bank properties

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by regal services, Jan 31, 2010.

  1. regal services

    regal services LawnSite Member
    Posts: 3

    I have been taking care of bank properties(process of foreclosure) part time for a couple of years and when I got laid off in May I started full time.

    They don't pay alot but I do get a lot of volume. My question is during April and May in my area grass grows like crazy. I have a hard time getting my numbers in (I cannot leave any clippings on the lawns). In June and July the growth slows way down and it is fairly easy to make my numbers.

    What equipment do you recommend that will take a beating and still cut the long grass of spring and I will not have to work all year just to pay for a mower.

    I currently use a 22" and 32" walk behinds. In the spring I have to cut very high sometimes without bag and then go over it a couple of times to get it under control.

    Used or new.

  2. SangerLawn

    SangerLawn LawnSite Senior Member
    from indiana
    Posts: 736

    Any commercial grade mower with at least a 27 horse engine cuts the tall stuff pretty well. Unfortunately no matter what kind of mower you have you are always going to have to cut it several times if the grass is tall.

    Used on creigs list probably around $3,000 - $5,000. if you lucky and watch the list you can find something cheap, I found some nice mowers for as low as $1,500 in excellent condition. this is ztr around 60 inches

    Personally I think your nuts for doing all that work to little to no money…but to each there own……The worse part about this is, you are destroying your company name and equipment for the banks. Lets face it, your equipment is going to tear up 10 times as fast mowing those crappy properties AND no high dollar customer is going to pay you based on your work because all you do is bank properties…this is why most larger companies will not do for closed properties…no money and in the long run you are damaging your companies name.
  3. regal services

    regal services LawnSite Member
    Posts: 3

    Thanks for the info but this is only part of the service I offer the banks and I gross enough on the other stuff to offset some of this cost I just would like to do it faster so it will not be a lost leader in the spring. I spent several years working in residential lawns and the bank work pays every week no problems with no collection, no customer complaints. The pay is a little low but when the grass is growing slow it is ok. That being said. I am aware of how fast these properties tear up a mower that the main reason I am asking for suggestions. I mow somewhere between 200 to 400 lawns a month depending on how far I want to travel.

    I know a lot of you don't want this kind of work but it is given to me with no advertising expense and no competition it is very hard to turn down money in this economy.

    As far as ruining company name? If you work hard provide good service/value, and have
    good customer services skills. I don't think mowing lawns for a bank will be held against you. Several of the lawns are on very nice estates. Alot are in not so good neighborhoods. And I take pride in what I do, and mow the lawns to match the neighborhood.

    Any way equipment suggestions are very much appreciated. Budget is limited due to not wanting to trash a high end mower. Names and models of mowers would be helpful.
  4. pkra12

    pkra12 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 45

    gravely walk behinds, keep the blades sharpened. they do a great job chopping up tall grass and they are very well built. i picked mine up off craigslist as a backup mower for 1,000 and absolutley love it
  5. tinman

    tinman LawnSite Bronze Member
    from ga
    Posts: 1,348

    Used dixie chopper or toro ztr..... Now is time to buy while people need money in winter. If your cuts are not frequent enough though you will still have to go over more than once.
  6. Lazer Cut

    Lazer Cut LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 906

    First thing is... make sure you charge enough for your time... I work for two banks in my area... I have gotten 3 solid commercial jobs out of it... 2 day care centers and a nursery. I charge for my time and everything I have to do to make the property look decent... man I've had to rent bush hogs and bush hog back yards and let me say it ain't cheap. I learned quick on how to price things so the bank was like a stepping stone for my knowledge... if I wanted to try something different I'd try to stripe diagnol on the bank properties were in good neighborhoods... once I got the hang of it I tried it out on my normal customers.

    This year though I do not believe I will work for the bank on the rinky dink, PITA!!! hard to get to, tight fits, tear my mower up jobs anymore... if they want to throw me good foreclosures like they have in the past great... but I doubt I will take on the small little lawns... but when I do take them on... I make sure its worth my wild... I have a yard that was on a tight alley way (only place to park) yard took maybe 15-20 minutes at the most and I charged $35 just because it was a pain to get to and they were thrown in the mix of my set schedule... well 3 more houses in the same area were owned by the bank and I could cut, trim, blow in little under hour n half and I charged $35 per property... so $140 for 1 hour and a half and they werent over grown or tall as hell once I cut them down the 1st time... just took a bit to get them looking nice and under control... cleanups I charge roughly $45 an hour for the bank... if its hard I have gotten $60 an hour but that was cleaning up a lot and I made roughly $300 after renting a bush hog, gas etc for the cleanup... it was just a mess to haul away and what not.

    Only thing I hate is when they call me or email me and they a property handled right NOW because the city is hounding them to get it cleaned up... I just hated the not knowing if they were going to sell the property or throw me more properties into my already set schedule is what I didnt like... but I made sure it was worth wild handling the properties... my estimating skills have gone up because of learning first hand throw the bank on certain properties... I use to line up a bush hog saturday so it wouldnt have to be returned till monday @ 9 and clean up 2 or 3 properties and make real good money... that was just me

    Sorry for the ramble lol

    and I had a 2005 36" exmark metro that was a TANK!
  7. Lazer Cut

    Lazer Cut LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 906

    Oh, and when I mention i work for such and such bank doing their foreclosed properties and a few commercial properties... that helped me land my 5 daycare center it was like the kicker that I knew I got the deal when I mentioned that and gave 2 reference numbers... it can swing things in your favor so maybe those jobs arnt so bad after all... they can really help you sometimes when you add that in people go well bank needs someone reliable, dependable, does decent work and charges a fair price... can help you get customers
  8. lawnkingforever

    lawnkingforever LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,280

    If you want to continue doing bankowned homes, I would invest in a WB brushmower. I bought one last summer and it has served me well. I get alot of work from a local real estate investor that buys alot of foreclosed homes. In my area this seems like an underserved part of the industry. I get a few calls from banks and real estate agents for my brushmowing services. Since their payment terms are too far out, I usually turn these jobs down. Wearing my carharts and boots in 90 temp.(protection from bees and sankes) while brushmowing 5ft high weeds and then waiting 30 days to get paid is not an option.
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2010
  9. bohiaa

    bohiaa LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,220

    There was an articule about this issue in this months Turff.
  10. OrangeToys

    OrangeToys LawnSite Bronze Member
    from SW MO
    Posts: 1,021

    I do bank properties all the time using my 61" scag 23hp Vangaurd. I really havent had a problem cutting tall grass (by tall i meen 3ft) I just go slow and constantly look around for possible obsticles. if the property is pretty large I just call in my local Brush hogging guy and sub it out to him, if he cant get to it then I just rent a brush hog

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