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Top 10 Ways to Know You’re Buying A Dump

10) A thousand business cards are on the kitchen counter, the property has been on the market longer than normal, and the listing agent says he’s looking for offers. It looked good on paper, but nobody felt like doing anything after seeing the house. (Note to Seller: wake up and smell the business cards.)

9) It’s a bank-owned property on the market for over 30 days (Substitute the appropriate “expiration” date for your market). Unless this property fell out of escrow with a Buyer who could not perform, beware. Bank-owned properties in many inventory-depleted markets do not last. Caveat: If it fell out once because of the Buyer and not because of the property, you may have an opportunity to grab a deal that others are assuming is a dump.

8) A $200,000 listing is on the market for over 30 days (Substitute the proper value threshold in your market). Cash is King and in any market, and cash buyer activity is red hot below $200,000 in my market. If you see a house under the threshold getting passed up by the Kings, it’s a sign they smell something foul. Perfect segue to …

7) You have to hold your nose to tour the property, or worse...
1) Buyer hits an odor wall and can’t go any further, does a 180 and bolts for the exit.
2) REALTOR does the same. Now we’re talking about a real estate professional whose nose has been around the block a few times.
3) Contractor’s eyes start to water. He has no olfactory abilities. His nose shut down years ago and now his eyes are complaining at this house.

6) The property is listed 30% below comps. Honey, it ain’t comparable. It does not compare. It can’t compete. It’s screaming for a professional Buyer, so if you’re not one, think again. If it’s a single family house, you’re looking at a sinkhole, parking lot, cracker box, meth lab, land lease, money pit, or animal shelter. If it’s a condo, you’re looking at an HOA with no reserves (money pit again), high delinquency, high number of rentals, majority owner, or major lawsuit.

5) Three Lenders Have Told You No To This Property. Did you get a clue when the first one said “Sorry, I can’t take your money?” The problem is they have to give you money to make their money, but the collateral isn’t there. If your lender isn’t interested in the property, you shouldn’t be interested.

4) You’re an FHA Buyer offering below list and you get accepted! (Has this actually ever happened?) This is one of those times when perverse logic, “If you like me so much, why would I possibly like you,” actually makes sense. Sorry FHA Buyers, but if your agent hasn’t told you it’s rough out there, I’m here to tell you.

OK my list came up short. What can you add to the “Top 10 Ways to Know You’re Buying a Dump.” Looking forward to the stories - I’ve saved the top three spots for you!

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Comment by Ken Lee on September 29, 2009 at 11:00am
Johnny that's a good one. How about - windows busted and still vacant. Even squatters don't want it!
Comment by Johnny Huang on September 27, 2009 at 8:36pm
The lockbox (supra and coded) are missing the keys and windows are busted while you're trying to impress your clients your knowledge of window evaluation of the house...(this is a joke of course) :-P
Comment by Linda Landry on September 27, 2009 at 2:59pm
There are similar properties on the same street (or neighborhood).

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