Hope You Will Love This Home as Much as We Did

Real Estate Agent with Humphrey Home Connections Realty, Reno, Nevada

No, this was not the parting sentiment from seller to buyer at a happy closing. It was wistfully painted above theToy Left Behind front door, surrounded by an artistic vine of leaves and flowers, of a bank-owned property I showed to some first-time buyers. We didn't notice it until we were leaving, where it stopped us dead in our tracks. No one spoke for a long time as we resumed our places in the car for the ride to the next potential home.

Every day we Realtors are faced with the dregs of lives gone sadly wrong. Abandoned bedrooms gaily decorated with pink walls and frilly curtains, or perhaps sports-themed trim and a left behind poster of some kid's hero. Lines carefully marked inside a closet as a family's children grew. A forgotten toy left in the rush to vacate as the sheriff drove up the street. Wet, molding, laundry forgotten in the washing machine when the residents come home to discover the locks changed. People peering fearfully out as the REO agent comes to the door to offer cash for keys.

We (and by "we" I mean "I") spend a lot of time arguing the nuances of the "real estate crisis"...whose fault it was, who the winners and losers were, all the minutia of the hows, whys, wherefores of what happened. So much easier and less painful to deal with numbers and abstractions. But at the end of the day, it is the human story that is compelling. Yes, many of those folks likely made poor decisions. Yes, people should be responsible for their debts and promises. Yes, many who invested in those peoples' home loans (including financial institutions) have suffered at least as much; lost jobs, lost savings, huge losses in the value of the companies they work for.

But some days I just feel like coming home and crying.

Photo Credit: Left Behind by Michael | Ruiz from Flickr via Creative Commons License

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Copyright © 2012 Linda S. Humphrey, all rights reserved








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Linda S. Humphrey, M.D., CDPE, e-PRO, EcoBroker, GREEN

Broker/Owner - Humphrey Home Connections Realty, LLC

cell: 775-287-4665

office: 775-232-8515


Comments (73)

Deb Espinoza
Stage Presence Homes, San Diego Real Estate - Ramona, CA
GRI, Broker, SRS,ABR ePro, SFR, CNE

What a beautifully written story Linda. I was just thinking the other day that I sometimes feel like a therapist and wished I had the right words at the appropriate times. I had met with an older newly wedded couple who had two upside down homes. His was from a divorce in a 'wife did him wrong' situation. He had to buy her out at the height of the market. Hers was an inherited property from a highly disfunctional family that at times had up to 15 people living in it, she fixed and moved in and four years ago moved out to live with her new husband and now her daughter and three very young children live there with a dead beat dad/husband that can't even keep the utilities on much less pay the rent and the house is once again trashed. The heartbreak of having to throw her own daughter and grandchildren out was terrible, but the loss of retirement money already suffered by trying to 'help' made things much worse. You pray for the light to come back into their eyes and the world to be a better place. So many dreams are lost in this economy and housing crisis.

Jan 17, 2012 10:26 AM
Jan Stevens
Coldwell Banker Pittsburgh - Cranberry Township, PA

Really thoughtful post. Thanks for the reminder about the human side of all this. Those must have been special folks to have taken the time and trouble to write that message. Wow.

Jan 17, 2012 10:41 AM
Linda Humphrey
Humphrey Home Connections Realty, Reno, Nevada - Reno, NV
CRS, Broker/Owner HHC Realty

Carolyn - Yes, I think that could be tough for some people to get past.

Weichert - Certainly stripping anything of value, or outright destruction, is more common than expressions of good will

Terry - I feel very sad for all of them, even the ones that made bad choices. Who among us hasn't made a bad decision in their lives?

Jennifer - Wow, that's for sure. Seeing a house foreclosed upon with a viable offer that is about to close is enough to frustrate you to tears. Thanks.

Keith - It sure has! Name calling is almost never productive, and who in their right mind would intentionally put themselves in that situation. So many have been caught in an economic downdraft, the severity of which none of us at ground zero could have foreseen (although I personally believe that some near the top of the foodchain knew exactly where we were headed.)

