Just Because There's A Housing Slump Doesn't Mean There Are Any "Motivated Sellers"

Reader Eric is pre-approved and ready to buy a house in South Florida. You’d think it would be a piece of cake considering the, uh, climate down there. Apparently not.

The market down here is really bad. I’d say that more than 75% of the houses we’ve seen are short sells or foreclosures. People are really down about the housing situation. You are constantly hearing on the news about how horribly hard it is to sell a house. Houses are selling way under their purported value.

Given all of these woes, you would THINK that homeowners would do everything they could to make their houses ready to go. If someone was ready to buy and had the cash, the owners should be able to say, “Paper or plastic? Welcome to your new home.”

Why then, in the name of friggin’ St. Joseph, can people not be bothered to even clean up their houses when they KNOW potential buyers are coming? Buyers that can lift the burden of these structures off of their swayed backs. Buyers who really, REALLY want to buy.

Of course, this rant doesn’t apply to the foreclosures. These houses are empty and dirty. They’ve essentially been abandoned when their owner’s oversized dreams were shattered by the radical (and entirely predictable) increase of their undersized sub-prime, adjustable mortgage payments.

I’m also not talking about general straightening of furniture or vacuuming or “staging” of the house in order to make seem like a nice product.

I’m talking about walking into a house with our realtor and having the owners not even bother to get their cracker asses off of the couch and turn off the basketball game. I’m talking about not leaving piles of dirty dishes in the sinks and dirty ashtrays on the tables. I’m talking about maybe postponing washing the dog in the kitchen SINK until AFTER their showing. I’m talking about maybe not deciding to boil whatever crazy, stinky, ethnic vegetable you found at the local farmer’s market ten minutes before someone was coming to maybe buy your house. A house that they don’t want to imagine stinking like boiled shit if they ever moved in.

These all happened. They were all different houses.

I should add that we’re not looking small places in questionable neighborhoods. These are in nice developments with parks, and gates, and guards, and Beaveresque features.

I should also add that we are the IDEAL buyers for todays market. We are pre-qualified for more than double what we’re looking at. We don’t have any contingencies for closing the deal. We are ready to go NOW!

It makes you wonder if the listing agents should maybe coach their clients a little bit about making their house a bit more appealing. Guess not.

Yikes? Is anyone else having this problem?

More at Eric’s blog.

What Housing Slump . . . ?? [Think Daddy]


Edit Your Comment

  1. shan6 says:

    That is pretty sad that people don’t even have enough pride to present themselves as, you know, human beings.

  2. Pro-Pain says:

    If I’m losing my house, why on earth would I give a frogs flying fuck what you think? I mean really…

  3. Xay says:

    We went house hunting in Jacksonville over the summer and some of the houses were disgusting. Dirty dishes piled in the sink AND on the living room floor. One home stank of cigarettes and alcohol, had burn marks in the carpet and trash everywhere.

  4. loueloui says:

    Ahem. I’ll hold back a bit because I don’t think Eric’s intentions are completely maligned.

    As one of said crackers, you may be astonished to know that my mortgage, and a plethora of others in this state are up to date, fixed, and not sub-prime.

    Now, as I can’t speak for the rest of us, it appears that you have witnessed the typical reaction from some of our less sophisticated residents, who are weary of a bunch of New York Johnny-come-lately’s traipsing all over their property offering to ‘rescue’ their house for $.20 on the dollar.

    My apologies if they have not catered to you wishes. Please let me know when you intened to go house hunting again, and in what neighborhood, and I’ll inform the Governor.

  5. @Pro-Pain: He’s not referring to foreclosures – these are people trying to get out while they can. Frankly, if you want to make to place seem pleasing so you can at least get SOMETHING back, you’d better give a frog’s flying fuck.

  6. crunkbear says:

    @Pro-Pain: Shouldn’t the fact that they might buy it from you instead of having to go through forclosure be enough to motivate you…?

  7. Pixel says:

    Because a buyer would mean the difference between selling the house and getting out with a clean credit report and even possibly some $$ vs. getting foreclosed on and being dumped out on your ass with no $$ no equity and a trashed credit report that will make it hard to even rent an apartment?

  8. ftrain says:

    @Pro-Pain: +1 for keeping it real

  9. Sir Winston Thriller says:

    Let’s see now…

    If I make my house presentable and act like a real seller, you buy my house and I’m on the street with bad credit looking for a place to live.

    If I do nothing to make the house presentable and make sure I have a pot of cabbage boiling away on the stove, no one will buy it, Meanwhile I’m living here without paying the mortgage ’cause I defaulted and the bank won’t throw me out until the very, very, very last minute.

    Does that answer your question, Eric?

  10. shan6 says:

    @Pro-Pain: You would still like to get SOME of your money back right?

  11. shan6 says:

    @loueloui: He also took a shot at “ethnic” foods, so I think he is hating equally.

  12. strangeffect says:

    You know that once you buy a house, you’re allowed to clean it, right?

  13. BlondeGrlz says:

    @Sir Winston Thriller: But once they do kick your procrasinating butt to the curb, you’ve got even WORSE credit and you’ll be living in your car for the next 7 years.

    Does anyone know if Florida is one of those states where they can come after you for the difference between what your house sells for and what you owed?

  14. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    Are the listing agents not giving their clients enough warning before showing up with buyers?

  15. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    @strangeffect: Yeah, but if you’re buying a house do you want to have to worry that the house is full of stains and smells that maybe expensive, if not impossible, to remove?

    It’s hard to fall in love with a place that stinks.

  16. davere says:

    Also in Florida:

    I caught some people hiding their bong while high as hell. Hey, at least they tried. It’s not like we didn’t give them a few hours warning that we were interested in looking at their home.

    Another time the parents asked their kid to give us a tour of the house. It was a rather honest tour.

  17. dandd says:

    @ftrain: Best comment I’ve seen on here in along time and I know because “I keeps it real.”

    OP, you have to realize that you are looking at houses in FL.

  18. jenocyde says:

    I went to an open house (in South FL, not a foreclosure and a bit overpriced) a couple months ago. The area was nice, the house looked decent (a little run down on the outside) but the person living there (kind of scary looking) had no idea an open house was scheduled for that day (or the following Sunday, as the realtor had said) and refused to let us in because she hadn’t had time to “pick up.” I kind of got the feeling the person living there didn’t even know the place was for sale.

