As the economy falls deeper into recession, many homeowners are losing their homes for failing to pay their mortgages. As these homes get foreclosed they fall into disrepair. For a lawn care business owner that offers property maintenance services this can mean big bucks! Let’s jump to a post made on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum about this topic. A forum member wrote “I got hooked up with a contractor doing home foreclosures for banks and I have the great responsibility of cutting, cleaning, and securing over 200 foreclosed properties. They need to be finished before New Years. Has anyone done this type of work before?
I have one guy starting tomorrow and I was thinking 4 guys could do 4-5 of these a day along with my normal lawn care route. It looks like I’ll be working through the weekends till after the holidays.”
Another forum member said he too was offering home foreclosure board up services and maintenance “I’ve done a handful for a local credit union bank, the banks pay pretty good, and they cut me a check the next day, so It worked out pretty good for me. I can’t imagine doing 200 homes with my regular lawn care accounts as well. There’s no way I would have time, I would have to hire a crew just to do those.”
I asked how does a lawn care business owner go about finding such work performing these services? Andy said “Well the properties I worked on were over grown with weeds and had not been taken care of for months. I averaged $125 per house as a clean up charge. I probably spent 2-3 hours per house just going to town with my hedge clippers, cutting everything down for the winter. I bid these based on my estimated time, @ my typical hourly rate.”
Steve: “Do you think a lawn care business owner should go to their local credit union bank to offer these services or how do you think it would be best to market that you offer such services?”
Andy: “I’m sure you could go to each local bank and hand out business cards and let them know if they have any forclosure properties that need work to give you a call. The bank I worked for called me, I never did ask how they found me or heard about me.”
Steve: “Do you have any advice on how to bill for these services?”
Blaine: ” Most of the jobs have set prices, the big money comes in after you get there and there is over grown grass, broken windows, and debris, then you place a bid, you get your approval or counter bid back in 1-2 days.
Most of this work are on home damaged by our past hurricanes, where people have left and forgotten about them, and some of them are very nice homes, where the mortgages, and taxes where not paid up. Either way there are lots of them and I mean lots. I have 3 crews as of now and one starting tomorow.
The whole thing has been a learning progress. The hardest part is making sure other crews are doing things right, The way the pay works is after I send my photos of the work I have done, I will get a check in 1-2 weeks sometimes sooner. Broken windows get boarded up, debris get removed and bought to the dump. As far as inside the house work, there can be anything but depending on the value and condition of a property the bank may or may not want it repaired. There is a lot of money in this work and I plan on milking this cow until she’s empty.”
Steve: “So you could go into a house and find some big problems or small ones, take photos of the problem and submit an estimate to repair it and the bank may or may not want it, but it is up to you to present them with as many options for repair as possible?
Say for instance the roof is leaking onto ceiling drywall. You would take a picture of this and present it to the bank to see if they want it repaired?”
Blaine: “Exactly. It’s pretty cool because I can sub-contract out any work I can’t handle. It’s not like the bank is taking estimates from X amount of companies, I have first dibs on all bids I submit. This work is pretty cool and sometimes it’s hard. The first house I did is was repossessed home that was destroyed by Huricane Katrina. I was supposed to clean and remove a lot of litter and mow the grass. When I got there, the house was being occupied by the previous owner’s son that is mentaly ill. He is going around the neighbohood and stealling trash bags to dig through to find food and he is just leaving the bags on the property.
Four years of collecting garbage can get pretty nasty. At another property I had an order to change front door locks, we get to this upscale house, to find that the people haven’t even started moving, as a matter of fact those people where probably upset when they got home to find someone changed there door lock. But hey, they should have known it was gonna happen sooner or later.”
Steve: “What kinds of services have you found yourself sub-contracting out so far?”
Blaine: “I actually have a roofing crew doing a roof right now and I got some carpenters to bid for on a front porch. I sub out any work that I just personally can’t do or don’t have time to do. When I say there is a lot of work, I mean that there is tons of work. This past week I completed 75 work orders and next week I am going for 150. The winter time is usually the slow season for lawn care work so it’s easy to get lawn care business owners to take on some more work from me at low estimates as long as I can keep the work coming.”
So keep all this in mind as you are looking for more services to offer. Why not contact your local banks and see if they need help closing, maintaining and securing foreclosed homes. You may find yourself busier than you can imagine. If you would like to join in on this discussion visit the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum here.