By Janet Walgren
Heather and I went house hunting yesterday. Jeesh! What a joke. We found a house of interest but, when we toured it, we found an incredible mess. The house was a bank owned foreclosure, better known as an REO. The furnace, the entire kitchen, and parts of the bathroom were missing as well as some floor covering and most light fixtures. The walls were a mess and the water had been shut off. TOXIC antifreeze had been poured in the pipes and toilet to keep the water in them from freezing. Animals had pooped in the basement – yucky! The bank was asking $150,000. That’s $20,000 below market for a rehab that would cost a minimum of $40,000 in repairs to bring it up to market value. Like I said, jeesh, what a joke!
Perhaps this was an isolated incident. We can only hope… or can we?
We had asked our realtor to show us another REO house but he had already checked it out and said it was as bad as the first one we toured.
A contractor friend of ours just finished building a home located across the street from another REO (the original contractor who was building the sub-division went bankrupt). Anyway, our friend noticed wet bricks on the front of the REO across the street and went over to investigate. The power had been shut off, but not the water. The frozen pipes had burst then thawed flooding the entire house (second floor included). The sheet-rock on the ceilings and some of the walls had collapsed, the walls were full of water and the basement had several inches of water flooding it. In other words, this brand new $200,000 house was a total loss because the bank was too cheap to pay the electric bill.
It is obvious that, in these three cases, the banks manage REO property about as well as they manage money. It probably doesn’t matter to them because they have insurance. And, if the insurance doesn’t pony up the dough… there’s always dear ole Uncle Sam who seems more than willing to rob Peter (another name for taxpayers) to pay Paul (the banker).