  19. pastabatman says:

    I don’t understand your point entirely.

    So you’re doing fine so that means…? what exactly to his complaint? You’re not selling your house. He’s not talking about you. Pile the dishes and wash your dog. your house.

    Less sophisticated = idiot? Free passes on the “Less sophisticated” got them right where they are.

    This is not some kind of looking down his nose, at least to me, he’s talking about people who need to go to “How to Be School”.

    Additionally, now we have some kind of carpet bagger situation going down? Trust me, them damn yankees have nothing to do with what makes them weary.

    Here’s the deal, no matter what. They got screwed OR screwed themselves (different debate). They have to sell the house. Make it happen. Be smart ONCE.

  20. mac-phisto says:

    eric –

    do you think it’s possible that your realtor knows you’re approved for more & is showing you specific properties to coax you into looking into more expensive properties – in effect “staging” your disapproval?

    just sayin…

  21. RokMartian says:

    My wife was a realtor’s assistant and related a story to me. There was a beautiful house that she would show to clients, but the owner of the house had horrible taste in decorating. It looked like something out of the 70’s with tacky brown/orange painting, plastic flowers, etc. It sat unsold for quite a while and one day she had gone back to show it to another client – this time, all the tacky decorations were gone and repainted.

    When the owner was asked about the change, she told them that she had decorated it with the tackiest stuff she could find – The reason: she was in the middle of a divorce and would have to split the proceeds. She knew that if he house would not sell, the husband would just “unload” it on her. After the divorce was finalized, she cleaned it up and sold it pretty quickly.

  22. TMC1980 says:

    I have been looking for a house in ohio, and it is the same here. After 8 months of looking, we have finally found a house. It is my personal opinion that the realtors are not doing their job. Over half of the houses we looked at the realtor knew less about the house than we did. I just don’t know how you can sell something and not know anything about it.

  23. savvy9999 says:

    This post makes my Wednesday morning full o’ chuckles. People are funny.

    It’s been a while for me; I thought it was a general rule of realty that sellers/residents had to be out of the house when it was shown? Is this no longer the custom anywhere, or is it just in the carefree South?

    Perhaps the stinky veggie boil was a subtle invitation to sit down for a healthy light lunch in the midst of a long day of house-a-hunting? Rutabaga soup, anyone?

  24. strangeffect says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: In that case, the place is going to stink regardless of whether there’s a basketball game on, a dog in the sink, food cooking, or ashtrays visible at the time of inspection.

    If anything, the current owner could simply attribute any chronic stinkage to what was going on right then. I would be more concerned if the place smelled like it was just crop-dusted with febreze.

  25. gamin says:

    Eric sounds like he wants to be treated like some kind of savior buy buying someone’s house for half the price. granted you might want to make a house somewhat appealing to the buyer but if I’m gonna be homeless and living on the street afterwards well you better bear the smell of my ethnic boiled vegetables because I’m not gonna bow to you.

  26. strangeffect says:

    @savvy9999: Rutabaga soup? Is Fraggle Rock in Florida?

  27. Aladdyn says:

    So basically you want to be tricked into thinking the people who owned the house before you kept it perfectly clean and never made any bad smells in it? I would rather see an honest presentation of what had gone on in the house im going to be buying. I bought a house for a very low price a few years ago. It was priced low because it looked like crap. Some paint and wallpaper and now the value is up over 50% from what i paid.

  28. rochec says:

    Maybe you should look in a nicer area? Every house I looked at was spotless and the owners would leave when we looked.

    If you are looking at a rednecks house, with his truck on the front lawn, I wouldn’t expect much more than what you are seeing.

  29. quagmire0 says:

    I share your frustration, but if it makes you feel better, those people won’t be selling their house anytime soon.

    It is aggrivating that people don’t do the bare minimum when showing their house. But my guess is that they are moving under less-than-ideal circumstances and thus, they don’t care.

    We had similar incidents when we looked for new houses in the fall. On two or three occasions either my wife or realtor walked in on someone sleeping in one of the bed rooms – even though there was a confirmed showing and NO ONE else was in the house.

  30. Tigerman_McCool says:

    I’d consider looking elsewhere or get a better imagination. If every house I looked at in an area had this problem, I’m not sure I’d want to live there. Maybe you’re just giving us the lowlights of your house hunting tours???

    I recently concluded my house hunting trip in West Tennessee and it is most definately a buyer’s market. There were some very nice neighborhoods I could previously not afford to be looking in. Due to reduced pricing, I was able to step up to the next level. I ended up getting very nice house that was already priced to sell at for about 30% off asking.

  31. arch05 says:

    Ben, why in the hell would you publish an article with the word ‘cracker’ in it? That severely undermines your credibility.

  32. crabbyman6 says:

    I thought that the owners should be out of the house too. I don’t understand why these “crackers” should feel responsible for showing him the house, didn’t he have a realtor? I get the idea that a messy house makes the decision harder, but cry me a river and get over yourself, you’re not messiah for buying their house.

  33. yesteryear says:

    i don’t see what the big deal is. a year ago he would have paid $100,000 more for a “fixer upper” that might have been much worse. this is like someone going to a government auction to buy a repossessed car and complaining that the sales person didn’t offer him a cappuccino. if you want to be treated like a high end buyer then don’t look at houses being sold out from under reluctant renters and/or people who are probably going to be living in a motel 6 after they leave.

    ugh. i’m really getting tired of hearing from some of the whiny, privileged people who get their stories posted here.

  34. Me - now with more humidity says:

    pixel: plenty of landlords will rent to you if you’re honest about the situation. but why let that get in the way of a rant, huh?

    eric: buy an REO. start on ocwen.com and fanniemae.com, or call a realty office and ask to speak to an agent who specializes in REOs in the are you want. you can beat up on the bank all you want, especially if you focus on properties with more than 120 days on market. most home buyers think that’s only a strategy for investors. in my large florida city, the MLS has almost a thousand REO listings. Many in prime neighborhoods, like the beach.

  35. rewinditback says:

    is this guy a little racist/prejudice? “stinky ethnic foods” ” cracker-asses” … cmon now.

  36. Me - now with more humidity says:

    “area” not “are”

    damned bronchitis.

