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Sunday, March 9, 2008

The grand foreclosures safari

Getting ready to go out on a trip to visit foreclosed houses is almost like getting ready for a safari. You need to visit your "outfitter" first. Here are some of the things that I advise clients about, when we're about to set out to visit a bunch of foreclosed houses:

1. Use the restroom before we start. There will ne no place to go to the bathroom in almost all foreclosed houses. The water is usually off and the house has been winterized, which means that the pipes have been blown out and there is antifreeze in every sink and toilet trap.

2. Dress warmly. Foreclosed houses are often colder inside than the day is outside. Most have no power and no heat. It gets cold on a foreclosures day.

3. Wear boots. Most foreclosed houses aren't plowed or shoveled out when it shows so you'll probably have to trek in from the street through what ever snow has recently fallen.

4. Bring a flashlight. Even if it is mid-day, the basements of most foreclosed houses are dark and foreboding places that you will stumble around in without a flashlight.

5. Take your own bottled water. Again, the water is off there will be no place to quench a thirst.

6. Be prepared for a mess. Many foreclosed houses have been trashed, either by their previous, disgruntled owners or by vandals, since they have been abandoned. Some have been stripped and some have even been gutted down to the drywall. Some have been open t the elements or to critters. It can get pretty messy if animals and birds have been living in the house.

7. Be very cautious. There can be loose or missing stairs, ripped and loose carpeting, dangling wires and many other trip and fall hazards in a foreclosed house. Go slow and look where you're going.

Not all foreclosed houses are hazardous messes. In fact, I've also visited some very nice one lately, many of which still had heat and power on, which was nice. But the stories that you may have heard about what you might find in a foreclosed house are all just urban legends. I've been there and done that and they can get nasty.

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