Finding Great Stuff – Another Perk to Buying Houses

Finding Great Stuff – Another Perk to Buying Houses

3 min read
karen rittenhouse Read More

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Why do sellers leave things, I’m talking really nice things, in houses when they sell?

I have no idea.

Perhaps they conjure bad memories, maybe it belonged to distant family members, could be their tastes have changed so they’re leaving it in their past, maybe the move is their fresh start. I have no idea why sellers leave great stuff, but they do, and it’s another advantage to you when you buy real estate.

Here’s a photo of my latest garden project – making a rock walkway out of gorgeous rock left at a property we recently purchased.

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I’m an avid gardener (like I need another hobby), and have a 2 acre yard which gives me plenty to do outside. We have a very large area in the back that I lovingly named my “rescue” garden as it is filled with plantings, bird baths, fountains, stones, trellis, trees, benches, etc. all “rescued” from houses we have purchased.

One of my favorite finds is my piano. Such a beautiful, perfect instrument and piece of furniture that inspired me to take piano lessons at this late stage in life. Why would anyone leave such a beautiful thing? Why, indeed.

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I continue to be thrilled at the opportunity to scavenge, not just the house, but also the yards every time we make a purchase. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t take plants from properties where the yard is in good shape, only the ones where the plants will be removed to make way for improved landscaping. And who knows, anyway, if the next owner would appreciate the bird baths and fountains like I will..?

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We’ve been left tons of tools and yard equipment (mowers, edgers, leaf blowers, etc.), ladders, dishes, vases, indoor plants (our sunroom is filled quite nicely), dressers, desks, lots of upholstery, TVs, VCRs and DVD players, on and on. I don’t think we’ve gotten a car, boat, or motorcycle yet though some of our investor friends have. Nice score there!

And, I have friends who love when I call and say, “Wanna go check out the house we just purchased?” Let the treasure hunt begin!

Having a seller leave great stuff is no longer a surprise, but still always thrilling. What continues to surprise me, however, is how many properties we purchase where the owners simply pack a suitcase and leave. Truly! We have purchased multiple houses (I don’t even know how many anymore) that were completely filled and in tact after closing. Then, what do you do?

We have had yard sales (way too much effort), literally left “open houses”, sold to salvage and/or resellers, and/or spent thousands at the dump. In one house, 48 tires – very used – were left in the attic………

Related: BP Radio Podcast 002: Starting Out with Karen Rittenhouse – Subject To, Direct Mail, and Investing from a Woman’s Perspective

Years ago, we purchased a property and the seller left a lot of decent furniture and larger things, no clothes or items left in the closets. Not knowing a better plan, I posted an ad on Craigslist including photos:

Moving. Multiple-furnishings, etc. FREE to a new home. Come and get it. Bring a truck. House will be open from noon to 2pm.

We weren’t there. Didn’t want to be. We went to the house about 2:30pm. It was completely empty. We were thrilled. Nope, no damage to the house – nothing stolen like hardware or fixtures. Only the “stuff” left by the sellers was gone. Hooray!

Once we had an “open house yard sale” and many came through to buy – cheap! After the sale, a flea market person paid for what was left and had it all hauled off. They should have made a fortune off everything that was there – furnishings, clothing, dishes, bookshelves, TONS of tools, you name it. Almost 2000 square feet of “stuff” for about $400. Win/win.

We purchase anywhere from 5-10 houses a month so, I’m telling you, we get a lot of stuff. A friend suggested I open a salvage store. Hah! So-not-interested.

So, I’m curious, what’s some of the great stuff you’ve found in your purchases? And how do you get rid of all the excess you don’t want? Maybe we should start a BiggerPockets Flea Market!

Photo: Hani Amir