By on August 2, 2012

 

First the guy called. Then his wife. Then the repo driver.

The truck had been out in front of their house for nearly a half hour. Lights flashing. Neighbors peeved, and humiliation aplenty.

“Steve, I can get both cars. What do you want me to do?”

I want everyone to have a happy ending. But sometimes that’s just not possible.

In my business, three things will always result in me taking back my property.

1) Don’t pay.

2) Don’t tell me the truth.

3) Don’t return my calls.

In the case of this family #1 was well established. They had made good for well over a year, and then one of them more than likely lost their job or got their hours cut.

It’s not easy making lifestyle adjustments… if you’re a product of our debt driven culture.

I see this with everything in my business. Delayed maintenance on $30,000+ cars. Ungodly amounts of fast food and gas station convenience items in countless number of repos. Fast food wrappers strewn about with drinks bigger than my head. Those beverages are hopelessly laden with body deforming poisons and often times, you see the impact of those substances on flattened seat padding with small pillows on top of them that form yet another layer of a slow sad terminal decline for car and driver.

Not all the vehicles are like this. But the overwhelming majority of repos seem to show the battle scars of a culture that embodies the ‘gotta have it now’ mentality. It kills people over the long run.

“Let me talk to the guy. Is he with you? Yeah, good.”

“Hey Steve! I think you misunderstood me. I meant that I would make the payment next week, not this week.”

“Jeff. We talked on Thursday and the word you used in that conversation was ‘tomorrow’.  I also left you and Lisa several messages over the weekend and never heard back.”

This is the part that gets me. If something happens… please… let me know beforehand.

I’m a human being too and for the love of God, I’ll work with you. A guy who tells you that he’s willing to put the actual cost of the repair at the back of the loan at no interest wants you to succeed. Hell, I’ve even put oil changes on the back of loans when folks are truly strapped.

Lose your job? Got cancer? I will always verify but once I know, you’re golden. I’ve even deferred payments for as long as a year in a couple of extreme cases.

I want my community to be like Bedford Falls instead of Potterville. But I can only do that if you level with me.

This guy wasn’t leveling with me. I know he has reasons. Guess what? They are all shitty ones.

“Look Steve. I’m sorry. If you can hold off for a couple of days, I can get you $120.”

“Jeff, here’s our situation. You have two cars that we both know you can’t afford. I looked at what’s happened the last several months and I can help, but I can only do so much for you. The rest you have to do yourself. Look Jeff, the truth is you can only one afford one car. Just one. If I take both you won’t be able to handle the repo fee for either one.”

“Can you take the Hyundai then?”

This is where life becomes complicated. Between the two vehicles, the couple had paid close to $8000 already. I haven’t yet made my usual profit. But at least it’s been a decent one.

Then there is the issue of goodness. If you are good to folks, most will reciprocate… some won’t. The guy that I dealt with this evening was not a bad guy at all. He’s just struggling and that’s probably pushed him behind the usual standards he tries to live up to. For over a year he never gave me a problem.

In my experiences, these are the guys you try to help out of the gray area if you can.  The ones that will bite you in the end are fewer in number. You remember those and all too often forget about the ones where your flexibility and goodwill made the difference. Experience breeds skepticism and this often has a greater impact on the rules you set up for the business.

Every rule has exceptions once in a blue moon, and I was about to make a big one.

“How about if we bring the Hyundai back to the lot. You follow my driver in our Explorer. I’ll meet you at the lot and we’ll handle everything from there.”

After a brief thankful exchange, I headed to the lot, wondering what the hell I was doing.

Will I create a successful opportunity for this guy? Or am I just breaking the rules and bullshitting myself about the true nature of a manipulator who lets you give an inch, and then takes whatever assets and goodwill he can get out of you?

My rules make me lose money over the guy down the road who is willing to repo the same car five or six times. When I repo, it’s over. But I don’t repo much at all. In a business that typically has a 65% to 70% success rate, mine is right around 90%. I say no to the borderline deals and only sell cars that can make the note and beyond, if they aren’t abused or neglected.

