Monday, May 25, 2009
A $20,000 Conversation On Lyndale Ave. North...
Photos By John Hoff
A couple days ago I was calling 311 on vacant houses with weedy lawns--calling in so many you'd think I was getting a COMMISSION or something--when I came upon a house on Lyndale Ave. N. with owner contact information prominently posted.
I won't call the Minneapolis 311 system when I can reach an owner THIS easily. Posting this kind of information is a way of saying, "We give a rip. Please, call US first." I just assume the other owners of vacant properties don't give a rip, since they don't post any information.
(Personally, I think posting owner contact info should be a REQUIREMENT for owners of vacant houses but, hey, I'm an idea-a-minute kind of guy, just like my son the robot enthusiast)
So I called the number. Left a message. How unsatisfying. Get me a live human being. I called the OTHER posted number, and reached a friendly, chatty woman. I informed her the lawn was weedy (in excess of 8 inches) plus crack heads had started to strip off the siding...
My smoking hot Realtor Juley Viger used to say metal thieves were desperately trying to feed their families. I'd reply their families were hungry, sure...because their breadwinner was ADDICTED TO CRACK. I think we ultimately had to agree to disagree, but who's the one left in North Minneapolis actually DEALING with metal thieves? Well, that would be me, while Juley's living large in South Minneapolis.
(Suggested branding effort for South Minneapolis: This Place Is SoMi)
The chatty lady was dismayed to learn siding was being stolen, and informed me copper thieves had already made off with the pipes. She thanked me for calling her instead of the city, and promised to get somebody out first thing Tuesday after the upcoming Memorial Day weekend.
"Just because I'm curious," I said. "What is the list price of this one?"
She informed me it was $49,000. I laughed out loud. And then I apologized and said, you know, the going price around here for a decent little house missing its plumbing is holding pretty solid around $17,500 to $18,000.
She explained to me the house had Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) and this was part of the reason the price was listed so high, because somebody was trying to avoid writing off a loss. However, she said, if the house was starting to lose pieces of its siding, then condemnation might be looming in the near future. Maybe she could fire off an email. Maybe she could see about lowering the price...
"COULD YOU?!" I said, hardly able to believe how well this conversation was going. "I mean, really, $18,000 is where the price should be."
The woman on the phone thought $29,000 was a better price. She'd see about lowering it to $29,000. I swore up and down I'd try to keep an eye on the place, so there would be something left to sell. Thank you, ma'am. We're trying so hard to turn this neighborhood around. THANK YOU.
And she was all, like, no...thank YOU.
As I hit the power button on my cell phone, I realized this little conversation had caused a fluctuation in the local real estate market to the tune of $20,000.