5 Things to Look for When Buying a Foreclosed Home

foreclosure sign

Professional inspections are crucial in any home purchase. For a few hundred dollars, a trained inspector will look for hidden problems that can significantly influence a property’s value. This is no different when purchasing foreclosed homes, which commonly contain external and internal issues that cause headaches down the line for homeowners.

Here are 5 special issues to look for when surveying your prospective foreclosed investment:

Are the Utilities Working?

When scheduling the inspection of a foreclosed home, ensure that the property is fully woken from its slumber, and that the utilities (gas, water, electricity) are turned on to their full operating capacity. Managers of foreclosed properties often shut off utilities entirely during their vacancies. Certain problems can become apparent when powering the utilities fully, whether discovering leaks in pipes from turning the water pressure to full, or finding ventilation issues when running the central heat/air.

Has Nature Taken Hold?

Long vacancy means ample opportunity for pests and mold to enter and occupy a home. Whether rodents, bugs, or fungus, mother nature’s undesirable tenants can be difficult to evict once they’ve set up shop in a foreclosed home. Senses are your number one tool for discovering such guests. An examination for scratched or chewed wood and droppings will reveal traces of certain pests. If an unexplained, musty smell lingers in the home, a mold inspection may be a necessary step before finalizing the purchase.

Did the Previous Tenants Hurt the Property?

Given the often highly emotional and unhappy outcomes that foreclosures bring to affected tenants, foreclosed homes more commonly exhibit tenant-caused damage than non-foreclosed properties. Cleaning up after the previous tenant is common, but more serious structural damage is also possible. When searching a home for human-inflicted damage, check doors and walls for holes and gashes caused by physical outburst or careless furniture removal. Look for missing appliances and inspect their attachments to the home plumbing. Also, examine outlets for mechanical or electrical damage related to thoughtless removal of plugs.

Are Repairs in Progress?

It is possible that the current owner of a foreclosure has acted to repair some issues on the property. When entering a home and inspecting, take caution for the odd smell that could come from an incomplete gas line repair. Look for bare wires, and never assume a home’s utilities are shut off when touching wiring, pipes, and appliances. If exposed asbestos is around, or strange smells linger, steer clear of touching anything with bare skin, and consider the use of gloves and face-masks when entering the property.

Is Plumbing Intact?

Plumbing takes special precedent in home examinations, as leaky or broken plumbing can cause both dangerous mold and costly repairs for new homeowners. When inspecting any room of a home, look around pipes and appliances for evidence of water damage. Check basements and ceilings for cracks and flooding that may be the result of standing or leaking water. If damage is found, be cautious with your bare skin, and also consider employing a face mask before further inspection.

Foreclosed homes can be great opportunities for homeowners and property investors, but they don’t come without their special headaches and uncertainties. When in doubt, just spend the few hundred dollars for a qualified inspector to ask the hard questions for you, and save yourself some frustration down the road.