Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Nation in Distress

Listen people, listen very close: WE ARE A NATION IN DISTRESS. We have people losing their minds. We have become a nation of absolute wimps! You are getting soft. What’s wrong with you? Seriously. We are in a tailspin and it’s making me dizzy. Some of you are absolutely nuts. Wacko. Off your ever-loving rocker. 

Do I start with the present or go to the past? Ok, I will go to the past and come to the present. Why? Because I am the one writing this piece you noob. 

Some years ago we felt the absolute need for kids to wear helmets while biking. But, it didn’t stop there. What else? Elbow pads, knee pads, gloves and of course … while riding with training wheels and one helicopter parent on either side. Seriously ridiculous. Now, if you feel the need to wrap your children in bubble wrap before sending them down Magnolia Lane, go for it. What is Magnolia Lane? It’s the street I grew up on. And, there was a big hill. Perhaps had I worn a helmet I wouldn’t have these crazy ideas I have now. Had I not taken a spill or two on that hill I would have probably ended in some hallowed hall deep in the University of Minnesota creating new ways to protect ourselves from ourselves. But, alas, too many hits on the head and I ended up a college dropout living in sunny Arizona with a lifted Bronco to drive up and down the insane hills in the gorgeous desert. And, spending time with or without guns touring the underbelly of our city while trying to simply make a difference. 

So, if you want to wrap your cherubs in bubble wrap so they can ride on the super flat sidewalks of Phoenix while helicoptering on either side of them, go ahead. It’s entertaining for us to watch. But, do not make a deal out of it should my children choose not to while racing by you with their hands over their mouths in shock at your behavior. It’s ok. Really. Don’t feel bad. Toughen up. Don’t raise losers.  

Speaking of losers, from where did the notion come that no one can lose? Or, that losing is somehow evil or bad for the children? We have a whole generation about to hit the real world thinking that even those who lose get a trophy. Last I checked, the winning team gets a trophy. Yep. Only one team wins a Stanley Cup. Only one team wins the World Series. Only one team wins the SuperBowl. Maybe we should have a game with the 0 & 10 Cleveland Browns playing the 1 & 9 San Francisco 49ers. I bet the stadium would be full! People will flock from around the world to watch then. Yeah, that makes a ton of sense. Wake up people!! There is no trophy for everyone. Sorry. Additionally, some people make more than others. Some people get ahead and some do not. Some people are more gifted than others. As one man told me recently, “Suck it up, buttercup!”

Sorry, in life sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. That’s just the way it is. Actually, I am not sorry. Really, it will be okay.  You don’t need to go and pout. No need to go to your safe space. 

“Safe Space”. Safe Space? What’s this? Some dysfunctional university somewhere decided that when we are in emotional or other distress we must go to a safe space. It caught on. All those people who didn’t get trophies are feeling sorry for themselves. If someone hurt our feelings we have a place to go and feel sorry for ourselves. What the world? Seriously, this is absurd. Sometimes life is tough. Clearly, you are not.

As long as I am writing this and being unfair to whole classes of people at once, why should I stop there? Let’s open another can of worms, shall we? Here we go. Hang on tight. Ready? You cannot “choose” your gender. You can choose the pants you wear. You can choose the shoes you wear. You can even choose to wear your pajamas to Walmart. That’s fine. You cannot, however, choose your gender. That’s not fine. It just doesn’t work that way. Biology has made you who you are and that’s just the way it is. Period. And, don’t use the wrong bathroom. That’s just weird. Stop it! You cannot elect to frequent the bathroom you “identify” with. 

Speaking of elect, shall we touch on the election? I was wondering if I should just skip this portion. Maybe I should. If you stop reading right now you can believe that I did. Go ahead and move on to your InstaChatAGramFaceSnapTwitterBook and post your latest meal. 

But, if you decide to read on you will see I did not. 

I will make this really simple. We have an electoral college which elects the president. Both candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump knew this and built their campaigns to win these electoral votes. Yep! They really did. Otherwise why would either one campaign in Minnesota? Or, Michigan? Or even Arizona? These are flyover states for so many of you. In fact, you think the people from these states are backwards. You think they are one class above a southern hillbilly. But, let’s not get into that. They are people too. And, these people wouldn’t have been part of this election nor had the opportunity to meet these candidates if the electoral college didn’t exist. The candidates would have only campaigned fighting over the urban voters in the populous states. But, with the electoral college there is a danger in that. You see, there are a number of swing states. And, these states shift from time to time from a blue state to a red state or from a red state to a blue state. And, the candidates each gauge which ones they are more likely to win if they decide to campaign there. Or, they choose one which they think can swing in their favor. It’s a really cool system. And, if you want to learn more about it go search the google. But, do not click on the conspiracy nut jobs who post their nonsense. Instead, find a good source. 

