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Common man’s buying guide

Features column

T. Gamble

T. Gamble

Recently I was reviewing a brochure with hundreds of tracts of land for sale and also the same number of houses. I was just passing the time with no real intent of buying anything. I have many friends in the real estate business and I mean no harm when I note that every single piece for sale was “one of a kind," “pristine," “a once in a lifetime opportunity” or “priced to sell.” It made me realize that one needs to have a common man’s guide to real estate sales brochures. Who better than me to provide at least a shortened version of such a thing.

So, here goes. Priced to sell, actually means this property has been listed by at least three previous brokers and not even one offer was made by anybody. It is now half the price of any other comparable land in size which is still probably twice what it is worth because this property is a dog and a non-hunting one at that.

Foreclosed bargain home. There is no such thing. The ad should say this house has been stripped of every conceivable fixture, doorknob, appliance and probably at least one toilet. The roof has needed replacing since Nixon was president. Landscaping consisted of a tractor tire painted white and a burn pit in the middle of the front yard. Whoever owned it could not pay the mortgage so you can damn well be assured they also could not afford pest control, painting updates, or even a shred of insulation. The utility bill should run about $900 a month.

Run like a scalded dog if the home for sale ad mentions Greek Revival architecture, colonial home, or anything related to the civil war or antebellum. These ads should say “home for sale for $300,000. You can buy it, spend another $500,000 updating, plugging drafty windows and building closets, and it will be worth $325,000 when you get through.” The grave yards are filled with people who bought these homes planning to fix them up a little at a time. They are in the graveyard because they contracted one disease or another from living in these drafty unforgiving homes. I love these old homes but living in them is like the little Dutch boy plugging the dam dike only to see another hole pop out. Fix one thing and then it is on to the next.

Duck hunter’s paradise or for that matter any kind of hunter’s paradise. This means the property is a wet, swamp bog with no, and I mean no redeeming financial value. This property has no merchantable timber, no farmland, and no prospect of ever amounting to anything. Buying this property is like buying a boat. The second happiest day of your life is buying the hunting tract with all the envisioned great hunts and owning a piece of America. The happiest day is selling the hunting tract either right after, or right before, they foreclose on your house because you couldn’t make the home mortgage and pay for the paradise.

Handy Man’s special. Handy men do not buy homes. Non-handy men do not need to buy this home because then they will need to hire a handy man who will handy man them to death. It is a handy man’s special because the last owner thought he was a handy man only to discover that removing a load bearing wall to enlarge the den will indeed enlarge the den, and also make it have a new skylight roof.

Plantation anything. The way to amass a small fortune is to begin with a large fortune and then purchase a plantation. Plantations have it all, Greek revival homes, duck hunting paradises, and little in the way of income production. There is a reason people like Ted Turner own them, for everyone else they are best visited at fundraisers and the like.

Commercial property in the heart of ( you pick any small town around, Dawson, Sylvester, Leesburg etc.) great income potential, formerly Lulu’s Hair Saloon and Bait Shop. There is no great income producing commercial property in small town U.S.A. It would not be a small town if there was great income all around. Buy this property and then you will have a place to store the above ground pool you bought on sale, the treadmill and Bowflex machine (still in the box), and your sister Susie’s washer and dryer that you are keeping for her because she got married last year but isn’t quite sure if it is going to work and she needs to save those things in case she decides to get this her fifth divorce. The only produced income will be the county’s tax digest.

Well I hope this offers a little assistance but I have to run as there is a “ once in a lifetime” piece of property for sale that I must go see.

Contact columnist T. Gamble at t@colliergamble.com.