Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Showing the Shitter Part II

Most of you know that I can't tell a lie with a straight face. This is why it is especially hard to show a house with people in the home. You don't want to show too much interest or offend them if your face is scrunched up like you just ate a lemon. This is why you ALWAYS leave the home when you are the seller. That being said, showing the shitter with people inside is an art form I have not quite accomplished. The very first time this happened was with some good friends back when I started in Real Estate. The house was in a great neighborhood in their price range so we knew there was going to be some issues. What we didn't expect to find was the people inside with the issues. As we pulled up we knew this was going to be difficult because the house was completely overgrown with weeds, vines, bushes, and those trees that start as weeds. The only thing you could see was the front door but even that was blocked by a shaggy haired guy and his stringy hair girlfriend. So we parked and bravely walked to the door. The guy was missing only half his teeth and the girl was missing most but they smiled as big as they could and welcomed us to their home. She was even nice enough to put out her cigarette and give us the grand tour. We started in the living room that was so outdated and smokey you couldn't really see the orange-ish brown-ish shag carpet and the matching brown and orange flowered couch was on its last leg. She then pointed to the kitchen where an older lady in a moomoo was cooking some fowl smelling concoction and said "that's the kitchen but don't go in there". We thought that was good advice so we continued on the tour. We get to the hallway and we see 3 closed doors. She points them out and says you can go in that one but the other 2 you can't. My client was from the south and used to this sort of thing so he bravely set foot into the 1 bedroom we were allowed to see. In the room was a child of about 7 or 8 who then yelled as loud as he could to get out of his room. We also followed his advice. At this point my face is scrunched up like I've eaten 3 or 4 lemons and I am trying to smile as the lady tells us all about herself and how she has had a hard time of it lately but she knows it will turn around. I am also trying to get us out of the house as fast as we can so when I thanked her for showing us her lovely home, she turned her 2 teeth on me and said, "but you haven't seen the basement". Ahhh yes, I thought, the basement will probably be the redeeming bright spot on this house because most basements are not creepy at all. So we follow her down the yellow (at one point I am sure it was white but now more of a piss yellow) hall to the basement. As we descend the stairs, I knew for certain this was not going to be the basement of my dreams but more of a final resting point. We arrive at the bottom of the stairs and there are another 3 rooms with doors closed. She says, "You can't go in these 2 but you can see this one" and points the the farthest room. I am feeling like she may have dreamed of being a game show model and wanted to play the What's Behind Door #2 game. I did not want to play that game! But out of sheer determination, with a 6 lemon scrunch on my face, I reach for the door. I look behind me and my poor clients have a look of horror on their face and have actually turned their bodies towards the stairs to make a run for it should another demon child come crashing out. The door slowly swings open and just as it swings out a black cat jumps out and heads for the stairs. I may have passed out but I think that my clients grabbed me, beat the cat up the stairs and shoved me into the car and away from the house. I have gotten much better from the full 6 lemon scrunch and can usually keep it down to a 2 lemon scrunch now but this house I showed in North Denver challenged every acting skill I possessed (which is not a lot). I pulled the listing up on MLS and it said, nice home that has been updated in the last 4 years. I thought, good for them! Watching HGTV and doing some updates will always sell your home faster. So I called my clients and said I had a house in their price range to look at. We pulled up and I saw that the lawn was deader than my first hamster Rex. But that is Ok because you always need a little sweat equity! We walk to the door and I notice that none of the windows have screens but are all open. Huuummm, I think to myself. Doesn't that attract flies? That's Ok because you can kill some flies and it will be fine. I get to the door and I see that it has been kicked in several times and is kinda hanging on there with a string and duck tape. My face is starting its 1st lemon scrunch at this point as I am thinking, this can't be too safe to have a door that doesn't even have hinges anymore. I knock (but not very hard because I am scared the door will just crash in and the people inside will get their wish for a new door paid for by me) and am invited inside with a cheerful "Come in". I try the door knob and don't even have to turn it and the door swings me inside to a room of 7 people sitting around the TV. "Oh!" I say in surprise and horror at the sheer number of people sitting in wife beater tank tops that have pit and food stains all over them. "I'm sorry, I set a showing but we can come back." I am hoping they take me up on my offer because my face has a full 3 lemon scrunch going on 4. The old lady on the couch barks "Oh we knew yous wasa comin, take a look around". Trying to be as nice as possible I scale back the scrunch and step inside. "Hi how are you" I say and hand her my card. Little did I know that I would be forced to hear a 5 minute lecture about her health and how her feet were swollen up in the heat. Back on my face was the 4 lemon scrunch. "Well sorry to hear all about your troubles, I guess we will take a quick look and be out of your hair" I say and look around the room at the other 6 people. They have not once looked up from the TV and with the smell of pot permeating the area I figure they probably don't even know I am there. We set off towards the kitchen when I hear one last bark from the old lady "watch out for the cabinet in the kitchen, it's coming off the wall". Now I am not one to call anyone a liar but when they said updated I wondered what could possibly have been updated? Was it the 1 cabinet that still hung on the wall or the 3 that had just been placed on top of the countertop? Was it the peeling linoleum that was covering more peeling linoleum? And of course I am seeing more flies, dead and alive, than I have seen in my life (and that is saying something since I grew up on a horse farm). We venture from the kitchen to the bedrooms where we see an even older lady passed out on the bed, 2 kids passed out in another bedroom and a bathroom that had a layer of film thicker than my grandmas glasses! At this point I was swatting away flies from my face at a furious pace and racing toward the front door when I hear the dreaded words..."wait, you haven't seen the basement!". NOOOOO WAY!! I am not falling for that one again!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Showing the Shitter