And what’s with the pins? It’s kind of strange. I think it is fitting those who are protesting are using a diaper pin for their symbol. Maybe it will keep the diaper closed and the crap out.  

Suck it up, Buttercup!

Signed,

A Proud Deplorable

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Complex

I walk into The Complex. I stop. I look. It’s drab. There is no grass. Vegetation is dead. The units appear vacant. The pool is empty. Potholes are deep. Abandoned cars. Trash. Broken windows. Broken doors. Broken dreams. What causes a community to turn? What drives the property to distress? Where are all the people? Who? What? Why? So many questions. So little answers. I continue my journey deeper into The Complex. As I walk I find it is not so much a physical journey as it is a mental, mind-opening venture into areas unknown. Anticipation. 

The Complex
One of my units has a busted door. Again? This is the third time. As I slowly push the door open I am met with a pair of eyes looking back at me. “You have to leave”, I calmly tell him. “I’m going”, he quickly says. Our conversation is short. He leaves the unit. I watch him as he goes into the common area and disappears from sight. He is wasted. Drugged. In another world. As I look around the living area I see yet more personal belongings scattered about. A bag of charcoal opened and poured out on the floor. Getting ready for dinner? It’s a mess. More graffiti. More clothing. More junk. Again. 
Busted Door

I leave this unit and walk to another. It’s secure and has not been tampered with nor damaged. I move on. 

There is, what appears to be a family, visiting outside their home. This one is memorable. Last summer they complained they had no AC when it was 110 degrees. The owner was contacted. He did nothing. It was hot. The unit was sold. I know this because I am now the owner. Do they want to move? Would they prefer a nicer unit? As I visit I see a young man standing nearby. After closer observation I realize he’s just a boy. Maybe 13 or 14 years old. And, he has a monitoring device on his ankle. A criminal. As this thought is pondered I am snapped back to the current. The family doesn’t want to move. This place will work just fine for them. They have fans. And besides, it’s no longer hot outside. 

My quest for learning leads me deeper into The Complex and through to the other side. There are two ladies sitting in lawn chairs visiting. They are across the alley at the neighboring complex. The conversation is animated and they seem to be having a good time. Greetings are exchanged. One lady asked me if I am with the HOA. I ask her if she is part of The Complex. One says yes. The other says no. I tell them I am not part of the HOA but would be willing to help. She is fed up. She has had enough. Did I know a 13-year old kid was murdered here yesterday? Gracious. This is the 3rd murder in the complex in the 4 months since I first entered it. Her teenagers were sent to family in South Dakota and she stays here with her younger kids and boyfriend. South Dakota will be her home again. She is so done with The Complex. Moving. Had enough. When her lease is up she is gone. 

I thank them for their time and promise to make a difference. They thank me. 

My walk back into The Complex causes my alertness to elevate. My vision is clear. My senses are heightened. There is a knife. I pick it up and put it in my pocket. I see drug needles. I leave them there. Beer bottles on the ground. Grocery carts in the pool. I find it’s not really empty. There is no water. But, there is a lot of trash. A lot. Disturbing. 

I make my way back to my point of entry. The drugged vagrant who was in my unit is back. He is sitting on the step outside the door. Likely waiting until I leave so he can go back into the unit. I have had enough. The police are contacted. They are on the way. Minutes pass. I wander. I wonder. I think. Why?
The Help

The police arrive. I point out the culprit. He tells the police, yes, he was in the unit. But, he left when asked. He has a soda can in his left hand and a lighter in the right. Drugs. Marijuana and meth. He is arrested and carted away. Burglary. Drug possession. Drug paraphernalia possession. 

Back to the unit with no AC. I find out later the young man with the monitoring bracelet is 15 years old. He has been charged with armed robbery. Allegedly, he was part of the 3 armed robberies of the corner Circle K next door over a week’s time. 

Subsequently, they have not paid their rent and they have to be evicted. The police ask me to wait for a few days as they think they are selling drugs and guns out of their unit. They are about to make a “buy”. The guns have no serial numbers. Well, they did have serial numbers. But, now they are “clean”. There are 15 people living in this unit. I wait. 

In my conversations with the police department it is confirmed. Yes, there was another murder. Just a kid. His life snuffed out in a moment. Rival gangs. A life is taken. Just a kid. 3rd murder here in 4 months. Why?

