Does The Bank Owned REO Home Have Issues in the Bathroom?

Real Estate Agent with Mason Real Estate CA BRE 01444168

The Hemet San Jacinto Valley real estate market in South West Riverside County region of the Inland Empire of Southern California is dominated by the sale of bank owned (or REO = Real Estate Owned) properties. 

All of these bank owned homes are sold "AS-IS".  Although many purchase offers negotiate a home warranty to protect the new Hemet - San Jacinto Valley homeowner against system failures there are still many maintenance issues that must be addressed before the new homeowner can really feel at home and settle in to their new life. 

Bathrooms are notorious for requiring more than a bucket of sweat equity to make them feel clean and new again. 

As a listing agent of Bank Owned Homes throughout South West Riverside County I come across all different problems in the bathrooms we take possession of.  Because my team and I also sell lots of bank owned homes in the area it is important for us to know the best way to take care of the problems that the new homeowners are likely to face and how to take care of them both economically and ecologically friendly - all while saving time and energy, whenever possible. 

Lets take a look at some of the common problems you're likely to find in a bank owned home in the Hemet - San Jacinto Valley...and how to best cure them, turning your bathroom into your personal throne room of your new castle (Sorry, I couldn't help myself). 


Many homes have cracked caulking around the tub and sinks.  Typically settling causes this.  To fix this problem, remove the old caulking with a putty knife, and be extra careful not to damage the porcelain or tile.  Use a new waterproof caulking (from a gun - not the type that comes on a roll) and allow drying overnight before use.  You can purchase a simple ‘bead clean-up' tool that will make the job look professional and save considerable time. 


If the tub is discolored from hard water stains, try covering the tub with paper towels that have been soaked in full strength white vinegar for a couple of hours. 

Do you have a mold or mildew issue around the tub?  Try scrubbing with a one cup of chlorine bleach to three cups of water solution.  Make sure you wear gloves.  If this doesn't' cut it, increase the bleach until it does.  Make sure you rinse the area well before use. 

If you bought an older home in the Hemet - San Jacinto Valley real estate market with an old metal tub, it is possible you'll find rust stains.  Try mixing up a paste of borax powder and lemon juice.  Now apply elbow grease.  It this doesn't work, you'll have to find a commercial product. 


Cultured Marble counter tops can be beautiful if they have not been abused.  Unfortunately, many bank owned home in the Hemet - San Jacinto Valley with these counter tops end up with burn marks - either from candles or cigarettes.

Although there is no guarantee, as it really depends how deep the burn scar goes, but many can be removed.  With the surface always wet, try sanding with a fine grit sandpaper and then an ultra-fine sand paper.  After the sanding, use a polishing compound (again making sure the surface is wet) and I'll at least guarantee the counter tops look better than they did! 


Many, if not most of the home built in the last 10 years in the Hemet - San Jacinto Valley have a separate shower and tub.  This is typical for the newer homes  for sale; however older real estate will typically have a dual shower and tub combo in the master bath.  These showers are typically enclosed with glass...and glass can get really funky looking if not properly maintained. 

If you buy (or bought) a bank owned home in the Hemet - San Jacinto Valley then you'll want to spend some time and energy restoring it to it's glory days...and then to keep it looking that good. 

First, consider the Showerhead.  How many gallons a minute does it use?  Most new showerheads are efficiently only dispensing about 2.5 gallons a minute compared to the 5 gallons (or more) that older showerheads used.  Replacing an old head can save as much as $75 to $200 a year on your water and energy bills.  Most homes end up saving about 1200 gallons a year for this simple and inexpensive retrofit. 

If the showerhead is dripping it is a sure sign that it is either dirty or defective.  If dirty clean and if defective then it is time to find a replacement.  

If the Shower Head is clogged with hard water deposits there is no need to toss it.  Just remove it and allow it soak overnight in a straight white vinegar bath.  When you are ready to put it back in place, first scrub it out with an old toothbrush.  Worse case scenario, us a strong piece of wire and floss each hole. 

To keep the showerhead clean and avoid hard water residue, found in many parts of the Hemet - San Jacinto Valley, mix one cup of very hot water with a cup of white vinegar and a teaspoon of lemon juice.  Mix these ingredients well and then store in a spray bottle for periodic cleaning of the showerhead. 


