Are you (or your clients) thinking about buying a foreclosed home? If you are, you aren’t alone. Generally speaking, most home inspectors over the past several years have seen an increase in the number of foreclosed homes being inspected. It’s the result of the national economic downturn in real estate with which we are all too familiar.
There are a lot of things to consider when buying this kind of property, but when it comes to home inspections, it’s important to understand that the format of the inspection does not change just because it’s a foreclosed home. The Standards of Practice on which we rely, and our own company requirements are the same for each home we inspect, old or new, occupied or vacant, foreclosure or not.
However, with that said, it should also be noted that there are things that make a foreclosed home unique, and there are conditions or situations that are simply more common in a foreclosed property. Here are some of the big ones:
- Vandalism is not uncommon with foreclosed properties. Holes in walls, broken water pipes, purposely clogged drains, damaged appliances, and removed or stolen components are all common in foreclosure properties. There’s a whole host of emotions that come with foreclosures and homeowners can react in a multitude of ways, including, sadly, sabotaging the property.
- At the time of the inspection booking, the inspection company will want to confirm the presence of working and operational utilities; gas, water, electric. This is a special consideration for foreclosures as it is more common to find that utilities are off or inoperable. It’s important to note the inspector is not allowed to turn on any utilities when he or she arrives at the property. So it becomes critical to make sure the utilities are on and working to receive the full benefit of the home inspection.
- Depending on how long the house has been vacant, it’s also possible that wildlife and pests have taken up residence within the property. This is certainly not uncommon in mountain or rural properties. If animals are discovered on the property, the concern and commitment then becomes to determine how much damage they may have caused.
- Mold is another concern in foreclosed properties. Many vacant properties carry the potential for water intrusion from the exterior. Not having a homeowner present to discover and adjust to conditions may allow water to penetrate and produce the perfect environment for mold growth.
- Lastly, and not as common, but it does happen, the home may have (or have had) temporary occupants, squatters, or homeless persons knowing the home was vacant. It is always recommended that those entering the home be aware of this possibility and do so with caution. (It’s a great idea to enter the property together for safety purposes).
As a buyer or buyer’s agent, giving the inspector in advance as much detailed information as you know about the property is always to everyone’s advantage.
Golden State Energy Consultants