This is the life I have entered in The Complex. I am on a mission. 
Inside the Complex
Although the narrative above is in the personal, singular “I”, it is really “we” and “us”. We have an amazing team which is working closely with the community, the City of Phoenix Neighborhood Services, Neighborhood Preservation and the police department. The city is excited about the developments and they have been extremely helpful. We are excited with the opportunity. Things are about to change and we can feel it. 

This morning as I was pondering what has transpired and the people I have met I ask myself a question: “What causes people to become this far removed from a ‘civilized’ life?” The questions continue. Why do some people break out of this life? Why do some get sucked in? Why do some stick around? Why do some leave? As I look into their eyes and visit with them I see something. Actually, it is not what I see, it is what I DON’T see. Four months after my first visit, it niggles at the back of my brain. It is incessant. What is it? Something is missing. But what?

Today the realization came to me in a discussion. As I was speaking to someone about our project they asked what the people needed more than anything. My answer was clear, immediate and somewhat surprised me. “Hope. All they need is hope.” The person I was visiting with said, “Wow. That was not at all the answer I was expecting.” We visited about this further and it became clear. I know what is missing. Hope. The difference between those who are stuck and those who are not is simply hope. 

It is time to give the community hope. 

And that is life, in my corner of the globe.

Monday, June 15, 2015

A Novel Idea!

As you may or may not have noticed, I haven’t been actively blogging. I suppose you have enjoyed the stories of our real real estate experiences. They are fun, aren’t they? Or, maybe you have enjoyed the silence and are relieved I haven’t written as of late. I really don’t know. However, I do know I have gotten a bit bored with writing them. Not bored with writing in general, just with the stories of real estate experiences. The theme hasn't changed. The inspiration has dwindled. The fire has been reduced to cold charcoals. 

But, just the other day the urge was strong! The coals warmed up. And, there is a flame ready to burn bright. I need your help! There is an idea rattling around in my brain. It’s causing an echo and won’t go away. And, it’s one with which some help is needed. I want my readers, both of you, to share your thoughts.


Before we dive into it, let's explore the source of the idea. A few months ago I was introduced to a business idea called “My Peer Board”. Dave Sherman, an entrepreneur from Scottsdale, invited me to a sample program. Although he has many, many talents and is very gifted, to me he will always be “The Networking Guy”. This is important. Trust me. You will see. We will return to this topic after a little walk down the road of a peer board.

"My Peer Board". What is this? I will tell you what it is. It’s a great idea! That's what it is. It's a group of small business owners that get together to share challenges and opportunities. There will be no more than 8 in a group so meetings are very manageable. A board of directors of peers for peers. A place to solve challenges. A place to learn. A place to be held accountable.

The sample presentation was terrific. 

Being hungry to learn, I volunteered to be a “subject” in the meeting. And immediately, a light went on in my brain. It was so bright! With no grey matter in my head to absorb the light it is REALLY luminous and phosphorescent! My Peer Board is something to benefit Bakerson immediately! So, I signed up. 

The facilitator of the meetings is Cindy Gordon from “Culture Shock Coaching”. She’s from Canada. But, we won’t hold it against her, eh? (A little Canadian lingo for you.) I wonder if she was shocked at the Southwest "culture" and decided to coach others to embrace it. I will have to ask her. She is really good at what she does. 

In our meetings and followup sessions I found out that targeted networking is necessary to grow our business. And, networking I have begun. People are fascinating! I have always felt this. Suddenly and without warning, I have found everyone has a story to share. It’s really awesome!


We all have heard or read of the “rags to riches” stories. We have learned of someone who has come from nothing and become a millionaire. Just last week I read of a fellow who went from rags to a billionaire! That’s a lot of zeroes. Here is his story: http://www.bbc.com/news/business-33068445. Those stories are fascinating and should be told. And there are great writers who tell them. I am not one of those writers. But, what of the person born with the golden parachute and silver spoon? You know, the one who has never had a want for money? A life of comfort. A pampered life. Or, how about the one that grew up in middle class? You know, the one who works hard and lives for the weekend? I know, their stories aren’t sensational. They aren’t exciting. Or … are they?

I have often pondered this thought. Why does it appear that people who have escaped from tyranny or suppression have a higher chance for success? Is it because they are stronger? Or, is it because they feel they have nothing to lose? Or, is it because they have vision of better things? Or, is it all of the above? Or, is it something else all together? What do you think?