I am often asked about the horrors I have seen in my real estate career. I thought I would share some with you today. I call it, showing the shitter.

First off you have to understand that not everyone is looking for the perfect home. Investors usually have the stomach to take that worst house on the block and see past everything to what it could be. Notice I say usually...

The worst house I was in was in an awesome neighborhood and had fantastic curb appeal. I wondered why it had been on the market for so long at that price. I didn't have to wonder long. The first thing was that the house was completely covered in ivy vines and they had even grown over the windows so the house was very dark when you walked in. There was no electricity since it was bank owned so my investor and I started to walk the house. I am not usually scared by much except spiders but the hair on the back of my neck started to stand on end. Since the house was in an eerie light we were just checking out the layout. Until we reached the kitchen. There in the middle of the floor was a pool of dried blood complete with hand prints and a trail of blood where someone had obviously crawled towards the door. I tried to ignore it and got to the basement but there I got such a creepy feeling that I actually ran up the stairs and grabbed my client and ran like my life depended on it. We got out the door and I was putting the lockbox back on when something brushed the top of my head. I jumped screaming from the porch, rubbing my hair franticly. My poor investor was laughing so hard she had to sit on the ground. I guess a chain was hanging down from the door and that is what brushed against me. I could barely make myself go back to finish locking up before peeling out of there! I never knew what happened at that house but I will always remember to drive around that house when showing the neighborhood!

Another house was what I called the porn house. I walked in and imediately told my client to try and ignore the 6 dildos sitting on the living room table. That was actually not the worst we would find. The bedroom was completely covered from floor to ceiling in naked men cut out of magazines, whips and other props were littering the floor, her computer was scrolling a very dirty message and her closet was filled with leather. The kitchen had not been cleaned in weeks and there was moldy dishes in the sink, dildos on the table, dirty photos on the fridge and a dog coller on the floor (I didn't see evidence of a dog though). Every surface of the house had dirty magazines and videos, and nothing had been cleaned in a very long time. I just told my poor client that she was not to touch anything and we still laugh about it to this day!

One of the dirtiest houses I have ever seen was a really nice $400K house...if you could see the actual house. When I set the showing, they said I had to turn off an alarm in the laundry room and gave me instructions on how to get to the laundry room. What they failed to mention is that the people living there were such pigs that getting to the laundry room was going to be near impossible. As you all know, when turning off an alarm you have a small window before the cops are called and you are on the front lawn face down in the grass with a gun at your head trying to explain why you are in the house. Therefore, I am always a little cautious when I know I have an alarm. So I open the door to the house and realize that it is the only space in the entire house that has a clear path. Surrounding that small arch where the door opens is a mass of clothing, trash, shoes, what I suspect was once food, toys, children missing for years, etc! I try to step between the piles but I am failing miserably. Crunching, squeeking and falling, I head for the laundry room and the alarm. It is beeping louder and louder and I finally locate the room. The problem is that the door is completely blocked with pile of crap taller that me. There is a small opening in the door where if you lean just right you can get one arm and your head in to turn it off. The problem is that you are leaning on the dirty pile of stuff. What is in that stuff is what concerns me! If these people are ok living like this, what does that say for the state of their underwear????? But I must turn this stupid alarm off! I bravely take a deep breath of stale air and lean in. Once the alarm is off. I turn towards the rest of the house. I can see outside and there is a huge pitbull trying to knock the glass door in to get to me. In front of him is raw chicken cuttlets thrown out and rotting. The kitchen has the worst smell I have ever smelled and I can't even stomach going in. Even the stairs going up have every inch covered with crap. I have never seen such filth. I turned my client around and sent her out. I was supposed to turn the alarm back on but I figured these people were safe because if someone broke in they would probably be consumed by the piles of crap and never seen again (and let's face it, that huge pile in front of the laundry room probably held at least 2 previous realtors showing the house).

