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1 b bussinees is blooming?? on Sat Feb 14, 2009 10:38 pm

gypsy


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http://realestate.msn.com/slideshow.aspx?cp-documentid=17335530&GT1=35000



What crisis? Some businesses are booming

By Christopher Solomon of MSN Real Estate

The foreclosure crisis rattling the country hasn't been bad news for all. It's actually meant a boom for a few businesses and activities nationwide.

Foreclosure listings companies are certainly busy, as are real-estate agents who specialize in selling troubled properties. Those are expected. But did you also know the housing crisis is keeping a grass painter busy? Here's a look at some of the sometimes unexpected businesses and institutions that are benefiting – or are just plain busier, for better or for worse.
The grass painter

Nick Terlouw fires green out of a nozzle — then puts green in his wallet.

One year ago, the 38-year-old started the Greener Grass Co. in Stockton, Calif., a city that's been hit hard by the mortgage crisis.

"What I do is go out and paint the grass of the foreclosure homes because the city turns off the water on these homes, so the grass goes dead," he says. "It's the same paint they use to paint the Super Bowl fields." The vibrant green paint can last several weeks. An application for a typical tract home's lawn costs $100 to $400, though a larger spray can cost well over $1,000.

Business is booming. He's hoping to open two offices in Southern California soon. "I've got people flying in from all over the country to do consultations" so they can learn how to start their own business — for a consultation fee, of course.

Who hires him? "Cities and a lot of Realtors." It's not just for aesthetic reasons. Dead lawns are an easy marker for vandals and squatters looking for vacant homes.

And in Stockton, the city will put a lien on a house when the lawn has been allowed to die and violate city code, Terlouw explains. If there's a lien against a home, it can't be sold. So real-estate agents needing to wipe away the lien will often hire Greener Grass Co. to freshen up the lawn.
What crisis? Some businesses are booming

By Christopher Solomon of MSN Real Estate

The foreclosure crisis rattling the country hasn't been bad news for all. It's actually meant a boom for a few businesses and activities nationwide.

Foreclosure listings companies are certainly busy, as are real-estate agents who specialize in selling troubled properties. Those are expected. But did you also know the housing crisis is keeping a grass painter busy? Here's a look at some of the sometimes unexpected businesses and institutions that are benefiting – or are just plain busier, for better or for worse.
The grass painter

Nick Terlouw fires green out of a nozzle — then puts green in his wallet.

One year ago, the 38-year-old started the Greener Grass Co. in Stockton, Calif., a city that's been hit hard by the mortgage crisis.

"What I do is go out and paint the grass of the foreclosure homes because the city turns off the water on these homes, so the grass goes dead," he says. "It's the same paint they use to paint the Super Bowl fields." The vibrant green paint can last several weeks. An application for a typical tract home's lawn costs $100 to $400, though a larger spray can cost well over $1,000.

Business is booming. He's hoping to open two offices in Southern California soon. "I've got people flying in from all over the country to do consultations" so they can learn how to start their own business — for a consultation fee, of course.

Who hires him? "Cities and a lot of Realtors." It's not just for aesthetic reasons. Dead lawns are an easy marker for vandals and squatters looking for vacant homes.

And in Stockton, the city will put a lien on a house when the lawn has been allowed to die and violate city code, Terlouw explains. If there's a lien against a home, it can't be sold. So real-estate agents needing to wipe away the lien will often hire Greener Grass Co. to freshen up the lawn.
What crisis? Some businesses are booming
The cleaner

"Lots of times we get to a house and the people are still there," says Matt Paxton, founder of Clutter Cleaner, a two-year-old business in the Washington, D.C., area. "It's very awkward. Sometimes there's a lot of trash, plus emotions."

In August 2006, Paxton's fledgling business helping seniors clear out their basements got a call from a bank: Could he and his buddy clean up a foreclosed trailer and property? "By Christmas, we had 15 guys" working for the business. "We're swamped; we're just being killed, we're so busy.

"The banks found out about us. They knew we'd clean anything.”

Why is that important? Let's just say distraught or angry people often don't leave their former homes in ready-to-sell condition. "We walked into a home — this one, the family had been running a food market in their garage." At first, he says, "We thought it was a drug lab." One room was filled with nearly empty paint cans. Another had clothes that had been abandoned. That's not so unusual, he says. Clutter Cleaner's job is to haul everything away, scrub the place down and make it ready for sale.

