The Dirty Details of Flipping Homes: Drugs, Broken Doors and SWAT Teams
Merry Christmas From The SWAT Team
Flipping homes can make you good money, but nobody ever talks about the nightmares that come with it. It was Christmas Eve of 2006. I was spending time with family drinking and enjoying the holiday. We were laughing together and Santa showed up to entertain the kids. Suddenly I got a call on the phone that I will always remember. I stepped away from my family for a moment when I heard yelling in the background on the other line as a gruff voice asked, “Are you the owner of 123 Main Street?” “Yes,” I answered, alarmed, “I am. Is there a problem?” The gruff voice identified himself, “This is the Michigan state SWAT team.”
My stomach sank. Suddenly I felt sick. The gruff voice continued, “Well sir, we’re here at your apartment building because somebody just got out of jail and he’s held up in your apartment building. There have been lots of shots fired and we had to kick in three doors, hold on! Hold on!” He then put me on hold for what felt like two to three minutes. All I could hear was yelling in the background on the other line with an occasional gunshot. He comes back on the line, takes a breath and says, “More like five or six doors were kicked in, and two windows are broke. You’ve got to get over here and fix these up tonight.”
It was the night before Christmas and I was out of town visiting family. How was I supposed to get over there that night? I said to the man on the SWAT team on the other line, “You guys are the ones that kicked them in. Why don’t you fix them?” He laughed. “That’s not our responsibility. That’s your problem.”
When You’re An Entrepreneur, You Need Friends On your Side
I called a friend of mine in the area who always helps me with fixing things around my units. I said on the phone, “I know you’re busy with family and it’s Christmas Eve.” He replied, “No actually I’m just sitting here doing nothing, drinking a beer.” I explained to him what happened and asked him if he’s able to go over to the units, screw in some doors and put some plywood over the windows until the next day when we could figure out what to do. “Can you help me put a bandaid on this thing until tomorrow?” He did and I was able to come over the days following.
To think that a dozen bulletproof vest clad SWAT team members had marched over to one of my properties was nuts. When I over there I could see the dents in the building where bullets had hit the brick and holes in the drywall. The place was trashed. It cost me at least $5000 to fix everything. It had to come out of pocket because the jailed gunman didn’t volunteer to put up any cash to pay for the damages.
The Savvy Entreprenuer
In another town that I invested in, I had a tenant named George who was remarkably savvy. He had a bunch of small odds n’ ends types of businesses. He set up his own garbage route. In this town, each home had to pay for their garbage to be taken. There were two or three main companies that did it. George got two or three of his friends to drive around in a pickup truck and pick up the garbage. He never got out of the car. He’d drive around and his friends would put the garbage in the back. He created a route and count how many properties he had. Then he’d charge us and his rates were always a little bit lower than his competition. We actually hired him for a couple of years.
He had another business with cell phones. Remember when you had to pay for a certain amount of minutes each month and for a certain amount of text messages? If you went over your minutes, you’d get the bill at the end of the month. You could either pay for a refill on your minutes or you could just call after 9pm free of charge.
George had a business that helped the people in his neighborhood cut costs on cell phones. He’d given them walkie-talkies and they’d use them to call George who had hired someone to use the cell phones to deliver the message. He charged a fee to neighborhood members who used his service. I thought that was so creative.
Everyone really respected George in that neighborhood. Whenever you went to his house, there was always ten to twelve people there. When you’d leave his home, everyone was very respectful and cordial to you just because of your association with George.