Home buying, investing, and selling information in the Greater Boston area

There is a Buyer for EVERYTHING

10 Helena


OK, maybe not EVERYTHING…but you might be surprised. Especially when it comes to real estate.


At the right price, there is ALWAYS a buyer. This is something I didn’t realize early on in my career (a “whopping” 12 years ago…seems like a lifetime ago.) I would go into a house (that smelled like cat urine, had the walls and ceilings torn out, and had threatening graffiti painted on the walls that weren’t torn out) and, as long as the price was right, someone would buy it!


Most experienced real estate investors (at least the ones who buy “distressed” properties) don’t really view themselves as investors. They view themselves as “problem-solvers.” And, boy, have I seen some problems.


A friend of mine, who sells bank-owned (foreclosed) real estate was telling me about a house he was selling in Harvard, MA. The house had a septic system which had failed the Title 5 inspection and needed to be replaced. (A brand-new septic usually costs between $15,000 to $30,000.) The way this property was laid out, however, with woods in the back (and other geographical challenges), it was actually going to require a crane to bring in each piece of the new septic system one-at-a-time. The price he had gotten to get this done was around $100,000…on a “beat-up” foreclosed house!!!


I once had a listing in Boston which was a condominium within what was once a 3-family property. This particular unit was on the first floor. When I went inside, the smell of heating oil almost knocked me out. I got an instant headache. As it turns out, there was a (significant) oil tank leak in the basement. A few days later, (after fully disclosing the oil leak in the basement) we received a full-price cash offer.


The one other property I listed, which forever proved to me that there is a buyer for every home, was a “CONDEMNED” house. That’s right! They do actually “condemn” houses. When the city/ town officials deem a property unsafe to enter, they put a big red “X” on the outside, warning people that it is actually against the law to go inside (without special permission). Even though I couldn’t enter the house, I could plainly see through the window that the ceiling had caved in (due to water damage), and the walls were covered in mold.) So I had to sell this house “sight-unseen” to someone who also was going to have to take on the risk of going before the town zoning/ planning committee to make the case that they should be allowed to re-build on the site (because, get this….IT WAS ALSO IN A FLOOD ZONE and, therefore needed special approval to re-build on this site…in addition to the fact that “flood insurance” is a substantial additional cost to be incurred by the property owner.)


But do you know what is common about all of these properties? They ALL SOLD.

(The main property discussed in this post did end up re-selling, after the investor performed substantial renovation: They purchased the property on 4/10/2015 for $146,900, and they re-sold it on 5/5/2016 for $565,000. So, it ended up being a “win” for all parties involved.)


So, if you are thinking “There is no way anyone would buy my house in its current condition,” I would say in response, “You would be surprised.” Or, perhaps at this point, you might be thinking, “My house isn’t all that bad after all.”


Have a great day, everyone!

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About Shane Engel

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Shane Engel



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