They're booked all through 2009, he says. And while the housing crisis has funded Clutter Cleaner's growth, it has also hamstrung it, he laments: "Credit is impossible to get."
What crisis? Some businesses are booming
The animal-control business

It's "incredibly busy" these days at the animal shelter run by Hillsborough County Animal Services in Tampa, Fla., says Marti Ryan, the agency's spokeswoman.

That's not so unusual.

What is unusual is the pressure that related nonprofit groups such as the local Humane Society of Tampa Bay are finding themselves under as the economy deteriorates, says Ryan, who works closely with them.

The Humane Society already rescues about 1,700 dogs annually from the county's shelter and tries to find them homes. But the added challenge now, Ryan says, is "people coming to them, saying, 'I don't want to take my dog to the pound, but I can't afford to feed it.' "

Around the holidays, Ryan's agency held a food drive for pets to help money-strapped owners keep their pets. And in early January, the county teamed up with the Humane Society to offer free shots for up to 500 pets in a financially troubled area of town.
What crisis? Some businesses are booming
The pool man

The foreclosure crisis is keeping Nick Masse afloat.

Masse is owner of Arizona Pool Service, which serves the greater Phoenix area. Due to the economic downturn and the cooler winter weather, business should have slowed down a lot.

That's where the national mortgage mess comes in. Masse has been getting lots of calls from banks and real-estate agents to clean up the pools of foreclosed homes. "I'm doing about 15 to 16 a week," he says.

Masse's main work is "getting them blue again" so they look good for would-be homebuyers — emptying a pool (the water can foster mosquito eggs that can carry West Nile virus), power-washing and scrubbing the plaster or pebbled interior and then refilling the pool. A typical job costs about $400.

Masse says the work has taken him to all kinds of foreclosed homes around the Phoenix area, from rundown shacks to multimillion-dollar mansions.

"If it wasn't for these cleanups, we'd be hurting right now," he says. "It's kind of a blessing."
What crisis? Some businesses are booming
The caretaker

Demand is good at both ends for Caretakers of America, a nearly 20-year-old business based in Denver that places a house sitter in a home with the goal of helping it sell faster.

Not only has the company seen more demand for its services, mostly from real-estate agents, but the mortgage crisis has resulted in more people who are out of their own homes and asking to be short-term caretakers, says Cyndyn Bridge, the company's vice president.

Caretakers of America, which now operates in about 17 states, works like this: The company matches up a person to live in an empty home while it's for sale, and "stages" the home with that person's belongings (augmenting them as needed).

The caretaker, in turn, pays a reduced rent and is required to pay utilities and keep the place in show-ready condition so it can be seen any time throughout the day by would-be buyers.

Everybody wins, Bridge says. "There is no cost to our homeowners. They are basically getting a professionally staged home." Meanwhile, the caretaker pays "on average about a quarter of what they'd pay if they had to pay full rent to live there.

"The bottom line is that … a nicely furnished, occupied home, statistically speaking, sells faster than an empty home, across the board," she says.
What crisis? Some businesses are booming
Credit repair services

The financial crisis has hit people's credit scores hard, says Jerry Webster, president of Source One Credit Repair. That's created a real boon for businesses like Webster's. "Business is up a lot more than 25%," he says, as people struggle with mortgage payments that have ballooned.

"And you've got to pay for your house because you need a place to live. Then they pay for their car next," he says. But when they prioritize their remaining debts, they sometimes don't pay things like credit-card bills.

These days, even one late payment can cause a smirch on your credit report and cause your interest rate to skyrocket, he says.

For an upfront fee of $75 down, plus $35 a month, Webster's company tries to improve a client's credit with tactics such as scouring for inaccuracies on the client's credit report. "There's a lot of inconsistencies; there's a lot of things that are duplicates," he explains.
What crisis? Some businesses are booming
The property preservation folks

Once a family gets booted from a house, the home can sit empty — sometimes for months and months. And nothing good can happen to an empty house. Empty homes are subject to all sorts of hazards including vermin, vandalism and homeless people breaking in to sleep.

That's where companies like Lake City, Fla.-based Landwise Inspection Services come in.

Landwise works for banks and lenders such as Fannie Mae. When a home loan is in default, the lender often pays a third-party inspector such as Landwise to come out and check "to see if there is anything out of the ordinary going on at that property," in which it now has even more of a stake, says Michael Darby, chief operating officer.

