One of my clients attempted to negotiate an off market deal with a veteran family who was going through some financial difficulties. He discovered that they were upside down on their mortgage, which meant that he could no longer do the deal. Therefore, he introduced them to me. Once I evaluated the value of the home, I realized that it was most likely going to be a short sale situation. I enlisted another agent in my company to join me in the sale, since she has experience in the VA short sale process, having just done one last year. She and I talked to the family and discovered that they had attempted to renovate the floor by ripping out the carpet, but it was incomplete. There were many other cosmetic issues with the house.
One of the first obstacles was finding the family a place to live, so that the house can go through light renovations and cleaning. Eventually, they were able to find a place to rent, but they were strapped financially. They could afford the rent, but not the security deposit of $2700. So, I wrote the landlord a check, in order for them to move. The moving was a challenge as well, since they did not have access to a truck. I rented a U-Haul and helped them with the move. This process took many more trips with my small car to complete. They also needed gas money, so I gave them $50.
Once they were moved out of the house, my co-listor and I went to work on painting some of the bedrooms with the remaining paint in the house. It was not the most ideal color, but it was necessary in order to cover up the hand drawn paintings on the walls. I also ripped out the remaining carpet on the first floor. I hired a cleaner and handyman to help with the cleaning and minor repairs around the house. I hired a photographer to take professional photos, and listed it on the MLS.
We were originally listed at $570,000, but we realized that the market did not bear this price, given the condition of the interior. We reduced the price to $545,000. This led to an offer in 18 days on market that closed at $521,000, which was now less than the proceeds needed to pay off the lender and closing costs. This means we needed the lender’s approval to proceed with the sale. Surprisingly this only took a few months to complete, which was one of the shortest time frames that the buyer’s agent has seen for a short sale.
During this escrow period, the seller was now facing the danger of losing their car, since they were falling behind on payments on that. I wrote a check for one month of their car payment. Because the house was in the Sea Country Association, I paid for the condo documents, since this was a requirement by the buyer’s lender. The grass in the front was dead, since noone was there to water it. I bought fertilizer and with the help of the neighbor, was able to revive the front yard. Despite the fact that the seller was in dire financial straits, we were able to provide a bit of help in the small way that we could. What this transaction taught me was that real estate is all about helping people. I was blessed to be able to work with an amazing team and have the means to help a family in need. This was more rewarding than any monetary gain I could hope for as an investor.