I can live with doing this because I’m not greedy. I love cars. I love auctions. I enjoy the act of applying my efforts towards ideas and experiences that can have an enduring impact. Dad, husband, brother, son, friend… this is where most of us make that difference.

Money only provides us with the time and freedom we need to pursue those very things that are truly worth doing.

Saying no to money is a hard thing to do. When most guys see a river of financial success flowing, they want to build a dam and get every single drop of monetary gain out of it.

Dams in most any business take up an enormous amount of time to build. I know guys with enlarged hearts, divorces, cancers and pointlessly fatal levels of stress in their daily lives. All for the pursuit of the paper and ink.

As the son of an artistic mom and a frugalist dad, I was brought up to save well and trade that money still flowing in that river of opportunity, for more free time to enjoy life. I have never regretted that decision.

Every once in a while I need to make judgment calls. Tonight that middle aged grasshopper may not have chosen wisely. But he can live with it.

After all, the free market is only free when you have the freedom to make the most of it. Life is short. Go find something worth doing.

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58 Comments on “Hammer Time: The Tough Choice...”


  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    I fully understand your plight. Been there, done that, although not with autos.

    You are absolutely correct with the fact that the most irksome part are the non-answered, non-returned phone calls, or the bullshit “the check is in the mail” or “I’ll pay you on friday”. What a waste of time and energy.

    And you’ve nailed the root cause correctly. The struggle of people to live beyond their means, seduced by that beautiful house, that shiny car, that dream vacation, that gorgeous home entertainment system, all paid with credit.

  • avatar
    jmo

    ” The struggle of people to live beyond their means, seduced by that beautiful house, that shiny car, that dream vacation, that gorgeous home entertainment system, all paid with credit.”

    Is that the issue? I would assume the primary issue in Steve’s market is folks with very limited skills and intellectual ability who have a very difficult time earning a living. I’d figure its more an issue on the earnings side.

    • 0 avatar
      schmitt trigger

      Yes, that is the issue…but the sentence can be updated with your thoughts: “Folks with very limited skills and intellectual ability, which have been seduced by….etcetera”

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        ” have been seduced by”

        What I can only imagine is a very used Hyundai?

        Is the buy here pay here crowd that Steve deals with the ones living in the beautiful houses and going on dream vacations? I would have thought they were primarily the working poor?

      • 0 avatar
        Toad

        Earnings are only a problem when you spend more than you make. In my industry a lot of people make a decent living but spend every nickle they make, then borrow/finance/charge additional purchases. As a result most of them are always behind the 8 ball.

        I just advanced a guy $500 to repair his used BMW for the third time. The car looks good, he looks good in it, and his neighbors and friends think it is pretty cool. But it, and similar decisions, keep him broke and in debt. If he drove a more modest (and reliable) car he would not be in debt to me and have the option to put money in the bank. But he wouldn’t look quite so cool.

        Dr. Phil once said that if you gave all the rich peoples money to the poor people within 5 years the money would be right back where it started out. I believe him.

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        “Earnings are only a problem when you spend more than you make. ”

        Are we talking about the same folks? I would assume that most of the folks Steve is working with are the working poor. And for many of those people they honestly just don’t make enough. The guy in the article was a buy-here-pay-here-ing a very used Hyundai, he wasn’t leasing a 328i for $399 a month.

      • 0 avatar
        Toad

        Math rules apply regardless of income. If you spend more than you make you will be in debt whether you are rich or poor.

        Thinking basic economic rules don’t (or should not) apply to certain groups explains a lot of our problems.

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        “Thinking basic economic rules don’t (or should not) apply to certain groups explains a lot of our problems. ”

        But, how do you communicate those rules to a women who barely has the ability to make $10/hr before she ends up with three kids?

        We both know the first rule of holes is: when you’re in one, stop digging. But, I honestly think a segment of the population just doesn’t have the cognitive ability to do that.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        “But, how do you communicate those rules to a women who barely has the ability to make $10/hr before she ends up with three kids?”

