Saturday, April 16, 2011

Alone, Broke & Target Of Seattle-Area Real Estate Profiteers

In Seattle, Washington, The Seattle Times reports on a local homeowner who's broke, alone, living without heat or utilities, believed by helpful neighbors to be of diminished mental health, on the verge of losing his mortgage-free home at a foreclosure sale for unpaid real estate taxes, and being circled by the vultures real estate investors looking to snag his house on the cheap.

  • Alan, 59, inherited this house free and clear after his father died six years ago. That makes him fortunate. But now he's broke and alone. He owes $4,100 in back utilities, more than $26,000 in property taxes and about $25,000 to the IRS. Unless he pays his 2008 property taxes — some $7,800 — by month's end, he faces foreclosure. That makes him desperate.
  • Strangers have been circling the neighborhood recently, photographing Alan's neglected house with its peeling trim, mossy blinds and rotting curtains. They know there's a good chance that King County will foreclose on the property to collect back taxes. For those real-estate investors, Alan's plight is a business opportunity.
  • One pony-tailed investor — a man who once bought an apartment building on the cheap from a 90-year-old woman with dementia — befriended Alan and appeared close to buying his house until a family lawyer warned Alan to stay away from him.
  • Meanwhile, neighbors are trying to get Alan help so that he can safely stay in his house.

For the rest of Alan's story, see Alone, broke and target of profiteers (A vulnerable man who many would call a hoarder has been living without heat or utilities in an affluent North Seattle neighborhood, where neighbors worry about his welfare and strangers have been circling in anticipation of King County foreclosing on his home for unpaid property taxes).

For a story update, see Desperate man finds he's not alone (Seven days ago, Alan was facing almost certain foreclosure on his North Seattle home where he lived without running water, heat or electricity. Today, there is light and heat in the house, and, soon, he'll have running water, too):

  • A stranger read about his plight in last Sunday's Seattle Times, and paid Alan's tax bill — all $26,000 of it. The only things known about the stranger: he's a man, and he wants to remain anonymous, even to Alan.