Let's face facts...buying a foreclosure isnt exactly a simply process. In fact, some would say the entire process sucks.
But, it can actually be even worse than you thought originally for your client without recognizing these 10 simple red flags. Knowing what to look for can save your clients thousands of dollars in the long run...
1. Air Quality: The air quality inside will tell you a lot about the over-all condition of the home. Musty or dirty smells can mean mold and mildew has developed. Perhaps a water leak...perhaps a leaky roof. Make sure you include air and surface testing in your home inspection. Yes, it costs money. But, that is a few hundred dollars well spent.
2. Peeling, bubbling or discolored paint: 9 times out of 10 this is caused by moisture...moisture that can cause mold. Swelling in walls or ceilings or a musty odor immediately point to water damage. Make sure you check the major surfaces in all areas around the kitchen and bathroom and UNDER these same rooms as well.
3. Missing sinks or other fixtures: We have all seen the news stories of disgruntled home owners that have been foreclosed on tearing out kitchen cabinets, toilets, sinks, etc. Make sure that, if the home you are looking to buy is missing these things, that they were removed properly and not simply torn from the wall or floor. That is the difference between replacing a toilet and replacing a wall, a floor, some plumbing, and a toilet.
4. Unheated during the winter: If the home was winterized properly, you have nothing to worry about. But, if not...there is plenty to worry about. Without it, water in pipes can freeze cracking seals, cracking pipes (both inbound and outbound) and potentially causing major water damage. Check all water lines leading to and from water heaters and all fixtures and the drain lines leading to the main sewer line until it leaves the structure.
5. Fungus growth: Fungus requires water to grow. If you find mold, there was or is water there. However, water flows downhill. So, look for the source of the water above where you find the mold.
6. Blocked drains: Blocked pipes will cause any number of potential issues including a sewage backup. Make sure all of your drains work properly and toilets flush with no issues.
7. Older homes with lots of renovations: Check with the city. Hopefully, these major renovations are tracible by being able to pull permits for the work that was done. Many older homes had asbestos (either in the insulation or in the tiles used). Make sure that any disturbance to this type of material was handled by trained professionals and that they potential risk is eliminated.
8. Excessive painting: Any "fresh" paint is subject to inspection. Especially if they felt the need to paint the molding, doors, even the wood floors. This is one of the main ways that people try to cover up the existence of mold. Out of sight, out of mind, right?
9. Discolored subflooring: When you are inspecting the basement, make sure you look up. Check out the subfloor above your head. Make sure you look for any evidence of discoloration or darkening stain residue. Also, look for holes in the subflooring that moisture could gather and create potential hazards later. Inspect those well to ensure they are dry and dont contain mold already.
10. Dingy walls or black cobwebs: If the walls have a dingy grey film on them or the light fixtures have a thin black cobweb-type appearance, you may be dealing with soot damage. Soot damage would be from several potential sources: a previous fire; a plugged chimeny associated with a wood stove; maybe even a malfunctioning furnace. Have your chimneys professionally cleaned and make sure that the furnace is tested by people that know what they are doing.
Yeah, you can get a great deal on a foreclosed home. But, knowing what to look for when in the buying process is the difference between getting a great deal...and buying a money pit.
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