A realtor once told me that in order to get a property in a buyer’s market one needed to have a jump on the competition. He suggested I visit the MLS site and set up a search that would send me weekly emails of new listings.
I did one better.
After entering my search criteria, I stalked the website twice a day for almost a year and a half. The Thursday afternoon that Silver Spring appeared on the MLS, I spotted it. Read the listing. Tried to read between the lines. I Googled it. I Binged it. I Yahoo-d it. I mapped it. I found every free snippet of information I could about the property, who lived there, what happened there. That evening after work, I drove up there. I drove past the place going south, I turned around and drove past going north. I took cell phone pictures, I took video.
By the time I got home that evening, I had polled my friends for a good realtor, called her and made an appointment to see the place on Saturday afternoon.
We met our realtor, Margie, for the first time in the parking lot beside the old barn and proceeded down the drive to the house. She is just the nicest person I have ever met. She oozes niceness. We were met by an elderly black Labrador retriever who insisted upon being petted by all three of us. He followed us to the porch where we discovered several Siamese cats holding court. When Margie knocked on the front door, there was no answer except the insane barking of a different big dog. The side door was locked; we peeked through the kitchen window and determined that no one was home. She tried the front door again, and discovered the door was unlocked.
What to do about the dog? There is not a dog on this Earth that doesn’t like my Bill, so I volunteered him as the “human sacrifice” and sent him in first. Of course, the dog LOVED him and… we were in.
The place was a big mess. We were prepared for the worst, but, wow. A really big mess. There was stuff everywhere, and the living room smelled like burnt newspaper, as apparently that was what was being used to fuel the wood stove. And there was another smell. We discovered dog poop and cat poop on the floors in every room. But we realized that the house has good bones and that stuff can be shoveled away.
After picking our way through the first floor we went upstairs to check the second floor. Not as terrible, although certainly icky (and poopy). Margie went ahead of us to open the door to the master bedroom when she blanched and turned, “Oh, My, God! There’s a body in there!”
We beat a hasty retreat.
It was a living person, just asleep. This is one of the difficulties you will face when dealing with a foreclosure. Margie called the listing realtor to make the appointment, but apparently he forgot… to tell the tenant. Foreclosure realtors forget to do a lot of stuff.
We made an appointment to go the following weekend, contractor Mat in tow, and try it again. We brought him along figuring it might be our only chance to get him in. Only this time we made sure the tenants knew we were coming. We did our “official” tour, got the ballpark estimate from Mat and added 50%, and decided it was a go. We wrote up a bid. Margie submitted it the next day.
We had stipulated in our bid that we would buy the house provided the bank got rid of the tenant. Lesson to be learned: The bank doesn’t care. All they want to do it sell the property. The stuff, the mess, the tenant – all the buyer’s problem. They. Don’t. Care.
So we submitted another bid, this time without making any demands, and I went on vacation to my sister’s house in North Carolina. I would like to tell you that the bank accepted our offer and now we are happily awaiting the closing date, but that’s not the case.
Tune in tomorrow for: The Wrinkle.