Hoarder House, Fallen Foundation & Drunken Neighbor: Why Wholesaling Isn’t as Easy as It Seems

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Yep. It was an interesting day. Seriously interesting.

We have grown quite significantly on the wholesaling side of our business and have been able to share amazing deals with our private clients and buyers lists. This means I have interactions all the time with sellers in need of sellers, with varying personalities, problems, needs, wants, and of course, houses.

This past year, we were pretty lucky with getting a lot of great leads, and we’ve had a pretty respectable conversion rate on those properties. It didn’t hurt that we got to see a lot of great houses and meet a lot of great people.

Today, well, today was a bit more interesting. In the sense of “wow” and “gross” and “scary.” And “what the HECK.” And in a blood-pulsing-creepy-crawling-scary kind of way.

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The First Stop

I was so excited about this property. It is located in an area where we have bought for other clients and where we hold for ourselves. It was a perfect setup — nice lot, brick-front ranch on a crawl space, 3/1, around 1,000 square feet. I pulled in, with the misty cold rain coming down at a pretty good clip, and reached my hand out to the old-timer dude who just rolled out of a beautiful new-ish white Mercedes. We walked up towards the house, and one of his first comments was, “I’m sorry, but I can’t find the key, but we can walk around the outside.”

So we did carefully, dodging the snow/ice patches, puddles, and mud pits of the yard.

The house wasn’t so exciting once we got closer. The entire brick facade of the property was literally falling off of itself. On one side, a window frame was hemmed in in front and behind (from top to bottom) with the brick layers moving at a steep angle past it. The whole thing was bowing down in the center and breaking off at every window or peak, and the other end was pouring out someone’s life savings in spray foam.

It was awesome to behold. Gulp.

We walked around the side of the property where the siding had begun to completely deteriorate away from whatever was still behind it trying to hold it up. The roof was clearly completely gone, some shingles not even visible in places. The city had been out and made him paint the side of the house — just one side, and so there was fresh paint on the side. Yeah. Not sure on that one either, but he was happy it didn’t involve painting the back of the house.

Related: The Strategy That Might Make You Reconsider Wholesaling Lower-Income Properties

Because on the back, the siding (which I couldn’t even quite distinguish its condition) was in sprawling, mangled pieces, with parts strewn across the back of the property. Wow.

We didn’t make it inside since the key was nowhere to be found, but I didn’t need to get into it anyway. I asked the man if he had in fact gotten other offers, and he said he had about a month back. I told him to RUN back to that guy and take his offer.

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The Second Stop

Stop Two was a bit of a drive, so I made a few calls on the way and got excited for the next deal. I couldn’t possibly go zero for two. I pulled up to the house on what was a pretty awesome street of solid potential rental houses and pulled into the driveway. The first thing I noticed was the concrete foundation on the entire side of the house was completely gone. Literally not there. I could see part of the rim joist hanging out there, blowing in the wind. Nothing. To sit on.

Ok, not awesome.

I walked around the house and noticed serious wood rot, and nearly every window had been knocked out or shot out. One window was totally open. I opened the door to the house and BAM — punch to the gut. I’ve been in my fair share of hoarder houses, and this one was clearly interested in winning that race. I couldn’t walk anywhere in the ranch level 1,500 square foot house without stepping on or IN (barf) something. In some places, the trash was 3-4 feet deep. It was just clothing and things, but all of it was 90% trash. Trash. And more trash.

So. Gross.

It wasn’t awesome, but at least it had a bit of potential for someone, I thought. I took my pictures and my notes and got into my truck and drove on.

The Third Stop

I pulled up to the front of the house and parked because I had actually just gotten another wholesale lead for the day. The woman was clearly having a rough day, week, and year. I felt terrible for her and was trying to take some notes and understand the situation and deal, and hopefully go by the house as soon as I could to see it.

After speaking with her for a few minutes, I noticed a car had pulled up next to me, and I wasn’t sure what they wanted. So I looked over and made eye contact, and within a few seconds, I recognized several groups of words that, let’s just say, you wouldn’t use in a civilized blog like this one. And he just kept going, sitting there, cussing me out. I motioned that I could pull back a bit, which I did, and he parked quickly, strangely, and aggressively into his driveway, sideways. He was not a small dude. He got out of the crappy car, a 24 oz malt liquor in hand, and continued the barrage of cuss words and insults. I ended the call with the seller and stepped out of the truck.

Calmly, I told him I was sorry if I was in front of his house, but no problem, I would move, and for him to have a nice day. He took another step towards me, asking why I was there, and bleep this and bleep that, all in front of his bleep/bleep kids. I said I was there to check on the house for the owner. He didn’t care. He kept after me with the verbal insanity.

I got into my truck and got the hell out of dodge.

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The Fourth Stop

Well, it had not been the day I had hoped for. The first three appeared to have little potential for deals — maybe number two — and no way I would want any of my guys buying a house next to crazy neighbor guy of number three. So I was seriously hopeful for this one.

I pulled up and accidentally passed the property because, come to find out, several of her old, tired house numbers were not present.