  37. UpsetPanda says:

    On one hand, it sucks to walk into a house and it be disgusting – and I understand his anger at the fact that people an’t seem to get that they will most likely end up in a worse financial state if they don’t sell their home.

    on the other hand, I think he should’ve waited a few hours to send this in because I also think him lashing out at “ethnic” foods was annoying…why does it have to be ethnic? Yes, there are a lot of ethnicities in Florida. Get over it.

  38. revmatty says:

    We put our house on the market just as the bubble was bursting, and again a year later. We’re still in the house. Of course, we were trying to get out because we’ve added two kids to the family and it’s getting cramped, not because of an ARM bump. On average we got about 7 minutes warning that someone was coming over to look at the place.

    Don’t assume the owners just don’t care (though I’m sure some of them don’t) or are total slobs all the time, in my experience at least half the problems with real estate experiences is that the agents suck and suck bad. Over the years I’ve dealt with 7 different real estate agents, one of whom was really good, two of whom were mediocre, and four of whom were simply incompetent, uninformed, poorly organized, and mostly uninterested in what either the buyer or the seller wanted as long as they got their commission.

  39. B says:

    @jenocyde: That’s actually not too surprising. Realtors are notorious for not giving sellers notice before a house showing.

  40. UpsetPanda says:

    @B: *shrug* my mom, a real estate agent, always tells her clients she’s showing their property, and works out a schedule when they know not to be there. And she makes sure that they clean the place up and they lock up animals. I guess my experience is with one agent.

    @rewinditback: I think when we’re angry at other people, we show the nastiest side of ourselves….

  41. failurate says:

    I’m seeing the same thing here in SE Wisconsin. We’re ready to buy… sellers are not ready to sell.

    It does seem like some lazy or over loaded agents.

  42. katylostherart says:

    i could completely understand someone trashing the hell out of a foreclosed property because why the hell not if you don’t care? but if you’re just selling your house by choice, don’t be a disgusting fuck.

    to the guy that said for $.20 on the dollar – how do you know what this guy’s willing to pay? no one knows what any buyer is willing to pay until they see the house. and if he sees a house in that state the only amount you know he’s going to offer is zero dollars.

    don’t defend dirty people. we’re not animals, we have soap. take care of your property. and if you can’t do the bare minimum cleaning required to stave off things like fungal infections and the plague then don’t expect someone else to want to pick up where you left off.

  43. darkrose says:

    I sold my old house last month for about 7k less than the appraised value. 2/1 bungalow in a decent part of town, just over 1k sq ft, and made about 45k on the transaction over what I originally paid for the house.

    The housing market isn’t that bad down here in NE Floriduh.

  44. JanetCarol says:

    My fiance and I are having this exact problem in the Northern Virginia area. We actually have one house that we have been to three times and they won’t let us in. One guy answered his door and said “not today”. We also have ran into the issue of sellers not willing to negotiate their over priced homes.
    I never knew it would be difficult to buy a house in todays market.

  45. B says:

    There is a bit of psychology going here. People, for the most part, aren’t motivated to sell their houses at a loss, even if getting out is the right move for many people. I’d guess that’s what’s causing the lack of motivation in the sellers.

  46. gamehendge2000 says:

    Bubba the Love Sponge territory.

  47. UpsetPanda says:

    On the flip side, agents are in a crunch too…their business depends on a good market, and it’s difficult to care as much as you used to when you’ve got uncooperative sellers who are annoyed that they have to give up their home, but no matter how much you explain WHY, they decided to ignore you and pout, and sellers who are eager but either just can’t get the negotiations down or just can’t find something they love.

    And then there are the banks. Foreclosures have to be purchased through the banks, which have a ton of paperwork to deal with when they are considering a buyer’s offer on a house. They want to get as much back as they can, seeming they’re already losing money on the foreclosure. And of course, buyers are trying to spend less, but the houses are already down past market value. No one is the winner here because everyone is trying to stay afloat.

  48. failurate says:

    His “ethinic/cracker” comments were for attention grabbing value. Does make him look like a jackass.

  49. robotprom says:

    In Florida, “cracker” is not the pejorative it is elsewhere. A Florida cracker these days is more or less a native of the state (even more so if they can trace their lineage way back), regardless of skin color.

  50. BlondeGrlz says:

    @UpsetPanda: I work in a real estate office and have some fantastic stories about people who don’t even remember their house is for sale. One agent got trapped in a basement by a couple of angry rotweilers and had to climb out a window. One time I showed a house and walked in on the homeowner in an unbelted robe drinking coffee in the kitchen, because he had forgotten it was Saturday. Once the renter of a waterfront house followed us around for the whole showing, and told the potential buyer he wasn’t leaving, so they might as well stop looking at it.

    It’s not just Florida, it’s everywhere. And it’s not just when people are selling for below market value, it’s any time homeowners have gotten used to their houses and dirt and smells and don’t realize those are all turnoffs. This is why “Sell This House” and “Designed to Sell” and staging companies can make such a difference with small budgets.

  51. 3drage says:

    Americans are animals with no pride of ownership these days. You see it all over the place in the form of garbage on the sides of the roads, gum on the sidewalks, and spit everywhere you go. People think it’s their “Right” to be idiots.

  52. UpsetPanda says:

    @3drage: I’m sorry…where are you from? lets point out all the things wrong with where you live. Sounds like a GREAT game.

  53. Aphex242 says:

    The OP has it right, these people are morons. He’s not asking to be treated special… any Realtor worth two shits will tell you to keep your place clean when selling it.

    Washing your dog in the sink while someone is viewing your house may very well cost you $10k. Does that seem smart to any of you?

  54. sagis says:

    So you expect people who are about to lose their home and a nice chunk of money too, to clean up and get their house nice and pretty for you? Isn’t it enough you’re getting the house for a bargain price? spend 200$ and get a cleaning service.

  55. jenocyde says:

    @B: yeah, I felt like the bearer of bad news since I was the first to show up for the “open” house…and apparently woke her up…at noon…

  56. johnva says:

    One of the problems, too, is that there is a psychological resistance to “losing” a lot of paper value of your house by selling it in a market like this. Even though the economically rational thing to do might be to sell at the current market price, some sellers are going to have trouble accepting that their house is worth a lot less than it was a couple of years ago. So they may resist lowering the price to the point that the property will actually sell. Other sellers may not even be able to sell even if they would like to, because they may be upside-down on their loan and unable to bring more money to the table to solve that problem. So these are some possible reasons why you may not see as many sales in a market like this as you would think.

