Down the street from where we live is a house that’s for sale. This is not an unusual occurrence. Houses go up for sale all the time. However, this situation is different.
The house was declared “Unfit for Human Habitation” about a year ago when the city pounded a notice on the front door. And the people living there left. Then the notice was taken down. People moved into the house.
I assumed that the the house had been renovated/retrofitted—whatever was wrong with the house had been fixed. I was wrong.
A few weeks later, the people were out. And the sign was back up.
Then came the For Sale sign. As you can imagine, no legitimate realtor has taken on this property. The house is For Sale by Owner. And the UfHH sign was gone again. A few weeks later, the sign was back.
So now the house is for sale with a big UfHH sign on the door—in fact, there are two signs now. Though I’m not sure why putting up two signs makes the city think that the owner won’t tear them down. If you’re ripping down one, doing two isn’t a big deal.
And while I have no idea what the property laws are, I’m guessing that when someone buys a house, the fact that the house has been condemned is somewhere in the deed of ownership.
In the meantime, I’ve imagined the owner and a potential buyer dialoguing.
Buyer: So, uh, I saw your ad in the paper. It sounds like a really great deal.
Owner: It’s great deal. You should buy it.
Buyer: I’m definitely interested. Can my wife and I get a tour of the house?
Owner: This is such a hot property, it probably won’t be on the market long enough for you to see the house.
Buyer: Oh. You know, my wife and I drove by the house. And we noticed two signs on the door. They said, “Unfit for Human Habitation.”
Owner: Yeah, so I put those up to keep away thieves, gangs, and drug dealers.
Buyer: But I did notice some dry rot and termite damage in the eaves.
Owner: Right…I did that to set the scene.
Buyer: And the puddle around the foundation—that’s more of the same?
Owner: Absolutely. So are you ready to make an offer?
Buyer: Caveat emptor. I think we’ll look elsewhere.