If you're planning to go bargain hunting, you are likely to come face to face with a special challenge: the long-vacant home. Many of these properties have been foreclosed, and now rest in the hands of the bank. The owners are long gone.
While the greatest percentage of these "distressed properties" are still in fair to good condition, how can you be sure of possible defects in the home when the previous owners are not available to disclose such facts?
Since the bank-owners and their real estate agent may not know all the details about the previous owners, you would be well-served by ordering a "pre-inspection" if you find an attractive property at a low price. Hire an inspector for a preliminary look, and do not make an offer until you know more.
You can pay just a couple hundred dollars for a brief inspection, money well spent before you submit a bid. Having an idea of the home's true condition can help you determine your offer, or help you make a decision to walk away from the deal, without any obligation.
If the utilities are cut off, ask your representative about getting them turned on during the inspection, which is critical to the inspection's accuracy. Take a careful look at recent sales in the neighborhood, and make your offer armed with knowledge and confidence!