Many times in bank owned homes in the Hemet - San Jacinto Valley there is a shower door - either in a freestanding shower or a tub/shower combo with a tub enclosure.  Shower door are notorious for not draining properly - and the solution is soooooo simple. 

There are ‘weep holes' in the tract that probably have become clogged with hair or some other debris.  Just use a simple pipe cleaner to clean these portals ...and make sure you keep them clean with regular service. 

The soap and scup can get really thick and really nasty on glass shower doors/enclosures.  It should not be any surprise that when potential buyers see this condition in the real estate they are considering buying that the value typically takes a nose dive. 

You'll probably have to use a straight white vinegar solution to clean this problem.  Once clean, wipe the glass surfaces down with a furniture polish that contains lemon oil.  If the film is very heavy and the straight vinegar doesn't cut the mustard then try using a steel wool pad soaked in household dishwasher liquid - the glass will then sparkle. 

Perhaps the best maintenance for keeping the glass clean in a glass-enclosed shower is to use a squeegee after each shower. 


Fiberglass is a very durable and yet a very fragile product that MUST be cleaned the right way, or it will easily be ruined.  All fiberglass found in the bathroom of your Hemet - San Jacinto Valley bank owned home should only be cleaned with a disinfectant and a white nylon scrub sponge rated specifically for fiberglass. 


A quick tip for working around any sink - make sure the drain is closed before working with any small tools or parts.  How many of us have ever lost a ring, an earring or other piece of jewelry down the drain.  When this happens the only hope of recovery is to tear the plumbing apart and hope it is in the trap.  Otherwise, it will be gone forever. 

Common problems found in bank owned homes in the Hemet - San Jacinto Valley, with sinks are a slow stream of water, which is usually caused by the aerator tip at the end of the faucet being clogged.  Take this off and clean it out with an old toothbrush.  If there is any scaling or hard water buildup, then use a white vinegar solution. 

Occasionally water will splatter out of the tap.  Typically this is caused by water in the pipes.  A very simple solution is to open all the faucets in the house and allow them to run for a couple of minutes until the splattering stops. 

Leaks under the sink are typically caused by loose plumbing fittings.  More often than not just tightening them up will cure the problem and help preserve the real estate. 


Stainless steel sinks are not very common in most bathrooms in the Hemet - San Jacinto Valley, but they are common in kitchens and even laundry rooms, to a lesser degree. 

Automobile Rubbing Compound will remove practically any spot from a stainless steel sink.  The rubbing compound will also leave a thin layer of wax to prevent future spotting. 

NEVER clean a stainless steel sink with any type of abrasive cleaner or steel wool.  The best cleaner for a steel sink is baking soda.  White Vinegar will remove water spots.


Many time bathroom mirrors have a dull sheen to them and even the most expensive glass cleaners just don't make the mirrors sparkle like you know they should.  Try using a soft cloth dampened with alcohol.  The alcohol will remove the thin film of oil that builds up from other cleaning products. 

If there is a scratch on a mirror there is a simple quick fix.  Just remove the mirror from the wall and place a piece of aluminum foil, shiny side to the mirror, behind the scratch and reapply the mirror to the wall.  Once installed, paint over the scratch with clear shellac. 

If your bathroom has a window that makes you feel may consider frosting it over.  Use a solution of 1 cup of ‘light' beer mixed with 4 tablespoons of Epson salts and simply paint it on your window.  Not to worry, the solution will wash off easily enough.  You may need to reapply once or twice a year. 


Tile counters often look beautiful when properly cleaned and maintained.  In a normal market when a homeowner is selling their home for top dollar you can bet that special attention is given to make tile counter tops just ‘pop'.  Unfortunately by the time the bank takes possession of most homes in the Hemet - San Jacinto Valley, the tile counter tops have been neglected for some time. 

Perhaps the most common problem with tile counter tops (and tile on the shower walls and tub surrounds) is the build up of soap scum.  Clean with a soft cloth and either white vinegar or lemon juice.  Regular cleaning with one of these solutions will go a long way to keeping the tile looking it's best. 