Related: 3 Things I’ve Learned by Buying Dozens of Deals From Wholesalers This Year

The house was creepy. Yes. And the boarded up piece of plywood had been removed by someone. I walked into the door, feeling totally anxious and uncomfortable with the house, and quickly surveyed. The entire house, front to back was slanting, with the roof caving in and crap everywhere. I didn’t even walk into it further. It felt like the wholesaling gods weren’t working that day, and it was time to get the heck out of there.

Today’s lesson for me was about patience and perseverance. There aren’t always great days in real estate. Some are amazing — a big deal, a closing, a new tenant, or a successful rehab. Some aren’t so great, with repairs, tenants not paying, or unexpected issues hidden behind a wall.

The saying is certainly a cliché, that real estate investing is a marathon, not a sprint. For me today, I had a big fat zero sandwich to swallow. Not fun. But tomorrow I’ll be back after it, finding more deals, talking to more sellers, and finding awesome deals that DO work for us and our private clients.

What’s the craziest house YOU’VE ever been in?

Let me know with a comment!

About Author

Nathan Brooks

Nathan Brooks is a dad, husband, worship leader, and real estate investor in the Kansas City market. Foodie. Coffee addict. Crossfit junkie.

11 Comments

  1. Mindy Jensen

    The craziest house I’ve ever been in was just a few weeks ago. I was viewing it as part of a group of homes I was showing my retail clients, who were not only with me, but also had their 2 small children with them.

    Front door wouldn’t even open. We found the sliding door in the back was unlocked, and we went in. Immediately brought the kids back out, and their mom stayed with them while their father and I went into the home. Pizza boxes stacked up in the kitchen corner, 7 feet high. Another equally impressive stack in the living room. Thousands of takeout cups stacked in the sink, on the floor, in the tub upstairs (?).

    Bottles everywhere. Like, literally an entire liquor store’s inventory, on the floor. If there weren’t 2000 empty liquor bottles, I would be surprised. Enough that I was contacting the city to see if we could get a recycling dumpster delivered to the house.

    But no smell. It didn’t smell like roses, obviously, but there wasn’t an overwhelming stench of decay and rot. No cats, no kids, no rotting food.

    As we were leaving, the neighbor came home. We made friendly chitchat, and she asked what condition the home was in. I told her it was extremely cluttered, and she said “I thought it might be. We’ve lived here for 6 years and we’ve never seen him take out the trash – not once.”

    • Nathan Brooks

      That is SO crazy Mindy! It’s one thing when you are there with you/your investor partners … it’s such a different beast with your retail client. That is crazy …

      So – why the stacks of pizza boxes?
      -AND, how did they shower/bath w/ the tub full 🙂

      Thats a good one!

  2. Randy Phillips on

    I think you gave up to easily on those junkers, I’ve wholesaled houses that were in worse condition. I had one were pigeons had occupied the attic for years, eventually the ceilings collapsed because of the weight of the droppings. When I got there the old lady was making excuses not to show me the inside, she cant find the keys, I asked her, how can I buy it if I cant see the inside? The outside was really bad, but how bad could the interior be?.
    I told her not to worry cuz I have seen much worse, she had moved out immediately leaving all her belongings. Now the birds were living inside the house with huge mounds of crap over everything, Just walking in to get photos was insane, trying to hold my breath while taking some photos with birds flapping all around and stirring up the dust. The stench was beyond horrific.
    I was shocked. I told the owner I was wrong, I’ve never seen worse. We had previously negotiated a low price and I got another 5K off. It was a tough sale, but in a few weeks my finder and I split an $8,500 assignment fee.
    I’ve had others in similar condition that surprisingly sold quickly also. If your going to walk away from these, send them my way.
    Let’s make some money…..
    Rando

      • Randy Phillips on

        You got that right, here in California we have this killer malady called hantavirus.
        It’s from breathing the dust from mouse and rat dropping, several people had died from it. I’m not to sure about pigeon dust, but, it wasn’t smart to go in that house with out a respirator. However, on this house the seller had her grandsons come in and clean it up b4 it closed escrow. I think they are still kicken.

  3. David Roberts

    The craziest house in my short career had to do with a basement in a house. Not the foundation, it was the plumbing and sectioning of the basement. The drain lines that someone tried to run, literally ran on an upward slant over to the soil stack. Neve seen that. These were long runs too, across the basement. At one point they needed to get around a gas line so they went UP AND OVER the gas line instead of down and around.

    In the same house, a 10×10 corner of the basement was studded and drywalled off. No door, no way to access it. It was just sectioned off. I still can’t figure out why .

  4. Mark Alexander

    Im glad to know I’m not the only one who’s had some bad experience. I went to a property a young lady wanted 5k for it. I pulled up in the driveway and meet the owner in the driveway. The house didn’t look to bad from the outside. After having a few words with the young lady and hearing how she inquired the house I ask her to show me around the house. First words out her mouth was are you sure you want to go in? I ask her are you sure you want to sell the house? First few steps into the living room was over whelming. The house smelled it was felled with trash from wall to wall with animal feces every where. the foundation was evidently broke in the middle of the house everything sunk into the middle of the house. I looked up at the ceiling and all the way around the front of the living room I could see daylight from outside. As I took my pictures and made it into the kitchen there was dirty old dishes filled to the top of the sink with 3 dead mice rotten on top of them. Needless to say it was one of those days for wholesaling.

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