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I Bought a Foreclosure


            When I was looking for my first house I wanted something that I could fix up and make my home.  Buying a fixer upper meant that I could pick the neighborhood that I wanted and not break my budget.  So when I found a really sad looking bungalow with a lot of potential, not far from my aging parents and the neighborhood I grew up in, I was ready to put in my offer.

            Being a foreclosure, the house was being sold in as-is condition.  Because of this there was no place on the purchase offer for a home inspection.  So, before I put my signature to the purchase offer I had a contractor look the house over to make sure it was worth buying in its present condition.  When he did not find anything more than I had already found on my own, I felt comfortable putting in my offer.

            The house was not owned by a bank. It was instead being sold by the Veteran’s Administration who guaranteed the original financing.  My realtor warned me when she faxed my offer that they might not be too quick in their response.  So I was not surprised when it took almost a full week before I heard they accepted my offer.  But I was surprised by the fact that they wanted a quick closing date in three weeks.

            My excitement of a quick closing was quickly quashed as I would not actually close for another three months.  The first delay was because the VA’s lawyer was on vacation; the second delay happened because no one could find the survey to the property so a new survey had to be done before I could close. So, by the third and final closing date a great deal of vandalism had been unleashed on my already sad little bungalow, the most obvious being the six broken windows on the first floor.

            I knew there was a lot of work that I had to do to make the house habitable when I put in my offer.  But I didn’t know how much additional damage, other than the six broken windows, had been done.  Walking in I went from room to room to notice that there were holes in the plaster and lathe on almost every wall.  The thirty year old shag rugs, which I had planned to get rid of anyway in favor of the hardwood floors underneath, were sprinkled with small shards of glass and were soaking wet.  As it turns out, the plywood that had been put up to secure the house did not cover the whole window, only where the holes in the windows were.  So when it rained the rain came in through the broken windows, soaking the carpets and the hardwood floors beneath. 

            In the coming weeks, as I began to make repairs to the house, I found other surprises waiting for me as well.  I knew that I had to have the furnace replaced since it was leaking gas.  When they replaced the furnace they also suggested that I clean out the ducts as well.  While this was not something that I planned on, I’m glad I agreed to the cleaning because my ductwork was full of papers, cigarette butts, dry cereal and various children’s toys which filled a thirty gallon garbage bag.  In addition, when I tried to fill the hot water heater it immediately let go of all the water that had filled to that point.  But when the water wouldn’t go down the floor drain, I knew that I had a bigger problem than a new water heater.  Hiring a local plumbing service, they rooted out an assortment of Barbie dolls, match box cars and small stuffed animals.

            After two months of work, I was finally able to move in.  Over the last twelve plus years I have tackled many projects and with more still planned, my house is slowly becoming the home that I imagined.  And while I would not discourage people from buying a foreclosure, I would encourage them to make sure to hire a home inspector and be prepared for anything.