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Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Cujo OREO, that's what I called the condo I foreclosed on about 25 years ago for a bank in Denver. I used to do commercial loan workouts, commercial litigation, and property acquired by the bank through foreclosure (OREO or "other real estate owned"). The homeowner defaulted on the loan a year earlier. Another asset manager in the same department had started to foreclose the property and then dropped the ball. He left the bank and I inherited some of his problem loans including this one.

I reviewed the file and determined that the condo had been vacant for more than a year. I drove to the property to verify my suspicions but saw the place was fully furnished and I could see a dog moving about inside. I went back to my office and verified with the Public Service Company (the electric utility company) that service was terminated a year earlier. I called the condo association and learned that water had definitely been shut off a year earlier for non-payment of association fees. So I filed an a lawsuit in Denver District Court and got appointed as a Receiver to preserve the property during the foreclosure process.

With Court Order in hand I went back to the condo with a locksmith who got me inside. There was a cat that disappeared from view as soon as we entered and the dog was not to be seen. But evidence of the dog's existence was everywhere as there was poop on all three floors of the condo. Poop and urine everywhere--even on the walls where the dog did his business. The house reeked. The smell was overwhelming.

But the place was not vacant. There was a baby grand piano in the living room, a formal dining room table and breakfront, three fully furnished bedrooms, pots and pans in the kitchen, and clothes in all of the closets. There were remnants of burnt candles all over the place with candle wax on tabletops. There were empty plastic milk cartons that had been used to deliver water to the animals that got to live in the condo.

I saw what I thought was a pool of dried blood in one of the second floor baths and called the police. It wasn't blood. Use your imagination. One of the officers refused to go into the basement. There was so much feces on the floor that it was disgusting beyond your wildest imagination. Stephen King could not have written a more horrific tale of a foreclosure from hell. In fact I named the "asset" Cujo OREO because if reminded me of King's novel of the dog from hell. Foreclosures are always named for the owner who was foreclosed upon, but this time the asset was named to commemorate a dog of a foreclosure.

We literally had to tear our the bottom four feet of drywall throughout the condo to get rid of the urine. We had to remove the floors down to the floor joists because the urine had penetrated the plywood flooring.

Banks often have no choice but to foreclose on a loan. In good times most properties sell, but not all. If they don't sell it is usually because the price is too high or there is something wrong with the property. Lenders typically don't get a chance to see what the inside of a property looks like until after the foreclosure is over. Cujo was the worst, but there were many that were almost as bad. Some people purposefully damage their former homes as much as possible just to make the resale more difficult. There were others, however, that cleaned their homes and even left notes on how to make things work.

You are asking yourself why I wrote about a foreclosure in a distant place and a long time ago. Well if you happen to wake up in the middle of the night and watch some of the crap on TV about how you can make a bunch of money by buying foreclosed property without any effort you may think twice before you buy something unseen at a public auction. If the former owner could have sold the house he normally would have. The axiom "location, location, location" applies to the sale of foreclosed properties as much as it does to premium properties. Good sells. Crap does not sell.

Want to buy a foreclosure? A bank owns THIS ONE. The former owner bought it 3 years ago for $555,000. It is priced at $345,000 today. It is located on Frances Street near Eaton. I've seen better construction, but the price is "affordable" by Key West standards. The 932 sq ft abode has 2 bedrooms,1 bath, and could be fixed up fairly economically. There is a little upside on this one. The bank is the loser for sure. If you are thinking of buying a foreclosed property, give me a call and let me help you. I know dogs. 305-766-2642.

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Gary Thomas in a Nutshell

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Key West, Florida, United States
I first read about Key West in a magazine called "After Dark" sometime in the mid 1970's. But it wasn't until March 1984 that I made my first visit to the island that would become my home. I had two weeks for a vacation and reserved a room at Colours Guesthouse (now Marrero's Guest House) for one week. I thought that if I didn't like Key West, I could always go back to Miami or Ft. Lauderdale for the rest of my trip. But after a couple of days in Key West, that was no longer a consideration. But when I wanted to extend my stay for the extra week I found there was no room at the inn. The guesthouse owner did find me a room at LaTeDa, the infamous guesthouse/restaurant. That's a story I'll write another day. But those two weeks in Key West gave me the realization that I had found Paradise. Key West has been my home since 1993 and my only regret is that it took me so long to get here. I am a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties CRI. Let me help you find your new home or business in Paradise. Living in Paradise is not a slogan, it's a way of life.