House 3: Squatters Begone!

I stopped by the house this morning and, as I was unlocking the front door, I noticed there were sheets hanging over a window to the right of the door. Hmmm.. I didn't put those there. I opened the door and saw several things:
  • The window on the other side of the room to the backyard was open.
  • There was a red car in the backyard.
  • Through a doorway to the right, I could see a bicycle leaning against the wall and a bunch of clothes on the floor.
I closed the door, got back in my car, drove to the end of the street and called the police. Two officers showed up 50 minutes later and I met them outside the house. I told them what I saw and that the house should be empty. They went inside and were in there for about 10 minutes. They came back out with a woman and sent her on her way. They ran a check on the car in the backyard and discovered it was stolen, so they called a tow truck to come haul it away. While waiting for the tow truck to show up, the policeman suggested I run out and get some gloves to clean up the stuff inside. He also said the house looked familiar and did a worker have something stolen from here recently? I said yes, that was this house..

I ran down to a corner drug store and bought some gloves and when I got back, I took my first look inside. The squatters had set up house in the add-on room that has the window air conditioning unit. The floor was covered with clothes, about 7 backpacks, 10-15 porno magazines, and other assorted debris. The windows all had sheets hung over them, which I took down and used to bundle up the garbage.

The rest of the house was ok. It looks like they got in through the open window I saw, which was a window that doesn't really lock properly. They had some soap and shirts hanging in the bathroom and some soap in the kitchen, along with an open box of crackers and a bag with spices and various food mixes. There were a surprisingly large number of tools - wrenches, pliers, etc. I spent about 15 minutes throwing everything out. Since I was just out at the property last Tuesday, I know the squatters couldn't have been staying there very long.

The tow truck finally showed up and, since the car didn't have any wheels on it, they told me they would have to drag it off the back patio and that it might leave marks in the concrete, which I said was ok. A short while later, the owner of the car, a 2004 red Mustang, showed up. Needless to say, he was pretty dispondent over the state of the car. Turns out it was stolen 5 days prior. It took about 2 hours for the guys to haul the car away.

Before I left, I double-checked all the windows, doors, and locks. There was no vandalism at least, although there was a grease spot on the new carpet near the kitchen. I also put a padlock on the gate in the backyard. The neighbor across the street was mowing his lawn, so I went over and spoke with him. He didn't speak english very well, but I think I was able to convey that the house was supposed to be empty and if he saw anyone in it, I would appreciate it if he called me, day or night. He agreed and I gave him my business card.

Having taken care of the house, I then called my Realtor and told her the story. She thought it was pretty funny :-) Anyway, I told her to put the words "motivated seller" in the MLS listing and to drop the price $3,000. She actually reminded me of a selling tactic I learned in the past, but forgot about with all the commotion today: We upped the buyer's agent's commission from 3% to 4% and only dropped the price by $1,000. It's still a net $3,000 deduction to me, but hopefully the extra agent incentive will get some more potentials buyer through there. As Freakonomics so smartly points out, selling real estate is all about motivating the buyer's agent.


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