Sunday, June 1, 2008

House Flipping In The Real World-Part 4-Back In The Hood

The fourth part in the sad, sad story. See previous posts to get up to date.

My lawyer called on the first Tuesday in December and said the foreclosure was final, or almost. Freddy and Celia had 24 hours to get out or we called the sheriff and he threw their stuff out on the street. Pretty harsh but my patience was pretty thin. The lawyer had sold the house on the courthouse steps and I, since I held the note, was the buyer. There is much made in real estate flipping books about buying houses on the courthouse steps. Unless I am really missing something, don't waste your time. What happens is this--the mortgage company sends notes to the owners saying they will be foreclosed on unless they pay, the owner can't or won't pay, the house is sold on the steps and the highest bidder will be, in 99 out of 100 times, the mortgage company because the mortgage company holds the note. Now, if you want to outbid the mortgage company, feel free as the mortgage company will be ecstatic since they will get paid when you buy the house because they have the mortgage but you won't get much of a deal. A bit complicated but makes sense if you think about it. The bottom line is don't waste your time hanging around the courthouse steps.

I gave Freddy and Celia 48 hours and showed up on Thursday. Since I hadn't been in the neighborhood for awhile we had a bit of a reunion. Mercedes and Hector were home for lunch and waved. The couple up the street, an elderly brother and sister team, came over as well as the two women living across the street, Cynthia and Alice. Carolyn, who lived on the other side and was never out of her robe and cigarette, came over as well. Carolyn's mother, Jennifer, was my first and best tenant and I asked about her. Got a laundry list of medical problems and doctor opinions. Told Carolyn to give Jennifer my best.

Finally it was time to go inside. We all huddled on the back porch, leaning forward, trying to peek inside. I put in the key, pushed and heard the tinkling of broken tile. A groan went up from the crowd. I got a look saying Push Harder and gave the door more shoulder and heard a sound that indicated the need for a new door in the near future. We all pushed our way inside half expecting to find a dead body or a live body with a gun but all we found was a really messed up house. The tile in the kitchen and bath was shot, it looked like somebody had rolled refrigerators back and forth. There were holes in the ceiling in the kitchen, bath, one bedroom and the living room. Seems Freddy fancied himself an amateur electrician but couldn't hook anything together that worked. An attempt at interior decorating failed as they painted the whole inside peanut butter brown. Three kitchen cabinet doors were off their hinges. And there were no doors. There were no doors left to any of the rooms, including the bathroom. Carolyn asked the obvious, "Why the hell did they do that?" Nobody had a clue.

Carolyn turned and said softly, "You poor man." which made me a feel a bit better. Actually I have seen houses in a lot worse shape and said so. Carolyn said, "You poor man" again.

We went out of the house and into the garage which contained the front end of a truck with no wheels. The bed of the truck, also with no wheels, was in the backyard. Randy, Carolyn's husband who worked at a convenience store, had now joined us and said Freddy had been running a chop shop. Carolyn had thought Freddy was building choppers and had to be brought up to speed on the difference between choppers and a chop shop. "That explains a lot." she said.

Carolyn also said softly, "He beat her." Cynthia chimed in "And she just took it. Should've thrown the bastard out but she alway let him back in." Freddy was exposed. And I hoped Celia had enough sense to finally leave the guy and go home to Mom and Dad but I doubt it.

A moment of silence and then Randy broke the ice. "What a f**king mess."

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