I must have missed the first article that came out in January. If I had seen it I would have been incensed months ago:
The gist of the story: there was a fire at an owner-occupied double-block home in the city. The daughter, who lives in nearby Shavertown, paid the back taxes on the house and took title for her elderly father. The father continued to live there, as he had for years. The daughter paid a contractor to do some renovations on the property and some sort of accident happened that caused a fire on the back porch. It wasn’t a big fire – according to the newspaper damage was estimated at about $5,000.
Three days later, the daughter called the city code office to ask if her father could return to the home. She was told the home was being demolished as they speak. WTF???!!!
The old man’s stuff was still in the house.
No remedy was offered. Not even an apology. So a lawsuit was filed. And the city is trying to get it dismissed on a technicality.
I hope she wins billions.
And this is sad, because as a Wilkes-Barre city taxpayer, I am going to end up paying for it. This lawsuit, and the One Strike lawsuit brought by the ACLU when they finally win. And then all the other lawsuits that will follow the ACLU victory, when all the landlords who got screwed over by that ordinance come to collect theirs.
A new day for Wilkes-Barre?
I am hoping that what happened here was a product of the former administration in Wilkes-Barre. Tom Leighton and his makeshift mafia thugs. (I feel like this is an insult to La Cosa Nostra, at least they had a code of honor!) The fire and demolition happened in November, before Tony George took office and made some sweeping changes. But the code enforcement officer named in the lawsuit, Frank Kratz, is still there.
What happened here? Was this a big giant mistake that no one is willing to own up to? Or something far more sinister?
Do you know who else bulldozes people’s homes without notice or regard for their rights? Hezbollah.
I’d better watch my back. I’m poking the bear again. It won’t be long before the city’s bulldozers show up at my apartment buildings. Bring it on, I have insurance!
I could have read the article, sneered in disgust and done nothing. But that’s not how Mama raised this little bear poker.
I’m going to blog about it. I’m going to ask questions. I’ve reached out to the lawyer suing the city on behalf of the homeowners – Barry Dyller of the Dyller Law Firm in Wilkes-Barre. According to his website, the firm specializes in civil rights cases. Good to know! Link to it here: http://www.dyllerlawfirm.com/
Tomorrow morning I’m in front of a microphone delivering the morning news on the highest rated radio morning show in Northeast PA – Frankie In The Morning on WMGS/Magic 93. Unless there’s a major disaster or murder in the city between now and then, this will be my top local story. No slant, just the facts. I have journalistic integrity. I just want people to hear about it. They can make up their own minds.
Keeping it constructive.
I want to be a force for positive change in Wilkes-Barre, now that we’ve decided to stay here. After that whole One Strike fiasco, my husband and I were seriously thinking about getting the Hell out of here, going home to New England. We thought - these people are nuts, we don’t belong here and we certainly don’t want to raise our daughter here.
Yes, there are some very creepy individuals in this region, some in very high positions of power. But that goes on in New England, too. It’s just not so blatant! In NEPA, these people openly stomp on your rights and dare you to try to do something about it. In New England, they do it under cover of polite society custom. I’ve always admired the honesty of this region!
Our business is here. Our home is here. My radio career is established here. My husband’s career as a licensed realtor is becoming established here. We have friends here. And more importantly, our daughter has friends here. Even if we’re not locals, she is.
And truthfully, I won’t mind Savannah growing up here. There are some truly great people in our lives here. People with vision. I think of recently elected 20-year-old Councilwoman Beth Gilbert. I just reached out to her on Facebook, I hope she accepts my friend request. She’d be a great role model for my daughter!
It isn’t just Wilkes-Barre – corruption exists in city governments all over America. That’s why banding together with other real estate investors and small business people and pooling political clout is so important. I thought of a poster I saw once, I think to promote unions: A big fish coming after a school of little fish swimming for their lives in a panic. The next frame all the little fish had come together to form an even bigger fish, and the former predator fish was now the prey.
Getting off my soapbox and minding my own business
Equally important in the fight for what is Good and True is shoring up my own business practice, making it Titanium. If there ever is a battle, it will be no holds barred. Corrupt individuals do not fight fair. They will look for any chink in my armor.
They will find none.
I will keep my motives pure. I am in business to turn a profit, that is true. There is nothing wrong with having a profit motive, despite what some people will tell you. I am a big fan of Napoleon Hill’s Think And Grow Rich. In it, he suggests a mantra to be said twice each day. Part of that mantra is I will enter into no transaction that does not benefit all whom it affects. That is how you keep your motives pure, while pursuing a profit motive.
When my business flips a house for resale, or renovates a rental, it is my intention for the transaction to benefit all whom it affects: my business will benefit with profit. The neighborhood will benefit from the renovation of a formerly blighted property. The homebuyer or tenant will benefit by having a decent, affordable place to live. The city will benefit by having less blight and a property back on the tax roles.
It is with this attitude that I move forward with my business, Good People Good Homes, in NEPA.
The search for our next flip continues
We put a bid in on a foreclosure in Kingston this week. The bank had it listed at $12,000 (there’s some fire damage in the living room.) Our numbers worked at $11,000. We put in an offer for just over $10k. This is a $90k neighborhood.
Consider holding costs when flipping houses for resale!
In addition to rehab, we factored in holding costs for a year – taxes, sewer, utilities, upkeep. Some of the houses in that area were on the market for months, one for 469 days! I guess we were lucky that our Avoca flip sold in the 4 months it took to sell it – even then I was crawling out of my skin! They don’t tell you that in the real estate guru programs. I’m telling you here – plan to hold the property. Or else have a different exit strategy. When our Ashley flip didn’t sell after 10 months on the market we made it a rent-to-own deal.
Hopefully next week I’ll have more to blog about here. Did the bank accept our offer? Did we find any other suitable flips?
I’m hoping for a prosperous spring! Happy Easter.