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Home Inspection Checklist for Foreclosed Property

Unless you've been living in a cave for the last couple of years, you know that we are currently seeing an unprecedented wave of foreclosures.  Though this means hard times for the homeowners and lenders, it could mean a windfall for home buyers or investors.  Buying a foreclosed home, however, can come with its own special set of problems.  

One very real problem is that the housing boom of the 1990s and 2000s often brought some fairly slapdash construction techniques.  Why was the home foreclosed in the first place?  Did it have defects or hidden flaws that weren't discovered until after purchase?  Also bear in mind that if a homeowner is headed toward foreclosure, chances are that repairs or maintenance on the house stopped some time before; it stands to reason that a homeowner who can't make payments, can't afford maintenance either.  

In some cases homeowners who know that foreclosure is coming will take out their frustrations by willfully wrecking the house before the bank takes it back!  

In most areas, the city will perform a home inspection before purchase.  This is strictly for code compliance and not meant to cover the usual areas of a home inspection.  In the case of HUD foreclosures, there are HUD foreclosure inspection forms free from the agency.  

There are four different aspects of a foreclosed property that you should inspect: the building, the roof and attic, the garage or carport, and the electrical system. Here's a section by section breakdown.

Building

  • Check the grading status of the building
  • Make sure the ground is debris-free and has no bizarre inclination
  • Ensure that the slope of the land is away from home so that water drains correctly
  • Check to see if the foundation of the home is a wet area
  • Check the stability and functionality of the windows
  • Make sure the doors are secure
  • Look for potholes or cracks in the driveway
  • Is the porch or deck in good shape? What about the screen doors?
  • Is there a chimney? Is it functional?
  • Are the stairs in good condition?
  • Has the lawn been well-maintained?
  • What kind of condition is the sidewalk in?

Roof and Attic

  • Are there any closed vents in the roof?
  • What is the condition of the insulation?
  • Are there any soft spots in the attic floor?
  • Is the wiring secure?
  • What type of roofing material did the previous owner use?
  • Is there any mold or termite damage?
  • Are there holes in the ceiling?

Garage and Carport

  • Are there cracks in the walls?
  • What kind of condition are the floors in?
  • Does the ceiling have any signs of a water leak?
  • Is there sufficient lighting?
  • Is there heating and air-conditioning?

Electrical System

  • Is the riser in good condition?
  • Has there been any damage to the electrical meter?
  • Is there up to 200 amps capacity?
  • Are the circuit breakers marked?