Some time ago I represented a husband and wife on the purchase of a home, we have fondly nicknamed the "Termite House". It was commonly believed that the only thing keeping it from collapsing was the termites holding hands.
I met my buyers one Saturday while sitting in my office. They pre-qualified with one of my favorite loan officers who just happened to be visiting my office at the time.
An important point that will make more sense later is that English is a second language for the buyers. Because of that I was more cautious than normal to be sure they completely understood each step of the process.
After closing the office we went out to look at eight of their favorite picks. While on the way back to the office the husband mentioned another home that he had seen at the bottom of Snake Hill (right below my office). We pulled up to the front of the vacant home just after dark. I called the listing agent to see if we could go in. She gave me the specs and lock box code and we entered the home.
What we saw next was truly amazing. This home was a patchwork of addition after addition after addition. The home was huge. It was also old and what many area agents would call vintage; 45 years old and all original.
This home also had one feature that not many buyers would like. TERMITES! Boy did it have termites. I reached up and could put my finger right through a beam. It was completely hollow.
The wife looked horrified! I looked over to the husband and he was salivating. The smile on his face said it all. He was in love. He was already planning the repairs and upgrades. He was mapping out who got which room.
He said the words his wife prayed she would never hear. Let's go back to the office and make an offer. We fired off an extremely low offer, which was quickly accepted by the sellers.
The husband was so excited he could hardly contain himself. The wife by now was also starting to show enthusiasm. During the home inspection it was determined that every beam in the home needed to be replaced. The damage was even more extensive than previously thought. After reviewing the inspectors report, my clients came back with the expected decision. We'll take it! They were in love.
Now I left out the most important part of this story. My buyer planned to do most of the work himself. I was extremely concerned. I have some construction experience and know how dangerous replacing those beams can be.
At each meeting I questioned him about his ability to do the repairs and expressed concerns for his safety. He was so positive, yet I was so worried. I do not want to sell a home to get someone hurt. The sale went smooth. It was the fastest closing I have had where a loan was involved.
Four days after closing I visited the new home owners. He and three of his friends had ripped out all of the cabinets, removed the fixtures and scrapped the floors down to the concrete. In four days they had basically completed the demolition. They also had all of the beams cut and lined up on the floors. He had rented several ceiling jacks and they were stacked up ready to go.
I continued to feel real uneasy about their safety and again questioned him about replacing the beams. He said he had it all under control. I was very worried this home may get someone hurt.
Two days later I turned on the radio as I was getting ready to go to the office. I then heard the report that made my heart stop.
" _ _ _ _ _o Valley home collapsed yesterday on a homeowner who was doing remodeling". I didn't catch the complete name of the neighborhood.
Was that Waipio Valley? Oh God!
I scanned the dial trying to get another news report. I turned on the TV. 15 minutes of shear torture. Oh no I may have got someone hurt, possibly killed. Finally I got the report again. It was not Waipio Valley! Thank God it was not him.
Two weeks later while visiting them again I saw one of the best remodeling jobs I have ever seen. It turned out to be one of the best values I ever sold someone. It also aged me 10 years.
Randy L. Prothero, REALTOR®
Broker-in-Charge, ABR, AHWD, CRB, CRS, e-PRO, GRI, MRP, SFR
Team Leader - "The Prothero Group"
Randy Prothero is well established as an expert in working with military / VA clients and first time home buyers. His home seller's (listing) campaign is one of the most aggressive marketing programs in the area. His luxury home listings sell faster and for more money.
Based out of Mililani, Hawaii. Randy services the island of Oahu (Honolulu County) Performs mediations and ombudsman services for the Board of Realtors. To improve overall professionalism in his area Randy also offers classes for real estate agents.