Thursday
April 17, 2014

4 Questions to Ask Before Buying a Foreclosure

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4 Questions to Ask Before Buying a Foreclosure

Foreclosures can offer big bargains, but buyers need to be careful that they don’t get over their heads in purchasing a home that may need more repairs than they bargained for.

Foreclosures are usually sold as-is, and homes that are left vacant standing too long can have a lot of maintenance problems. 

Real estate experts suggest buyers consider the following questions:

1. How long has the home been vacant? Be cautious of a foreclosed home that has stood vacant for more than a few weeks or had its utilities shut off a long time. Marvin Goldstein, a home inspector for many foreclosed properties, says a home can deteriorate quickly when heating, cooling, electricity, and running water have been turned off for awhile. 

2. How old is the home? Goldstein says that homes that are more than 50 years old may have a failing plumbing system or inadequate electrical wiring. 

3. How does the home look? Are there broken windows, gutters hanging down, or damaged siding? “Trust your instincts. If the house looks bad from the outside, it's probably worse than you think,” Goldstein told The Oklahoman. 

4. Is there anything missing? Sometimes former owners remove anything of value from the home, such as built-in light fixtures, bathroom tile, water heaters, air-conditioning units, and hardwoods, says Bill Jacques, president-elect of the American Society of Home Inspectors. 

Housing experts encourage buyers to get a home inspector to look at the property, even if it is sold as-is, so that home buyers know any repairs needed and cost estimates before they purchase the home.

“Buying a bank-owned home gives you the opportunity to enter the market at a very low price level,” says Dorcas Helfant, a past president of the National Association of REALTORS®. “You can find terrific values among foreclosures, especially if they're not in too bad shape. But, remember, these houses are discounted for a reason.”

Source: “Foreclosed Homes May Need Extensive Repairs,” The Oklahoman (Jan. 28, 2012)