I'm also a real estate investor, and last fall went on an "Investor's Bus Tour" of properties in Baltimore, Maryland. The person putting on the tour had put options on about 12 properties in and around Baltimore. All needed some degree of rehab, and the houses ranged from old mansions to rowhouses. And they ranged from nice to not-so-nice neighborhoods.
We each received a notebook, with a fact sheet on each property. The sheet contained the purchase price of the property, and an estimate of the amount of repairs. In Baltimore, a total gut of a rowhouse runs roughly $70,000.
It soon became apparent that our guide hadn't pre-visited all the properties. We couldn't get into one or two. But our guide was prepared with flashlights, a drill with screwdriver bits (to unscrew the screws on boarded-up buildings, etc.
So, anyhow, about halfway through the tour, the bus is heading to the next house, down a street of what clearly had once been a solid middle-class neighborhood, but had now declined somewhat. Some houses were boarded up. Others were occupied, but clearly weren't in great shape. We pull up to the next house on our list. The repair estimate was, I think, about $35,000. That'd suggest that it needed substantial work, but wasn't really a gut job. The house is boarded up, so our guide gets out his power drill with screwdriver bits, and proceeds to unscrew the screws holding the boards blocking the door. He gets the boards unscrewed and with a crowbar pulls the boards off, then crowbar-opens the door.
And we look in...and through. The entire back of the building is gone; we can see the houses in the block behind. Worse, most of the roof is gone. And worse, most of the floors are gone. There's a couch that had originally been on the upper floor. When that floor had collapsed (probably from water/rain after the roof collapsed), the couch--the whole thing--had crashed through and was hanging/dangling from the second floor into the first floor. And the walls of the adjoining rowhouses are bulging maybe a foot or two into the space previously occupied by the rowhouse we were looking at.
Our guide didn't bat an eye. He just said something like, "Well, it looks like it needs some work." And on we went to the next property.
Moral of the story: You never know what lies beyond the front door!
The homeowner opened the door (there were 3 young kids running around) and was so excited to see us. "Please come in" she said. "We are in the process of building this new fireplace - wood burning" (Kindly note, we are in South Florida where the weather gets in the 30's for all of 7 days around New Years).
As we walked into the home to look around, the stench slapped us right in the face, making me go green! The smell was like a piece of meat had been rotting for a week. There was cat "stuff" on the kitchen floor - which was not in the kitty litter. The carpet was pulled up in the hallway and rooms, clothes strewn everywhere. Well, you get the picture. I couldn't take it anymore and told the Buyer that she was free to continue looking at the home but I had to get some fresh air fast or I would be in trouble. Needless to say, she was right with me out the front door!
The funny part about this story is that my mom called me (literally 5 minutes after I walked out of the home) to say she just bought this beautiful fish at the local fish monger and wanted to know if I would come over for dinner. I turned an even worse shade of green and said, "Mom, thanks but no thanks." I think I stayed that color green for 2 days. It was horrible!
Moral of the story - make sure your seller makes their home presentable (and CLEAN smelling).
When I was a newbie, I called to get showing instructions on a house. Listing agent said they were on vacation - not back for a week, so just go and use multilock.
So - off I go with these young first time newlywed homebuyers.
Just to be careful, I did knock on the door (not knowing if maybe someone was house- sitting, etc)
I rang the bell, then used my multilock and in we went.
This was about a week after thanksgiving, and there was a TURKEY Carcass with bugs crawling all over it in the kitchen... dishes everywhere (some with food in them) diapers on the floor (and not the new unused ones in the box either) the house REEKED.
Aside from being filthy and smelly, it was not in great shape - but priced as tho it was the TAJ Mahal ;-) We all laughed and made light of it and decided just to look at it anyway since with a good hose job, defumigation and paint, it might not be too bad if the price was right.
We open the door to the master bedroom, and voila!!! THERE were the Sellers, who had come home early from vacation, without informing their agent, they were in bed (AND NOT SLEEPING EITHER! LOL!!)
They didn't hear the doorbell or the loud knocking because they had a separate wall a/c unit in the bedroom to drown out noise, and er - well, they were also 'otherwise occupied' shall we say?
I thought the young kids would just DIE when the sellers looked up from their bedroom sports activity with that deer in the headlights look on their faces!
Needless to say, no offer on the house... I did call the listing agent to five feedback ;-) he was mortified when I told him my young newlyweds wanted to find out what some of the gadgets they were using
were ;-) lol!!. I was kidding - but he didn't know that.
From that point on, I call the house and leave a vm, I want a cell phone number as well, (way back in 1979 nobody used cells though, but some of them did have answering machines...whether the agent says they are home or not, I knock louder, ring bell SEVERAL times, AND if there is ANY bedroom door that is shut, I knock again or I don't go in.