  57. johnva says:

    @sagis: What do you mean by “a bargain price”? A house is only worth what other people are willing to pay for it. It’s irrational behavior for a seller to not try to make the place presentable for buyers, because it means that they may well get less money for it. Now some buyers might be willing to take that tradeoff and pay less money in exchange for doing the cleanup work, but a lot will just be turned off and not bother.

  58. SmellyGatto says:

    Eric is a whiner and a poor businessman. Eric, were he brighter, would realize that he could use the state of a house as a leverage point to drive the price down (through the agent or most likely the bank that is foreclosing) it doesn’t take a genius to understand the cost of hiring a crew to clean is less than the potential thousands of selling price dollars he can save. Eric is just another sot who is happy to use Consumerist as a whining pulpit.

  59. arch05 says:

    @robotprom: That’s just stupid.

  60. failurate says:

    @UpsetPanda: 3drage Is most likely a young politically brain washed self hating American. Also, emo hair and a cutter.
    I’m just guessing though.

  61. MissPeacock says:

    @savvy9999: I bought a townhome a few years ago. Whenever someone was scheduled to see it, I always got a call from the Realtor telling me to scram. He even gave me a Starbucks card so I could go there and have a cup of coffee while waiting on the showing to be done.

    House sold on the first day after three showings. :)

  62. MissPeacock says:

    @MissPeacock: Oh, and I’m in the carefree South as well.

  63. lusnia says:

    I have looked at a couple of REO homes here in the OKC. I wasn’t upset by the condition the houses were left in, more in what the bank/realtor were looking to unload the house for. We have been pretty unaffected here by the sub-prime meltdown because a large part of our economy is dependant on the energy sector. In most cases because of this they are asking $15k to $20K more than its worth when you look at neighborhood and comparables.

  64. Peeved Guy says:

    I really don’t understand all of you all that are “defending” the actions of the sellers by saying that they are resentful of having to sell their houses at bargain prices, etc. If they really don’t want to sell, then, um… don’t friggin list it! They should just wait for the bank to foreclose on it and get tossed out on their dumb asses. Acting like a 4 year old throwing a temper tantrum is just wasting their time, the real estate agents time, and the time of the potential buyer.

  65. katylostherart says:

    @UpsetPanda: no really, people at least north of the border and in england seem to take more care of their property. america’s pretty dingy. the largest cities are full of trash everywhere. dirty subways, dirty roads, dirty airports, dirty buses. people don’t take the time to put a new coat of paint on something, clean a sign off now and then, wash some windows. and i don’t even live in redneckland or a big city.

    i live down the road from this house that’s absolutely disgusting. four dead cars in the driveway, fence rotted and even fallen down in some spots. dirty/broken siding, junk in the front yard. yet all the other houses around it, including my place, are clean, manicured as well as weather permits.

    it really is the simple shit. put your garbage in a garbage can. don’t let food fester in the sink that’s a health hazard. clean where you shit since we all go indoors. for a first world country we sure are kinda gross.

  66. ViperBorg says:

    @Aladdyn: Now that’s how to make a buck when it comes time to sell your house.

  67. Snarkysnake says:


    Thank you for setting everybody straight.(You beat me to it) I’m a cracker and proud of it !


  68. Erwos says:

    My one note of caution: these might not be the owners, but rather renters. Renters have no incentive whatsoever to help the owner sell his or her house.

    My wife and I saw a short sale a couple weeks ago, and had an experience much like what’s being described. The place was trashed, half the bedrooms were locked (we had to call the owner to get him to open them up), and the renters were decidedly unfriendly (almost hostile). You know you’ve got problems when the _real estate agent_ is bad-mouthing your house. The owner told us that he had told his renters to be more accommodating, but that apparently didn’t really sink in with them.

    So, moral of the story: if you’re renting out your house while you’re trying to sell it, you’re probably tremendously hurting your chances of a sale. This wasn’t even a particular bargain, either – it was a good 40k or so (discounting repairs, which would be huge) above the rest of the market.

    The other annoying thing we encounter is people who don’t get that the housing boom is over, and that prices have come down dramatically – and more than that, that they still _are_ going down dramatically for at least the next 9 months. If you want me to buy your house, it’s going to have to be at a price that doesn’t end with me losing money immediately – and you need to make your bank understand that, too.

  69. Me - now with more humidity says:

    Upsetpanda wrote: “Foreclosures have to be purchased through the banks, which have a ton of paperwork to deal with when they are considering a buyer’s offer on a house.”

    It’s not that complicated, unless it’s a short sale. I get responses to REO offers within 24 hours usually.

  70. bobblack555 says:

    “These are in nice developments with parks, and gates, and guards, and Beaveresque features.”

    -Wow your choice in housing sounds pretty unoriginal and homogenous.

  71. mac-phisto says:

    @UpsetPanda: he has a point. just this morning i had to swerve to avoid the coffee cup that the a-hole in front of me tossed out his window. who does that? i’ve never once in my life cared so little as to just throw shit on the ground – & yet i see garbage everywhere.

    i don’t think he’s trying to flame – i think he’s just pointing out that our collective pride is severely lacking. & i’d agree with that.

  72. arch05 says:

    @Snarkysnake: Your ignorance is amazing.

  73. mac-phisto says:

    @Erwos: excellent point – ran into that myself. if you’re trying to sell a house with renters in it, consider offering them a cash payout for their assistance. that might persuade them to put their bong away for a few hours & take the dog to the groomer.

  74. Wormfather says:

    Jesus, I’ve done more than that when I was moving from a place I was renting and the landlord was like, yeah, I’ve got people comming to look at the place this week.

  75. Jim says:

    @UpsetPanda: The listing agent for the house we just bought shared a lot of these sentiments. Problem is, it’s crap. Yep, the market sucks, but it sucks for everybody (except buyers) so if you can’t hang, time to go get a teaching certificate or something.

    Sure, Eric could just clean the place up after he bought it, but do any of you really think that if somebody doesn’t clean their house, they are doing anything to maintain it?

    If a guy won’t get off the couch during a showing, I’m betting he hasn’t been in the attic since the decorations got put away, and he’s never seen his crawl space. If there’s trash in the sink when do you suppose was the last time they cleaned the walls? If the yard is full of trash, how do you think the gutters look?

