Foreclosures: Scary House or Dream Home?

Buying a house in foreclosure is not always a day at the beach. Check the article
Buying a Home in Foreclosure for the ways to improve your chances of buying a “dream home” in foreclosure.

If you want to know what you can expect to find when you actually walk into a house in foreclosure, read on. For the past few weeks some of my own house hunting has included some pretty scary foreclosed houses.

Forget the images in Home & Garden magazine and the pretty interiors of homes you see on TV. The inside and outside of a foreclosure house can look more like a nightmare than a dream.

Depending on where you live, the foreclosures that hit the consumer market may be houses that even contractors, investors and house flippers won’t touch. In some geographic areas, they seem to be able to get the “good” house foreclosures first, and the houses that remain, offer more of a nightmare on Elm Street than a dream home.

Picture this: the bank forecloses on a house. The foreclosed owners are not very happy. So they move out of the house, along with their personal belongings and their furniture they also pack up every appliance in the house. This seems okay so far.

The foreclosed house may simply look neglected from the outside. You may think to make this foreclosed house into your dream home you may just have to take down this tree, trim this bush, a little paint here, to make the foreclosed house look better. Is the only problem with the foreclosed house really just cosmetic? Do those front steps of the house seem safe to you? And what about the cracked door frame and lock on the front door of the foreclosed house?

Still, you continue on in hopes that this foreclosed house can become your dream house.

You walk in the front door of the foreclosed house, which is loose and you are instantly hit with the smell. The smell could either be simply the smell of the foreclosed house being shut down and un-lived in, or it could be signs of something worse. Animals could have had free regin in the house, during human occupancy and after. If the previous owners left any carpets in the foreclosed house they will remind you of the floor of a frat house, only worse, and run by cats and dogs.

Or, the entire inside of the foreclosed house could be covered in evil black mold. This does not happen overnight, and it could be in the walls. This happened to one of the houses we were going to look at. There was one showing for everyone interested in the foreclosed home. Needless to say, it’s still on the market.

Continue walking through the foreclosed house, which is almost always sold “as is” and find the floor boards rotted out underneath where the dishwasher used to be. Even the faucet and sink hose are missing from the foreclosed house’s sink. Now, also imagine that they’ve removed every single light bulb and light fixture and every light switch and outlet cover. Still, not so bad. For the price of the foreclosed house, you still think you can afford to fix it up.

Look closer. Not only do the floors need to be redone, there is one hole which goes all the way to the cellar. The walls need more than paint. They need serious repatching and in some cases, the walls in a foreclosed house need to be replaced or removed. Walking through the foreclosed house you realize that what could have been your dream house needs more than a few coats of paint and some TLC.

The house may have other serious problems that are too expensive and time-consuming for the average home buyer.

Part of the reason a first-time home buyer or an individual home buyer (as opposed to a contractor or an investor) would purchase a foreclosed house is to find a less expensive way to buy land and a home. Unfortunately, when every single room needs major repair, it is going to cost more time and money than you may have available to turn the foreclosed home into a dream home.

You may also need to update plumbing and electric in the foreclosed home, but worse, there could be something very wrong with the foreclosed property.

Is there a major crack in the foundation? Or, why was the leech field dug up and what were those orange cones in the yard? If the foreclosed home needs a whole new sewage system, you are looking at some serious cash.

Another major issue that can ruin the “dream house from foreclosure home” is animal or insect infestation. This one may be harder to detect unless you know how to inspect a home.

The other major concern in buying a foreclosed house is the condition of the roof.

While all of these issues could come up when buying an occupied house, you have to consider that the foreclosed house was foreclosed for a reason. If someone could not keep up with the payments, how much maintenance do you really think went into the house?

Unless you have money set aside to fix a foreclosure, or don’t mind turning someone else’s nightmare into a dream home, consider buying a home that was not seized by the bank. That just seems like bad karma.

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