The plan was simple.
I would buy the house and they would be gone forever.
Now I just had to figure out how to do this.
She never liked me and rarely had we spoken. Ever since the alleged kidnapping incident she virtually disappeared. I used to catch at least a glimpse of here coming and going, but now I never see her. She even started parking her car in the back of the house. I was unsure if this was to avoid me or just something new for her.
I remember going to work on a early Thursday morning and notice that her fiancée’s who was murdered, SUV had been towed to her back yard and left. The front end was smashed up.
When I got home that evening her next door neighbor who was a big part of our block watch group walked over to my driveway and greeted me when I got out of my car. She asked me if I had seen the latest addition to the “junk yard” in the back yard across the
street. I told here I had noticed this addition this morning. I asked her if she had called the city inspections department yet. She said “oh yes” first thing this morning. She added this would only add to the many citations and corrective actions necessary that the city inspectors had ordered.
She then pointed to the very bright signs posted on the front of the house and asked me if I knew what they were. I told her no. She said that the city had come and posted both a water shut off notice and a unfit for human occupation notice on the house today.
She also informed me that she was sure it was her house that she read the foreclosure notice in the local paper.
I had been waiting for this day for almost three years.
I could hardly contain my excitement. All I had to do was to figure out how I could get her to sell the house before some other slum lord can in and bought it for nothing on foreclosure and resold it to another drug dealing party or worse yet rented it out to some gang members.
I thanked her for the info and told her that if there was anything in my power I was going to do it to buy the house. I told her I would fix it up and resell it to some good neighbors like I had done with 4 of the other houses in the neighborhood.
She was excited with this prospect as she had put up with the family and all the trouble it brought not to mention having to stare at the junk yard out of her kitchen window for three years also. She knew the good work we had done and the nice new neighbors we had brought into the neighborhood.
I went to work.
While driving my bus route I ran every scenario through my mind how I could approach her about selling the house. I didn’t know for sure if it was in foreclosure or not. I hadn’t been able to confirm this yet.
Finally on the way home I decided on a plan.
I would simply go over knock on the door and ask her if she wanted to sell the house.
Very clever plan I thought.
The least she could do is tell me no.
I got home got out of my truck and before I chickened out I walked across the street and up the broken down front steps to the door which was missing a window and screen and knocked on the door.
I could hear noise and music playing in the back ground.
I knocked again. And several more times after that.
I turned and began to leave when the door opened and she said “what do you want”.
I figured at least she’s talking to me I wasn’t even sure she would do that.
I asked here if she ever thought about selling the vacant lot attached to this house because if she did I would be interested in buying it to build a new shop.
To this day I am not sure why or how that came out of my mouth. Yes I wanted the lot but not with here living next to me.
She said no she wasn’t interested in selling the lot.
Ok, I said and thanked her for her time and said well if you ever decide to sell the lot of house you know where I live and I would be very interested in both. I turned and started walking and she said, “The house is going up for sale Monday morning”.
I was shocked.
I asked what she wanted for it and if she had hired a realtor yet.
She said she had.
I said to her that is too bad because I could have saved you thousands of dollars by not hiring a Realtor and not having to pay out any commissions.
That statement got her attention.
She said “how does that work”? I explained that with my back ground in being Para-legal and my experience in real estate I could do all the purchase agreements and then you can hire a attorney for a couple hundred dollars to look over the paper work and same a lot of money. For example I said, “If you listed this house for two hundred thousand dollars and the Realtor was going to charge you a six percent commission for selling the house you would save twelve thousand dollars that would go directly into your pocket rather than the Realtors.
I had her attention now.
She said” well the house doesn’t go on the house until Monday.
I asked her if she had signed a listing agreement yet. She said she just did this morning. I asked her if I could see it and read it over maybe there was a way to save here several thousand dollars. I couldn’t promise anything until I had read the listing agreement.
It wouldn’t cost anything to look I said and maybe even save her several thousand dollars.
She hesitated but then said well why don’t you come in I have the paper work in the house.
I said I would like to do that and told her my name and extended my hand to introduce her self and called her by her first name.
She shook my hand and said “all these years I lived across the street from you I knew your name”.
I followed her into the house.
I was having a flash back.
