Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all of it’s pupils

There are always great lessons to be learned in the fixer upper house business.

In this case I learned another lesson when the recent townhouse purchase fell through.

Everything started off pretty well. The closing for the townhouse purchase was Friday afternoon. I signed for both my wife and I since she was out of town. It was the fastest closing I had ever done. We were finished in 20 minutes.

The real estate agent gave me the keys and my boys and I went over to see the townhouse and plan out exactly we would start fixing it up the next day. This is when things took a turn for the worse.

When I opened the door I was hit in the face with a suffocating musty smell. As we walked in we heard a splashing sound and could feel our feet getting wet. We looked down to see that there was a lake inside the townhouse and the air was as humid as a greenhouse. I looked in the washroom and saw that the flood was caused by water spraying out of the hot water heater. I tried to turn off the valve but it was broken, so I went outside and turned off the water at the main valve.

After opening all doors and windows, we walked through both rooms and both bathrooms. They were all flooded, and, they all had mold on the walls and ceilings.

My first reaction was “we can still make this work!”. I thought we could mop up the water and wipe the mold off the walls without too much trouble. So we drove over to ACE Hardware and bought a wet shop vacuum, buckets, mops and paper towels.

When we got back to the townhouse and started cleaning up it soon dawned on us that we were not making a dent in the standing water and the mold wouldn’t come off as easily as we thought.

So, I called the realtor and told her the situation. She immediately came over to see the house and and agreed with me that we should cancel the contract. She contacted the title company and the loan company. Today, Monday, I got my money back from the title company, all but $350 that went towards the appraisal.

It was a good thing I checked the place out right after the signing, and that it was late in the afternoon. If they had recorded the title before I saw the flooded property, it would have been a different story.

I could have waited for the owner to remedy the problem, but with that much flooding there might be hidden damage that isn’t easily detected, and I didn’t want to wind up waiting and re-negotiating the terms.

What lesson did I learn? In the future, I will always walk through the property one last time before signing the closing papers.

It was a good lesson to learn, and I was reminded of Hector Berlioz’s humorous quote that I put in the title to this article.

It would have been a nice rental property, but my philosophy is that rental properties are like taxi cabs. If you miss one, there’s another one coming right behind it.

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3 Responses to “Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all of it’s pupils”

  1. ConnieBrz says:

    Ouch! That just stinks 😛

    Really sorry to hear this– I was pulling for you. Maybe they’ll drop the price dramatically at some point?

    Oh well– these things always work out for the best in the long run 🙂

  2. Terry Sprouse says:


    Thanks for the consoling comment.

    I'm anxious to resume the hunt for the next, even better, fixer-upper property.

    I'm still have my fingers & eyes crossed hoping for your return to the blogosphere.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I’m sorry but like you said the next Taxi will come by,.

    My sisters and brother in laws property have been one thing after another,. They evicted the hot tub tenants, and that same month one abandoned. Than they found out the air wasn’t working in the abandoned property and needed all new ductwork. That was an expensive fix! They are hoping the ac unit will hold out for a while while they catch up on this months renovations.
    But it all turned out ok.
    We’re all learning!
    I have loaned them your book! I will try to get over to my blog and do a review soon.

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