It's What I Wonder When I Show An Empty House

By
Real Estate Agent with McGraw Realtors

Who Sat Here by Bob HaywoodWhen I pulled up to the house, my heart fell.  The grass was waist high and the weeds were even higher.  Glancing at the structure, I could tell that it had been a beautiful home at one time.  But today it was only a shell of its' former life.  "What had happened here?" I wondered as I waded through what had been a front lawn to open the door.  It's What I Wonder When I Show An Empty House.

In this particular case, it had been a divorce that had set the wheels in motion and that had brought me and my buyers to this day.  That, combined with the national housing crisis, had left this house empty and abandoned.  What would I find inside?  A trashed and destroyed memory of what once was?  Or a perfectly clean, stark, whitewashed picture...designed to cover up the recent history?  I knew it wouldn't be the latter.  It never is.  The only question when the house is a foreclosure or divorce situation is "How bad will it be?"  This is What I Wonder When I Show An Empty House.

Upon entering the house, I was relieved.  It was clean and there were no holes in the walls.  Whoever was last to move out didn't take their frustration, anger or rage out on the walls.  The kitchen was missing the stove, but the dishwasher remained.  And there were no broken windows anywhere, which was surprising since this home was somewhat isolated in the country.  The master bedroom checked out okay as did the master bathroom. 

It was when I went upstairs that the reality of what had been sunk in.  There I found the kid's rooms.  One was the purple room, which you usually see.  One was the boy's room, with a sailboat theme.  And the other one was the princess room.  It had a castle on one wall, a brick wall paper border and the child's name high up on one wall.  Who was this family?  What were the kids like?  Are they okay today?  Was there love and laughter here?  Or was it more frustration, fear and loathing?  I may be strange, but this is the kind of thing I Wonder When I Show An Empty House. 

The upgraded lighting fixtures and cloth cord cover on the dusty entry chandalier tell me that somebody who lived here once cared.  They were detail oriented and worked hard to make this house beautiful.  So what went wrong in their lives that has now caused this home to be void of the dreams that once filled it?  This is what I wonder as I look around. 

I suppose you're not supposed to be philosophical when showing houses, but I guess I can't help it.  The fact that empty houses represent what once was makes me consider what now is...for the people who once called this house their home and for the people who are now looking at it as their potential home.  And it makes me consider the same thing for my own home too.  And it gives me the resolve to make sure that I do what must be done to ensure that what now is (in my life) never becomes what once was.

Because if it ever does, someone else might be walking though my empty house someday wondering some of the very same things I wonder.

Photo copyright Bob Haywood.

Originally Posted at: My Owasso Home

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  1. Mary Macy 10/03/2010 10:31 PM
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Rainmaker
312,553
Lori Churchill Cofer
Beasley Realty - Pullman, WA
Realtor - 509-330-0086 - Pullman, WA

Bob,

I too wonder...I showed a house a while back with the children's rooms painted...one pink...one blue.  It made me feel really sad... :(

Oct 02, 2010 12:59 AM #16
Rainer
12,578
Andrew Bloch
Ocean Beach, CA
Ocean Beach Real Estate | Photographer | OB Photography

The bank owned homes really have taken a toll on this market! Pretty sad

Oct 02, 2010 01:38 AM #17
Rainmaker
1,659,557
Dorie Dillard
Coldwell Banker United Realtors - Austin, TX
Realtor-Canyon Creek- NW, Austin TX Homes For Sale

Good morning Bob,

I often wonder the same things and it is sad to see. Broken dreams..broken promises..it's hard not to feel the families mark they made on their home.

Oct 02, 2010 06:45 AM #18
Anonymous
Anonymous
Anonymous

Bob,

Many times these homes bring tears to my eyes. It is never easy to see shattered dreams!

Oct 02, 2010 07:59 AM #19
Rainmaker
323,611
Ellen Dittman
Watson Realty Corp. - Middleburg, FL
#1 Stop for NE FLA-JAX/OP 904.535.1199 (TEXT OK) r

I showed and REO last week, it had just gone on the market. Some of the neighbors were standing outside observing the what may have been the first showing. We waved, they did not. I initial impression was they were sad to see thier neighbors house on the market 

Oct 02, 2010 07:59 AM #20
Rainmaker
252,752
Kathy Denworth
Century 21 Schwartz Realty - Islamorada, FL
Realtor in the Florida Keys, Islamorada, Key Largo

One of the saddest things I witnessed was an eviction. The parents had been warned and the sheriff stopped by 3 days before to let them know that "Monday was the day". The parents did nothing. We we arrived for the eviction, the Dad THEN started to pack. It was to late, he was escorted out and my team proceeded to empty the house.

A computer was beside the child's bed, a math book on the dining table. These kids went to school that morning thinking they were coming back to their house that night. It took over 2 years for the foreclosure. The parents should have prepared themselves, but especially their family.

