Sunday, April 27, 2014

Adventures in House Shopping Louisiana Style!

Our vacation trip to Louisiana to visit our daughter turned into a vacation/house shopping trip.

I ended up with 2 realtors because the first one I contacted weeks in advance, never got back to me with the emails of possible homes to look at before we arrived.
Ok, she did finally email me 2 days before we left for the trip but I went ahead and found another realtor in the meantime.
Realtor #2 was a bit more responsive.

So in the end we got shown houses by 2 different realtors.
It was funny that even though we gave each one the SAME criteria on what we wanted to look at, between the two of them they only wanted to show us one house in common.
Each one interpreted our needs SO differently it amazed me.

We only had a rapport with one of them, the young and new agent.  She didn't try to show us things at the top or over our price range, as she hadn't learned that "game" yet.  Honest and not trying to upsell us....I liked that.

Realtor #1 showed us mostly foreclosures, Realtor #2 showed us no foreclosures.

#2 showed up a house being sold to settle an estate and 2 regular properties.  None of these were asking less than $65K and most were at or over $80K(the limit I had set for them). 

One of those 3 places had no oven, a nonexistent living room, 1 bath and 3 tiny bedrooms and the asking price was $80K. 

Another house was tiny and had a very small fenced in yard.  The houses in this neighborhood were VERY close together and each yard for as far as the eye could see had at least one dog in it's also fenced in backyard.  Many of these dogs looked to be "outside" dogs and all hell broke loose with barking when they saw us.  I looked at my daughter and said, "If you move here with your own dog who loves to bark at other dogs, you will never have a quiet moment!" lolz

The only even acceptable house #2 showed us was the estate settlement house.  The previous owner loved to garden and the yard was full of flowers and bushes and trees.  The backyard was fenced in and there was a back porch that had been closed in to make a bonus room. Ok, the walls were fake white wood......

  Nothing in the kitchen had been updated from when it was built circa 1970 and all the appliances(except the fridge) and sink were Harvest Gold.

While ugly those appliance probably would outlast that newish fridge.
The house seemed to have the original carpeting and smelled like your grandma. 8-)

This house was in a city neighborhood with sidewalks and street lights and was on a small lot.  It was near the Air Force Base which meant it would hold it's resale value or could be rented out.  Location meant it was WAY overpriced at $89K but it was the cheapest home for sale in the subdivision(others for sale at that time were asking up to $120K).

And the house next door looked like it was a crack den.....ok, maybe not but obviously it was a rental because the outside was a hot mess and all the window blinds looked like a pit bull had played with them....often.  ;-)

Shopping foreclosed homes is an adventure I have to say.
Many of these homes suffer from neglect(if you don't have the money to pay your mortgage, you certainly don't have the money either to fix things that are broken, right?).
And due to the anger by the ex-owners toward the bank holding their mortgage, many of the foreclosed properties suffer from vandalism by the occupants before they leave(as well as actual vandals who break into vacant homes and steal things like wiring and copper pipes and appliances).

Many foreclosures are in bad shape inside.....damage to walls and doors(holes and graffitti, sledgehammers taken to toilets and sinks, cement poured into drains to harden and make the plumbing nonoperational, mirrors and lights shattered, cabinets and/or cabinet doors ripped off, carpet and other flooring ripped up.
You name it, we saw it.

One property we visited, when we got there, the front door was wide open and a huge pile of what looked like cabinetry pieces and carpeting was piled on the front yard, and there was someone inside the house cleaning the rugs. 

He was hired by the bank that owned that house to clean it out and up so it was sort of clean(at least the carpeting was), but take a look at the backyard of this place.......

 Besides all the junk and tree stumps, the previous owners had dug a hole and filled it with water in an attempt to make a pond.

A duplex rabbit hutch next to a child's old plastic restaurant buffet table.  I wonder if Hasenpfeffer was ever on the menu?

And take note of the mannequin floating in the "pond".  I neglected to snap a shot of the main part of the backyard, or rather the GARBAGE DUMP that made up most of the backyard.  I counted 15 plastic coolers in various states of repair(ALL of them needing repair), along with every conceivable discarded household and yard item you could think of.   There was a burn pit with what remained of a metal/plastic desk chair someone had attempted to "dispose of" in an unsuitable manner.

Though I didn't get a shot of the garbage dump yard in whole, I did snap a quickie of this shack/shed in the backyard.  You can see some of the trash that littered the yard(along with a cooler or two).  Note the interesting "Louisiana Yard Art" on the shed.  The cross is made up of rusty circular saw blades if you can't make out that much detail.
Such panache, such flavor......

After viewing this yard, I can imagine what the inside of the house looked like BEFORE the bank cleaned it out!

The problem for buyers with a bank foreclosure is that the bank will come in and clean up the property(remove damaged parts)but they don't repair or replace anything(besides roofs or missing walls).  So you see a lot of houses missing flooring, doors, ceiling fans/lighting fixtures, etc.
And since they don't replace or fix anything inside, you know you'll have to spend, to varying degrees, to get any place livable again.

And the fun really comes in when you can't see what hasn't been replaced/repaired.
While some deficits are obvious, like this house where someone took the bathtub with them......

And less obvious was the house where they had taken parts of the HVAC system so that it was nonoperational and needed to be replaced.  While the house seemed like a good deal on the surface, this small detail made it a very expensive deal!

Then we saw a place that had potential, if the previous owners hadn't gone and tried to "remodel" it.
Instead of fixing the foundation/floors of the house, they had just covered it up by installing expensive finishes(fixtures, tile and tubs/sinks)in the bathroom)over the much bigger fundamental problems.  Nice finishes in the bathrooms.....but the floors were all tilted and because of adding tile floors, the doors on the bathrooms couldn't be closed.