        The same way you communicated the rules of instant gratification they live by now, with the idiot box (idiot panel?) that these people watch 8 hours a day.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        @jmo: “We both know the first rule of holes is: when you’re in one, stop digging. But, I honestly think a segment of the population just doesn’t have the cognitive ability to do that.”

        It seems to me that it’s not so much cognitive ability as the ability to connect a lot of inconsequential-seeming little decisions to a big remote goal.

        Take me, for instance. I have this problem when it comes to controlling my weight. Connecting thousands of inconsequential small decisions per month with an immediate reward to a big remote goal is be really hard to do — even for a guy like me who’s good at complicated things that take a lot of hard work. There are a lot of ways to solve this, ranging from electronic bookkeeping gadgets (works for me) to religious practice (doesn’t work for me) — but it’s not an easy thing to do, no matter how you approach it.

        Being able to think ahead, and also connect small decisions to big outcomes, seems to be the biggest difference between the high-earners and the low-earners that I know.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      “Is that the issue? I would assume the primary issue in Steve’s market is folks with very limited skills and intellectual ability who have a very difficult time earning a living. I’d figure its more an issue on the earnings side.”

      I’ve seen many people who don’t make enough, yet get by okay. And I’ve seen many people who make more than enough who bury themselves. I unequivocally agree that the seductions of luxury and immediacy mixed with the inability to manage is the primary cause.

      • 0 avatar
        Syke

        There are certain people who, due to their current income, have no business owning a car. Need transportation (of course you do)? Get a bicycle. Millions use them every day, and there’s no cost in gas, etc. Being an American does not automatically guarantee car ownership.

        The hard, cold math says: When you’re spending more than you’re bringing in, you have two (and only two) choices – either make more money, or cut back the spending. Period.

        Necessities? That’s food on the table, (non-designer) clothes on your back, and some kind of roof over your head. Everything else is optional, depending on one’s income. And, amongst that list of optionals (far from inclusive)is: Automobiles, cell phones, televisions, stereos, video games, designer clothes, restaurant dinners, Friday nights at the club.

        And the biggest dumb move of all: Finding oneself pregnant while poor and unplanned.

      • 0 avatar
        Hoser

        I think it was George Carlin who pined: “OK, think about how stupid the average person is. Now realize half the people are more stupid than that.”

        I know statistically that’s not correct (mean vs. median vs. mode) but the idea still applies.

  • avatar
    Eric the Red

    Collected for 25 years. Everyone will have problems at some points in our lives, how we handle them shows the real person. When a customer calls me the conversation is always better than when I have to call them. The Truth Will Set You Free! Just tell me what is going on and what you can do, and if that changes tell me why and then tell me again what you can do. I don’t want to find out that you skipped payments to go on vacation. But if you call me and just say “I would like to extend a payment” I probably won’t even ask why.

  • avatar
    photog02

    For something that is supposed to be about cars, that was certainly an insightful commentary on modern Western culture.

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    I’m seeing folks in their early sixties facing up to the fact they are no longer able to live a middle class lifestyle. Rule #1 – Credit is not an entitlement. It makes a fixed income monthly budget even tighter.

    “When a customer calls me the conversation is always better than when I have to call them.” – That’s because the one who called is ready to face facts.

    Just witnessed a 63 year old friend take way too long to face facts – to the point she was evicted from her apartment. The budget killer here was a late model car bought on credit.

  • avatar
    Mzdaspd304

    “‘gotta have it now’ mentality” <- this is the issue of western culture. It isn't about money or credit. It's the fact this is 'murica and we gotta have it now come hell or high water. Money doesn't buy things, WE buy things. It's just like saying guns don't kill people. People kill people. Spending money and using credit responsibly doesn't put people in trouble, just like you don't go running around brandishing and waving a loaded gun with your finger on the trigger.

