Tuesday, October 19, 2010


There are many foreclosed properties in Washington DC and Maryland. Often times, a foreclosed property may offer a better bargain price as it relates buying real estate. If you are NOT an investor and you want to take advantage of bargain real estate pricing, then I have listed some items below that you may want to consider, when shopping for a foreclosed property in today's real estate market. As a Licensed Realtor with foreclosure industry experience, I can certainly help you with your foreclosure purchase. If you are looking at purchasing a bank owned property or a foreclosure, please consider reading the information below.

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What to check when foreclosure house hunting!

Here are some helpful tips on what to look for in a house that you may be considering buying.

• How old is the roof – is it the original or a replacement?
• Are any roof tiles (slate or asphalt) missing? What is the overall condition?
• If asphalt, how many layers of tiles are on the roof? (Two is the maximum before you need to take off and totally replace.)
• If slate, have any tiles been replaced?
• Look for signs of leakage in roofing or flashing.

• Check flashing for cracks or wear.
• Are any bricks missing?
• Is the mortar in good condition?
• Is there a screen on top of the chimney?

• Check roof from inside for leaks; look for water or smoke marks on the chimney to determine if there are leaks.
• Is the attic properly ventilated? (Vents under gables should not be closed.)
• Check depth of insulation.
• If attic is unfinished, check the wiring, as it will indicate the general condition and age of the wiring in the house.
• Look for frayed or old wiring, deterioration in the casing or slack in the lines.

• Count number of outlets per wall, per room (should have at least one outlet per wall). This is very important in the kitchen!
• Are the outlets grounded (3-way) plugs? This can be tested with a simple device available at hardware stores. Once again, check for grounded plugs in the kitchen – very important!
• Get the room dimensions from the real estate sheet – it will be handy to have later.
• Any cracks or chips on the walls? Corner cracks can indicate settling of the house.
• What is the condition of the wallpaper or paint?
• Are walls plaster or drywall?

Major appliances
• How old are the appliances?
• Are they included in the purchase price of the house?

• How old is it?
• Any worn spots or stains?
• Any extra pieces left from installation for replacement pieces?

• Any cracked or broken panes? Specify replacement before you take possession of the house.
• Check for insulated glass (energy-saving).
• Will all windows open, or are any painted shut?
• Are screens and storms for all windows included? Try to get the most maintenance-free type possible.

• Look for leaky faucets, water spots under the sink or toilet, any stained tile.
• Flush ALL toilets.
• Check tile and grouting in shower/tub area – cracks may indicate leaking to the ceiling of the room below.
• Look for an exhaust fan in the shower/tub area (older homes usually have a window instead).

• Has it been used recently? Has it been cleaned and/or inspected recently?
• Does the flue work?
• Is it equipped for a gas jet? Has it been properly capped off if not in use? (The gas company will check this.)

• Look carefully for water problems. If the basement smells musty, it most likely has a major water problem.
If the basement looks too clean and freshly painted, the owner could be trying to hide a problem.
• Look for major cracks around the foundation and in the corners which would indicate that the house has settled.
• Ask about water problems – the owner must disclose this information. The best waterproofing is done from
the outside of the house – interior waterproofing is generally not satisfactory.
• How old is the furnace? When was it last serviced?
• How old is the water heater? (Usual life is 8 –10 years.)
• Is the wiring sufficient for the washer and dryer?
• Are there any broken windowpanes? Do all the windows lock? If glass block, are the windows ventilated?

• Look over general appearance from across the street.
• Are gutters in good shape and properly pitched?
• Wall surface – if brick, look for cracks and missing mortar. If wood or siding, look for maintenance problems (repairs, major painting required, etc.).
• Doors – any gaps, war page, or broken glass panes?
• Are screen doors included?
• Do all the locks work? Are there deadbolt locks?

• Best to check yard after a rain to see if there are drainage problems.
• Look for any low spots near the house which could cause leakage into the basement.
• Check grass for any burned-out spots.

• Look for cracks in drive or garage pad.
• Drive should have drain (older driveways may not).
• Do garage doors open easily?
• Is there a light in the garage?
• Is there an electrical outlet in the garage?
• Are curbs, sidewalks and tree lawn in good condition?

Other suggestions
• Ask for the average monthly utility costs (many people will show you their bill stubs).
• How long have the current owners been in the house? How many previous owners were there?
• What are the neighbors like? Any problems?
• What is the school system like? How close are schools?
• How accessible is public transportation?
• Have the real estate agent pull the “comps” for the street for the past year – it will help you to determine the offering price.
• Also check the rise in property values for the neighborhood for the past five years.

HUD website information contributed to this post.

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