As we entered she said you will have to forgive me since the murder of my fiancée things haven’t gone very well around here. The place is a mess and I had to rent out some of the rooms to others so I could make the mortgage payment. I lost my job after the death of my fiancée. I had to take a lot of time off to cope with this loss and they fired me. I also lost my transportation because the vehicle that he was shot and killed in wasn’t insured because I forgot to mail the check and it was involved in a accident with out being insured and the state wants to impound it. The bank also is repossessing the vehicle.
I was shocked at how candid she was being and forthcoming with all of this information.
I had learned more in two minutes than I had the last three years.
What else could I say to her but “I’m so sorry for all your troubles”.
It was all I could think of. Inadequate as it sounded it was the best I could say. What she was confiding in me was beyond unreal. Almost surreal!
As we walked into the house I noticed the porch we entered in had boxes stacked up to the ceiling which was still just the sheetrock which had only one coat of tape and mud on and had yellowed and cracked. The hardwood floor was black from rain damage which had occurred because the windows were broke out.
As I walked down the hall I noticed all the trim, base, woodwork, casing and doors were missing. She must of noticed that I was looking at this because she said” when we first moved in here we were going to refinish all the woodwork”. We tore it down and started sanding it and it turned out to be a bigger job than we expected and we lost interest and just put the trim out into the garage.
I was beginning to feel sick. There were extension cords all over the floor. She explained that they had several shorts in the electrical circuits and the breakers keep tripping so they had to run extension cords.
We finally made it to the dining room. This cluttered room with exposed wires sticking out of the ceiling where there once was a grand chandelier. I was very sure of this. The woodwork was missing but there were glimpses of what was once a very grand room.
Through the piles of paper and overflowing ash trays she found the listing agreement. I read the listing agreement and it stated the selling price of one hundred fifty seven thousand nine hundred dollars. The commission rate was six percent of this or nine thousand four hundred and seventy four dollars. The listing was effective Monday morning.
I asked her what relationship if any had she with the Realtor. She said she found him in yellow pages and called him he showed up and listed the house.
I asked her how she came to that price she was asking for the house. She said “ I just thought of it”.
I realized what I was up against at this point.
I then set the listing down and looked her right in the eye and said I would be interested in buying the house and lot and thought I could not only save her a lot of money on the commission but on having to make repairs to get it in saleable condition. I also pointed out that I had concerns about the house making it through a mortgage appraisal inspection let alone the city’s required inspections for certificate of occupancy.
Then she said “the city wants to condemn this house”. She also stated it is in foreclosure and unless she comes up with several thousand dollars in less than two months the sheriff told her she would have to move because the bank would take possession of the house.
What else is all I could think of?
She said she had no food or money or job and the kids were hungry and her mothers social security checks were going to her fiancée who was trying too start a business but she was convinced that her mom was being scammed out of here social security disability checks.
I was afraid to think of or ask what else?
I explained to her that the contract wasn’t legally binding until Monday. However I couldn’t in good conscience just cut the Realtor out of this transaction. I explained that I felt she needed a competent person to help her navigate the foreclosure and represent her interests. I admit from a purely selfish stand point I didn’t trust her and also realized this whole mess was a lot bigger than me.
I suggested that we could come to an agreement about buying the house and negotiate a fixed commission rate with him so he could represent her interests and yet save her several thousand dollars.
She looked at me like I was some kind of angel sent to save her.
I suggested that time was of the essence and we call him immediately.
She attempted to reach him but he was out. She left a message for him to call her.
She then said “would you like to see the rest of the house”?
“Yes please,” I said.
She began the tour. The first room she stopped at was the bathroom. She said this was her favorite room in the house. I asked her why. She said “because before my son went to prison he remodeled and put a new tile floor in the bathroom for me for mother’s day.
I couldn’t get beyond the black mold on the walls and ceiling, or the missing sink.
I just nodded.
This was only the beginning.
Every room got worse.
I simply couldn’t believe how bad the living conditions were.
It became obvious why the city wanted to condemn it.
For a while I was thinking they were right and the former grand old house should perhaps be foreclosed, condemned, and torn down by the city.
I asked to go outside at this point and look at the back yard and lot. I had seen enough of the inside. I think what finally did it to me was seeing the kids sleeping on the bare floor up stairs next to the dog poop.
Even I have limits.
I just found them.
Little did I know would be required of me and the tests to my limits I was about to face the next few days.
I’m not sure looking back I would of wanted to know what kind of adventures lied a head for us.
copy rights reserved D, Jerzak April 06-07