    Everyone struggles, I understand, I've been there. But I can only have heart for people who really had lived within their means even during the whole economic boom and then when things went to hell now they are struggling. These people played by the rules and are now hurting.

    I don't have heart for people who bought a $400k house on an ARM with a combined family income of $35k/year. It doesn't take a financial analyst to realize you can't afford it (but technically you can because of low rates.) Preditory lending aside, which is a huge issues as well, these people should have known better. Just because you can doesn't mean you should. But like I said, this is 'murica and I gotta have it now.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      “Preditory lending aside, which is a huge issues as well, these people should have known better.”

      My work has put me in contact with folks who have forced me to realize that a certain (far larger than I would have estimated) portion of the population just doesn’t have the intellectual ability to know any better.

      • 0 avatar
        Mzdaspd304

        Which a damn shame honestly. It isn’t complicated, honestly knowing what you can and can’t afford is basic financial literacy and comptency. We aren’t talking IRA investments or understanding FX trading here.

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        ” It isn’t complicated, honestly knowing what you can and can’t afford is basic financial literacy and comptency. ”

        Should you go into debt to buy a home? If so, how much? I hear everyone saying that PITI should be 30% of gross – and that’s a conservative number. I’d be up all night with that kind of monthly nut. But, 10s of millions think they are the model of prudence going into that kind of debt.

        If not 30% then what %? It’s not hard? Sure it is.

      • 0 avatar
        Mzdaspd304

        jmo-

        You are making more complicated than it really is, this is also the reason why people feel like they have no clue what you are doing. Its a simple balance sheet. Income on the left, expenses on the right. Any respectable lending institution can give you an amortization schedule about what your monthly payment will be. This is also part of TIL requirements. I do believe our friends north of the boarder have similar, if not the same, truth in lending requirements. Also, there are hundreds of resources out there for public consumption about averages for personal property taxes on a home including utilities that can placed right in the expense column. Even large expense can be easily calculated before buying a home. Oh, you are looking at an older home an HVAC system might be needed soon. Perhaps a new roof, carpeting/wood/tile floors..financed or paying for these things out right, either way, right into the expense column it goes. Can you afford it or can you not? Can you pay with out living paycheck to paycheck? Do you still have money at the end of the week to save?

        I’ve done these VERY simple things, own my own home and live just fine. I’m not super conservative with my money nor do I just go blow it off on everything.

        The vast majority of people who buy a home have to go into the debt. Debt is just another expense, thats all it is, just like paying your cell phone bill or your utilities.

        When you start considering, PITI, Debt to Income, LVR% you start to become an underwriters best friend. Its pretty easy to understand you don’t take out a loan astronomcially higher than what the home/car is actually worth. (minus car depreciation, as soon as you drive it off the lot your loan is higher than the cars worth, every buyer is just screwed there.)

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        I’ve done these VERY simple things,

        They are simple, for someone like you with an IQ over 100. It’s not so easy for the half of the population with an IQ under 100.

      • 0 avatar
        Toad

        “Should you go into debt to buy a home? If so, how much? I hear everyone saying that PITI should be 30% of gross – and that’s a conservative number. I’d be up all night with that kind of monthly nut. But, 10s of millions think they are the model of prudence going into that kind of debt.”

        The old rule of thumb used to be that a house should cost no more than two times your annual gross income, while a car should cost no more than half your annual gross income.

        Those simple rules are an excellent starting point and they will keep your debt very manageable. You can always spend less than those amounts, but you should never spend more.

    • 0 avatar
      Polar Bear

      Having lived in Asia, I can report that living beyond means isn’t just a Western thing. Asians are even worse, many ending up with 10% interest per month loan sharks to keep their expensive cars and fancy phones.

      • 0 avatar
        arun

        You might want to qualify that statement. Indians are known to be amongst the cheapest bastards alive – I would know, I am an Indian. Not all Asians do that stuff that you say – you are probably referring to the Orientals or East Asians.

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        I would know, I am an Indian.

        Have you been to an Indian wedding?

