Joan and Sally in the house

Posted September 7th, 2007 by Joe Kaiser

Get the darn thing cleaned up and all the garbage hauled to the dump so it was again livable (and sellable).

Dear Rob,

A few years back Joan called about a home in Seattle and asked if I might help save it from foreclosure.

She and her sister Sally were in a pickle and wanted to know if I could help.

Could I?

You’d better believe it.

Nice area

We talked a bit on the phone so I could learn a little about their home, a “clinker brick” rambler with a bit of view in a nice neighborhood.

That was the good news.

The bad news was they’d let the place get so run down the city was all over them to fix it and had even boarded up the place, declaring it unfit to be lived in.

They’d also been evicted.

More trouble

I knew cleaning it up was something we could handle because that’s what we did back then. To me, it sounded like a good weekend’s project and not much more.

But the bad news didn’t end there.

They’d never probated mom’s will so title was a mess, with the two sisters and a brother inheriting the house. They had no idea where the brother lived, and foreclosure was now only a few days away.

Okay, that, too, we can probably handle.

The deal

So, with the raggedy title and an even more raggedy property, getting invested by partnering up in this deal was a big roll of the dice, and that meant I needed a 50% interest.

Ideally, each sibling deeds me half and we’re golden.

Except in this case the brother is no where to be found.

I was told there would be no math


Both sisters drove to Tacoma and deeded me 75% of their interests, giving me 50% overall.

Think of it as a pie with 12 pieces and each sibling owning four of those pieces. When the sisters each sell me three of their four, I end up with six pieces total, or half the pie.

And that’s how we got a 50% interest in the property.

My job now?

Stop the foreclosure.

Making it livable

And so I stopped it, heading over to the county treasurer’s office and ponying up somewhere around $12k, as I recall, to take it out of the tax sale.

First job on the agenda?

Get the darn thing cleaned up and all the garbage hauled to the dump so it was again livable (and sellable).

Why not let the sisters get it cleaned up themselves?

It was a control issue, and having demonstrated they weren’t able to take care of the property themselves, putting them in charge of anything wasn’t an option.

So, after the weekend, my partner and I drove to Seattle to walk through the place and create a punch list for the clean-up crew to get started on.

And we would have done just that, except for one minor detail, no house.


You see, Rob, what happens when you let Joan and Sally be in charge of things?

They had total control of the house, right up until the moment the city came by and knocked it down.


The gals so wanted us to save their home they neglected to mention the city had already scheduled it for demolition.

And no one down at the county thought it important enough to let us know about it when we paid the delinquent taxes to stop the sale.

How do you lose $200k in equity over the weekend?

You neglect to take control and let someone unqualified run the show.

Here, again, from your press release . . .

In other situations, the property was placed in a trust and the defendants acted as trustees. Most property owners believed they still owned the property, but the defendants actually had control.— March 14, 2007 Press Release

I only wish we did have control, Rob.

We’d have $200k more in equity (probably twice that now) and wouldn’t have a $50k demolition bill from the city (probably twice that now).

Joan and Sally in the house?

I only wish there was a house.


Joe Kaiser

2 Responses to: “Joan and Sally in the house”

  1. Davido responds:
    Posted: September 18th, 2007 at 8:31 pm

    Joe, your stories on this website are valuable lessons. Thank you.

  2. Joe Kaiser responds:
    Posted: September 18th, 2007 at 8:38 pm

    Good to know. Thanks.


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