We got lucky again with the first house we won in an auction. Once we cleaned it up and removed all the carpet, we were ready to make a plan.

The plan got interrupted when we found termites


LESSON one: If the carpenter does not drive up in his own automobile, DON’T HIRE HIM!

Lesson two: If he looks like a drug addict, he probably is.

Lesson three: Don’t hire a drug addict

You might just shake your head and ask, “How can anyone be that naive?”

The first carpenter, we’ll call him ‘Carpenter X,’ we hired was a good lesson for us. I had learned about an online tradesman search site called Thumbtack. I set up an account on their website, posted the job I needed done, and waited for some responses. I immediately got some inquiries and set up interviews. I talked to a few carpenters who didn’t work out for a number of reasons, and then I found ‘Carpenter X.’ Now, the fact that he didn’t have his own transportation should have warned me, but he was such a nice guy, starting over after having had some hard times and all, and his price and timeline were great (too good to be true), so I combined my sense of altruism and greed and hired him.

He did some good work, got the half payment as promised and then promptly disappeared. This was when we learned to pay for the work only when the work was done, and this was when we learned about TRUTHFINDER. Truthfinder is a good site to get the history on anyone. If you flip a lot, you may be wise to buy a monthly subscription; it’s helped us.

Through Truthfinder, we found out that our carpenter was a two striker. One more criminal offence and he’d see the back side of the prison bars. His address was bogus – at least the one he gave us, but, with Truthfinder, we found him. Got his phone number too. Then we called the cops to see if they were interested. They were.

All it took was one call from the police and he rushed back to us! Our true, misunderstood, methhead friend.

Yeah, he did the job the way we wanted it done, and for the price we agreed upon, but only after knowing his head was in a sling if he didn’t.


You see, it’s like this. It ended up that the nice realtor(Yes, that would be the smooth talker with whom we signed a contract.) had a cousin who happened to be the buyer’s realtor. Our realtor was young and new and motivated, but he listened to his dear cousin a bit too much. It ended up that they got us a buyer — for $5000 less than we told him to list it. We were furious at first, but that did give us a buyer, a quick close, and a healthy profit, so we went with it. After it sold, he gave me a call. “Please don’t report me!” he said, “I listened to some bad advice, I’m new, I didn’t know that I could lose my license by listing a price below your instructions.”

I didn’t tell him that was news to me too.

He went on, “My wife and I just bought our first home and I need to support my two young children. Please, I’ve learned. I won’t ever do it again.” I felt sorry for the young man — children and all, so I told him I’d say that he changed the price with my authorization. He learned his lesson and I learned about unethical realtors. End of story.

Or so I thought.

After a couple of years, he called me about a property we had on the market. Of course I told him that I wasn’t interested, but then I asked him about his children. His reply? “What do you mean, I don’t have any children.” I hung up the phone.

WHAT WE LEARNED: If we have to use a realtor, we use one that has solid references from people we know.

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