in a beautiful home on Carroll Street in St. Paul, MN.  It looks as though water from a leaky pipe ruined the ceiling and then warped the floor beneath it.

Holes in the ceiling do not bother me or my buyer, what is getting to us is the sad story these homes tell.  They are often vacant, but still have some of the personal belongings of their previous owners in them.  We find baby blankets, dolls, and other toys.  We see rooms decorated for teenagers, and bikes on the front porch. 

The homes themselves have a lonely neglected feel to them.  We find holes in the walls, water damaged ceilings, broken windows and sometimes dirty dishes in the sink.    In one home we found an I.V. stand, and wondered who got sick and if that is why they couldn’t make their house payments. 

When we start on these house hunting missions we are usually both fairly talkative, but after going through several homes we drive back to his car in silence, thinking about the homes we saw, and wondering where the families that belong to the personal possessions in the homes are today. 

These homes do not have sellers disclosures in them and we don’t know a lot about them.  As a reminder to anyone who is buying a foreclosure please have a complete home inspection performed.  You will be buying the home "as is".  If there is a city inspection report available for the property make sure your inspector has a copy of it.  These reports are helpful but should never take the place of a complete buyers inspection.

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4 Replies to “Foreclosures, Sad stories”

  1. I used to spend a lot of time helping people with houses like this. The sad refuse of a thrown away life always got to me, too.

    The way I would deal with it is to try to hear the voice of the house itself. That may sound a bit karmic for most people, but if you’re going to do a gut job it’s best to know what the house wants to be, or more accurately what it once was.

    I also found this tune, “The Graceful Ghost Rag” by William Bolkin, going through my head a lot:
    (you need to have a midi player installed to hear it)

    Since it’s Valentine’s Day, I’d like to remind people of one more thing: a sad past is best connected to a happy future by a lot of love. As George Washington Carver said, “Anything will give up its secrets if you love it enough”. That’s especially true for houses. Many of these houses were built long before the rennovators were born. The Graceful Ghosts that haunt them will tell you their stories if you love them enough. That’s all an old house really needs.

  2. I imagine your buyer will appreciate that he is putting love into the house, that is how I look at it; if homes were living and breathing, there would be a sigh of relief as he lovingly rennovates each room. Somehow that helps me overcome the troubling nature of what transpired in the house before we got there. It is sad, no question about it. I like the ‘karmic’ comment above.

  3. I have had this same experience many times showing houses. I am normally light hearted when I look at homes, however, any time I see the mark of children who no longer live there, I feel a loss of innocence. I’m not sure if it is mine or theirs.

  4. This is a great post, brings home the “dark-side” of the financial situations.

    My best friend’s Dad is a volunteer EMT and when I’d be over playing and he went on a call we could always tell when a child had been involved, because of the response just like you described when he returned home.

    Thanks for entering this extremely sobering piece into the Consumer-Oriented Blog Carnival.

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