On the other hand, those of us born in this country don’t advance beyond the class in which we were born. Is it due to not having vision? Do we not see the opportunities before us? Or, are we so afraid we may fall back and fail that we refuse to push forward? Do we refuse to expand our thoughts and ambitions? I do not know. 

I do know this … we do not choose where we are born. We can, however, make a difference. We can strive for a better life. We can, to a point, chose our path and what we can do …. 


Again, I have wandered off topic. I actually do this on purpose. Otherwise, my blogs would be really short. Back to the topic at hand. One thing I recently learned is everyone has a story. Everyone. They all have a story to tell. A story to share. Know how I learned this? It’s revolutionary! Are you ready? ... I started listening to people. Really. I have! Trust me on this. Wow! What a novel idea! And, what a wonderful thing. People are fascinating.

Now, I want your opinion. If both of my readers can let me know their thoughts I would be appreciative. What thoughts? A response to this idea. What if I shared someone’s story? It may not be sensational. But, I can guarantee you this, it will be interesting. What I am pondering is to reach out to people with whom I meet and ask them if they will let me share their story. If I find it interesting you will too. 

Also, let me know of someone who has a story to share. I would love to chat with them. 

Please reply by writing in the comments below. Or, simply send an email to bruce@bakerson.com. Or, call me. Or, text me. Or, send a smoke signal. I really don’t care how you let me know. Just do me a favor. Will you?

In the future I will resurrect some other real estate experiences to shake it up a bit. And, as we get more ideas on what may or may not be interesting we can look into those. 


And that is Life in my corner of the globe.

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Confused Buyer

Well, well, well … it appears my blog has been on hiatus. I did it just so I could use the word “hiatus” in my blog. It’s a cool word. It really is! You know, maybe I should just call it my bi-monthly blog. That way, I could either do it twice a month (“bi-monthly”) or once every other month (“bi-monthly”) and still be correct. Huh? What? Isn’t that weird? How can bi-monthly mean two completely different things? Wait! This is deja vu all over again! I covered this in an earlier blog. You will have to search the old ones and find it. Consider it a little treasure hunt. 

Actually, I have been busy. Days become weeks become months. For those of you in the sunny Southwest, you can appreciate. This is the time of year when the visitors arrive to get out of their doldrums of wintriness. You know, cold snowy season and cabin fever? Yea. That. Anyway, the visitors come, we have lots of fellowship and I don’t write a blog. I did, however, have plenty of time for friends and family. 

Speaking of family, did you know people are weird? And, when you introduce property they become downright suspicious or even questionable? This happens. Those of you with or without children will understand. This installment has nothing to do with the statement about children. But, it’s a Bill Cosby line and I wanted to use it. He is really funny. What happened to the old-fashioned comedians who were clean or relatively clean in their humor? How did they become obsolete? I was recently listening to some old-time radio on the Internets and was LOL-ing at Abbott & Costello, WC Fields and Laurel & Hardy. That was humor!! Now you have to be vulgar and full of cussing to be “funny”. But, it ain’t funny. Nope. Not at all. In fact, I find it disturbing. Bill Cosby had some great stories about family. This one isn’t great. But, it happened. It’s about family.



We sold a house to a fellow and he said he was married. We opened escrow and things were moving along nicely. Just so you know, our escrows usually happen quickly and close within a week to 10 days. I wanted to say, “in a week to 10 days 2 weeks to a month”. But, they rarely go beyond 10 days for wholesale deals. So, I will stick with a week to 10 days. Anyway, we were a few days into it and needed the buyer’s wife to fill out some paperwork. However, the buyer did not speak English and the escrow officer did not speak Spanish. She called the agent and said we needed the wife to sign some paperwork. The representative said the buyer was single and was adamant he was. So, title changed the title commitment to reflect the buyer being single. 

Well, a day or so later the buyer was reviewing the documents and said he wasn’t single and it shouldn’t say he is. So, the escrow officer told him he needed to submit his wife’s name to title so they could get her to sign the documents too. “For what?”, he asked. The answer: to have her on the title or to sign a "disclaimer deed". In other words, you should sign a deed. If you are not to be on title you are to execute a disclaimer deed, which does exactly as it looks; it disclaims your interest in the property. You see, Arizona is a “community property state” which means, unless otherwise stated, the property is jointly owned by both spouses - whether both names are on title or not. Know what’s weird? There are only 9 states which recognize “community property” and they are mostly in the west. Interestingly, it was inherited from Mexico, which was copied from Spanish law which Louisiana was first state to adopt. A French “colony” used Mexican law adopted from Spain in the United States. We are a melting pot indeed!



