What I'm Seeing Now


What I'm Seeing Now (2) - Foreclosures and Short Sales

There are so many foreclosures and short sales!  And they are owned by banks.  There are usually local realtors who have been asked to list the house and manage the listing.  To sell the house, a selling agent contacts the local listing agent and works through that contact.  It might be that 50% of my inspections are on foreclosures, but it could be slightly more or less.  It is certainly close to one half!

The problem with that?  Often the houses have been winterized.  Or the utilities are turned off.  Smart buyers want home inspections.  The selling agent will have to work through the listing agent.  This is fine and proper, except the listing agent has to rely on a bank.  Where is the bank?  It could be anywhere.  And this particular house is one file of many, perhaps hundreds, that the contact person at the bank is handling.  This house may not be the priority of the day!

My recent experiences are -- the selling agent calls the listing agent to say when the buyers would like an inspection.  The listing agent calls the bank to have the utilities turned on.  The bank calls back and says the utilities will be on by the date of the inspection.  The listing agent so notifies the selling agent.  We go for the inspection, and, yep, no utilities.  For whatever the reason, there are no utilities.

It has gotten to the point that I am telling the selling agents that if we go to the house and there are no utilities, we will do what we can toward an inspection, and then have to return after there are utilities.  I have no choice, and everyone understands.  But...!

My recommendation:  someone needs to go by the house to physically determine that the utilities are on!  I even suggest to the selling agent that they go by!  If the house is near to mine and there is a combination lock box, I offer to do it.  Someone needs to.  People are taking off work.  Sometimes they travel from other places.  I am holding an inspection slot for the buyers.  We would all like to make good use of our time.  It makes no sense not to go by to insure that the inspection can properly take place.

Everyone wants the process to move toward completion - and, most likely, particularly the bank!  They would love to move that file, the one of so many, off their desk! 

It's going to take a little extra work.  But such is the market we are in now.  Working together we can make a difficult situation just a bit easier and certainly more smooth. 

I LOVE the K.I.S.S. principle - Keep It Sweet and Simple!  I know, I know, but I don't like to use the word "stupid."

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560


Comment balloon 8 commentsJay Markanich • October 19 2008 05:39PM


I know its frustrating. The other factor is getting the local utilty company out to do the reconnect. In our area, you cannot get the water on so most inspections are done without water.

harford county maryland real estate foreclosure reo christian agent


Posted by Kelly Willey, Short Sale Agent - Harford County Maryland Real Estate (Long and Foster BEL AIR MARYLAND) almost 12 years ago

I agree with you on that but sometimes the bank doesn't want to turn them on at all in my area and it makes it really hard for people to do the inspection.  Another thing is I have been on the other end with me being the listing agent and the bank wants me to put the utilities in my name.  I don't really like doing that but if you don't then you don't get the listing.

Posted by Norma Crouse, Norma Crouse (HER Realtors) almost 12 years ago

I have seen occasions where the listing agent puts the utilities in their name.  But, personally, I would be very uncomfortable with that!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 12 years ago

Hi Jay

Yes the number of vacant homes are an issue today, to save the new buyers future problems the homes need to be inspected.

Good luck and success

Lou Ludwig

Posted by Lou Ludwig, Designations Earned CRB, CRS, CIPS, GRI, SRES, TRC (Ludwig & Associates) almost 12 years ago

I have a short sale under contract and the seller did not want to spend anymore money on the property.  So the listing agent and I split the fee to have the electric turned on and we had our inspection.

Posted by Angelia Garcia (Pure Realtors) almost 12 years ago

Most of the time, the utility companies here do a 48hr reconnect for inspections free of charge. Not with the water though. If it's in the county, you can hang it up unless someone ponies up a lot of money. They want WAY to much for water service her. it can cost over 100.00 just for a day or two!

Posted by Toni M. Rose, Easley SC Real Estate (Prudential C. Dan Joyner Realtors) almost 12 years ago

Jay good info, I think I've been in some of those homes you inspected as we are in the same market. I've seen alot of scarey "remodeling" jobs and it makes me sad to think of so many people living in close quarters or unsafe conditions.  I have an REO listing and I am responsible for utilities, however I will be reimbursed for the costs. It's part of the cost of doing that type of busines. 

Posted by Renée Montgomery, Northern Virginia Real Estate (Century 21 New Millennium) almost 12 years ago

We had a recent sale where the utilities were an issue.  The water utility couldn't turn on the water because someone took the water meter.

Posted by Steve Hall, Make the Call to Hankins and Hall (RE/MAX United) almost 12 years ago

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