      • 0 avatar
        hgrunt

        @arun People in India, China, etc. spend scads of money in the pursuit of social status. Their “Gotta have it” mentality just manifests itself differently than it does in the US. Here’s a particularly extreme example of materialism, where a kid sells his kidney for an iPad 2. Not to feed his family or anything. Just to get some goodies.

        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/apple/8552195/Chinese-teen-sells-his-kidney-for-an-iPad-2.html

    • 0 avatar
      arun

      As a recent immigrant to Merica, I totally agree with this mindset. I have a credit card that I pay off in full every single month – that is the way I have always been taught to use money. Don’t bite off more than you can chew! It really aint rocket science.

      It is a shame that this great country has come to this simply because they weren’t taught about the value of frugality

    • 0 avatar
      hgrunt

      It’s not just a western thing. Materialism and chasing social status through wealth acquisition (and showing it off) is something a lot of cultures have, even before exposure to the west. It’s far more “visible” to us now, because many people around the world see american things as high status. One particularly extreme case of materialism is the incident in China where a 17 year old in Anhui, one of the poorest provinces in China, sold his kidney for about $3200 to buy an iPad 2.

  • avatar
    brettc

    Really good article, Steve. This sort of thing is fascinating to me because I’ve done what I can to insulate myself from unexpected loss of cash-flow, namely having a large amount of savings and just being a cheap guy in general.

    I know for a lot of people it’s difficult to get out of a hole but I also know a lot of the time it’s because they’ve continued to have kids or buy “stuff” they don’t need. Kids and stuff are very expensive things but a lot of people can’t seem to put 2 and 2 together and figure that out. So insight into your world is always a good read.

  • avatar
    JohnTheDriver

    I love your articles Steven, Hammer Time is the reason I read TTAC quite frankly. But expecting people to have the same morals you do? Telling the truth, returning the call, etc. NOT GONNA HAPPEN.

  • avatar
    MarkP

    Admirable attitude.

    I once sold a nearly worn-out skid steer loader to a family tree-cutting business. They made one payment and then stopped. As I was trying to decide what to do about it I caught a story on the Atlanta news about a shooting at a truck rental place in Kennessaw. One of those killed was the son in law, and one of those wounded was the son. I decided that family had enough trouble without my adding to it.

  • avatar
    Chicago Dude

    Hey Steve, I wouldn’t mind you chiming in on a repo situation I’ve got.

    We moved my grandparents into an assisted living arrangement and came to find out that their car was significantly upside down. The family decided that they needed the payment money allocated towards living expenses and that the note was just going to go into default.

    We’ve called the lender and told them the situation. We told them where the car is parked and asked them to provide an address and we will mail the keys to them (there is massive geographic separation so nothing will be done in person). They aren’t responding. It’s been a few months now and the car is still parked out in front of the house according to the real estate agent that we’ve hired to sell the house (at least that had some equity).

    Why would they do this? The car is an old Saturn so it’s pretty undesirable but it is very clean, has had regular maintenance and was never driven much.

    • 0 avatar
      bryanska

      Send a couple registered mails to the lender, and get a notary to verfiy the address is the same as on the loan doc. Read into abandoned property law, and find the time limit there. After that time limit expires and the car is essentially abandonded, drive the car like you own it. Contact the bank after the time limit and ask for the title. You might get it. A pro bono legal service might help the elderly in your area.

    • 0 avatar
      timotheus980

      The bank doesn’t care what you say, they will only respond to your grandparents unless you have a power of attorney, and then they will want to see it first.

      Have your grandparents call or better yet just line up a buyer and see if the bank will settle for the short sale amount. 7 or 8 times out of 10 they will and that will make everyone happier in the long run.

      at bryanska “drive the car like you own it”

      Are you serious? I think this speaks volumes about your character sir and that’s terrible advice. Yes, the banks are incompetent and stupid but they don’t deserve to be abused in this way. Trust me, if you wait long enough they will eventually notice your not paying them. Further, the bank did not abandon the property, it’s not there’s to abandon until they take possession of it, the grandparents would have abandoned it

  • avatar
    70Cougar

    Steve’s articles are a great antidote to the “I’ve got to have the latest and greatest” urge I get from reading about new cars on TTAC. You will not find anything similar in the buff books.

