An ugly truth: house abuse

Published January 12, 2012 by housecrazy

photo credit: Brian Ray (from

There are few things I hate more than house abuse. (With the exceptions of child, woman & animal abuse – of course.)

We’ve all seen them before. Those completely trashed houses that an angry owner walked away from under duress, or the vacant house that became a party crash-pad like the unfortunate one above.

Some houses are left in such a nasty state that, I dare say, they should be torn down and condemned. I’m talking about the occasions when the plumbing no longer works, and food has been left to rot in the fridge, and the former occupant did not have trash service for five years.

image courtesy of:

You can feast your eyes on more horrendous house photos here.

I’ve had the opportunity to set foot inside many trashed houses and it makes me fume every time.

You’ve got the hoarders, the slobs, the deferred maintenance folks, the mother-nature-got-the-best-of-me, and the worst kind (in my opinion): the angry foreclosed upon owners who walked away and took everything they could fit in their friend’s pick-up truck with them.

If you have ever looked at bank-owned properties, then I’m sure you are all too familiar with this problem. Many foreclosed-on houses just have all the major appliances missing. But I’ve been in houses where the jilted previous owner took the mirrors, the ceiling fans, the toilets, the light-switch plates, the kitchen cabinets, the countertops, and yes, even the kitchen sink. (Where the heck do they put all this stuff if they have no place to go??)

This type of house abuse is particularly troublesome to me because it indicates deep, unfettered rage and the need for revenge on the part of the previous homeowner. It can’t be good to have those types of left-over vibes in your house.

I speak from experience because my last house was a bank-owned property when I bought it in 2006. Apart from the clean-up and updating, there was a lingering sensation that was not exactly… pleasant. When I had it for sale, everybody liked it, but no one would buy it. That is, until I did a cleansing ceremony with sage AND buried a blessed statue of Saint Joseph in the front yard. The house did finally sell – for the same amount I bought it for 4 years prior.

Here’s my previous house after we rescued and TLC’d the heck out of it:

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

And in the winter when it was for sale:

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

I’m always browsing the real estate listings in Colorado and there are a lot of foreclosed properties here. Colorado was one of those states hit particularly hard (in terms of real estate) when the Great Recession took hold. Many of the houses in my price range are banked-owned. And I’m always looking for a deal.

However, when I come across a house that has had the entire kitchen ripped out, I usually just keep on browsing.

But this week one particular listing caught my eye. The real estate agent was refreshingly candid about the shortcomings of the house in her remarks, and she did it in an amusing manner. This is her description:

“So let me start by being honest, I lost my kitchen. BUT, my glass is half full and this means no tear out when you were going to update me anyways! I do have wood floors, open feel and rural like lot. My plumbing is shot and is AS-IS. I do have detached one car garage though, full bath on main, and am located in D12 [desirable, top-ranked school district] -so overlook the few short falls and bring your work gloves, I have potential.”

exterior shot from:

The house is located in the beautiful and prestigious south-west area of Colorado Springs, and you can see from the interior pics that is does in fact have potential:

interior shot from

additional interior from:

additional interior shot from:

Cute right? But no kitchen.

I do give the realtor big kudos though, for being so honest and putting a “glass-is-half-full” spin on things. It was enough to even make me sit up in my chair and take notice.

As a house-lover, I feel great pity for abused houses. I feel it deep down in my soul. And as a social worker, I also feel empathy for those people who lost their homes, or had to live in such deplorable conditions for whatever reason (usually having to do with mental health issues and/or poverty).

But people, do not – DO NOT – take it out on the poor house!

Because houses have feelings too…right?


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