Skipping home inspection could cost you

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BRADENTON, Fla. - For some investors and those looking to buy an affordable home, foreclosed properties can be appealing. In Manatee County alone, there are nearly 130 foreclosed homes on the market through the HomePath program by Fannie Mae. But before you pinch too many pennies, a Bradenton real estate attorney says there are some issues you need to watch out for.

There are horror stories --from people purchasing homes that were once meth labs, and others who moved in only to find a slew of other problems. “From people falling through floors, or roofs caving in with the first bad storm, and I’m sure the husband and wife look at each other and say, why did we not get an inspection report when we could have? Because it's very easy to skip all the necessary inspections,” says Will Robinson, Vice President of Blalock Walters.

Robinson advises all of his clients, whether they're purchasing a home in foreclosure or not, to do their due diligence. “From an inspection report, to a title report to a survey, but these are all key elements to any good checklist to make sure the property you're buying is what you think you're buying.”

He says under Florida law, a seller cannot hide defects from a buyer, but in some cases, the seller may not know what defects the home has, especially when dealing with foreclosures. And the contracts may be written so that the home is sold “as is”. For example, the 126 foreclosed homes listed for sale here in Manatee County through the HomePath program are all bank owned, and as is.

In any case, Robinson says you should be cautious. “If you can buy it and have that sense of security down the road that nothing's going to pop up, I think it's worth the tiny investment on the front end.”

Robinson says there's very little protection for a buyer under Florida law if they purchase a home with issues. The only recourse is to try to sue the seller, alleging they knew of defects. But in many cases, especially with foreclosures, the seller is not aware of those defects.