Foreclosures span the full spectrum of houses for sale. Some banks repair, repaint and rehab their houses before putting them up for sale. Other banks put them on the market without spending a dime beyond the two necessities: changing the locks and winterizing the plumbing so the pipes don’t freeze and burst.Â
134 Broadway, a house that went through foreclosure in Mishawaka, is a case of a bank taking the second approach. It is a fundamentally sound house, and even attractive from the outside. But it is the dirtiest house I’ve seen in three years of looking at homes.Â
The sheer amount of trash in the house was not only distracting, but blocked views of many of the homes features. To see if the floor is sound, you have to move someone’s trash which includes dirty clothes, old food and animal droppings. Would you do it?
- Dress for the weather. Most bank-owned homes aren’t heated. In single digit temperatures you won’t want to stay in a house for long enough to look around thoroughly if you don’t have a hat and gloves.
- Take a flashlight. Some homes will have electricity, but many won’t. Sometimes the former owners have taken the light fixtures and painted windows black.
- Bring a hat. If you took the advice above, you’ll be wearing something to keep warm, but if you plan to look in the basement – a necessity if you want to see the furnace and water heater, you’ll want something to cover your head from spider webs and other things you won’t want in your hair.
- Take a camera. Looking for a good buy on a foreclosed home is a lot like looking for a needle in a haystack. You’ll need to see many of them. If you don’t take pictures, you won’t remember which house had the good appliances and which one had the third bedroom with no closet. They will become “the house that smelled like cat pee” and “the house with graffiti on the walls.”
- Consider enlisting the aid of a Realtor that knows the local foreclosure market.Â Obviously this is a plug for you to contact me.Â But the truth is that it takes a lot of time to get up to speed on an area’s Â foreclosured houses. You can find lists of bank owned properties online, but until you’ve seen the sales history of 40 homes that sold a year ago for twice the asking price, it’s easy to get excited that a house is a good buy even when it is not. Using an experienced Realtor can help you stay unemotional and find a home that will make you money. They can also help you avoid the most common and costly pitfalls encountered with foreclosures.
- Be patient. There are many bank owned homes and this doesn’t seem likely to change in the near future. Don’t get attached to one house and worry that it will get away. Look at many foreclosures and act deliberately. The patience you learn here will help you when negotiating with banks, which can be an exercise in frustration.Â