Jan 17, 2012 12:02 PM
Linda Humphrey
Humphrey Home Connections Realty, Reno, Nevada - Reno, NV
CRS, Broker/Owner HHC Realty

Marshall - Your mother was a wise woman. There is much truth in those old sayings, that's why we still say them. :)

Susan - REOs as an abstraction are tolerable; REOs as a personal tragedy are less so. Sometimes it is the little things that hit you upside the head and bring it all home in a personal way.

Ric - Agreed, I never want to see this again in my lifetime! I hope there will be someone to vote for that I feel warm and fuzzy about, but I'm not holding my breath.

Roger - Your scenario is far more common; that is a very nice and enlightened attitude you take towards it.

Ann - I know!!! :(

Sharon - Thanks for your thoughtful comment. All we can do is offer what we have: a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen, and help moving forward if that is what they choose.

Jana - The trashed ones are distressing in their own way. That anyone could be that angry and frustrated. Reminds me of the guy that flew his plane into the IRS building. I hope they can get beyond it, because that anger does more harm to the person that harbors it than it does to those he hopes to injure.


Jan 17, 2012 12:12 PM
Winston Heverly
Coldwell Banker Access Realty - South Macon, GA

Should there be much sadness, if people put nothing down on their home and lost it? How come we don't praise the people who were smart that didn't get on the train of false expectations.

Jan 17, 2012 12:14 PM
Linda Humphrey
Humphrey Home Connections Realty, Reno, Nevada - Reno, NV
CRS, Broker/Owner HHC Realty

Rocky - That is certainly a viable option for many, which can bring closure to an unpleasant chapter in their lives.

Judy - We will probably never know; I think many move in with family, others probably leave town.

Yvonne - I remember that stress assessor, or at least a similar one. The one I recall was a point system, with different life events credited with varying numbers of points. I think divorce was the highest. If you made enough changes in a year, good or bad, you wound up pegging the stress-o-meter and probably needed to chill a bit. I hope your very reasonable predictions come true.

Karen - What a surprise (not!). I have a good friend who had to pay off his wife at the height of the market; of course she is now living comfortably and he is...well...not so much.

Jan - Thanks! All we can do is try our best.

Lyn - Thanks, appreciate that!

Debbie - Thanks for your kind comment. What a nightmare story though! Ugh!

Jan - Very special. I hope they were able to leave with a sense of peace.

Winston - I don't think this is strictly a financial issue. I think losing your home is like the death of a loved one. How much you put down doesn't make it more or less painful (although loss of downpayment is definitely an added stress). If a lender and an underwriter were willing to help them get into a home with nothing down, and assured them they could afford it, should they have said "no"? Who was the professional here? But your other point is well taken; those that were prudent and careful do not receive much in the way of praise or attention.


Jan 17, 2012 02:33 PM
Rob Ernst
Certified Structure Inspector - Reno, NV
Reno, NV-775-410-4286 Inspector & Energy Auditor

I know this house and recognized the words as soon as I saw your title. I've seen things like this a few times. It's different than the usual vulgar things people leave behind. It's nice to see the house listed and people are looking at it because it's been vacant a really long time. I did some condition inspections on that house after the bank first secure it. 

Jan 17, 2012 02:53 PM
Kimo Jarrett
Cyber Properties - Huntington Beach, CA
Pro Lifestyle Solutions

There's always an untold story for every home sold regardless if it's a REO, SS or even standard sale, yet speculating about the story without knowing the story doesn't change the circumstances. We can't change the consequences, so why should anybody get emotional about an unknown story?

Jan 17, 2012 06:54 PM
Sylvie Stuart
Realty One Group Mountain Desert 928-600-2765 - Flagstaff, AZ
Home Buying, Home Selling and Investment - Flagsta
It is very sad. I hate seeing the marks on doors showing how fast a kid grew. I envision that they are on to a better situation now, which usually helps, or just try to look at it objectively. There are some that you can see they really loved the home and those can be the toughest when it's a foreclosure
Jan 18, 2012 12:21 AM
Kate Akerly
Kaminsky Group - Manhattan Beach, CA
Manhattan Beach Residential Sales

Wow Linda, those stories certainly paint a picture.  We don't deal much with short sales in our market, and though we read the stories, it would be much different to experience them in the way you described.