Know what else is weird? Disclaimer deeds are only in effect when both individuals are alive. So, if the one that has the deed has died, the individual that disclaimed her interest in the property suddenly may have interest in the property. This happened. Ben had negotiated a purchase of a property. After inspection, the property was in worse condition than we thought and Ben called the seller to tell him. A lady answered the phone and asked Ben who it was. Ben told her. She said she would have someone call him back. Why didn’t they have the seller call? A little while later Ben received a call and the seller had suddenly and unexpectedly passed away! He was only in his 40s. We were still interested in the property but would wait until things settle down. 

The deceased man owned the property in his name as his sole and separate property. We assumed he was single. He was married. However, he was separated and his wife had disclaimed her interest in the property by signing a disclaimer deed. In a community property state, after a property owner dies it immediately follows community property if there are no wills or other documents stating otherwise. If there is no surviving spouse it then goes to the children, and so on. Therefore, a wife that disclaimed the interest, although currently separated and estranged, suddenly has interest in the property. And, all of a sudden she had a personal interest in the house which she previously wanted nothing to do with. Property and money do this to people. 

But, I digress. Back to the first story. The reason title needs these deeds and disclaimer deeds and similar documents is because they insure the title and need to know all parties, and potential parties, involved. Since they insure it, they have a right to know, correct? All that information notwithstanding, we must get back to Mr Buyer. He was a bit confused and wondered why his wife needed to sign when she wasn’t really his wife, but his girlfriend. They just have been so long together it is the same thing. He just said they were because they are the same thing as married but not legally married. And, he calls her his “wife” even though she is not. Confused? So were we. 

It went something like this: Buyer is married. No, he is single. Actually he is married. No, he isn’t REALLY married, he’s just kind of married. Or, he is, like, married. Like. Teenagers use the word “like” a lot. 

Dad: Hi! How was school today?

Teenager: It was like really boring. I don’t know why we even go. We, like, don’t even learn anything. I mean, like, do I really need to know what the area of a triangle is? Like, it’s really stupid. 

Dad: You must like school a lot. you used the word “like”, like 4 times. 

Teenager: Dad! You are like so weird! Like, wow!

Dad: (Yea. Like wow)



Geez. I may never finish this experience with all these mental interruptions. Focus! (Focus. This reminds me of Jeff Dunham and his sidekick, Peanut....) So, after further review, Mr Buyer said he is single but the paperwork is still incorrect; he actually has two last names, not one. Wow! He didn’t realize the first time he reviewed the documents? He didn’t notice the contract he signed contained only his one last name? Where do we find these buyers?

In the end, he closed, signed documents stating he wasn’t really married, had two last names on the paperwork and we sold the property. I don’t know if he was married or not. I don’t know if he was telling the truth or just wanting a property in his name alone. Or, if it was simply the language barrier being the problem. I don’t know if he went by one last name or two. It isn’t important. We don’t have to prove who the buyer may or may not be. We just need to provide a decent property at a decent price with clean title; which is what we did.


And THAT is real estate in my corner of the globe

Monday, January 19, 2015

That Which has Ceased Lurking in Properties

Yes, it’s time once again to dive into the adventures of real estate. The things we see (and smell) is amazing. The things we hear may startle us. I cannot keep these to myself. I must share them so all of you can experience the wonderful things we see, smell and hear. In fact, they could be directly out of a horror novel. But, no one reads books anymore so they can read this instead. Let’s dive right in, shall we?

Just needs a quick dust and vacuum

These experiences will make you cringe. One place was disgustingly dirty and occupied. We decided to move the people to another vacant unit so we could clean and remodel the unit they were in. The one they were moving into was nearly brand new; new carpet, new doors, new paint and more. The place they were moving out of? Not so much. We went it. One of the guys opened an upper cabinet and hundreds of cockroaches scurried out of the cabinet, down his arm and into his shirt. Needless to say, it was decided this place needed to get “fogged” prior to doing any work. So, there were a handful of fogging candles that were lit and left to burn. When he returned the counters and floors were lined with cockroaches that had ceased doing “La Cucaracha”. It was pretty gross. 

Skylight? No. Just a hole. 

