If you want to buy a home but don’t have a lot of money available, you might be able to get a great deal by purchasing a property in foreclosure. Sometimes, though, foreclosed houses are filled with problems. An inspection is always important when buying a home, but especially when considering a house in foreclosure. Significant issues are often not immediately obvious to a layperson and can only be discovered or fully appreciated by a qualified home inspector.
Possible Sources of Problems in a Foreclosed House
Homeowners who wound up in foreclosure were likely facing serious financial problems for months or even years prior. If they couldn’t afford to make their mortgage payments, they probably also couldn’t afford routine maintenance and repairs. They might have deliberately neglected caring for their home because they figured it didn’t make sense to take care of a house they expected to lose. In any event, a house in foreclosure could have serious problems with the roof, windows, foundation, HVAC system, plumbing and other areas.
Sometimes homeowners who are facing foreclosure intentionally cause damage to their own homes. Owners may be angry at the bank that initiated the foreclosure proceedings and may smash windows and walls so the bank will have to pay for expensive repairs before selling the house or lower the price. Owners may also cause damage that isn’t obvious–for example, by vandalizing appliances–or they may take copper from pipes to sell for quick cash.
A foreclosed house may have been sitting vacant for several months or longer before you considered buying it. That means it could have a roof leak that led to mold or could be infested with insects, rats, raccoons or other pests. It might’ve been vandalized or accidentally damaged, such as by a baseball that broke a window. Thieves might’ve broken in and stolen anything of value that they found, such as plumbing components or building materials that could be sold.
Have the House You’re Considering Inspected
Regardless of the house you want to purchase, skipping an inspection is never a good idea. With a house in foreclosure, the previous owners may have neglected maintenance and repairs since they couldn’t afford them or may have intentionally caused damage because of anger and resentment. The house might’ve also been vandalized or damaged by other people or animals after the previous owners moved out.
Buying a house in foreclosure without having it inspected first means you could wind up with myriad issues that you were completely unaware of until after you moved in. Paying for an inspection can help you avoid much more expensive problems in the future and let you know if you should walk away and continue house hunting.