Home Front

A blog about the economy and the Sacramento-area real estate market.

June 16, 2008
The new boom in repo contracting
I spent several hours this morning with Sacramento contractor John Kukis, prowling around in foreclosed homes. Kukis is a self-described "repo contractor" - a construction niche that's keeping him running and earning money while it lasts. He did the same during the 1990s downturn and goes back to regular home remodeling when the storm passes.

  We're doing a story soon on this born-again contracting phenomenon. Kukis said he spends 12-14 hours a day doing bids and overseeing jobs for real estate agents who are marketing thousands of area homes on behalf of banks that repossessed them.

 Often, banks try to sell "as is." But sometimes it takes $7,000 or $10,000 to spiff up a place: fresh carpet, fresh paint and new linoleum.

Vandals are wrecking bank-owned homes, too, Kukis said.

 We went to one in South Sacramento's Meadoview neighborhood where someone bashed in the back window and hammered on the kitchen and bathroom cabinets. The carpet was dirty and covered in glass. The cabinet doors were all over the place and the walls certainly needed some fresh paint.

There's something rewarding, Kukis said, about finding a place that has endured so much trauma and making it livable again. It's a new side of the region's foreclosure story that's proving good for business. Here, take a tour of one house that's being restored:

Here's Kukis talking about what he does:

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