This was the type of neighborhood that you could tell used to be the crown jewel of the area, but over time, neglect started to spread from house to house like the plague until the whole neighborhood began to suffer. It’s a shame, because some of these older style homes are incredibly beautiful with architectural detail and styles that simply are not done anymore.
I have been to a lot of neighborhoods in Dallas and seen it all, more or less, from the perspective of both a real estate agent and investor. From low end homes to multimillion dollar 10,000+ sq. ft. homes off the M streets. I have seen it all. But the “roughness” of this neighborhood probably even tops the former drug house I did a while back and probably looked rougher than the hoarder house I did in Fort Worth (never thought that would happen).
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Getting the Lead
The homeowner had given the house to her son. But apparently he was a thief and had been stealing big ticket items from local electronic stores and selling them off to pawn shops, people on Craigslist and eBay. And he had been using his home as a storage front for his spoils, for himself and his “colleagues.” Eventually he was caught, and now the house was now abandoned.
With the neighborhood in the shape that it was, she didn’t want the liability of having a roughed up house, and to make matters worse, she was many miles away. She found my website and gave me a call and asked me to take a look at it. My website sort of serves as a catch all; it generates all sort of leads that I am not explicitly targeting with mail or other methods. These sort of things just start to come in over time as you establish a vast online presence.
At first I didn’t even know if I wanted to venture out that way since it was so out of the norm from what I normally do, but the seller was so desperate to sell, she basically said she would take “any” offer. I always give sellers a fair offer based on the ARV of the home and the amount it needs in repairs. I don’t take advantage of situations like this, not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because I think treating people right helps lead to more opportunity in the future. Nonetheless, I decided to head off and book the appointment the next day.
Scouting the House
The neighborhood was so shady, I felt uncomfortable getting out the car, and this was in broad daylight at two in the afternoon. The house just sat there on an overgrown lot, with busted windows and beat up plantation shutters. Access to the property, you say? No need when the front door is completely kicked in. You could see the bricks that were used to bust open the door on the way in.
Little light emitted from inside, despite it being a scorching bright afternoon here in Texas. It appeared incredibly black, almost like an empty abyss that smothered any light unlucky enough to cross its path. Once I stepped foot out of the car, I could feel I was being watched. I could not only feel the presence of watchful eyes, but see people peering through the blinds as well. I almost felt like I was an intruding on this house. To see inside, I had to use my flashlight to find where the windows were and pull the black tarps covering them down.
If that weren’t enough, there were shards of broken glass lining the entire back and front yard. You had to be very careful with your steps. The trouble was, most of the lawn was so tall, it went past my ankles. To my surprise, there were no code enforcement notifications plastered to the house. But then again, I suppose when this is norm for this neighborhood, even code enforcement puts up a white flag.
Inside the House
On the inside, everything was a mess. The carpets had been completely uprooted in most sections, nails poking up where some of the t-molding had been removed, and a strange black fungus lined the walls in the family room. And there were several cockroaches moving around in the kitchen, looking like they had set up shop underneath the fridge. The house probably had an ARV of $50k or so. The problem is that some sections of this neighborhood were actually not that rough, but were in a transitional state with a lot of investors flipping homes. But in this phase of the neighborhood, everything was still pretty bad. Just goes to show you how much a neighborhood can change by simply going across a major highway bisecting the neighborhood.
I remember hearing a story from a buddy of mine who served in Iraq and now is a full time real estate investor. He used to work outside one of the green zones. There were times where he knew there were intelligence scouts reporting enemy snipers on the rooftops, but he and his team would still have to navigate these areas. Anyway, he once told me “there have been times I have felt more unsafe looking at some of these homes than I ever did in Iraq.” I used to always think he was dramatizing a bit since I have seen a great deal of the homes in and around Dallas. But after this encounter and a few others, I think I can relate and empathize more with his statement.
That’s why it’s always important to let a friend, business partner, or loved one know where you are at all times. I used to just text my wife the address and time, but I look at so many houses now, I just use Google calendar and upload my schedule in advance and share it with her.
Long story short, I was able to get the house under contract and wholesaled it to a buddy of mine who specializes in lower end homes in rougher areas. His exit strategy was to put in a fairly minimal rehab and exit on the back end with owner finance. Even houses that I don’t want that come to me via my website, I can still turn a profit on; that’s how great an effective, converting website can be.
What’s the roughest house you have looked at?
Let us know in the comments below!