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Buying a Foreclosure Property, My Personal Experience with Overcoming the Visual

In early March 2002, my sister-in-law called my wife, Janet,  about the perfect property she had found in the Real Estate Weekly.   The property was in foreclosure and located in Panorama Ridge, Surrey, BC.   I must admit it sounded lovely.   The "old timer" home was on an acre of property, with a view of Mud Bay, and a swimming pool.   My wife is a little pool crazy, so she was quite excited about the property.    I did a drive by on my way home from work and was not impressed at all.   I came home to Janet and told her it was an absolute "no go" and played my trump card ... "there is no pool".

The house was off our radar for a few weeks, but my sister-in-law had driven by (and liked it, arrghh) and asked Janet if she'd seen it.   Janet drove by the next day and she too thought the house had potential.   I doubted we saw the same property, but called the realtor for a proper viewing just to prove Janet had the wrong address.   In early April we viewed the property, and my ship was sunk.   The yard was unkept but alive with rhododendrums and azaleas, the blossoms were spectacular.   I was only bedazzled for a moment as my eyes were fixed on the downed trees, the blackberry bushes overtaking the yard, the falling eavestroughs ... I could go on and on.    

The realtor had to clear branches away from the front door in order to clear a path for us to get in.   None of this deterred Janet, she could see a beautiful future for this home.   I still couldn't see a pool, perhaps that would be my "out".   We toured the home, and it was outdated, but did had some potential. We went out on to the deck to view the pool.    I mean to view where the pool should be located. Trees were so overgrown that the pool was completely enveloped in branches and groundcover.  There was absolutely no sign of an actual pool.

There was a driveway that wrapped completely around the home.   We stood under a magnolia tree on the driveway and talked. I remember clearly, my arms were crossed in "no" body language and my feet were entangled in the ivy covered driveway.   Janet was animated, her face alive with all the possibility for the home.    Wow, two completely different ends of the spectrum.   She encouraged me to look beyond the maintenance issues (which I did), and I managed to convince her that this was a huge undertaking (and she knew).  We laughed at the absurdity of it all.  We had a very long talk that night and managed to reach common ground (I never had a chance Wink). This was a long term investment and significant elbow grease could pay off down the line. We decided to make an offer.  I will do a separate blog on the negotiation and legal process of buying a foreclosure, so won't go into that now, but our offer was ultimately accepted.

We had an inspection and apparently the house had good bones, but needed a new roof within two years.  The appliances were currently operating, but could kick the bucket any day.   Other than the obvious very apparent cosmetic TO DO list, it was sturdy 2 x 6 construction.  

The first few months were interesting and expensive.   It rained in the livingroom within the first week.   The kitchen had rodents.   The upper bathroom toilet cracked (not a huge deal), but that was followed by the septic tank cracking (that was a huge deal).  As predicated, some of the appliances died in the first months and all were kaput within two years.   It took a month of hard labour to dig out the pool.   I was stung by wasps on the nose three times in rapid succession while hauling out blackberries.  Janet and her mom painted and scrubbed until they had blisters.    

Fast forward twelve great years later and we are now almost empty nesters.   After the first few months of complete back breaking labour for us both, we have had a great life in this home.    We've hosted so many great swim parties for all the baseball teams our family has been involved with.  We have made many great friends in the neighbourhood. We walk the dogs in the park across the street.   In the summer, we sit on the deck night after night and enjoy the fresh air, the tranquility, and the beautiful trees of Panorama Ridge.

Despite how happy we have been here, our time in this home has come to the end.   We we will be moving on to something smaller.  I thank my wife for her early vision of what the house could be and personally will never regret purchasing a foreclosure.   


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