I was gratified that Dad got a friend with a truck and started removing the stuff from the curb. We kept watch until 10:00 that night so they could get their stuff before the scavengers came along.

 

Oct 02, 2010 08:07 AM #21
Ambassador
381,628
Bob Haywood
McGraw Realtors - Owasso, OK
www.BobHaywood.com

Kathy - Wow.  Now that is heartbreaking.  Haven't experienced that one.

Oct 02, 2010 08:12 AM #22
Ambassador
993,528
Alan May
Coldwell Banker Residential - Evanston, IL
Evanston & Northshore of Chicago real estate

Just like our clients, we're susceptible to wondering about the occupants of the home.

Oct 02, 2010 09:25 AM #23
Ambassador
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Patricia Kennedy
Evers & Company Real Estate, Inc. - Washington, DC
For Your Home in the Capital

Bob, what a lovely post!  I hope that wherever these people are today that their lives have moved on to a happier state. 

Oct 02, 2010 10:29 AM #24
Rainmaker
413,607
The Scott Loper Team Lansdale & Harleysville PA Homes
Keller Williams Real Estate - Montgomeryville - Lansdale, PA

Hi Bob,

I always see the humanity in the homes I show and wonder about the stories of the people who lived there.  I can't help myself.

~Lisa

Oct 02, 2010 10:47 AM #25
Rainmaker
41,994
Melissa Sall
Sulek & Dutton Real Estate - Saint Clairsville, OH
Realtor ~ Belmont County ~ Ohio

Good post. Everytime I show a home, vacant or not I always wonder "what is their story?" Especially when there were children involved. My heart aches when I go into a REO property that hasn't been cleaned out yet and there are so many of the childrens toys and belongings still remaining. So sad...

Oct 02, 2010 11:05 AM #26
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Brenda Mullen
RE/MAX Access - Schertz, TX
Your San Antonio TX Real Estate Agent!!

Your blog just gave me goosebumps.  Very well written :).

Oct 02, 2010 03:02 PM #27
Rainmaker
570,044
Bill Gillhespy
16 Sunview Blvd - Fort Myers Beach, FL
Fort Myers Beach Realtor, Fort Myers Beach Agent - Homes & Condos

Hi Bob,  I sometimes feel that until you have experienced the pain and fear that accompanies a life spiraling out of control you are not a complete Realtor !  I'm still convinced that behind every distressed sale is a family torn apart from their home and dreams !  As agents we only see the backend of that sad journey.

Oct 02, 2010 03:23 PM #28
Rainer
37,647
Michael Emerson
Keller Williams Realty - San Juan Capistrano, CA

Bob, we must remember that these houses were all once homes!

Oct 02, 2010 03:49 PM #29
Rainmaker
45,404
Peggy Noel
RE/MAX Commonwealth - Chesterfield, VA
Bouchard, ABR, CDPE, SFR

Bob, I've been through the same gamut of feelings when I show homes - as to the outside, my question is where the heck is the listing agent?  S/he ought to be checking their properties frequently enough to make sure there aren't weeds that are waist high!

Oct 02, 2010 04:05 PM #30
Rainmaker
204,504
Peggy Wester
Think Young Team--Realty Executives Integrity - Grafton, WI
Real Estate Agent Ozaukee & Washington County Real

Excellent post, Bob. Sometimes I think I get a little too sentimental when I walk through these houses. Seeing children's toys or clothes strewn on the floor is heartbreaking. How can one not wonder what happened? Those moments, though, teach me to say a quick prayer for that family, where ever they might be, that those "better times ahead" are here for them now.

Oct 02, 2010 05:27 PM #31
Rainmaker
1,167,801
Cheryl Ritchie
RE/MAX Leading Edge www.GoldenResults.com - Huntingtown, MD
Southern Maryland 301-980-7566

I have had the same sense of wonder on some of the homes I have shown lately.

Oct 02, 2010 06:30 PM #32
Ambassador
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Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 800-610-7253 DRE01267479 - Costa M

The houses really do feel some what "haunted" these days as you see families who have lost their dreams, and like you, I don't want this to be my family.

Oct 02, 2010 10:37 PM #33
Rainmaker
635,088
Dawn A Fabiszak
Keller Williams Real Estate ( Denver metro area, Colorado - Aurora, CO
The Dawn of a New Real Estate Experience!

Bob ~ excellent post.  It is such a sad story on so many empty houses that were once loving homes to so many. 

Oct 03, 2010 04:22 PM #34
Rainer
143,700
Victor Zuniga
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services California Properties - San Diego, CA

Even though most listing have pictures sometimes thing are left out. Yo never know what you're going to get sometimes. Foreclosures here in San Diego sometimes only have a pictureof the outside which is really scary.

Oct 03, 2010 10:38 PM #35
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