Jan 18, 2012 02:12 AM
Brad Baylor
ERA Coup Agency - Milton, PA

I've been in homes such as you've described here and it does make me sad.  Houses still completely full of personal belongings in what looks like they may have just had time to stuff everything they could fit into the car and that's it.  It's definitely a sad day we live in, but it also encourages me to not take anything for granted.

Jan 18, 2012 07:38 AM
Janis Borgueta
Newburgh, NY
Retired RE Salesperson

It will be a long time before we see things get back to our old "norm" Many people will suffer in the process. It is a very sad state of affairs. #1 has it right though.. it was an event that the banks are in control of NOT the government.

Jan 18, 2012 08:15 AM
Bob Miller
Keller Williams Cornerstone Realty - Ocala, FL
The Ocala Dream Team

Hi Linda, great post.  Yes there are frustrations in this business.  Bot often the same frustrations turn out to be rewards as help people.

Jan 18, 2012 11:56 AM
M.C. Dwyer
Melody Russell Team at eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Felton, CA
MC Dwyer-Santa Cruz Mountains Property Specialist

A touching story, and some wonderful observations.    I like to hope Joetta, #19 is right, that the people who lost the home have inner strength.   And thanks for the reminder, Marshall #42, that difficul things can happen to anyone, and we are reminded to be grateful.    

Jan 19, 2012 06:12 AM
Linda Humphrey
Humphrey Home Connections Realty, Reno, Nevada - Reno, NV
CRS, Broker/Owner HHC Realty

Robert - Wow, small world! :-) It's actually a cute little house, but too close to the highway for my clients.

Kimo - I think many of us have heard the stories enough times that we recognize the signature. No, we don't know what actually happened here, but if nothing else it reminds us of similar sad situations where we do know the story chapter and verse.

Sylvie - Absolutely! PS Cute dog!!!

Mike - You are lucky to have escaped this episode for the most part, but I know you New York folks have had your own crises over the years.

Brad - Never a bad idea to wake up every day and count our blessings. Hopefully even people in this situation are able to do that.

Janis - The government has proven to be completely devoid of value in all aspects of this build-up and melt-down.

Bob - Thanks, good point.

MC - Thanks for your comment, and for reading through the others, there were many good observations there.

Jan 23, 2012 11:23 AM
Rob Ernst
Certified Structure Inspector - Reno, NV
Reno, NV-775-410-4286 Inspector & Energy Auditor

Yes a little close to the road. The patio cover/deck is a little weird. Good luck with the search.

Jan 23, 2012 03:55 PM
Melissa Brown
Helen Adams Realty - Charlotte, NC
Realtor - South Charlotte NC Homes for Sale

Linda, this is such a poignant blog post, and you are so RIGHT!  It's the incredible losses faced by families who tried to do right that really hit home.  Not all tried to do right, but most did.  Thanks for a very heartfelt post.

Feb 12, 2012 04:03 AM
Linda Humphrey
Humphrey Home Connections Realty, Reno, Nevada - Reno, NV
CRS, Broker/Owner HHC Realty

Thanks Robert. This actually took place about six or seven months ago. We did find and close on a cute little home in Sparks that they are busily fixing up.

Melissa - Thanks for the nice comment, I appreciate those who "get it".

Feb 12, 2012 04:52 AM
Curtis Van Carter
Better Homes & Gardens Wine Country Group - Yountville, CA
Your Napa Valley Broker Extraordinaire


It is truly so easy to forget this was someone's home just a short while before. Granted, there are a few bad apples out that take their frustrations out on the property but they are real flesh & blood, sweat & tears, happy & sad memories echoing throughout every room. We just occasionally need to learn to listen to them. Nice post, cheers cvc

Feb 23, 2012 04:52 AM
Linda Humphrey
Humphrey Home Connections Realty, Reno, Nevada - Reno, NV
CRS, Broker/Owner HHC Realty

Thanks Curtis :)

Feb 28, 2012 12:10 PM