  • avatar
    thirty-three

    “Money only provides us with the time and freedom we need to pursue those very things that are truly worth doing.”

    I wish that more people understood this. In the time since I realized this truth, I severely curtailed my spending, went back to university to complete my BASc, and got a job doing things that I love. I now live a low-stress life with more money than I know what to do with.

    Sure, I drive an old car, don’t own all the latest gadgets, or live in a beautifully finished home, but I’m happy and financially secure.

  • avatar
    icemilkcoffee

    Well don’t leave us hanging- what did you do with the guy’s Hyundai and Explorer?

  • avatar
    JCraig

    Great read. About 10 years ago (around 21 at the time) I bought a used Grand Cherokee from a local dealer that financed it in house. An expensive repair came up and I had a choice to make, miss a payment or not drive for a while. I called them to explain and they not only offered to put the repair on the back of the loan, no fee or interest, but also said they’d have it done at the shop they used to make sure it was done right. Not all local buy-here-pay-here dealers are crooks, as you show us here.

    It took me all of my 20′s to break the credit habit. My current car I’ve owned 4 years, which is a personal record by a wide margin. Some people don’t seem to ever grow out of caring what everyone around them thinks. Aggressively paying down debt has given me a sense of freedom, and I can still flip the occaisional car to get that ‘new’ car fix.

  • avatar
    bunkie

    I understand about the whole, “why don’t they call me” thing, I really do.

    But, while not defending it, for many people (and in this case since they were good customers up to a point it seems possible) the shame of not being able to pay bills coupled with the hope that, tomorrow, it will get better (you’ll get the job, etc.) and you will be able to get caught up makes it incredibly difficult to make that call. The phone becomes your enemy, it’s far easier to hide from the truth of an awful situation.

    Granted, there are real grifters out there. But for many people, I think this is the hard reality and they live in such fear of losing even more ground and (here’s the difficult part of it) they are so beaten down that they just don’t have the moral courage at the time to do what we all know should be done.

    I’m not saying that you should behave differently but, at times, courage is hard to come by. No decent person likes behaving like that, but it does happen.

  • avatar
    buzzliteyear

    Stories like this always bring to mind the following commercial:

    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r0HX4a5P8eE&version=3&hl=en_US

  • avatar
    mcarr

    Steve I can relate to your sentiments exactly having dealt with the same type of people in rental housing. I consider myself to be pretty understanding and generous to a fault, but the lies and no call-backs really grate on you. This article read like so many conversations I’ve had with previous and current tenants.

    Here’s hoping you don’t end up getting screwed this time for putting human decency ahead of business.

  • avatar
    jeoff

    It is the same thing with rental property. If you give some folks a little help when things are tough, they will rebound–or at least leave without destroying the place and having to be evicted. Others, will take any help as your weakness to be taken advantage of, they will eventually dare you to kick them out, and count on delaying eviction the process while they don’t pay rent and trash the house.

  • avatar
    SuperACG

    “Dams in most any business take up an enormous amount of time to build. I know guys with enlarged hearts, divorces, cancers and pointlessly fatal levels of stress in their daily lives. All for the pursuit of the paper and ink.”

    This is the same reason why I’ve curbed my spending and thought about what I really want out of life. Too bad most females take one look at my old Ford Focus and automatically assume I’m not ambitious because I don’t drive or want a BMW.

  • avatar
    Geekcarlover

    I was an apartment manager for a while. When moving new people in I’d explain my personality. Rent was due on the 1st,late on the 5th. If you tell me in advance I had no problem floating for a few weeks. If I’m knocking on your door on the 6th, big problem. For the most part this worked out well.
    A week or so ago TTAC had a column asking what car indicated the contented life. I posted “Paid off”. When I lost my job and eventually found another with a 40% pay cut, it was a great stress reducer to not have to deal with car payments.