Homes settle and this creates cracks throughout the home.  Tile typically will be one of the first areas of the home to show the settling.  Once cracks appear in the grout between the tiles the only cure is to remove the old grout and re-grout. 

Stains in the grout are often caused by moisture and soap stains.  The best preventative measure is to wipe down the tile after each use and leave the exhaust fan running until the room is completely dry.

A reoccurring problem with tile soap dishes is they become loose.  Unfortunately there is not any way of tightening them without removing them completely and reinstalling them.  Make sure to grout thoroughly to prevent any moisture from finding its way back in behind the soap dish.


The modern toilet is perhaps the one aspect of a bathroom that can turn heads quicker than any other when it is less than stellar condition...and when it is perfect, no one really ever pays that much attention to it. 

The toilet is perhaps the most complicated fixture found in a typical bathroom - only because it has more moving parts than any other fixture.  The good news is that all of the parts of a typical toilet can be found at just about every hardware store and building supply center.  The news is even better, because there is nothing expensive about the workings of a typical toilet. 

The toilet of today is made from either porcelain or ceramics and is acid resistant, which is why many of the toilet bowl cleaners on the commercial market are acid based.  This means it is not a good idea to inject toilet bowl cleaners.  If this happens contact 911 right away. 

It is relatively simple to make your own toilet bowl cleaner and the formula can be adjusted based on the strength of cleaner you need at the moment.  Try adding a cup of hydrogen peroxide and a tablespoon of household ammonia to a half gallon of water. 

Just mix the ingredients in a bucket, planning on using about a quart in each toilet.  Just pour the solution into the toilet and allow soaking for about 45 minutes before you scrub and flush.  If you follow this routine weekly, you should not have any issues with either discoloration or stains. 

Another solution that works well is a cup of plain white vinegar left in a toilet for 8 to 10 hours before scrubbing. 

If after trying the above after the first cleaning, try using a pumice stone to remove the ring.  Just dampen the bar and gently rub the surface to avoid scratching it.  00 Sandpaper will also do the trick. 

A Wet Tank??? 

There are times when the cold water will form condensation on the cold ceramic tank - this is referred to as sweating.  The solution is fairly simple...just purchase a tank cover which will keep the tank itself warmer and therefore avoid the issue with condensation all together. 

When the Seat Has to Go 

When buying a bank owned home in the Hemet - San Jacinto Valley one of the very first steps many new homeowners take is removing the old toilet seats.   There will be times when the old seat has rusted bolts and seem impossible to get off.  Try some 3-in-1 penetrating oil, allowing to sit over night.  If this doesn't do the trick then it will be necessary to use a hacksaw. 

When putting the new seat back on, add some petroleum jelly to the bolts to help prevent them from rusting. 

Toilets do Back Up 

When a toilet backs up the first step is to always turn off the water at the water supply, generally located near the floor behind the toilet.  Then plunge away. 

If plunging does not do the trick, the next step is some sort of commercial drain cleaner.  Theses products are sold in different strengths with the strongest being sold at hardware stores.  The brand I like to use is sold in a plastic bottle inside a plastic bag.  Not sure why, but it gives me the impression that this is some serious stuff - all I know is it works just about every time. 

If the industrial strength drain cleaner doesn't do the trick then you'll have to ‘snake' the line.  Again, there are snakes of different sizes and strengths ranging in price from around $10 to the heavy-duty industrial monsters that professional plumbers will have on their trucks that will cost several hundred dollars. 

Toilets Making Strange Noises 

As mentioned earlier, all of the common parts of a toilet are available for purchase at most hardware and building supply stores.  When your toilet starts making strange gurgling and dripping noises the flapper is probably warped and needs replacing. 

The Water Level 

Today there are many high efficient toilets that only use 1.6 gallons per flush.  When observing these toilets the most apparent characteristic is that the water level is not as full as other toilets you may have used in the past.  These toilets are designed to use less water, saving thousands of gallons a year, per home.

Low water levels can also be caused by a toilet that is poorly vented or has a clogged vent (usually found on the roof). 

If the toilet will not fill properly, then there is usually a simple solution.  First check and make sure the water is turned on.  Then go ahead and check the strap to the flapper as it may have either broke or come loose. 

