Many Realtors and Mortgage brokers have written articles on short sales and foreclosures. One point the haven't touched on is what is necessary to prepare a foreclosed home for inspection. When banks own the home they often (usually) have them winterized and often allow propane tanks to empty. Other utilities are usually left on. It is understandable that they would want to protect their investment as much as possible. Unfortunately, this protection makes it impossible to do a thorough home inspection.
When buying (or selling for you Realtors out there) a foreclosed home, it is very important to insist that the bank has the home de-winterized and has propane put in the tank. Without these items being taken care of, the water heater, heating system and plumbing systems can not be fully evaluated. I just returned, today, from a re-inspect of one of these homes for just the reason I've stated. Not only did this slow down the process, it also cost the buyer an additional fee for me to go back out to the site ( a rural one and some distance to drive). So please, on foreclosure sales, get those utilities back in operation!
Thanks for reading,
David Helm, Bellingham Washington Home Inspector