Friday, February 29, 2008

Hold your nose and flip this house

Our company is trying to buy a house that's an outrageously good opportunity -- a fixer-upper on the water in a nice neighborhood with amazing views, a large yard, good bones, curb appeal and the right price.

The house is a foreclosure and inside it's the most filthy, disgusting place I've ever been. All of the carpet is covered -- covered! -- in cat, dog and rat feces, some just lying there, others smeared into the flooring. The basement carpet is sopping wet and has been for a while, the refrigerator has not been emptied and smells like death. The whole house does, actually. The first time we looked at it, yesterday, we all breathed through our mouths to avoid the gag reflex. This morning we brought masks (but still breathed through our mouths).

I have no idea how a house can smell that bad. Moreover, I have no idea how anyone could live there. (Carrie: "If someone offered you a million dollars tax-free to stay here for two days, would you do it?") There were hundreds of cigarette butts throughout, but not even a hint of a smoky smell -- the other smells were so pervasive. I changed my clothes after going there this morning because it had seeped into what I was wearing. I think it's still in my hair.

While the guys were checking out structural stuff this morning to decide how much we wanted to offer and how much it would cost to renovate it, I started going through the people's stuff (the house was trashed, but most of their belongings were still there. There's a dresser and a vanity I want to claim for refinishing if we get the house).

In one bedroom there were two notebooks from a little girl, one a school journal and one a regular diary marked "PRIVATE!" I couldn't believe that a child lived in that house. Can you imagine?

According to one of the notebooks, the girl's parents separated and the dad kept that house and the girl and her mother moved to a nearby town. He sounded like a jerk anyway. He and her mom fought all the time and he refused to get a job and was stupid with money, she wrote, and everyone was happier when they split up. I hope the girl and her mom are OK. The husband's probably in jail or something.

We might not get the house -- right now we're in a bidding war with three other parties. If we do get it I'm really hoping we'll "accidentally" go over-budget with renovations and "have" to hold it for a few years before selling. I wish!

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