Another Day at the Auction – 3 Houses, 3 Tales – The Rest of the Story

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The popular NBC docudrama Unsolved Mysteries ran from 1988 to 1997.  It was narrated by a man named Robert Stack, who I will always remember as airline captain Rex Kramer in the comedy film Airplane.

Robert Stack was cool.  His voice was monotone but dramatic – sort of like that guy with the slicked back hair from the GEICO insurance commercials.  Sometimes a little melodramatic if you ask me but that’s what TV networks and audiences love.  Robert Stack made Unsolved Mysteries famous.  But I couldn’t stand the show.  Why?

I believe every story should have a beginning, middle and an end.  The problem with Unsolved Mysteries was it only had a beginning and middle.  No ending.  I hated not knowing the outcome.

That’s why it was so tough for me to write Another Day at the Auction, 3 Houses, 3 Tales for BiggerPockets back in February.  As badly as I wanted to share these stories with you I struggled to write the post because I didn’t know how things would turn out.

In case you didn’t read the original post my firm bought 3 properties at auction on January 5th.  All of them were occupied and each posed a different set of challenges for us, which I called the good, the bad and the ugly.  Well, all three have been sold now.  So to quote Paul Harvey, here is the rest of the story:

The Good, 753 W. San Angelo

Laureen wasn’t too surprised to find out she had lost her home to foreclosure.  She called me after I left a note on her door.  Her home was very clean.  The yard was trimmed and the pool sparkled.  She explained that her roommate was a nurse and had good credit.  Could she buy the house from us?  Of course, I said.  I connected Laureen’s roommate with a mortgage broker.  She qualified and we sold the house to her on March 15th.  Our profit was $21,000.  The best part is Laureen and her roommate got to stay, although their roles are now reversed.

The Bad, 4227 S. Cozy

Luis’ house was a mess.  He needed about a week to move out.  We spent over 20K in rehab, 8K more than our average.  It took a while to sell too, sitting on the market for more than a month with several price reductions.  We finally accepted an offer of $200,000 from an FHA buyer.  After paying commissions and closing costs we lost about $3,000.  Ouch.  My big mistake on this deal was buying in a neighborhood with too much inventory.  There were about 100 active listings in the subdivision at the time.

The Ugly, 3687 S. Newport

It seems funny now to title this deal ugly.  We made $30,000 – a record profit for us.  Bert, the homeowner, was in complete denial.  He seemed surprised when I showed up at the door with the constable.  I gave him a full day to move everything out.  My big mistake was not staying there, or hiring some to stay there, to supervise.  In less than eight hours he made off with the appliances, the laundry room cabinets and the garbage disposal.  I called the cops but they said there would be no way for us to prove the stuff wasn’t his.  Next time you can bet I’ll hire someone to be there.

As you can see from these tales you can get lucky, get taken advantage of, or get creamed buying a house at the auction.  Fortunately for us we had enough spread in the deals to make up for a few mistakes.


About Author

Marty (G+) is the Chief Financial Officer for Rising Sun Capital Group, LLC, a real estate investment firm based in Gilbert, AZ. His firm purchases homes at the courthouse steps and public REO auctions. They have two exit strategies, either fix and flip or seller financing.


  1. Fascinating read. Here’s a break-down of the numbers in your story: you made a $48,000 profit from all three houses. You started at Jan 5, the blog post was written in April 21 – that’s nearly $50,000 profit from just 3 houses in less than four months. Not bad at all.

    For curiosity’s sake, how much do you estimate the appliances and furniture that Bert took was worth?

    • Alex, the replacement appliances were $1,269 and the garbage disposal installed was around $90. We didn’t replace the cabinets in the laundry room. If this post wasn’t a follow up to a previous post I would have titled it ‘Would you lose $3,000 to make $48,000?’. Thanks for reading!

  2. Marty –
    Great post. Even the bad was not so bad at all, and a month on the market is pretty good, especially in a subdivision with that many active listings. You are clearly skilled at the most important aspect of this – buying at the right price. Congratulations.

    – Rosa Eckstein Schechter, Esq.

  3. marty, i’m amazed you cuold get buyer’s financed so quickly after buying at auction…it seems you have done your work ahead of time and had your powerteam in place, with the mortgage broker ready to go for the roommate on house #1..congrats..any pitfalls or problems on their loan? i’m assuming you didn’t do any rehab..

    • Bryan, yes we have a mortgage broker that we recommend to our buyers. Most of the time they already have a lender in place but it’s good to have a back up. It seems like there are always pitfalls with loans these days. In this deal the buyer went FHA so we had to have two appraisals done. And no, we didn’t do any rehab.

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