Vultures – An Essential Part of the Real Estate Ecosystem

By November 7, 2011Housing Market

real estate, PropertyRadarIn the animal kingdom it’s ironic that we glorify predators, like the lion, while we vilify scavengers, like the vulture, that clean up the mess left behind. Even the great Benjamin Franklin was unable to fight this prejudice in his preference of the turkey over the eagle (a predator) as a national symbol. If you encounter a lion on the savannah, it will kill you. If you run across a vulture in the process of cleaning up the carnage caused by the lion, you will be perfectly safe.

Unlike lions and other large predators, vultures don’t need to kill to survive. They serve a useful purpose by disposing of dead and decaying animal remains, cleaning up in areas with poor or non-existent sanitation. This, however, does not make them popular and it is doubtful that any major league sports teams would ever choose a vulture as a mascot.

Let’s bring this scenario home to the concrete jungle.

In almost every housing market that is plagued by negative equity and foreclosures you will find the decaying remains of houses, and sometimes entire neighborhoods. Despite the big lie to the contrary, Wall Street predators caused this crisis. Communities struggle to keep up with the mess they left behind. Now even those protesting Wall Street are adding to the carnage by breaking into properties, squatting in them, and even setting fire to them.

And who comes along to reverse the decay and clean up the carnage created by the predator? Real estate investors, often referred to as the vultures of the real estate industry, and like the vulture, unappreciated for the service they perform and the value they bring to these devastated communities. These investors are not only infusing the local economy with jobs but they are also working to create new homeownership opportunities, by bringing these properties back to marketable condition – a function that is a critical element in our housing recovery.

The average investor typically spends $10,000 to $15,000 rehabbing a property, which directly results in local jobs for contractors and other vendors. Plus most “vultures” will resell the property, resulting in real estate commissions, lending fees, title fees, inspections, appraisals, advertising and more… ALL of which creates jobs and supports the local economy. Finally, the sale and clean up of the property also means that past due property taxes will be paid, which is revenue our local counties and schools desperately need.

Real estate investors are not predators. They do not cause foreclosures. To the contrary, they are an integral part of helping to clean up this housing disaster. Call them investors, speculators, opportunists or even vultures but make sure that you realize the important role they play in the real estate ecosystem.

15 Comments

  • Kara Jensen says:

    Well said!!

  • Sam Chaudhri says:

    A great article. I never saw it in this light.
    But I agree they do clean-up someone else’s mess and creat multiple jobs in the process. Who cares if they made some money in the process. The money these vultures make is thousands of times less than what banks and Wall Street “inhuman, scums of the dirt” make.

  • Hey Bill,

    WE could have written this. We talk enough about it.

  • AMEN!!

    My wife and I were featured on the front page of the LA Times a couple years ago for our vocation of buying and remodelling. Not meaning harm the reporter Peter Hong put the caption under our photo “Vulture investors Kurtis and Cindy Squyres”…we were actually featured in a positive light in the article itself…

    Oh man did that word start a firestorm against us like I’ve never seen in the Times comment section- to say that the remarks were vile is big understatement, haters big time.

    But I’ve often used this same analogy- “who is cleaning up the mess?”- proud to be a vulture, squaaawwwkkk (what do vultures sound like anyway?) – thanks for the article…ks

    • AChacon says:

      I believe it is ok to be a vulture Kurtis but what about the ethics of after the clean up and filling your pockets to pay those who employed you to begin with? Yes, you did a big clean up and took a family members mess off their hands but you continue to make promises without delivery and still owe a balance while taking advantage of the elderly. Shame on you.

  • Steven Kuhn says:

    Great article can I use this in my newsletter?

  • This assumes these homes are all decaying when the vulture acquires them. In fact, many tenant occupied properties are just fine until the vultures acquire them, kick the tenants out for no reason, and hold the property vacant waiting for the day when the market turns around. These properties end up vacant for prolonged periods of time and become blighted. In these cases, the vultures are causing the decay and blight, not cleaning it up.

    • Michelle says:

      Hi Dean,
      Investors are typically turning properties in 132 days compared to banks that are taking 261 days. Investors cannot afford to have properties sitting vacant and creating blight. In my experience investors are doing a great job cleaning up and remodeling properties so that the property will qualify for FHA financing and a nice family can move in.

    • Kurtis says:

      I’m not quite sure what investment model involves kicking out a rent paying tenant and then letting the property sit vacant and non performing while waiting for the market to turn around.

      As far as I know properties are either quickly improved and sold, or the investor puts a tenant in the property for the income.

      • A very bad investment model and unfortunately one that is being pursued in many communities across CA. Look, I’m not saying this is the case in every property, but to act as if there aren’t investors buying up properties, kicking people out, and then letting them sit vacant just doesn’t comport with reality.

        I work with tenants across the state. They lose their home at the hands of the vultures and then the home sits vacant for months and months. Some neighborhoods are ghost towns.

        For example, one family we worked with refused to move while 12 of the 13 homes on their block were vacated by an out of state investor. The units have been vacant for the last year. The family eventually vacated in part because they didn’t feel safe there any more. Should Californians be sending the investor a thank you card for “cleaning up” that neighborhood?

    • R says:

      Dean,

      You obviously don’t know what you speak of. No Investor in there right mind is going to pay for a property then turn around and let it sit there generating no revnue and in addition paying back property taxes. I am an investor and what we do for communities is far better than what wall street has done to home owners. As the article says we put alot of people to work and the neighbors love it when they see homes renovated as opposed to a decaying property in their neighborhood. Get you facts straight.

      • R,
        We have assisted thousands of tenants in this situation in CA. I know my facts. Nobody’s judging your particular practices, but to act as if there aren’t investors buying up properties, kicking people out, and then letting them sit vacant just doesn’t comport with reality.

      • Mike says:

        As far as I know the real estate in CA is good.

      • Syoko says:

        That is, I oppose abtioron, but I don’t think the federal government has any business intruding into abtioron.”I oppose slavery, but I don’t think the federal government has any business intruding into slavery.”Same thing. The federal government has EVERY interest in protecting human life. One has to ask themselves why they oppose abtioron. If the answer is because it takes an innocent unborn child’s life, then you cannot honestly say that the federal government has no role in protecting that life.]]>

  • […] an act of acceptance, some real estate investors embrace the moniker that others use pejoratively. Others still work to be positive ambassadors for their communities. […]

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