  76. stageright says:

    The part this guys is obviously missing is that a whole lot of these “short sales” are NOT initiated by the owners – they’re initiated by the BANKS. The “owners”, or people living there, are paying partial or ZERO towards the mortgage, WAITING for foreclosure because their credit is destroyed already.

    Explain to me why in the world someone that KNOWS they can live rent and mortgage FREE for months or a year or more while the courts catch up on all the paperwork would WANT to have their home purchased?

    From the owner’s perspective, the WORST thing that can happen is that short sale gets approved, and they have to suddenly find a new place to move into that they’ll have to start PAYING for.

    Yes, I know what I’m talking about – I work in real estate in Florida.

  77. Landru says:

    I agree it might be renters, but also, there are probably a lot of people hoping (however unrealistically) to sell a place without losing their shirts and who have to put up with train of disapproving bargain hunters and scavengers who aren’t really going to buy it anyway.

  78. Anitra says:

    We had similar issues last spring when looking at houses in Massachusetts (admittedly, on the lower end of the price range out here). I chalk it up to three things:

    1) Renters. They have no incentive to clean up and make the house attractive to buyers.
    2) Slimy seller’s agents who don’t give the owner notice of when there will be a showing.
    3) People who don’t really WANT to sell their houses, and are hoping that if the house doesn’t sell, they’ll be able to turn things around.

    The third category often leads to foreclosure and the bank selling the house. And let me tell you, most banks won’t make the effort to clean up either. We saw plenty of “bank-owned” houses that had obviously been nice once, but would now need months of work just to make them habitable again.

  79. smoothtom says:

    @loueloui: What? The houses are on the market, voluntarily, right? The sellers want to sell, right? Shouldn’t they be expected to give a shit about the “product” they are putting up for sale?

  80. jenl1625 says:

    @Pro-Pain: If you want to get out of a house you can’t afford without being foreclosed on, you should care. If you want to sell a home for as much as possible because you are moving (across town or across the country), you should care.

    That’s why the OP pointed out that these weren’t the homes in foreclosure . . . . These people OUGHT to care. Even if only about minimizing how much they still owe after someone buys the home.

  81. jenl1625 says:

    @loueloui: If you’re not interested in selling your home, and getting as much as possible out of said sale, why do you have it LISTED FOR SALE? Why are you allowing realtors to show it?

    If you’re trying to sell it, put some effort into SELLING IT.

    And Gamin, if he sounds like he thinks he’s going to save someone, it’s because he just might. We’re hearing all the time about how people can’t make these ARM mortgage payments, so it’s reasonable to think that some of these people trying to sell their homes might be in that situation. In that case, someone who is pre-approved to buy a house for its actual worth might just be enough to save someone from foreclosure, bankruptcy, etc.

  82. DrGirlfriend says:

    When we lived in South FL, we were appalled at the state some houses were in. And this was when the average house price was $450k and soaring! I really have to question how some people in that area view the idea of home upkeep. So if they weren’t tidying up and updating their homes when they were trying to sell them for waaaayyy more than they were worth, then they haven’t learned to change their ways now.

  83. failurate says:

    @failurate: Although, with our push in the fight against the invisible (and possibly imaginary) giant (global warming) we seem to be neglecting the basics, like enforcing simple littering laws and pushing for more volunteer clean-up activities.

  84. PirateSmurf says:

    I love lazy people that sit back on their couch picking the lint out of their belly buttons too lazy to make an effort to clean up their house to make it more sellable then cry for help and tell their poor me sob story.
    Fact is most people are too stupid to realize that they will not sell their house if it looks like crap, that common sense got burnt out of their brain cells due to all the belly scratching that has occured while watching TV.
    People in those situations just want a hand out and want to do the least amt of work to get out of their situation.

  85. Erwos says:

    What’s funny is that I don’t even care so much if the house is messy – whatever, our apartment is generally pretty cluttered, too. But for the love of G-d, you need to have your doors unlocked and a ladder available to see your attic. No one in their right mind is going to make you anything resembling an appropriate offer if they can’t even see the entirety of your home.

    Another annoying thing is when the owners (obviously flippers who got stuck holding the bag) don’t know a damn thing about their house. When was the last time you had roof work done? “Dunno.” When was the last time you did anything with HVAC? “Dunno.” What are your monthly utility bills? “Dunno.”

    Did I mention what a pain in the ass realtors are about short sales, too? The agents know that they’re going to get shafted on the percentage and that they take forever to sell and close on, not to mention that these are lower-priced properties anyways. A buyer’s agent might swear up and down that (s)he only has our best interests at heart, but mention a short sale or an FSBO, and (s)he gets pretty cool about it immediately.

    Still, no one said bargain hunting would be easy. At least we have time and money to do it with.

  86. qwickone says:

    @Pro-Pain: even though these arent foreclosures, you should still care even if it is. if your house sells for less than your mortgage, you still owe the balance.

  87. less_is_best says:

    These garbage lifestyle people should never have been given a loan for a house in the first place. You think anyone who could care less about hygiene, cleanliness and presentation gives a shit about being responsible? Yeah right. Drugs or mortgage payment? I dont see the crack dealers in Florida complaining about the slow economy.

  88. JohnMc says:

    When did your friggin’ realtor make the appointment for a showing lady? It way too common now that cell phones are everywhere to be sitting out on the curb wanting to show the house. If your realtor was way too friggin lazy [all too common] to set up a slate of appointments so as to give the homeowner prior notice you get what you are seeing.

    You might want to consider whether the realtor is really worth their salt. Oh and one other thing — the realtor works for the seller, not for you. That’s the law in Florida.

  89. Snakeophelia says:

    Even if the owner isn’t willing to leave the house, he should at least toss the freeloading relatives out while someone is viewing the place. I remember looking at one house a while back where the owner took us down to the basement to show us the new furnace and gas line (not cheap, and a pretty important thing in an old Philly rowhome). The furnace was lovely, but sleeping next to it on an old, dirty, stained single mattress was some ancient and obviously homeless relative of the owner, who my husband promptly nicknamed “Uncle Scuzzy.”

    At least send Uncle Scuzzy to the bar for the afternoon, guys.

  90. mac-phisto says:

    @smoothtom & jenl1625: you know what – maybe they don’t care. one of the tactics you can use to extend the time before you’re evicted from your home is to make arrangements with the bank to list it on the market. i think that extends your deadline by 90 days or so.

    if foreclosure has already begun, the longer you can stay in the house, the better – you’re essentially getting your housing for free & can use the time to save up money for a deposit/rent/moving costs/etc.

