How To Look At A House

McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of  

site-built, mobile/manufactured and modular homes

THIS HOME HAS BEEN WINTERIZED notice posted in a foreclosure home means what?

Friday, October 12, 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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  To learn more strategies for getting the best possible home inspection, here’s a few of our other blog posts:

How can I make sure I don't get screwed on my home inspection? 

Should I trust the Seller's Property Disclosure Statement?

Can I do my own home inspection?

How can homebuyers protect themselves against buying a house over a sinkhole? 

What makes a house fail the home inspection?

The seller gave me a report from a previous home inspection. Should I use it or get my own inspector? 

    To read about issues related to homes of particular type or one built in a specific decade, visit one of these blog posts:

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1950s house?

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1960s house?

• What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1970s house?

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1980s house?

What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1990s house?

What problems should I look for when buying a country house or rural property? 

What problems should I look for when buying a house that has been moved?

What problems should I look for when buying a house that has been vacant or abandoned?

• What are the most common problems with older mobile homes?

    Visit our HOME INSPECTION page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.

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