Are you aware of one of the early properties we bought? It was our second one. The owner was still living there when we bought the house out of tax lien foreclosure. The seller was getting some cash from the sale and needed time to remove his stuff. After many days, he finally gave up and said he was moved. The house was a small 2-bed, 1-bath home. When we went in we were shocked! There was stuff piled everywhere. The place was disgusting. Absolutely horrible. He clearly liked Spaghettios as there were empty cans by the hundreds. There were cob webs everywhere. There were huge piles of dog poop. In the bathroom, which he was still using, you could sit on the toilet and look up right to the sky. No, there wasn’t a skylight, there was a huge hole in the roof! Wow. Crazy indeed. We dove right in. Well, not literally. That would be gross. Actually, we went in with gloves, masks and a positive attitude. In the bedroom the stuff was piled over 3 feet high! Seriously, you could walk right out the window, the trash was piled that high. So, we began cleaning it up. He just kept buying those inflatable camping mattresses and putting on top of his piles of trash. We found SEVEN deflated mattresses!! After about 3 hours we uncovered a bed! Yes, a bed. It was really bad. We finished with dirty gloves, nasty face masks and an altered attitude, but nothing a long shower and a good night’s rest wouldn’t cure. 

Yes. There was a bed under this mess. 

True stories are stranger than fiction. One house we bought had a cat problem which we could call it an invasion. The smell was overwhelming. The carpet was removed. It was so bad, even the concrete was soaked with cat urine! We had to seal the concrete and about 2 feet up the walls. We were pretty sure there were still cats as we could hear something moving about in the attic. So, we hired some guys to come and get them out. I bet there were 100 ferrel cats living up there. Holy moly! The good news? I saved 15% by switching to Geico! Haha. Actually, I didn’t switch to Geico. That thought just popped in my head and now I forgot what the good news was. 

Stories of cats remind me of other houses we have purchased. If you are sensitive and disturbed by the unfortunate facts of life and death of animals due to mistreatment, I apologize in advance and you may want to skip this paragraph. Remember, I mentioned it could be out of a horror novel. In one house the cat was no longer amongst the living and was embedded into the carpet. It was gross! When Mike sent me a picture it took me a moment to realize what it was as it was covered in dust, as was the carpet, and it was camouflaged. In another house, Mike found a cat hanging from the rafter in the garage. It was enough to stop him in his tracks! People may be fascinating, but they can also be absolutely disturbing! I told you it would be bad. 

Guest Bedroom

Are you ready for more? Let me tell you about the property we bought near 7th Street and Bell. It’s a really nice community with decent townhouses. The sheriff had removed the occupants on court order. We went there the next day. Ben opened the fridge and it was nasty with rotten food and mold everywhere! He quickly shut the door. It clearly hadn't worked in months. There was no way he was cleaning it out. What did he do? Well, what any reasonable person would do. He strapped the doors shut, hauled it out and put it in storage. We rented some storage units and notified the previous owners as to where their stuff was. The previous owner could deal with it when he went through his belongings. Haha. We laugh when we relive that one. 

You should hear about the other fridges we have found! Ben found one with maggots crawling around the surface. I wonder if he has ever puked. I recall he has a weak stomach. I will have to ask him. That reminds me! Hahaha! This one is great! Mike was cleaning out a house and there was one of those chest freezers on the back patio. He opened the lid and the stench was absolutely repugnant. He slammed the lid closed and said, “I am pretty sure there is a body in there.” Naturally, he called Tater. Tater went out to the house and opened the freezer in search of a body. He poked around a bit and said it was just some meat from Fry’s floating in murky water which was nothing to get all up in arms about. I don’t know what they did with the freezer. You will have to ask Mike and Tate. 

Last Night's Dishes

Disgusted freezers, dog poo, cats, cat urine, Spaghettios cans, mice, rats, cockroaches…what more can we find? One thing Ben says is the worst is those rubber thingies that have been used and discarded. He doesn’t like dealing with those at all!

Yet, with all of these gross things that have lurked and those things still lurking, we enjoy what we do. Not all properties are this way. In fact, these are in the minority. However, they still happen. And, as long as we are working with humans and houses of humans, these things will continue to creep into our peaceful and somewhat protected lives. 

In conclusion I have a little puzzle for you. Take the first word of each of the above paragraphs (not including this one) and you will have a statement and a question. Clever. 

Everything above really happened. Well, except switching to Geico, which was just a little joke.

And, all of the pics in this blog were from one house which was occupied up until the day I took the pictures. Yes. Occupied. Are you disgusted yet?

And THAT is real estate in my corner of the globe. 

Monday, January 5, 2015

What Lurks in Vacant Properties?

What would you do if you were to walk into a vacant and boarded house and find someone in it? Oh, don’t you go around walking into boarded houses? Seriously? Man, you are missing out! You should try it. It's really fascinating. There are so many interesting things to see and experience. Did you know when they are boarded they are really dark inside? Be sure to take a flashlight. 

