March 25, 2010

Should you buy a house that's been vacant?

By Marcie Geffner - Bankrate.com

A for-sale house that's been vacant may look like a bargain, but buyers should be cautious because expensive problems often lurk inside homes that have been unoccupied for some time.

A home can become vacant due to a marriage, job relocation, death or other life event. But vacancies today are more often due to a bank foreclosure or short sale in which the lender accepts less than the mortgage balance. It's these bank-owned properties, sometimes called "real estate-owned," or REOs, that tend to be "problem homes," says David Tamny, owner of Professional Property Inspection in Columbus, Ohio, and 2010 president of the American Society of Home Inspectors in Des Plaines, Ill.

Vacant homes can suffer from a wide variety of ills due to neglect, deferred maintenance on the part of the prior cash-strapped homeowner and vandalism, Tamny explains. Broken water pipes, stolen copper wiring, damaged appliances and unhealthy molds are but a few examples of the potential problems that may await buyers of these homes.

Read on: http://www.bankrate.com/finance/real-estate/should-you-buy-a-home-that-s-been-vacant-1.aspx