The moral of the story is that even the strongest stomache can't take the worst of these houses!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Importance of having your house market ready and priced right

When I go to a listing appointment I am always ready for the best of times and the worst of times. I have been lucky to have my last few listings staged perfectly, clean and sellers that are ready and willing to listen.
The first thing you want to do when getting a house market ready is listen to your Realtor. We know the market and what is selling so if you are unwilling to move from a high price or unwilling to do some freshening up, you shouldn't be putting your house on the market.
I put a lot of time and money into my listings so I expect that you do the same. I always ask for a clean house, pets put away (I know Fido is the nicest dog when you are around but when faced with strangers entering their house, they are not the same dog), smells eliminated (cooking smells are almost as bad as smoke or pet smells), and all evidence of you...Gone!
Pricing is so important when putting your house on the market. If you price too high, you will lose up to 35% of the market because they will miss it on their initial search and even when you drop the price 3 months later, the buyer will either be gone or wonder what is wrong with your house.
Fixing up your house and doing little things like touch up paint, changing out fixtures, carpet and grout cleaning, adding plants and light scented candles, keeping the grass and shrubs cut and neat, make all the difference in setting your house apart from the competition. To go above and beyond, hire someone to stage the house. You can use your furniture or rent theirs but they are worth every penny!

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Perfect Storm

I have been asked again and again about when we are going to see the fabled 4.5% interest rate. The answer was always, "I have no idea if that will ever happen". Well we did finally see it! Thursday for a brief period, it dropped to 4.5%. Today it is back at 4.75% but for a brief period it had finally gotten to the point the media has been telling us all about. And we all know that the media is always right... right?
So with 4.5% actually achieved, low prices and an $8000 tax credit for first time home buyers that you can take this year if you buy this year, have we reached the perfect storm in Real Estate? If I had a crystal ball I would know all the answers. But I don't so I can only give my educated opinion.
The first thing to consider is do you have a stable job and a credit score over 620? If you do and plan to stay in the same spot for a while, then yes. This is the perfect time to buy.
I have seen inventory for under $300K drop in Denver dramatically over the last month. If you are interested in buying a HUD home you better be prepared to offer at least $10K over asking on the day it goes to bid.
What all this means is that I think we have reached the bottom and will remain here for at least this year if not start the climb back up in Denver.
The second thing to consider is that if you have a home you are thinking of selling to move up into a bigger home, this may be the time. You may be taking a slight loss on the house you are selling depending on the area but if you wait for interest rates to go back up, you may not be able to afford the house you could have afforded while rates are this low. Plus, with inventory shrinking that means your house will have a better chance of selling. This really goes for houses still under $400K because over $417K and you will be in the Jumbo market which is quite unstable.
I hope this helps anyone thinking of buying or selling right now. I am always available to answer any questions you may have on Real Estate so just give me a call.
Denise Fisher
Real Estate of the Rockies

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Real Estate Auctions

This is my first blog and I hope that everyone enjoys reading my thoughts and news from Real Estate. I always encourage comments and feedback to help me get the news that you want.
I have just returned from yet another Real Estate auction that made me scratch my head. It was located at an old Victorian in Baker and there were about 6 properties auctioned off. When I first arrived I noticed all types of people standing around. There were a few that actually knew what they were doing and were quietly waiting for the sign up. There were quite a few others that had no clue and went up to everyone they could to see if they knew what was going on. In these uncertain times I wonder why people would show up at an auction without representation, where, when the gravel comes down they have just purchased a house that has no "get out of contract" clause. There were probably 50 people at the auction but there really were only about 10 serious bidders. With 1 exception every house on the auction paper that day, went for OVER what the house was being offered a few weeks before on the MLS. And the house that went for the most was the Victorian. The house was in really bad condition and needed a complete remodel. I estimated you could get a top price of about $400K if it was totally fixed up which would be about $150K to $200K because of the Historic designation and extensive work needed. The house went for $253K with the buyer having to pay for all the closing costs. Being that I have been to many auctions, I wasn't surprised at all. People get so excited at these auctions that they feed off the others that are bidding. I can only hope the people that buy these houses at above market price are going to live there for a very long time. There are, of course, exceptions to the rule and there was a house at the auction that did go for a very good deal.
The thing to remember with auctions is that the house is as-is and you should do your research before going to one. You could be overpaying for something that needs a lot of work. And even though Denver is ranked #1 in the nation for Real Estate there are good deals to be had. You have to be patient, do your research and know a professional that will give you the best advice. Otherwise you could be living in a Money Pit eating Romin!
Denise Fisher
Real Estate of the Rockies