This is my version of a public service announcement. Over the last six months, my business has seen an increase of buyers going after foreclosures. In most cases, these homes have been winterized, so no damage can occur when vacant. From my own experience, I have noticed that when an inspector has taken care of this step, everything is handled properly, but the last couple of winterized homes that I inspected had some fun surprises.
Electrocution anyone? Knowing that I was coming to inspect the home, the power had been restored. I find several appliances and fixtures had been removed. (They were going to be replaced). However, the bare wires were left hanging down for anyone to touch. I always worry about kids looking at homes with their parents, and I can just imagine them playing with those wires. I have also seen the parents playing around with those wires, trying to determine what they are for. In this case, the power had been restored early, because my client mentioned when he had come the other day, the lights were on.
Gas attack? The home that I inspected this past weekend had the gas turned off at the main. The valves inside the house had been left in the open position. I received a call from my client that they will be turning the gas back on today. I am glad that I shut those valves off, before I left.
Here comes the flood? Three of the homes that I have inspected recently had problems with the plumbing, so that turning on the water to the home could cause damage. An outside hose bib had its supply pipe broken off inside the wall. I was told not to worry about checking the plumbing, because the water was not on, but I am nosy, so I look at everything any way. The hose bib had been put back into position, so unless you looked at it, you would not realize that the pipe was busted. A toilet had a loose tank, so it had a steady leak, damaging the new tile. A faucet for a shower needed a new seal, so when the water came on, it was spraying out into the bathroom.
Most of us in the real estate industry will know better, but I wanted you to have this reminder. Repairs should be made before a home is winterized. If the utilities are coming back on in one of your homes, you may want to stop by to see if there are any concerns. Many of these foreclosed homes are being sought after by clients who wish to save some money, so they may not want an inspection. Of course I would suggest an inspection, because it is good for my business, but I know it will not happen every time. If your buyer is foregoing an inspector’s service, you may want to suggest that you take him over to the home on the day that the utilities are restored, just to be safe. On one of these homes, it was the contractor who had winterized it, and on the other two, I am not sure, so I could I recommend that you ask that repairs be made before the winterization is done.