  91. PirateSmurf says:

    @Snakeophelia: hah hah Uncle Scuzzy, that is awesome!!

  92. spanky says:

    When I was showing my previous house, I told my realtor not to schedule showings during one specific two-hour window on Tuesday afternoons or something like that. He agreed, and I reminded him many times. So he picked that window, during a specific day that I’d pulled everything away from the wall and had the house stacked with boxes and bags, to schedule a surprise showing. The realtor doing the showing actually tried to PUSH HIS WAY IN past my 11 year old son, insisting that he had an appointment and I wasn’t allowed to turn them away. I had to threaten to call the police to get them to leave.

    So if some realtor tells you that he scheduled a showing, and some random homeless tweaker passing by says otherwise, believe the tweaker.

    That said, the house I have now was a mess when I bought it. Grotesque 70s-esque decor, oversized furniture that made everything look tiny, and the homeowner was lying in bed apparently drunk, watching country music videos, the first time I walked through. That is how I scored my house for significantly less than everything else in the neighborhood was going for. Yay for bad decorating and slovenly homeowners! And super-yay for all those other homebuyers who completely overlook a solid, well built house because of the tschotscke and the dietary habits of the residents.

  93. clevershark says:

    @mac-phisto: That doesn’t seem like a very smart strategy. If that happened to me I’d pretty much write off that realtor and look for someone more upscale…

  94. ChuckECheese says:

    @savvy9999: I rented a home from a friend while it was for sale (for 17 months) not so long ago. Since my friend sold it without an agent, I arranged the showings (he lives out of town). Because agents showed up anywhere from 2 hours early to 2 hours late for their appointments and sometimes not at all, it soon became clear that I couldn’t often not be in the home all the time when people came to look at it. And I was a little concerned about security, seeing how there was a lockbox, and random agents, many of whom didn’t have business cards and couldn’t be bothered to introduce themselves properly on the phone. So I changed the combo on the box every week or so. Once in awhile an agent would call and ask why the combo was changed, and I’d have to explain that since the house was occupied, that they couldn’t just walk in at will.

    @qwickone: A person with an upside-down mortgage has no reason to care. Their credit is messed up no matter what happens to the house. They will not get even “a little” money from the sale of the house If it’s a short-sale, the bank will (rightfully IMO) write off the difference between what the house sells for and what it’s bought for, and make some credit notation to that effect. If you cannot short-sell your house, then you know that nobody will buy it, because it’s overpriced and there are cheaper options available.

    And people who buy and sell houses are just as silly as the homeowners. I had to put up with alcoholic real estate agents calling me at 11 at night, people banging on my door at 7 in the morning wanting to look at the house, people complaining about the 1/2″ nick in the tile in the kitchen, and people calling me 14 times to ask silly questions about decorating and appliances, then disappearing. There’s a whole cadre of people who “pretend” to buy homes out there–did you know that? AKA “looky-lou’s,” they take more time and energy than real buyers–that’s how you know who they are. They just enjoy snooping in your CDs, making snotty comments about your furniture, and watching you jump for them because they might want to buy your house. I can see why somebody might leave a wet dog in the sink. The game gets old really fast.

  95. djanes1 says:

    f’in crackers and their stinky ethnic vegetables…

  96. Trick says:

    Am I really that off or are a lot of people short-sighted and only focusing on short-term values?

    Anyone remember Orange County, CA in 1988 and 1989. All those expensive home (for the time) lost their value. Nobody was ever going to sell a home for what they paid in ’88 or ’89.

    Just 19 years later those same homes were worth as much as 8 times their value in ’88 an ’89.

    Those who kept their homes made a killing on them when they sold them and moved to New Mexico or Arizona!

  97. Erwos says:

    @ChuckECheese: Sounds like your “friend” took you for a ride. Did he pay you for essentially acting as his real estate agent?

    Bad buyers do suck. But until you’ve got a fool-proof system to determine good from bad, you can’t really pick and choose who you talk to.

  98. Erwos says:


    “Am I really that off or are a lot of people short-sighted and only focusing on short-term values?”

    Market value factors in long-term values. Unless your house’s appreciation (and remember to subtract maintenance, taxes, etc) is going to substantially beat the market’s, it actually makes for a pretty substandard investment when it comes to purely making money.

    Besides, there are no guarantees about when the market will recover, how much it will recover, and how much my house will be worth in 20 years. Not every place is the OC.

  99. RyanC0989 says:

    I was having the same issues as Eric, as a first time homebuyer on the gulf coast in Florida. So many houses were not in move-in condition, and the people living in them obviously did not want to part with their house. Many were openly hostile or seemed to try and make their house look as inhospitable as possible. I understand their position. They were the victims of shoddy lending practices (though they must bear some responsibility for lack of due diligence), and now are forced to part with what may have been their dream home. It’s a rough situation

  100. Thorkel says:

    Hey, remember you’re dealing with the mathematically deficient who didn’t under ARMs – people who weren’t smart enough to figure out that 12 per cent of a quarter mil is a lot more money per month than 5 per cent.

    Seriously, this is why there is a subprime mortgage to begin with – because there are a hell of a lot of people who had absolutely no business trying to pay for a house. And there is always more trash than treasure. The world is full of creatures that are human in shape only.

  101. ChuckECheese says:

    @Erwos: Yes he paid me well. And I learned to start letting calls go to voicemail more often.

  102. ekasbury says:

    In the words of Will Smith, “Welcome to Miami”.

  103. SuffolkHouse says:

    This isn’t about bad coaching. This is the story of Florida. Florida is a terrible place, uneducated poor people abound. They think they are the middle class, but that is how people become the underclass – by being fooled.

    Just think of the place to which you are moving. Do you want these folks as neighbors? We didn’t, that’s why we moved this year.

  104. clickertrainer says:

    @eric, sounds like you missed a chance to make a low offer on a messy and stinky house. Why do you care if it is a mess, you hire someone to clean it before you move in anyway.

    I once made a lowball offer on a beach house inhabited by tenants who would fry fish every time they heard the house was going to be shown. The owner was going to take it, then suddenly the tenants came up with a better offer. :)

  105. Erwos says:

    The problem that I think some people are ignoring is that these messy houses also tend to suck when it comes to normal upkeep. The house I referenced before had storm doors literally torn off their frames, cracks in the walls, pest problems, broken interior fixtures and appliances, and so forth. Since these are short sales, no one’s going to do any improvements – so unless the bank figures out that you’re not going to pay market cost for a house that’s in below-market shape, everyone’s having their time and money wasted.