One time I walked up to a house and was poking around trying to see if I could get inside. All of the windows were boarded. A neighbor walked up and said, “Hi. What are you doing here?” I told him I was curious about this house since it was vacant. He said, “Oh, it's not vacant”. I looked at the house again and then back at him. “But…but, all of the windows are boarded up. And, I can see inside and part of the roof is missing.” He turned to look at me like I had grown a second head and replied, “This is a poor neighborhood. We can't afford to replace the window every time it breaks. Heck, have you seen the kids in this area? They destroy anything they can. Just take a look around, graffiti, vandalism, broken windows, damaged vee-hickles. Kids, I tell you...” And, he slowly walked away.



I am sure you have a home. Or, at least live in a place you call a home. You know, when you leave work you say, “I'm going home.” As we know, it's the place where we sleep and keep all of our stuff. We should all be thankful we have a place to call “home”. Even you teenagers out there, it's really not that bad. Trust me on this. It could be worse. I've often pondered the homeless and from where they have come. Have they chosen this life? Have they been forced into it? How many like the simpleness of homelessness? So many questions. So few answers. But, this is about real estate. Maybe someday I will write a blog about life and the "ponderings" that go with it. It could be fun. 

Back to the homeless. The ones I have met have been nice enough. On occasion, I have walked into a “vacant” house and found someone sleeping in the corner on the floor. It can be startling. However, I haven't ran into the types Ben has. Now HE has had some experiences.

A couple of years ago he was inspecting a house we bought down near 24th Street and Roosevelt. When he walked up he noticed there were people were hanging out there and milling about. He gently asked them to leave because he was going to secure the property. As he walked in he looked at one of the guys and sad, “Are the rest of the units vacant?” He was told they should be. As he walked through the units he hollered and banged on the walls to let anyone know he was coming in. It was dark. The windows were boarded. His only light was a mega-powered flashlight that made the room bright as day. You should see it! It's really bright. With a flashlight in his hand and a pistol on his hip, he walked into the back unit. Just as he turned into the back room he came face-to-face with another human. Just standing there. Ben yelled at him, “Why didn't you say anything when I banged and hollered??” The man said, “I didn't respond.” Ben said, “I noticed. Now pack your stuff and get out.” He waited outside until the man left. As he left, he kept looking back at Ben, clearly concerned as Ben had a pistol holstered on his hip. The building was secured. The homeless had to find another place to live.



It's strange. The homeless who occupy these vacant buildings have never put up a fight. I'm not saying I want them to fight. In fact, we are quite happy they don't. They just simply pack their stuff and meander down the lane to find another vacant place to call “home”. Then when that one becomes no longer viable they move on to the next. And so on. In fact, this was an interesting observation in an area known as “Sunnyslope”. It's a part of Phoenix with high crime and vacant properties and large number of homeless.

Ben and Tate were cleaning out a triplex we purchased down near 7th Avenue and Dunlap. This is a really nice area. By “nice” I mean there is a ton of opportunity with vacant properties. Sunnyslope. When they arrived there were many homeless hanging out and making themselves at home. The guys simply asked them to leave so they could clean up a little and secure the triplex. At one point they were certain there were people in the attic. They finished boarding up the windows when Ben heard, “Hey! Stop! Turn around with your hands on your head!” It was the police! They came up and pulled the gun from Ben's holster. Being Ben was only 19 at the time, he could not conceal-carry. But, he could open-carry. You know what's weird? In Arizona you can open-carry at 18 but you cannot buy bullets for the gun you carry until you are 21. Once 21, Arizona residents are allowed to conceal-carry in the state of Arizona without a permit, as long as one doesn't have a felony. On another note, later this month Ben and I are going for our conceal-carry permit. It's not required but comes with added benefits, of which I will not go into here. We are in the middle of an exciting story about houses, homeless, guns and cops!



Back to Sunnyslope. The cop pulled the gun from Ben's holster and then asked what they were doing here. Ben told them they were cleaning and securing the property as we had just purchased it.

Cop: “What's your name?”
Ben: “Ben”
Cop: “Last name?”
Ben: “Wuollet”
Cop: “Hey! Do you have any family in the department?”
Ben: “Yea. My cousin” and he gave him her name.
Cop: “Ah. You Wuollets are all over town. Grab your gun and put it back in your holster.”

The police were glad someone was finally taking care of one of the eyesores in the neighborhood. They wished them well and went to chase another call.

