LPS Field Services was kind enough to put on a REO property tour at REO Expo this week. I went along, traveling in a bus along with a slew of people in the industry, including Realtors, code enforcement officers, property preservation professionals and mortgage professionals. After visiting four houses, ranging from "ew" to quite nice, I feel my eyes have been opened to the plights of those that have to deal with these properties everyday.
I've only been on the real estate beat here at HousingWire for about three weeks, so I'd never done anything like this before. Word to the wise: Don't wear heels.
Let's start with the first house we visited. This house, while obviously starting to deteriorate, was not that bad. Minus some code violations like tree branches hanging over sidewalks, some faulty windows and some exposed wiring, the house was passable. With some landscaping, paint, window replacements and a handy electrician, the house would have looked great on the outside.
On the inside, aside from poor decor decisions, the house was also quite nice.
Moving on to the second house. This was the worst house we saw all day. The home, which was full of personal belongings and trash, would be difficult to sell to anyone - even aside from the existence of personal property making a legal sale difficult. Given the neighborhood, it's doubtful an investor would make any money after the house was brought up to acceptable condition. But maybe I'm wrong.
Debbie Walker, a Realtor with Keller Williams who was on the tour, said the house was far from the worst she had seen. Rob Hicks, First Vice President, Industry Relations & Risk Management of LPS, echoed that sentiment, and said after visiting a particularly bad house he chose to throw an expensive pair of shoes away rather than attempting to clean them. Thankfully, my heels did not suffer the same fate.
Let's move on to house three. The house was much like the first, easily guttable and largely code violation free.
Onto house number 4, which was easily the nicest house of the day. Unlike the rest of the houses, the bank that owns the home (Wells Fargo) put some money into fixing the house up. The house, which was in a really nice middle class neighborhood in Fort Worth, was well decorated, well maintained, and even had a sparklingly clean pool. No code violations here.
But there is always a catch. In inspecting the view from over the back fence, I found a pile of trash.
All in all, a pretty interesting day on tour. None of the properties screamed of the horror stories you hear Realtors or investors tell, but it was still a great look into the trials and tribulations of dealing with these kinds of properties.