  106. axiomatic says:

    Nice pooper on the chic in the pic though!

  107. UpsetPanda says:

    @mac-phisto: I guess my point is that morons aren’t limited to one country, so whenever I see this “Americans…blah blah” it really ticks me off because I saw plenty of trash and cigarette butts in France – it’s not like Americans are dirty and the rest of the world is civilized.

    @Jim: I’m guessing only the first part of that post was directed at me, cause I didn’t say anything about cleaning. But anyway, I actually do know several people who have left their career or business because it is dependent on a market. My mother’s been in the real estate business for 20 years, she knows the highs and lows. It doesn’t quite bother her as much as it bothers the more inexperienced agents because they probably got into it during the boom. But a lot of the difficulty is for everyone, in all markets….people who are working in smaller markets that don’t see a ton of growth anyway might not see as much of a hit, but it also means they’re probably not going to see a ton of growth.

    Northern Virginia isn’t being hit as hard as a lot of markets, which is great – but it’s still difficult for a lot of people, no matter what part they play in the real estate market, if they’re a buyer, seller, or agent. I guess I just don’t see real estate agents as being horrible people..not that you were doing that…I mean, they’re not Comcast. Some of them are good, some of them aren’t – the ones I know are good, honest people who have troubles too.

  108. Sudonum says:

    Do you work for free? No, I didn’t think so. If you’re a buyer and you want your agent to show you a FSBO, call the seller yourself. The seller won’t pay any commission.

    As to short sales, that’s a different story entirely. Banks will pay commission on a short sale. And any agent worth their salt will work on selling you that house, if that’s what you want. If you are a buyer and you are working with an agent that won’t show you a short sale that is listed on the MLS get yourself another agent.

    Disclaimer: My wife is a real estate agent. She is also listing ans selling a house for a woman in dire straits and is taking no commission to help speed the sale. She figures that when the market turns the woman is going to call her when she buys her next house.

    One last word, I’ve been building or flipping houses for a while in different states. One thing I learned a long time ago is this, you can rent a house, or you can sell a house. You can’t do both.

  109. ELC says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: Please, if your house is on the market, it should ALWAYS be ready for someone to show up. that’s the way it was for us in VA last summer. You wouldn’t believe how many comments we got comparing how nice ours was to some of the dumps (same size, same price range) that they’d visited.

  110. magdelane says:

    I believe the OP to be brutally honest in his frustration.
    My husband and I are in Saint Louis, trying to sell our house to move to Philly (it literally is a career move.) We’ve been hosting a few open houses because we want more exposure than one open house per month affords (it is a numbers game, to some extent) We’re in a price bracket which draws young professionals as well as established working class families, and you wouldn’t believe the stories some of our visitors tell… sounds like much of what the OP experienced. We’eve often heard, “your place looks so nice, you wouldn’t believe the place we just saw…” and I find it appalling.
    Here we are concerned about how we’re going to stage the house with 1/2 hour notice on a showing, while we both work from home, and make sure we get that extra wipedown in the bathroom, and put the thawing fish back in the freezer… the house is perpetually 10 minutes from immaculate. Yet, some people, many who own the house and aren’t facing a foreclosure, are just too lazy to even let buyers in??? Oy vey! They are everywhere, in every price bracket.
    However, you can blame many realtors for not giving enough notice, and sometimes no notice at all, they *just walk in* without even knocking.. so I can see how the dogbath in the sink happens, or dinner on the stove. The OP might want to have a stern talk with his agent, to make sure the agent is actually setting appointments with the homeowners, and not just scheduling with him.
    It seems this market is encouraging homeowners as well as agents to be lazy. But, thank goodness, not all of them actually are. Keep looking and give feedback to the selling agent!

  111. The Dude says:

    I work in Real Estate, and this is just the difference between people who do sell their homes and those who don’t. The ones like this who don’t, tend to be self-absorbed whiners.

  112. MYarms says:

    This is south florida you’re talking about. You may think you’re moving into some ritzy high class neighborhood but that’s because everyone wants to BE someone down there. Its that whole keeping up with the Jones’s, gotta have a high class image thing. And besides why would you want to live down there? All of south florida will be annexed by Cuba soon enough. I hope you can speak fluent Spanish.

  113. loueloui says:

    @pastabatman: What I meant was this guy has made some fairly sweeping generalizations. It may surprise him but there are many people in Florida with houses for sale that are not incompetent boobs, about to be evicted. @smoothtom: @jenl1625: That’s the beauty of capitalism, if you don’t like something, DON’T BUY IT. Maybe our guest complainer is looking in the wrong neighborhoods. I am sure there a great many fine homes in Isleworth or Cocoplum or Boca that would meet with his approval. Make sure to bring your wheelbarrow for the down payment.

  114. trujunglist says:


    What a stupid sleazy bitch.

  115. tdogg241 says:

    How on earth can a vegetable be “ethnic?” This guy’s a little on the racist side.

  116. LikwidFlux says:

    I’ve seen this WAY too many times. We recently bought a house, I can’t count how many houses we saw where they weren’t staged in the least.

  117. I am with other here as taking this as a sign to just go to the next house. I learned this from personal experience. In 2004 we were looking for a house. The market was still hot so every time we saw a house we liked it was off the market before we got a chance to make an offer. The house we ended up buying had owners like this. The place wasn’t terrible but the house had clutter and wasn’t clean. However, we looked beyond that and saw that the house had the space and layout we wanted. What we should have taken from it was that if the owners treated the house that way then it was probably a crap house that hadn’t been taken care of. Sure enough we have encountered many problems with the house because the previous owners didn’t do proper maintenance (and yes we did get the house inspected). So if the owner treats the house the shit, fuck ’em and move on to the next house. It is probably for the best.

  118. pastabatman says:

    “happy to use Consumerist as a whining pulpit.”

    Welcome to the internet.

  119. corbyz says:

    @rewinditback: His comments definitely rubbed me the wrong way with “cracker” and “crazy stinky ethnic vegetable” and “boiled shit”. I’m glad I’m not the only one to think this guy sounds like a jackass. In my mind I’m imagining quite decent people who were making a nice dinner (maybe a curry?), and then being judged by some jerk they showed their home to.

