IC Elesson: Holiday Poetry

You and I both know that you aren’t gonna be reading and digesting a long business article at this time of year, so we’ll keep it light this week.

Don’t ask me why, but I have, over the years, accumulated an enormous amount of real estate poetry. The muse usually strikes me around Christmas time, which explains the “Night Before Christmas Meets Dr. Seuss” nature of a lot of this. Anyway, it amuses me—hopefully, it will give you a little smile, too.

Ode to Holyoke Lane by Vena Jones-Cox

‘Tis the night before Christmas

And I bring a tale

Of five hard-learned lessons

From one little sale.

 

It’s a story of heartache,

Of trouble, of loss,

Of hassle and torment

And headache and cost

 

But before you can hear

How my cash and I parted,

You must first hear the story

Of how it all started.

 

An estate sale it was,

And in Forest Park, yet,

And the price was so low

That I went into debt

$60K, and the comps said

That price was just fine,

‘cause the value was closer

To 79.

 

And the “subject to” loan

Was especially sweet—

Just two thousand upfront!

It was too good to beat

With a stick! And the home

Was in lovely condition:

4 bedrooms, 2 baths,

And a cute little kitchen,

 

With a little paint here

And a touch-up or two,

It was gonna be perfect!

So I said to Drew

That I knew it would rent

For a zillion or more!

Or at least seven hundred

And seventy four

(plus a buck, give or take),

So let’s take it and run!

‘Cause the PITI

Was just 691.

 

So I took it, and ran—

Into trouble galore!

And it taught me the lessons

I mentioned before.

 

Lesson One: Never buy,

Lest your profits be gone

Any house, ‘til you’ve seen

The utilities on,

Or you may find the basement

All filled up with wet,

‘cause the sewer line’s broken

And what is worse yet

Is it’s broken up under

A really big tree

That you’ll have to remove

And you bet THAT’S not free…

 

And what’s more it’ll be

7 weeks ‘til they fix it

At a cost of four thousand,

And that’s a tough biscuit.

 

But not quite as tough

As the cracked heat exchanger

That puts all your tenants—

And profits—in danger,

In a furnace so old

That it must be replaced

Once the ductwork,

which is (of course) asbestos-laced

has been dealt with by pros

in their pretty white suits

who take all of your ductwork

and most of your loot,

 

About thirty-five hundred,

In case you’re still guessin’,

Which brings me right back

To the rest of my lessons.

 

Lesson Two: when you hire

A person you trust

To fix up your properties,

Still, it’s a must

To stop by and check on him,

or you may find

That your trusted contractor

Is stealing you blind.

 

He might TELL you he’s toiling

Day after day

On the painting, and cleanout,

And needs to be paid

About two thousand bucks

Which might have a nice ring

‘til you find out that he

Hasn’t painted a thing,

‘cept the floors, which were hardwood

And didn’t need paint

And the cost to refinish them

Might make you faint!

 

Near five grand was the total

To get the job done,

Since I paid for it twice

But I only got one

Painted house for the price

And for all of that pain.

And the contractor?

I never saw him again.

 

Lesson Three has to do

With the outrageous cost

Of a vacancy.

Think of the money that’s lost

In 8 monthly payments

Of six ninety-one

Plus the water and gas

And the ads that your run

While you wait for your house

To be ready to rent.

Fifty-five hundred is

How much you’ve spent,

Or that I spent, that is,

And that’s hard to replace!

And still harder to look

At yourself in the face

And to say, “can it be

I’m a real estate louse?

I’ve spent 80 to own

A high 70’s house!”

 

Lesson 4 is a short one,

And stated just so:

Don’t EVER rent

To a person you know

Or your mom knows,

Or whatever your case might be,

Or you’ll come to regret it,

For soon you will see

That with tenants, the thought is,

“we’re friends, which is great!

You’ll understand

when my payment is late!”

 

Since September, I’ve gotten 3 payments

Sublime!

(One check bounced, one was short,

And not one was on time).

 

Lesson five is the best one

I think you’ll agree,

‘cause it educates you

And it humbles poor me.

 

I’ve told you my story,

And this I do bid:

Do as I SAY,

And not as I DID.

 

Be logical, careful,

And organized too,

Or next Christmas the one with the tale

Might be YOU.

 

Now I bid you adieu,

And I slink out of sight…

Good investing to all,

And to all

A good night.

 

 

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