Foray Into Foreclosures, Part II

Photo courtesy of

Ok, so it’s been a couple of weeks since my last entry on house-hunting. I’d mentioned then we’d be scouring the I-95 corridor…

Well, nix that idea. Every time I think of commuting up that nightmare stretch of road, I get the shakes and want to vomit. Spending nearly a quarter of my day stuck in a metal cocoon (even if it is a SUV) with other hapless souls just sucks a bit more life out of me.

So I put my foot down. We’re gonna pass. Even the allure of half-price housing just doesn’t do it for me. The fuel cost alone would even out the mortgage savings.

That issue settled, we instead spent some time looking along the Fairfax County Parkway corridor (aka “Rt 7100” for you locals who think it’s a speedway).

Yes, yes, we’ll look at DC at some point, it’s on the list (looks at Wayan).

We’ve found nothing but depressing sites (save one corner lot). My question is to these faceless foreclosed souls is a simple one, really. Were you THAT greedy a few years back that you bought well above your means to the point that you had to play landlord for a bit? And did you ever hear about “tenant screening”? Using Craigslist doesn’t count, period. My God, these homes looked so abused and malformed… If they were children, I would’ve sworn we were in a Third World country.

I know that if you are trying to short sale, you think it excuses you from cleaning up the place. It doesn’t. It only makes me want to smack you and dissuades me from even considering your house as a viable purchase to save you from the bank. My sympathy turns from your hard-luck case to the sad state of your former home.

And I don’t have the extra $$$ to spend on cleaning up and re-fixing the house.

Good thing we have time to be picky. I’d hate to be doing this with only a month or two to find something.

What about you? Are you more inclined to consider a place that’s at least clean (or attempted as such)? Or is there something worse that turns you off a potential home sale?

For Sale, courtesy of

4 Comments so far

  1. lydia on March 24th, 2008 @ 12:41 pm

    I understand completely that you, as buyer looking for a house to live in, not to rent or flip, want a clean place. But I do not understand your flippant lack of sensitivity about what’s really going on in the mortgage crisis. The crisis is not that poor people got "greedy" and decided, "hey, sure, I’ll live beyond my means for a bit, trash my place, get foreclosed on and pass on the trashed house to bhrome." You are looking into a slice of life where true economic desperation has taken hold–I’m sure these foreclosed folks really do not care that they didn’t mop the floor for you.

    I don’t mean that people with low-incomes don’t understand the loans they signed on to, but the fact is that economists are still trying to figure out the market that created this mess. Don’t saddle the foreclosed-upon with your complaints at this point, just when YOU, lucky dog, can snap up a house on the cheap.

  2. bhrome on March 24th, 2008 @ 1:19 pm

    Oh, I know what’s going on in the "mortgage crisis." I used to be a Realtor, for one; I have many connections in the field, for second; and I do extensive research both with my agent and with various brokers.

    Now, my above remarks are mainly from our last outing. In a few neighborhoods where the list pricing was about $600K. These are decidedly not "poor people" but middle-class areas. I know a few friends who admittedly bought more than they could afford and have had to take in boarders in order to meet their new financial obligations. I *do* feel bad that people are suffering here – and regardless of the time of market, this was the year we’d be looking for a home, crisis or no.

    My observations come more than simply from "failing to mop the floor." We’re talking, in no particular order:

    *Holes in wall (not nail holes – fist holes or larger)
    *Fridges with spoiled food to the point of creating new life forms
    *Torn and shredded wallpaper, with dents and cuts in the drywall underneath
    *Gouges in hardwood floors
    *Hundreds of burn holes in carpeting
    *Unknown substances smeared into carpeting
    *Broken windows and seals
    *Ripped out plumbing
    *Deadbolt locks on interior doors – and no key to open room
    *Untold piles of trash shoved into the foundation spaces
    *Burnt wiring
    *Open wires in the ceiling
    *Chewed crown molding (from pets, I hope)

    And a few other things I won’t gross you out with.

    A house for sale that needs some paint and a little cleaning isn’t a big deal to me. It’s expected. But look at that above list – would YOU buy a home with any or all of those present? Call me a prick, but I won’t.

    Again, I reiterate – these are $600K+ homes. Even at the height of the housing "boom", the "poor people" couldn’t afford these places.

    And yes, some fault lies with the Realtor listing the house. But that whole "Sold As-Is" clause is pretty much widely used these days.

    The bottom line is, I’m not looking for "snapping up a house on the cheap." I’m looking for a home for my family because we *have to*, and I’m going to pass on property that makes me want to retch in the weeds after touring it. Is it too much to ask for some common decency in this process?

  3. lydia on March 24th, 2008 @ 4:57 pm

    And my point is not that you shouldn’t expect those things–you should. I would do the same. My point is to show some senstivity when you’re blogging about people getting foreclosed on and the state in which they leave their houses–because, *unlike you*, who are in the position of buying a house, they are experiencing real financial desperation.

    And, I might add, get off your high horse about how you "know what’s going on" in the mortgage crisis. Real estate broker though you may be, it ain’t much of a title. My point was that even economists don’t understand the market standards that brought us here–yet you have just one question for these "faceless, foreclosed souls": how did they get so greedy? it presupposes that greedy lendees are the cause of this mess! That is so freaking ignorant.

  4. bhrome on March 24th, 2008 @ 6:50 pm

    My apologies, lydia. You’re right, I *do* need to show some better sensitivity. Just frustrating that 13 of 14 houses all had the same pattern within an area really makes you go "WTF?"

    And my point about "knowing what’s going on" in regards to the crisis (bad choice of words, I realize) wasn’t to vault onto a high horse, only to show that I do understand financial matters pretty well and am not a completely ignorant fool. Just a snarky one.

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