Florida has its share of homes that are in foreclosure.
Many folks looking for a less expensive way to move to the Sunshine State may consider buying a distressed property. Are they really a good deal? FOG has some opinions, read on…
FOG’s opinion #1: Banks are not going to give you a great deal!
As with just about anything in life, there is more than one side to the story. Just because a bank forecloses on a house, it does not mean that it will be offered for sale at a bargain basement price. The bank wants to get the highest possible price for the house, while getting it off of their books. Banks really don’t want to hold real estate. However, they also are not willing to lose any more money than needed to get rid of a property.
FOG’s opinion #2: Distressed houses will need lots of repairs.
What condition is the house in?
From my personal observation and from reading articles in the media, once a bank is forced to take back a house, they spend as little as possible to keep up the place. There is a house in foreclosure in our neighborhood. For over two years, it has been neglected. The electricity has been off for that time, so there has been no air conditioning running at all. In the hot, humid climate of Florida, mold can grow very quickly without AC.
The roof leaked for several months before being repaired. By repaired, I mean that a handyman put a little patch on the roof. The house desperately needs a complete new roof.
A window was broken and left unrepaired for about six weeks. That was during the rainy season, so it is quite possible that more water got into the house; another source of mold.
The lawn has been left to turn into nothing but weeds. The lawn, shrubs and trees have not been fertilized and no insecticide has been applied for over two years.
FOG’s opinion #3: Get ready for surprises and to spend some money.
The distressed homeowner stripped the house of just about everything of value before the bank took it over. They removed all of the appliances, interior doors, cabinet knobs, drawer pulls, ceiling fans and even all of the cover plates on the electric outlets. Those are the things that are visible. What else could they have done?
FOG’s opinion #4: Banks are not always completely truthful.
The bank knows that a prospective buyer is going to be put off by any obvious signs of neglect. At the house in my neighborhood, they sent in two guys and a girl in a beat-up old van to do some cosmetic repairs to the house. These folks definitely were not professional contractors.
They did some cleaning inside, trimmed the bushes around the house and put up cheap interior doors. Then they spray painted the inside of the house. It looks OK, but I really wonder how much mold and mildew they covered over. Is the bank or their agent going to mention this?
FOG’s opinion #5: Hire a good home inspector.
This is not really an opinion, it is a necessity!
There is such a good chance that there is mold behind the walls, I would recommend a buyer pull off a section of a wall to inspect it. Mold remediation can cost several thousands of dollars.
The roof will need to be replaced for sure; no inspector is needed to see that. The cost will be in excess of $15,000.
The air conditioning unit desperately needs to be replaced. It was not working correctly two years ago when it was shut down. That will cost about $4,000.
Is the plumbing working correctly? There is no telling what the upset home owners did before they left. The same goes for the electrical system.
The so-called handymen covered over a large stain on the floor in one bedroom of this house. Already it bled through the new carpet. Even an inspector may have a difficult time finding that issue.
FOG’s opinion #6: Talk to the neighbors.
Sure, I’m a nosy neighbor. Would you expect anything less from a FOG? As an inquisitive kind of guy, I paid attention to what went on down the street. I saw the disgruntled owners strip the house. I saw the neglected house go downhill. I know what is wrong with the place and what needs to be done to get it up to standards.
With that being said, I certainly am not going to rush up to every prospective new owner of the house and tell my tales. I’m not that stupid (well actually, I probably am that stupid, but I have a wife who would not let me do that).
However, if a buyer knocked on my door and inquired about the house, I would tell them the truth. Everything that is wrong with that house can be repaired. It just seems to me that a buyer who knows going into the deal what will have to be done will make for a happier neighbor.
I want a good neighbor to move in and take the care of the house again. A home that is well maintained is an asset to the neighborhood. A happy homeowner makes for a good neighbor.
In all fairness, the above opinions are my own, based on my observations. They may not reflect the practices of others.
FOG sez: Ask questions, ask questions, ask questions!