A THIS HOME HAS BEEN WINTERIZED notice posted in a foreclosure home means what?
Saturday, October 13, 2018
Originally a winterization notice meant that an empty, unheated home’s plumbing was prepared to endure a hard winter freeze without having any burst pipes or water damage. The winterization always involves draining the water from the pressurized supply piping the water heater and putting “DO NOT USE” notices over the sinks and toilets. In harsher climates than Gainesville a winterized house also has anti-freeze added to the system.
But today it often means that all the utilities have been disconnected. So the plumbing fixtures cannot be tested in a winterized home, and you may not be able to operate the electric and gas appliances too.
Here’s the rub: if you make an offer on the home, and the bank accepts it, the house has to be de-winterized in order to do a proper home inspection. And, when the inspection is complete, it often requires re-winterizing. Some banks handle this for the buyer through the listing agent, and some don’t. And sometimes the bank requires the buyers to arrange, at their expense, for the utilities to be turned on briefly for the inspection--which is not an easy process.
For the really cheap “bargain” properties, you may not be allowed to turn the utilities on at all. It’s as is, where is; take it or leave it. But a competent home inspector can still tell you a lot about the condition of the home and its components during a “dry” inspection--we just don’t like to do it that way, because there are invariably a few unpleasant surprises when the utilities kick on.
When you see the bank’s winterization notice in the front window of a property that you want to make an offer on, be sure to find out from your realtor how de-winterizing works with that particular financial institution, so you know what to expect when you proceed with the home inspection.
Also, see our blog post What do I need to know about buying a foreclosure?
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