  • avatar
    Zarba

    I work at a financial institution in Atlanta. Steve has it right.

    If you call us and talk to us, we can almost always work it out. Suspend payments, reduce rates, whatever, IF, and ONLY IF, you keep your word.

    Lie to me and the truck will be there tomorrow. I’ve learned from painful experience that a borrower who lies once will lie again and again.

    On another point Steve hits it: Almost every repo we get is full of fast food wrappers, big gulps, and scratch-off lottery tickets. NEVER fails.

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    This thread has some good and insightful posts, I look forward to TTAC when I get home every night.

  • avatar
    jeffzekas

    Thanks, Steven- I was a landlord for awhile, and it was a miserable experience- it has taken a LONG time for me to regain my faith in humanity- thank you for the words of wisdom.

    • 0 avatar
      SuperACG

      I’m a landlord myself and it hasn’t been too miserable of an experience, but since I have been jobless for a long time, and all my money is tied up in these properties, I’m looking to get out now.

      The kicker is is one of my tenants is a dream tenant! Always pays on time, never hear from him otherwise. The problem is the person in the unit above! So far there have been two ruptured pipes that have damaged my unit, and I had to pay for the damage while unsuccesfully trying to collect from the landlord of the above unit. After the fixes, this tenant fell into some money and asked for first right of refusal if I ever decide to sell. Took me a month to decide to just take a loss and give it to him before the upstairs tenant breaks something else!

      My other property has a freeloading student who is perpetually late on payments and when I threaten to add a late fee, he has the check the next day. What’s funny is that he would ignore my calls and e-mails, but when one of the faucets started leaking, he became the squeakiest wheel! I was lucky to find a contractor to fix it now and charge me later. I’m getting ready to sell this property, but the freeloading student keeps asking for another month extension to the lease…after paying me on time for once!

      I guess it could be worse. Once, when doing the final walkthrough of a tenant moving out, it looked immaculate, except for the stacks of boxes he said would be gone once he finished moving out. Well, after returning his entire security deposit, I returned to the unit the next day to find SEVERE STAINS on the carpet where the stacks of boxes were! I got lucky the next tenant paid to have the carpet professionally cleaned.

      • 0 avatar
        schmitt trigger

        I’ve owned rental properties for 27 years…I’ve experienced the whole spectrum of human behavior also.

        My advice is one that was given to me many moons ago: Nobody takes a rental car to the car wash. When I get a unit back, I expect that there will be always something that requires fixing.

        Of course there are better individuals, there are worse individuals, and there are monsters.

      • 0 avatar
        SuperACG

        How funny, because I have actually washed a rental car, because it was so damn filthy. I also drive rentals like I drive my own car. Gently. I see no reason to drive aggressively.

        Even when staying in hotels, I rarely touch anything. I pretty much only sleep there. I guess I’m the rare exception.

  • avatar
    creamy

    “Dr. Phil once said that if you gave all the rich peoples money to the poor people within 5 years the money would be right back where it started out. I believe him.”

    Seems to me that during the housing boom many poor people gave their money to the rich and, within about a five year period, rich people didn’t do so well with that money; they just had more of a cushion (and the federal bailout money) to fall back on.

    Point is, there seems to be people with integrity and without at every socioeconomic level.

  • avatar
    WheelMcCoy

    Thanks Steve for renewing my faith in humanity. I’ve read about too many companies where profit must made at any and all costs. I’m also tired of those same companies that hide behind “we must think of the shareholders” excuse to behave like a-holes.

    If more people tried to conduct business like you, I’m sure we would not be in this economic mess.

  • avatar

    I once worked for a debt collection law firm. The only job I ever quit without another one lined up. The trick is to separate the scammer (whether due to ill will or desperation) from the honest.

    My local mechanic has the complaint that he gets asked for “credit” frequently after the work is done-not before.


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