A Special Plea to Leschi Homeowners

The United Nations Human Rights, Office of The High Commissioner says, “Housing is a Right, not a commodity.” It’s wrong when housing is treated as a vehicle for wealth and investment, rather than a social good. The financialization of housing has a detrimental impact on human rights, in particular the right to housing from mass forced evictions to make way for luxury developments, to nameless corporations purchasing real estate from remote boardrooms, to empty homes and people pushed out of their communities because they simply could not afford to live there”

I recently had an encounter with investors who purchase lots of single-family homes as commodities, place them in LLCs, rent out rooms of these homes while waiting for the property’s value to increase so that they can then sell them for a profit.

Nicholas Halberg and Bryce Malone of Buck Buys Houses emailed me on 3/23/20 offering to purchase my home. I let them know that I wasn’t interested. They sent me a card the next day which explained that they wanted to purchase 100+ single family homes specifically in Leschi. They claimed to represent an investor who had recently located to the Seattle area. This story ran in the Seattle Times on 4/13/20. After much investigation, Daniel Beekman Times Reporter, traced Buck Buys Homes to founders James Dainard and Will Heaton. Together they have purchased 570 homes in King County since 2006 and purchased 250 after the Great Recession between 2008–2015 in the CD, Rainier Valley, White Center and Lake City, primarily through a network of hundreds of shell corporations. The homes are usually purchased at an average of 22% below assessed values. Dainaid thinks the Coronavirus pandemic is also a great opportunity for Real Estate investors. In other words, these guys prey on people’s fears and when they are down on their luck. They are rearing their ugly heads again, in Leschi. This is how it usually plays out. You will receive an unsolicited, aggressive offer to buy your home, rarely for the true market value, usually thousands less. They will give you quick cash, sight unseen. Older homeowners are targeted who are usually on a fixed income. If the owner sells, they find out later that they were cheated. Now they don’t have the home and are out of thousands of dollars in equity.

Please, Leschi neighbors, if you must sell your property, list your home with an agent, sell to a family, get top dollar. Houses in the area are selling in 4–5 days (with multiple bidders) and know that you’ve helped keep your neighborhood. In fact. I’d much rather you hold onto your valuable property. If you have coronavirus jitters take advantage of all of the government programs out there to help us through this crisis, mortgage forbearance, enhanced unemployment, small business loans and grants, Some of these programs are slow to get started because things happened so quickly and systems weren’t up and running but they will be on track soon. There is a new income limit of $58,423 per year for the Senior, Veteran and Disabled Property Tax Exemption, which is already up and running, and John Wilson, Tax Assessor is working on a Homestead Exemption to help middle class property owners. There are other ways to get additional income. You can rent rooms, like Dainard does while waiting for a good time to flip, try Airbnb, rent yard space, work from home, sell 1/2 of your property and build a basement or garage apartment with the proceeds. The point is, with a home you have lots of options.

Buck Buys Houses is only one of many predatory Investors, developers, or scamsters looking to rip us off from our valuable land. Anyone advising you to not list your property should be suspect. What makes the rogue investors so scandalous is they are many times slumlords who refuse to make repairs and charge exorbitant rents which lead to mass evictions, they contribute to neighborhood blight, the owners of the properties are often difficult to track down and they steal the American Dream of Homeownership from so many.

~Ruby Holland,

keepyourhabitat@gmail.com

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