8 AM. We pull up to the house bright and early. The Sheriff is right on time, just as planned. His role is to make sure that the property has been vacated and, if not, he may have to take matters into his own hands. Boy am I glad to have him on our side.
The first thing I notice is that there is an older looking, Black SUV still parked in the driveway which leads me to believe that they’re still in the house. They didn’t leave. I knew it…
Per instructions from the Sheriff, we stay put by our cars on the side of the road while he went to inspect the house. He first knocks on the door, no answer. He waits a minute and then knocks again except this time with a little more force, no answer.
He peers through the front door windows, no one to be seen. He then takes a walk around the house and does the same with the back entrance. A knock on the door, a peak through the window, and still no one to be seen or heard. A big sigh of relief.
At this point we can (thankfully) assume that there is no one home. The front door is locked and the back door is locked so the only way in is through an unlocked window in the first floor office. The Sheriff shimmies his way inside to the front entrance, unlocks the door and opens it up.
There is a look of absolute disgust on his face as he’s covering his mouth.
I’ll try to describe this in the best way I can.
We walk into house. The first thing that hits you is the overwhelming stench that has been trapped inside with the hot and humid sun beating down on it. As you make your way through the living room, all you see is trash…piles and piles of trash scattered all over. All of a sudden, we hear barking and a tiny little dog runs into the room. He is shaking, scared to death, and defecating on the spot. He is frail and skinny and probably hasn’t had a real meal in weeks or months, who knows.
There are holes in most of the walls. The kitchen sink is filled wish dirty dishes, old food, and more trash. It’s pouring out onto the counter-tops. The bedrooms are more of the same. Every inch of the ground is covered in filth. There are single mattresses on the ground, no bed frame or box spring, just a mattress with a blanket. If you open the dressers, you’ll find an odd mixture of clothes and, you guessed it, more trash. Dirty dishes shoved into random spots. Used utensils on the ground, under the floor, under pillows, everywhere. If you opened a cabinet in the bathroom, you’d find old underwear with feces in it. Drug paraphernalia hidden throughout the house…needles, smoking devices, lighters, the whole nine yards.
This place was straight out of a horror movie. And the worst part is that children lived here. A family lived here.
A quick walk out to the backyard and over to the pool, you’ll find that it’s a dark, murky, green color with more trash and dead animals. The back screened porch is broken down and ruined. There’s not one place that seemed to be in good condition.
The side of the house used to have a nice paved landing that is perfect for parking an RV or a boat. It was filled with trash bags. Old and smelly trash bags that have accumulated for far too long.
It was truly a horrifying sight. It blows my mind that some people choose to live like this. It really puts things into perspective coming from a sheltered suburb outside of Boston. You aren’t exposed to this type of behavior, you never see it but maybe hear of it and yet it’s happening all over the world and sadly worse than this in some places.
The first thing we do is call animal control for the dog. He needs to be taken care of and I really mean that, he needs to be cared for and the only quick solution we can think of is to use the referral from the Sheriff. I wish the best for that dog but there is more for us to deal with.
*Side note, when animal control came by he also informed us that there was lice all over the house and yard. Great…
Our next plan of action required thought. Here we were thousands of miles away from home, with a house in the worst condition I had ever seen and time was not on our side. What to do, what to do…
The most logical move was to change the locks and to make sure the property was completely locked down, windows and all. So we bunkered down the house and made sure it was safer than Fort Knox. Then, we would head back home to Boston for a week or so until we could formulate a plan. So that’s what we did.
A week went by and we had our plan set. Me, my aunt, my uncle, and 2 friends of mine would head down to the house for a weekend, rent a dumpster, and we would gut the entire house. Furniture, trash, appliances, rugs, literally anything and everything was going to be ripped out and tossed into a dumpster. There was no alternative, this place needed an upside down change.
From sun up to sun down we spent the each day shoving everything into trash bags and moving them to the dumpster. We ripped up the dirty carpets, threw them into the dumpster. We removed all of the furniture, threw them into the dumpster. Couches, dressers, tables, whatever was there we quickly removed until nothing was left. I mean that too, not one thing was left inside this house…it was completely emptied out. I was shocked at the difference we were able to make in such a short period of time. It’s incredible to see how much hard work can make a difference in any given situation.
At this point, the house was emptied out, the pool was mostly emptied out, and the yard was cleared up. The dumpster was going to be picked up later that weekend (completely filled to the brim) and the car had been towed out of the driveway. Good riddance. It was time to head back home after what I saw as a massive win for Team Steve. (That’s me).
Once we returned home, we remained in contact with one of the neighbor’s down in South Carolina. He gave us a referral for a contractor who could help fix up the house. The walls would be patched up and repainted, the floors would be replaced with fresh carpet and laminate hardwood would be layed down. We also received a referral for a pool guy who would clean it out and make it sparkle once more. A landscaper would come by and take care of the lawn, and make any improvements he saw necessary such as adding in a few plants, flowers, or trees. We had assembled a small team to take care of the renovations and all of this took place while I was back home, once again working my 9-5 job. Time went on and the projects slowly but surely finished up. Pictures were sent over but they never can do a justice, I had to see the real thing. My aunt, my uncle and I flew down one more time to see the finished results and also to meet with a Property Manager. They would tour the house with us, take pictures, and give us the run down on how this property could be rented out in the near future. Everything went swimmingly and we struck an agreement to do business together. Within a month or so the PM had found a solid pool of tenants and eventually they narrowed it down to one couple who would go on to be my first tenants ever.
Fast forward to today and the same tenants are still living in the house. They rarely complain, they rarely cause trouble and they keep the house in pristine condition the way it should be. I collect rents from my PM every month and if there are ever any maintenance issues they notify me and we take care of it as quick as possible. It’s a nice side income I must say.
After reading this, try and really put into perspective what it was like for me. Put yourself into my shoes and imagine going through all of that at age 23. It’s mind blowing to say the least.
Those were easily some of the worst days of my life, but somehow I was able to overcome them. I couldn’t have done it without my family, my friends, and anyone else who showed me support and kept me moving forward. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and I firmly believe that. Without that experience I would not be where I am today, a proud owner of not one but two properties and many more to come. This was my introduction to Real Estate and I hope you enjoyed the story. Thanks for tuning in and cheers!
P.S. The slideshow at the beginning was during the gutting process…crazy right? It was even worse when we first walked in.
Take a look at the after pictures that our PM took before renting it out.
Absolutely stunning compared to before!!!