A learning experience - Posted by Fran CA

Posted by Fran CA on March 08, 2001 at 22:03:28:

I?d like to tell you about our experience while getting close to making our first deal. We found a fixer after an elderly seller responded to our postcard. She had a home that needs some work and she needed some cash. The worst home in a great neighborhood. After visiting the woman and talking with her about buying the home, we inspected the inside and decided the fixing up and holding costs would still net us a tidy sum.

The next visit, we came armed with a contract. The woman tells us her husband is in a nursing home, so we became concerned that she?d need power of attorney to sell the house since the title is in both of their names. She was more concerned with finding another place to live, so I, being a good Christian, offered to help her by calling a few senior-care homes in the area.

After we tell her that we found a few places for her to rent, she tells us her husband is unhappy where he is and she asks us if we can find a place where they both can live. She then reveals that her husband is worse off than she had first implied. She tells us she can?t sign the contract until she convinces her husband to sign, too. Is her mysterious tone just because she’s ill at ease with discussing her predicament? We begin to get suspicious, and the next day I call the nursing home. The care givers reveal that he is suffering from dementia, can?t walk, and has severe diabetes. They also recommend we speak with their daughter. Daughter? Yet another surprise!

A conversation with the daughter sheds additional light on the instability of the mother. Apparently the daughter is trying to have the mother committed also and gain full power of attorney for both parents. She told me she appreciated knowing about what her mother was up to and it was yet another reason to step up her effort to obtain the legal right to assume control of the situation. Perhaps in a few months she?ll call us to sell the place.

What have we learned?

  1. We’re on the right track for finding motivated sellers
  2. Before doing anything, first get a signed contract
  3. A deal is not in pocket until the house closes
  4. Due diligence is extremely important: check everything, don?t expect a title search to find out everything about a property

Persistence will pay off. Getting too anxious about finding a good deal could have really bitten us. Thankfully we didn?t lose any real money on the deal, just some time and effort.