My Hoarder House Flip
By Lou Gimbutis, Chief Homebuyer, Property Solutions, LLC
I’ve purchased houses in all shapes and sizes, but never one even half this cluttered. Yes, that is an actual picture taken the day I first viewed the house. And that was the living room, active living space being used at the time- not a storage room. And despite first-glance impressions, it was not a vacant house. 3 people lived there.
It was a condo in a lakefront community. So far, so good. From the outside, it looked no different than the 40-odd other condos in the community.
Come to find out, this is because the HOA, over the 10 years or so the owners had lived there, had thoroughly trained them on the consequences of leaving so much as a bubble gum wrapper on the yard, or a mess inside that the blinds did not hide. An entirely different story unfolded upon entering the house . . .
Long story short, 3 young adults lived there, none had jobs. They had inherited the houses, and quite possibly the absence of regular paychecks caused within them a certain “reluctance” to let go of anything they thought may be of future use. These items included, among other things, non-working appliances and pizza boxes.
They showed me the garage, a roomy 1-car that could possibly have fit 2 compact cars. Could, that is, if there were not an almost perfectly symmetrical cube of useless items piled about 6 feet high, or several inches from the ceilings, and filling the floor space to the extent that each wall supported the leaning mass of “stuff”.
Each room inside the house was no different. At times, I literally had to crawl over 2 or more feet of stacked items to get from one room to another.
I bought the place, and got a pretty good deal on it too. If I were a betting man, I’d say they were a bit embarrassed to get a realtor out to look at listing the place, or, failing that guess, that they had invited one out and resolved never to repeat said experiment when the agent ran screaming back to his or her car.
I “wholesaled” the condo, meaning I marked it up and sold it, untouched, to someone who ultimately cleaned it out, fixed it up, and sold it at a healthy profit. I would have paid to have the cleanup done had I took on the rehab myself, as such torment as personally doing physical labor is to me is no part of real estate investing. Out of curiosity, I asked the people I sold it to how much “stuff” had to be removed- over six 40-yard dumpsters. For the uninitiated, a 40 yard dumpster will hold up to 16,000 pounds (I’m sure none approached this as most of the debris was not very compact) and will hold about 12 pickup truck loads. It looked beautiful when finished.
Lou Gimbutis, owner of Property Solutions, LLC, has been buying and selling houses full-time since 2004, first in Michigan, then after moving to NC in 2007. He serves as Director of Education for the Metrolina Real Estate Investor’s Association.