Our pondering was this: a bunch of homeless living in a houses they don't own, leaving trash and undesireables strewn about, damaging property and the cops get called when someone is working on a property? I guess doing repairs on properties in that neighborhood is unusual. Sunnyslope.

And THAT is real estate in my corner of the globe.


Monday, December 15, 2014

People, Prison & Property

Here's a riddle for you:

Question: What do you get when you cross a notorious motorcycle gang with guns, drugs and assault?

Answer: Another Bakerson house!

That's right. And, this one had some fascinating twists and turns.



What happened? Well, I received a lead on a short sale from a realtor. We made the offer and waited, and waited, and then we waited. The banks are never in much of a hurry. After a couple of months I asked the realtor if she knew what the hold up was. She said the seller was in prison and it was difficult getting information needed to complete the sale. Did you know when a person is in prison you can't just call them up or meet for coffee? It's quite a process. Even getting messages and questions to them is slow and laborious.

Great. Slow banks and a seller in prison. This could be interesting. Anyway, the realtor got the signatures needed and we progressed nicely to closing. Only took us 7 months to get to this point.

Per the agent, the house was occupied and the occupant wanted to buy the house. At this point I had no idea why the seller was in prison or who the occupant was. Naturally, I went to meet him and find out the details of the house and the occupant to work out a deal. When I arrived the house was cluttered with double sets of everything – one set in the house and one in the garage. He told me he was moving in and finding a place for the seller's stuff.

The man was gracious enough and walked me around the house. I then noticed on the back of his belt was the name of an infamous motorcycle gang. Paraphernalia from this same club were everywhere! I furrowed my brow in thought. He told me he owns a house free and clear in Sunburst Farms and was going to free up some capital in that house to buy this one. He didn't have a job. I was skeptical. We worked up a price. But, before he signed anything he wanted to make sure he could get the cash because it was being held up in some “stupid legal issues”. I furrowed my brow again. We shook hands and I left. When I walked back to the car I saw his motorcycle in the driveway. It had two big letters “H. A.” and the numbers “666” on the gas tank. Interesting. I furrowed my brow.


Back at the office I researched the house in Sunburst Farms and found out it was owned by “BD” (Biker Dude) and there was no loan on it. He owned it free and clear. So, maybe he could get the money.

Fast forward 2 years. I am sitting at coffee with a wholesale investor. He found a couple of deals and wanted to discuss building his network and finding more deals. Being curious, I asked him if he was full-time in real estate. Nope. Part-time. His full-time job was on the Glendale SWAT team. I paused. This time I didn't furrow my brow.

Me: Are you familiar with a house on Carol Ann Way that was occupied by a biker gang member?
Him: Yes
Me: Did you shatter the front window and blow out the front door?
Him: Yes
Me: That was my house
Him (bowing his head): Sorry about that.

We laughed at his funny response. That's right! The house was compromised by the Glendale PD. 

About a week after I had walked through the house with BD, the realtor related she received a call from a lady in the neighborhood. The police had blown out the front door and seized the house. Whoa! I immediately went to the house to see it for myself. Sure enough, the front door was boarded up with plywood as was the front window which goes into the living room. There was a notice posted by the Glendale Police Department. The property was seized. Anyone wishing to enter the house must get access through the PD. I called them. They told me they had what they needed and gave me the code for the lock to get inside. The lead detective said BD was arrested and going away for a very long time. Domestic assault, weapons violations, theft, drugs, you name it. Well, there went that buyer. What a bummer. He seemed like such a nice guy.


As I walked through the house I realized we had a dilemma and it involved a bunch of motorcycle club paraphernalia and valuables. We weren't going to simply throw them away. The realtor was called. She said, "Go see BD in jail and ask him." My brother Mike and I went. We talked to him through a video monitor system at the jail and asked what we should do with his stuff. He wasn't very helpful and said he just wanted to speak to the realtor. Well, that was fun. At least it was interesting!

Information was relayed to the realtor. She called a member of the club. (Wait! How did she just have some club bigwig's phone number? This was getting crazy!) The club members said they would just go pick it up. Upon calling the Glendale PD, we heard, “Not so fast! Anything that leaves the house must be supervised by the police.” The Glendale Police met the motorcycle gang there in unmarked cars and no uniforms (per gang request) and monitored them when they removed all of BD's stuff. In fact, the first time the gang showed up to clean it they turned around and left. Why? Because the cops were there with marked cars and in uniform. Makes me wonder, “Who makes the rules?”

We fixed the front door. We fixed the front window. We sold the house without further delay. It was fun.

And THAT is real estate in my corner of the globe.