  120. smoothtom says:

    @loueloui: Yeah, and the beauty of capitalism is that, when a buyer sees a seller who is selling crap, or is obviously not motivated, the buyer can call that seller out.

  121. jenl1625 says:

    @sagis: Sagis, if you listed your house for sale, apparently you want to sell it. In which case, act like you do. Don’t waste my time coming by to see it if you don’t actually want to sell it.

  122. Erwos says:

    @Sudonum: Banks will pay commission, but they generally try to negotiate it down to 5% or less.

  123. jenl1625 says:

    @mac-phisto: But they ought to care what the house sells for, even if it’s being foreclosed. If the house sells for less than the mortgage, you’re on the hook for that . . . . So you should want to get as much as possible for the home.

  124. FightOnTrojans says:

    Well at least they weren’t cooking meth in the basement a la “Breaking Bad.”

  125. Sudonum says:

    And like I said any agent worth a damn should be fine with that, especially if they’re in a distressed market. As a builder I only pay a 5% commission, and I have agents falling over themselves to get my listings. I’ve had agents offer to list for 4%.

  126. failurate says:

    @tdogg241: Kudzu has been carrying out ethnic cleansing in that part of the country for many years.

  127. D.B. Cooper-Nichol says:

    I had a very similar experience last fall (upscale suburbs in Ohio – all houses <10 years old). We must’ve looked at over 80 houses, and at least 1/2 of those had one or more of the problems this guy described. And I guess I can’t be sure, but I don’t think many of these listings were “under duress.”

    I wasn’t looking to get an extreme bargain; nor did I see myself as any sort of savior entitled to gratitude. I DID see myself of deserving the common courtesy of a clean house, where I can see what’s what, and be free of distracting odors (yes, a strong, unfamiliar scent is a visceral turnoff). Going through all those houses is exhausting enough in ideal circumstances – I definitely understand feeling “put out” when the seller lists the house but doesn’t do the rest of “his part.”

    Keeping a house “10 min. from immaculate” is equally exhausting, and I think people just wear down. I just wish there was a spot to mark “not serious” on the MLS form, to save me the time and trouble.

    It’s no coincidence that the house we bought was immaculate and great-smelling every time we saw it (despite being the home of two little boys). The dumps are still on the market, six months later.

  128. WraithSama says:

    My wife and I are shopping around for a new house (our first) and we’ve been running into some prolems, too.

    For one, despite the housing bust and the overwhelming abundance of properties up for sale, those f’ing flippers are still gobbling up all the reasonably-priced houses in nice areas and marking them up. THREE houses we tried to put bids on got the contract awarded to a flipper who had more money to bid than we were willing to spend on the house in question.

    Secondly, I think many homeowners who are in the market to sale simply aren’t willing to admit that their house isn’t worth as much as it was 2 or 3 years ago. Newly-listed houses are almost all being priced above what you can reasonably expect it to sell for. That’s why I’ve been trying to focus on houses that have been listed for a while, where the seller is under more pressure to unload (particularly forclosures).

  129. WraithSama says:

    Excuse me, I meant sell, not sale.

    In the second point I mentioned, those same homeowners who are trying to sell for more than their homes are worth are also refusing to negotiation the price. Time is the only thing that will make them rethink their position.

  130. WraithSama says:


    I agree. My father lives in southern Florida and tells me that it’s getting harder and harder to find store clerks that speak English around there.

    A co-worker of his left Miami because he got tired of being treated like a second-class citizen by all the Spanish-speaking clerks and shop owners.

  131. dakotad555 says:

    The real problem is that you’re looking for houses in Florida. Why anyone would want to move to that shithole I’ll never know.

  132. Madjia says:

    It could have been renters. I know my boyfriend lives in a house that’s for sale and he has a roommate. That roommate is very very talented at making a mess of the kitchen and the living room and leaving it for someone else to clean.

    Yeah he’s had to jump in to clean his roommate’s junk for his landlord because of a showing at one hour’s notice, even though he’s pretty much going to be homeless if the house sells.

    He actually hopes to leave a good impression with the landlord, so he might somehow find another place to live with a good reference.

    Situations are often not that easy to judge, you don’t know anything about the people there at the time of the showing.

  133. Ilovemygeek says:

    When we had our house on the market it was SPOTLESS however most of the time we did stay there when we had showings b/c honestly, I didn’t trust the people going through to not steal my Jewelry. We ended up taking it off the market and waiting it out but on the homeowners’ side, sometimes we want a skeevy buyer out of our house as quickly as possible.

  134. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    @ericole: I get not letting your house become a wreak while you’re trying to sell it but you have to cook dinner sometime. If the real estate agent isn’t going to give the people living there any notice you can’t get mad when it turns out they’re in the middle of dinner when you show up.

    You have to give people notice, especially if you want them gone for the showing.

  135. SuffolkHouse says:

    @tdogg241: First, he couldn’t be racist if he is commenting on ethnicity, and not race.

    Second, you know precisely what he means. If he is ostensibly white, he means foods that don’t smell like the ones he is accustomed to.

  136. econobiker says:

    This type of deal has been happening for years especially with renters.

    Back in the early ’90’s one high school buddy lived with a couple of other guys in a semi-furnished winter rental beach home. They partied it up alot – I attended some of these parties.

    They finally got kicked out when the land lord was bringing a real estate agent through to list the property for sale. Landlord asked if they had a dog get sick on the dining room carpet- they knew they were not supposed to have any pets. One of the other nimrods sitting on the couch said something like “No- no pets here; just step over that patch -it’s dried up human vomit.” – which was true. My friend said the look on the landlord’s face was priceless- and also let my friend know that he needed to start packing. They given 5 days to vacate…

  137. PeteFuller says:

    His aversion to cracker asses and “ethnic” food aside, his sentiments are correct about Florida.

    I have been looking in Orlando for the past year, am “pre-qualified” at the bank, have 20% deposit in our price range and can not buy a home here.

    Sellers and realtors believe they can sell a small(900-1100 sf), moldy house with 20-50 year old kitchens and bathrooms for $250,000. The houses have had little if anything “remodeled”.

    The owners will sit on or lose their house rather than budge off their price. These are houses that were priced under $90,000-$120,000 just 5 years ago! It goes on and on.

    We are going to have to move out of state to buy a house.