This place had an odd building in the front yard(one of just many oddities of this property)......

At first we thought it was an elaborate child's playhouse, but it had electricity running to it and business type stickers on the front window, so we think a previous owner had some kind of workshop upstairs and sold something in the downstairs room.  It was in disrepair(the flooring was rotted through)so we couldn't even go inside it(plus the top room was locked).
I did think, with some repairs/modifications, it would make a really cool chicken house! lolz
It's just too bad the house was a cobbled together mess, the long driveway required at least $5K in repairs, and it had an algae-filled pond "mosquito breeding pool" out front that needed aeration work or draining.

Among all these horror stories, we did find a gem in the end, IF the inspection comes back clean.



  1. Wow, what an adventure! We don't have too many foreclosures in Canada as the mortgage debacle wasn't as severe here. What an eye opener - I heard the stories about fixtures being removed and vandalism and what not, but haven't known of anyone trying to house shop in those circumstances. Hope your gem works out and can't wait to see it!

    1. Thanks Jane.
      It's not much to look at but was a great buy(if the inspection doesn't turn up expen$ive stuff)and the Daughter is thrilled.
      Plus there is a spare room/addition for me to come visit. 8-)

  2. Those houses make living in a tent seem pretty good!

    1. Oh, even I wasn't prepared for some of the more dreadful ones. We'd see a real bad one and I'd ask the realtor what they were asking for it and my eyes would bug out like a cartoon character! lolz

    2. I don't understand how they can charge for the houses! The land sure but how can they charge for something that needs to be torn down!

    3. Most of the foreclosures were a wreck but fixable wrecks. We only saw one that was a teardown. Banks don't care really other than wanting to get a property off it's books.

  3. WOW! What garbage! I remember looking for the house I'm in now. I visited a few repos, and they were in just as bad a condition as these. One even had a in-ground pool that was about to collapse in on itself - the realtor said "oh, you can fix that for about $10,000!" Yeah right, more like NO WAY.

    Peace <3

    1. Oh yah, one of them said in the listing it need a whole new HVAC system and some pretty big cosmetic type repairs....the listing agent said it would cost you about $5K for all. HAHAHAHA
      I guess I looked like I just fell off a turnip truck to that one, huh?

  4. I wish I had just repaired my avocado green appliances that lasted 30 years. I still miss them. Charlie is buying foreclosed houses. So far, he has not bought one vandalized by the owners.

    I bought this house without a kitchen. Seriously, nothing in the room. That is one of the things that sold me. But, a kitchen with no oven? Was it just removed or never had one.

    For awhile, this block had a crazy dog in every yard, but now it is so quiet all the time. But, all that changed one dog at a time. It's good you advised her on that one.

    The one time we ever used an agent to buy a home, she was pretty good about showing us what we asked for, but I have heard nightmares of agents who tried to upsell. Oh, we used an agent twice, but the last time we found our own house--four blocks away.

    You did well, it seems.

    1. The ovenless house HAD an oven at one time.....they took it out, boarded up the space and put a separate cooktop on it. Very odd. The daughter couldn't believe it didn't have an oven and the realtor kept saying you could put one back in and I kept thinking, "Yah lady, not at the price they want for this shack!" lolz

      If I was buying for a low price, like a place that needed to be rehabbed an old/bad kitchen wouldn't deter me as I'd like to pick out what I wanted and install it. But for daughter, we aren't doing any major renovs, just necessary repairs. If she wants to upgrade her kitchen, that's later on her dime.

    2. Being able to have the kitchen be nice and clean was why I really wanted this house in addition the yard for my children. The other houses we looked at were more than this one and had kitchens that really needed a lot of repair. I had been through that with ex. He always said we could fix things later and then he would not "allow" it. HA! We could not live in this until it WAS fixed.

      One pf blogger had to have minor things fixed before moving in. She did it by borrowing 105% the amount of the house. (Or some number over 100%) Now, just about three years later, she is foolishly refinancing her home to fix things. It is like watching a train wreck with her faulty logic.

      When my 30 year old appliances started to go one at a time, I lived with avocado green and new white appliances for three years so I could just let things die and afford to replace. I even turned the avocado green panel over to use the white panel supplied with my original dishwasher.

      If those two ovens work, the edge trim I see is for removing and turning it over to a white panel. My 1977 dishwasher had the same metal trim. I spent five hours in the middle of the night trying to figure that out. But, the problem was ME.

      If she needs a major renovation, moving the electric and water is cheaper than living with a bad layout--a lesson I learned when I took the washer connection from the corner of the kitchen and put it and a dryer in a small room next to the kitchen. Of course, have a full basement helped, but it looks like she has a nice crawl space.

      I had a drop in oven that was discontinued, so I had to have someone remove a section of the counter top and the kick space so I could slide in a stove. Nothing came near fitting the hole that the 1977 oven/stovetop left.

      A two story chicken coop would be cool. I could let them stay downstairs and store the food up in the top.

  5. My first house in the country had those old fashioned pine cabinets. That odd little two story outbuilding cracks me up.

    1. I don't mind the old cabinets. Probably better quality than all those much newer ones we saw. lol

      One house we saw with realtor #1 still had the original asteroid/starburst formica countertops from the 1960's. Too bad the rest of the house wasn't suitable.

  6. I live next to a foreclosure so boy can I relate to what you saw. The bank put a roof on it but didn't do a tear-off so everything underneath is a rotted mess. Lesson learned: Do not let a new roof fool you!

    Have fun on this hunt, I don't envy you!

    1. Well the hunt is over if this inspection comes back aok. Crossing my fingers until Tuesday on that one. I just couldn't believe the number of foreclosures down there!


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