When the Toilet Starts to Smell like a ...Well a Toilet 

Toilets are not supposed to smell, once flushed.  If a toilet is omitting a odor like a sewer it may be caused by a low water level in the toilet bowl, allowing sewer gases back into the system.  A loose toilet can also allow sewer gases to be released into the home. 

Is Your Toilet Possessed by Ghosts?

Believe it or not, it is not that uncommon for a toilet to flush all by itself.  This ‘phantom flush' has many people swearing their homes are haunted by ghosts when it is nothing more than a design flaw in the refill valve.  This is systematic of either a leak in the flush valve or the refill tube is not cut to the proper length.

Good Advise 

If you take the time to go through any bathroom in any bank owned (REO) real estate property for sale in the Hemet - San Jacinto Valley and follow the guidelines and tricks outlined in this article and apply it with a bit of sweat, you'll find that just about every bathroom in South West Riverside County can easily be restored to near new.

If you don't know whom your congressperson is or how to reach them, check out this link

Blessings to all who read, 

John Occhi, REALTOR®
Hemet - San Jacinto Valley

Servicing THE REO Needs of Asset Managers, Servicers, Banks and Lending Institutions in the Hemet - San Jacinto Valley, Temecula, Murrieta, Winchester, Wildomar, Menifee, Sun Valley, Perris, Moreno Valley, Romoland, Homeland, Nuevo, Banning, Beaumont, Cherry Valley, Yucaipa, Redlands, Mentone, Loma Linda and throughout South West Riverside County and The Pass Areas of The Inland Empire in Southern California.  If you are a buyer, investor, first time home buyer or are just interested in REO real estate, please contact us at the above phone number.

Serving California and Riverside County zip codes of 92501, 92503 , 92551, 92555 , 92562, 92563, 92504, 92505, 92557, 92553, 92506, 92507, 92590 92591, 92508, 92509, 92570, 92571, 92592, 92399 , 92584 , 92596, 92820 , 92571 , 92543, 92544, 92545, 92583, 92582, 92879, 92580 , 92530, 92532, 92881, 92882, 92567, 92518, 92883 , 92549, 92561, 92220, 92223, 92028, 92088

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Until Next Time, Have a Blessed Day,

John Occhi, ePRO, REALTOR®
DRE Lic No: 01444168

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This blog and the contents written here is the intellectual property of John Occhi, Temecula - Murrieta, CA REALTOR® in the South West Riverside County region of the Inland Empire of Southern California.  The views and opinions expressed are just that - views and opinions of John Occhi and those who comment.  Please note that I am not an attorney or a tax professional and any time I discuss either topic, I suggest you consult with the proper professional for relevant assistance. 

I am proud to be a full time REALTOR® who is proud to be a contributing member of the ActiveRain community.

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Richard T. Dolbeare
KW Island Living - Lihue, HI
R(B), ABR, CRS...Hawaii Multi-Island Specialist

Here's another bathroom problem to add to your list, a toilet mounted to the porch outside with no privacy walls.  Yes, I actually came across a functioning toiled just like that and would like to post a picture but am not allowed to do so.

Aug 31, 2009 07:25 PM #1
John Occhi
Mason Real Estate - Temecula, CA
SRES,CPRES.ePRO - Temecula-Murrieta CA Real Estate

Just when I thought I had seen everything in 2+ years of listing REO's - you have to take the cake on this one.

Sep 01, 2009 02:56 AM #2
Jean Hanley
Coldwell Banker Kivett Teeters - Hemet, CA
Specializing in Folks Who Want To Buy/Sell Homes

Wow....I have just never given the "toilet" that much thought.  Especially not at 1:50 a.m.   I suppose when I am out showing these REO homes in Hemet/San Jacinto, I had better pay more attention to the toiliets.  Actually, I saw a house the other day where the homeowner took certain things when they left, and one of the items they took were all of the toilet tank LIDS.  Only the lids.  lol



Sep 01, 2009 09:16 AM #3
Bill Gassett
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Hopkinton, MA
Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate

John this is quite a comprehensive post about buying an REO and what to watch out for in the bathroom..nice job!

Sep 03, 2009 12:03 AM #4
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SRES,CPRES.ePRO - Temecula-Murrieta CA Real Estate
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