Case Study S Adrienne Ave Stockton: Probate, Deferred Maintenance, Code Violations, Eviction, Tax Liens and Bankruptcy
Sometimes a house has so many issues both physically and on Title that it becomes almost impossible to unravel the puzzle and enlist the help of enough people to right the ship.
312 S Adrienne Ave has such a Story.
I received a call from a man that asked me if I would be interested in buying his house. He proceeded to tell me that his parents had left the house to him and that he needed to sell it fast because the County was coming down on him with unpaid taxes and Code Violations. He didn’t have the money to pay the taxes or fix the house.
He told me that he was referred to me by a previous client that I had bought 2 houses from. I listened intently and we made an appointment for me to meet him at the house. He explained that the house had tenants but they had not paid their rent for 4 months but he didn’t have the money to evict them. He reiterated that he just wanted to sell. He wanted out of the bad situation.
- Bad Tenants
- County Code Violations
- House issues Deferred maintenance
- Tax Liens
I met Ronnie for the first time when I drove up to the house and I saw a man in the yard with what looked like and sounded like a chainsaw trying to cut up a yellow fiberglass boat that was in the side yard. As I parked I saw another person standing on the roof of the house throwing what appeared to be individual shingles like Frisbee’s into the street. As I got out I remember laughing to myself thinking… this is going to be interesting.
I have to admit I had reservations about walking up to the man with the chainsaw, but what was my alternative. So I honked my horn and with that one blast of the horn the craziness stopped. The shingles were no longer flying and the chainsaw came to a stop.
I loudly asked, is Ronnie here? As he put the chainsaw in the dirt I realized he was the man who had called me. I walked over and introduced myself and I asked him what the shingle throwing was about? He yelled at the teenager on the roof and he quickly got down.
Ronnie said to me… “see what I mean about this house… I have got to sell this place. That kid on the roof is the tenants son and he has been throwing shingles all morning and wont stop. I asked Ronnie why he didn’t just call the police and Ronnie made it clear he did not want the police there.
Ronnie and I discussed the house and I was able to see a portion of it with the permission of the tenant. One foot into the house and the stench was unbearable. I took two more steps and my eyes began to water. I covered my nose and mouth and exited backwards quickly stating that I had seen enough.
As I walked outside Ronnie said, again… “I need to sell this place. What will you give me for it”?
We discussed the condition of the house, the repairs that were certainly going to be needed, the neighborhood, the tenants and their lease the code violations and finally the Tax Liens. I thought we had covered all of the bases and so I asked Ronnie to get together all of the paperwork that he had regarding his parents death, inheritance along with his parents death certificates. He explained that he had lost them in a fire at another house but he would get copies of whatever was needed.
From the beginning I knew there would be issues at every turn and I knew that the tenants were going to pose a problem, but I did not realize that the owner was going to become the biggest obstacle of all.
The Rest of the Story:
With the Purchase and Sale Agreement in hand I delivered it to the title company with a request for a fast closing. The preliminary title report was “rush ordered” and the wheels were in motion. With in 48 hours the Title Report came back and I received a call from the Title Officer explaining that she needed more information because Ronnie was in fact not on title for that the property as it was still vested in the name of both his parents.
I immediately called Ronnie and it became clear that after his parents died (the last 9 years ago) he had not taken any steps to Probate the house. He said he didn’t have the money and that his brothers were unwilling to help. He had never mentioned the brothers before.
Brothers? Ronnie explained that he had not talked to one in over a year and the other since his Fathers funeral. He said that they wanted nothing to do with the house. I explained to him that that didn’t matter and that in the absence of a judges ruling on the rightful succession of the property it would need to go through probate if he wanted to sell the house.
He explained that he could call his one brother, but would not talk to the other. I asked him for Brother Bill’s phone number.
After contacting Bill, a whole different story regarding the family house unfolded and it came to light that Ronnie had not inherited the house and that the other brothers believed that Ronnie lived there when he wasn’t in jail, as that what Mom and Dad wanted. He had no idea that the house was in Tax Default but did acknowledge that the house had suffered major damage under his younger brothers watch.
Bill offered to contact his other brother to see about getting a meeting with at least two of the brothers as Steve was sure that no one was going to meet if Ronnie were present.
After talking to all three of the Brothers it became clear that Ronnie had tried to sell the property without his brothers knowledge and they were not going to allow that to happen.
The Brothers had not lived in Stockton for sometime and Ronnie had ended up with the house in default. The truth of the matter is that had Ronnie just been honest and approached his brothers, or allowed me to do so they would have walked away and allowed him to keep the proceeds from the sale.
They all wanted the house sold, the liability gone and someone other than Ronnie orchestrating and managing the process. Once we agreed on the purchase price, and drew up the Purchase and Sale Agreement it was a waiting game for the courts but since the value of the property was less than $150,000 the entire process took less than 4 months,
With the San Joaquin County Code Enforcement and Health Departments demanding a massive cleanup a plan for securing the property and required repairs we immediately called for a meeting to negotiate our options. The first objective was to negotiate a time table in which both departments would satisfied without levying any new fines and penalties.
Our strategy was aggressive and we committed to having plans for a remodel and addition submitted within one week of the purchase. We also committed to completing the project with in 60 days of building plan approval.
Once we found out that the house had not been through Probate we consulted the Family and then hired a Probate Attorney. We paid those Cost and maintained the house until it could legally be purchased. We handled all of the paperwork and we made sure that the property taxes were paid.
In the end, the house that would have been lost to Stockton Code Violations or a County Tax Sale. Both were vacated and the house was free and clear and each of the Brothers received their fair share of what Mom and Dad had worked so hard to acquire.
Some Real Estate Problems Are Resolved with the Sale of the House
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