What does a company like Landwise do? "P&P — protect and preserve the lender's asset until it goes through foreclosure," says Darby — including fixing steps, emptying a swimming pool, cutting the grass, fixing broken windows and covering a leaky roof. In short, heading off anything that could injure the value of the house or cause lawsuits.

And how's business?

"We are now working seven days a week, and that is both field force and office staff, where before we were normally … eight-to-five, maybe five days a week. We have had to add maybe 50%, maybe 60% more field force."
What crisis? Some businesses are booming
The board-up guys

"Our business opportunity unfortunately is someone else's devastation — if it's not a foreclosure, it's a hurricane or vandalism," says Leo Nov, CEO of Boardup.com. When the company gets a call, it operates like a dispatcher for about 200 companies it works with nationwide that it has screened and approved.

While the company always sees an upswing in business, say, after a hurricane, "We've seen a dramatic increase in our day-to-day work," he says. "I want to guesstimate between a 15 and 20% increase in the steady work."

Not surprisingly, many of those calls are coming from lenders and investors who now have homes on their hands.

"The idea is to protect and secure that property so that people don't get into it," Nov says. Often, that means the former owner.

Nails aren't as much a tool as you might think, though. "It's very rare that we would use five-, 10-, 20-penny nails," he says. They have all sorts of ways of attaching the plywood. “The idea again is not to damage the structure."

The cost to board up a home can range from $65 to $85 per average-sized, ground-level window, he says. With more foreclosures, Nov sees more handymen and contractors getting into the game, but adds, "I don't see it affecting us too much."

Anyway, he says, tossing in a sales pitch, "No one is faster than us."
What crisis? Some businesses are booming
The locksmith

Vogel's Lock & Safe is a fourth-generation locksmith business in Ann Arbor, Mich. — the one city in the state that's said to be recession-proof, says owner Robert Vogel.

Even here, though, business is good. Very good.

"Here we are on Saturday, working," Vogel says on a recent weekend. "We've been [in business] 97 years, never working on a Saturday. And we started on Oct. 1."

As the tidal wave of foreclosures hit and people turned over their homes, the locks have had to be changed. "I would say that the foreclosure work from the banks is up, oh, 50%, 60% — especially in July or so," Vogel says.

But the biggest difference Vogel noticed was that by the late fall of 2008, sales of safes had already doubled the prior year's total. "I don't know why that is," Vogel says. "Maybe people are pulling their money out of banks. That's my theory."
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2 Re: b bussinees is blooming?? on Sat Feb 14, 2009 11:15 pm

rosco 357


Veteran
as i have said a couple of houses across the street down a bit were foreclosed on, a couple of guys came up to me as i was working in the yard, asking addresses, said they were hunting a foreclosed on home, they go in and check for damage and fix things, i got them to pull on a rope while i cut a tree, lol, anyway, i told them one had been a while foreclosed on and one was later, this was a year ago, one had stickers on the window, i went over to read them , it was a thing saying the house had been winterized, pipes cleared of water, and i noticed the room had tack strips, but no carpet, i assume the ppl that lived there,,they took the carpet, maybe they had just put it down and it was new, i don't know, but when they bought it , the house had an outbuilding the ones ppl deliver and set up, well the ppl that were foreclosed on took it, and the mail box, anyway, only in California, about the dead grass, i have not watered my grass in 25 years, my grass is depending on mother nature, but i guess here in the south with gulf moisture we get more rain, that's not to say my yard stops growing some, and drys out, at times, like in august, but it never dies, next rain it shoots up and the lawnmower comes out...california is a strange place, lol, i get tickled at all the laws they have,,,

3 Re: b bussinees is blooming?? on Sat Feb 14, 2009 11:27 pm

SSC


Admin
They have a guy in NO doing the same thing only he patented a green foam for dead yards, mostly real estate houses, he has no crew just does it alone. There are about 200 new homes here just with for sale signs on them, the builders rushed to build in the market boom after katrina and now they are empty, but there are some sweet deals if you have the money.

4 Re: b bussinees is blooming?? on Sun Feb 15, 2009 5:50 pm

Guest


Guest
Forgive my cynicism, but RE people,like stock brokers,tend to make it coming and going. Parasititic behavior? Y'all be the judge.

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