Don’t let a property fall derelict sell while you are still in control

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  • Falling derelict: Our columnist writes that often the fate of unoccupied, derelict homes likes this that we see around the Island is due to something a little deeper than just money, or lack thereof

    Falling derelict: Our columnist writes that often the fate of unoccupied, derelict homes likes this that we see around the Island is due to something a little deeper than just money, or lack thereof


We have all seen them. Those downtrodden houses that we would imagine were once someone’s pride and joy, but are now unoccupied; seemingly unwanted and uncared for.

We travel across these houses daily. There are some of us that know the story behind those walls and then there are most of us who don’t.

I for one always wonder what happened, what exactly took place, for a house I am sure was once someone’s home to fall into disrepair.

Didn’t someone live their once? Didn’t they raise their children there or build a life there somehow? These are the questions that run through my mind, and I am sure they run through yours also.

It is extremely easy, for all of us to assume that the cause is money related.

That the owners lost out somehow and could no longer care for their home. I mean, let’s face it, maintaining a home is no cheap feat and so I would say for many of them that was the case.

Money comes and goes for several reasons.

We lose a job, a loved one, get sick, make bad investments, there are numerous ways money will walk out the door leaving us unable to meet some of our responsibilities. In these cases it tends to be our bigger investments that can suffer; our homes.

There was something I realized, before I transitioned from my legal career into the real estate profession, that lead me to believe that in some cases the fate of these homes is due to something a little deeper than just money, or really the lack thereof.

Before making the daring plunge into a full time real estate career I practiced as an attorney.

It was in that career that I saw what could ultimately lead to derelict properties and like I said, it was deeper than money. It often began with a loss, whether it was through the death of a loved one, or loss of a certain way of life, such as through divorce.

Either way there is a stark change in circumstances that leaves the loaded question of what happens next.

Losing a loved one through death is a very difficult situation. It is an emotional rollercoaster, I know, I’ve seen it.

Especially when the loved one lost is the matriarch or patriarch of an entire family.

There are siblings, grandchildren, cousins all trying to put the pieces together that were somehow held in place by one person.

Things can get really hard, especially when that matriarch or patriarch owned property.

When it comes to divorce, there are similar circumstances that arise.

Once again there are those who are left to put the pieces back together of a life that once was. As with death, that all becomes very challenging when there is an investment involved that is as large as real estate.

Owning property, for some of us, is our biggest dream.

We work tirelessly, we save and we sacrifice just so that we could own our very own piece of the place that we call home. Why? Because owning property is an accomplishment, one of our greatest in fact, and beyond that it is an investment, an investment into our future and the future of our children.

So for those of us who have a parent, grandparent or even a great grandparent who was able to realize that dream of owning property we saw that they took great pride in their accomplishment.

And for those of us who have purchased our own homes, we too take great pride in our accomplishment.

We ensure, to the very best of our ability that our home, our accomplishment and our investment, is in the best possible condition.

But unfortunately tragedy strikes, in death or divorce.

Most of us have the greatest of intentions to maintain the property, but it isn’t always easy.

When the situation is the death of a loved one the home is often left to several family members and with so many people involved, even simple decisions can become long, drawn out and very difficult.

If you currently own property and want to avoid this with your own children be sure that your Last Will & Testament states specifically how you wish to have your real estate disposed of.

One solution would be to allow family members to buy out others within a certain timeframe, failing that, the property will be placed on the market for sale with the proceeds divided amongst the heirs.

Unfortunately, several do not do this leaving those who are left behind to establish on their own what should happen next.

When the situation is divorce, and one member of the family decides to remain in the marital home, maintaining the home may become a daunting task for one person. What sometimes happens next is that all the hard work, ambition and pride that was once placed on the home slowly begins to slip away, overshadowed by familial differences in opinion or a change in monetary circumstances.

Thus the home begins to falls into disrepair. Selling is considered, sometimes it is not.

The idea of selling the property may be pushed aside for several reasons. Sometimes we feel as though we would be failing our loved ones if we depart with what was once their dream.

Or sometimes we feel as though we would be failing ourselves by departing with our own dream of property ownership.

These are all very natural feelings and conclusions, given the circumstances.

But what is the alternative? Allowing the home to fall deeper into disrepair?

As the pride and hard work that went into purchasing the property and maintaining the property goes to waste? That, I think, is far worse.

So why not make the prudent decision to sell, while that option is still available.

Once a home is allowed to fall into a certain state of disrepair that option of selling and getting the most out of your investment unfortunately becomes less and less of a reality.

That doesn’t have to be you. Sell while the home is still able to work to your benefit.

Sell to other hard working individuals who will be able to love, care for and maintain the property as it should.

Sell so that someone else may be able to realize the same dream of property ownership that either you or your family member once had. Sell while you are still in control.

Sometimes our control begins to slip away without reaching the stage of losing a loved one. We may begin to see our monetary situation change and as we fall behind on our mortgage payments or other responsibilities our biggest investment begins to suffer, our home.

This too is a very difficult situation, but as we see with death or divorce there is a stage where you are still in control and you are able to make that decision to sell so that you are able to take the best advantage of your investment.

If you do not take control, unfortunately it may get to the stage where the bank will, and that is far more problematic than selling willingly.

The process is a tough one, whatever the circumstance is, but there are real estate professionals who are willing to help; I for one am one of them.

With a background in law, I am ready and willing to assist in those difficult situations, where a sympathetic and understanding approach is required.

This week’s column is submitted by Cratonia Smith, sales representative at Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realty.

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Published Jan 24, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated Jan 23, 2013 at 9:49 pm)

Don’t let a property fall derelict sell while you are still in control

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