Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
For real estate auctions, the most important thing was naturally the value of the property.
The key factor in determining the value of the property was the potential for people to move into it.
That was key. After all, most of these properties being put up for auction were mortgaged or had disputers.
Americans did not have good habits of saving money. Instead, they liked to spend on credit. Hence, family credit rating was relatively small. Often, they were unable to pay off the loan after buying a house. Hence, the bank would then retract the ownership of the property.
In some cases, it was because the house owners were unable to afford the property tax. The property tax in California was lower, at around one percent. That meant to say that if the house were worth a million US dollars, the annual tax would add up to 10,000 dollars.
The valuation of the house was determined by the bank. Professionals representing it would proceed to evaluate the house. A manor like that was easily estimated to be worth a few million. Hence, the annual tax would amount of hundreds of thousands!
In any case, there were bound to be issues with the houses being auctioned. Most of the owners would not have given up their property if they had a choice.
Hence, they would naturally feel indignant that they had to sell their house at a low price. Why must they do that? If I cannot have it, others should not be able to have it either, was the prevalent sentiment. Hence, many people would damage the house.
For example, they might clog all the pipes with mud or destroy the electrical circuit in the house. Some would even refuse to leave, among other tactics.
That one reason why there were few people in the real estate auction trade. Not only would one have to be rich, but they also had to be capable. Otherwise, the owner might overstay and refuse to leave, causing trouble.
Of course, that could be resolved by law and by the police. However, the other party might play tricks. If they had babies, elderly or sick people in the family, the police and court would not be able to evacuate the property.
The manor, however, was empty. Li Du had previously let out the little bug to check out the place. The electrical circuit, water pipes, waterway and gas pipes were fine. After some tidying, one would be able to move in.
Having seen the manor, Li Du left, satisfied. He then headed to the next house.
His priority in attending the auction was to find a place to live in. If he could make money, it would be even better. He had realized that the little bug was much more suitable for this trade. The conditions of houses were far easier to review than warehouse contents.
The eleven houses up for auction were in Santa Monica. The one closest to the manor was a small villa that sat on a lot of 240 square kilometers. There were two floors and a basement, a garage and a garden.
When Li Du arrived in the district of the villa, the security guard stopped him. Lu Guan engaged his usual tactic of offering a bribe, but the guard persisted in rejecting it. Instead, the guard became even more cautious and took out his walkie-talkie to gather more men.
Seeing that, Li Du waved Lu Guan over. Guan said helplessly, “Seems like it’s going to be troublesome to try and get in. Let me check if I can connect with anyone from the villa.”
Li Du looked at the guards and said, “No need for that, watch me.”
He went back to change his car and came back with a Ferrari Superfast. He sped over and screeched to a stop at the door of the villa. Then he put his head out of the window arrogantly and said, “Open the door! Come on, quick!”
A guard went forward and spoke politely, “How do you do, sir? Excuse me…”
“F*ck, I have no time to talk. Hurry and open the door for me!” Li Du scolded. “Don’t provoke me, I have to pass. D*mn, let me through, now!”
The guard looked at the brand-new luxury car and after some hesitation, opened the automatic door.
Li Du whipped out a hundred-dollar bill and shoved it into the guard’s hand. “Guess you know your place.”
The guard smiled. It seemed like these rich men should not be trifled with. He was willing to be on his best behavior in the hope for more generous tips.
A hundred dollars was not a small sum to the guards. Their monthly salary only added up to slightly over a thousand dollars.
Having successfully entered the villa grounds, Li Du looked for the unit that would be auctioned off and let out the little bug.
He stayed in the car, enjoying the sunshine in Santa Monica. Then another car entered. Two middle-aged men alighted and looked at him before walking towards the villa.
Li Du found it strange. Could they be the owners of the villa? However, according to the search the little bug had done, no one was supposed to be staying in the house. Nobody had lived in the villa for quite some time.
The villa owner was unscrupulous. He had blocked all the pipes with mud and damaged all the electrical circuits in the house. Additionally, the floor had been soaked in water.
Hence, although at first glance the house looked to be perfectly fine, it was actually in shambles. It would require a lot of work to fix it up.
After the two men alighted, they started to peer in from the door of the villa. One of them then went to the window and peered in from outside.
Seeing that, it finally dawned on Li Du that he had bumped into others in his trade. That party was clearly also here to check out the house.
This villa was worthless to him. Too many things would have to be fixed to bring it to a livable condition. There was no way he could quickly turn it over. Even if he managed to do that, the property would not be able to fetch a good price.
After withdrawing the little bug, he turned the car around to leave. When the guard let him out, he gave the guard another hundred-dollar bill, which made. the guard ecstatic.
The guard memorized the license plate number of the Superfast and decided that he would offer VIP service if the Superfast came around again. He would definitely be able to make more tips.
It was too bad that the Superfast would never return to the villa district.
There was another villa that had no fence around it. Li Du went for a look and after noting the dismal condition of the property, he left.
For half of that day, he went around Santa Monica on his Superfast. He had checked out the rest of the eight other houses and done some basic calculations.
The property market was a complicated one. Li Du had to be more careful as he was new. He was unsure about the evaluation of the houses and how fast he should bid. Hence, for the first auction, he had done a lot of preparation work.
Out of the eleven houses to be auctioned, Li Du was most interested in the manor and a bungalow.
The bungalow was American-themed. It was like the houses that were commonly featured in American sitcoms and Hollywood movies. Due to the on-screen effects, those houses looked like villas, when actually it was just an illusion.
Such auctions took place each year, selling off thousands of houses from the cheapest to the most expensive ones. These were all second-hand houses. In the United States, previously owned property transactions formed the main bulk of the exchange. There were fewer deals involving new houses or buildings.
On Friday, July 20th, the Housing and Urban Development Bureau of Santa Monica would host a real estate auction. Li Du had rushed over early in the morning as he should have, but then he found that there were barely any people in the hall of the auction site.
Lu Guan yawned. “Boss, I told you before. There’s no need to arrive early for this. Everyone is very familiar, there’s no need to check on anything prior to the auction.”
Li Du said, “Are we familiar with them?”
Lu Guan shrugged his shoulders. “You’re the boss, whatever you say is right.”
The house-pickers were indeed familiar with one another. Whenever someone arrived, they would greet each other or crack a joke. Li Du had become someone who did not fit in. As he stood among the crowd, nobody paid attention to him.