How to Buy a Foreclosed Home Podcast Transcript


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Welcome to the Informed Consumer, providing the latest tips and tools to assist consumers in making informed decisions, from the Fairfax County Consumer Affairs Branch.

Today’s topic: How to Buy a Foreclosed Home.

A home is one of the most expensive purchases a person will make in his or her lifetime, so the decision to purchase a home should never be an uninformed one.  To minimize unpleasant surprises and unexpected difficulties, you’ll want to learn as much as you can about the newly constructed or existing house before you buy it.  A home inspection may identify the need for major repairs or builder oversights, as well as the need for maintenance to keep it in good shape.   After the inspection, you will know more about the house, which will allow you to make decisions with confidence.

Everyone’s looking for a deal, but good deals are not always what they seem.  Many homes, especially foreclosures, have major structural defects, unsafe heating systems or exposed wires that can cause injury or fire.

What are the Minimum Qualifications For a Home Inspector?

  • Request professional references and call them with specific questions about the inspector and services provided.  The American Society of Home Inspectors recommends that homebuyers be wary of a bargain.
  • Talk to the inspector ahead of time and review sample reports to make sure you can understand them.  Confirm that the inspector is an experienced residential inspector.  Related work experience in construction or engineering is helpful, but is no substitute for training and experience.

What is the Difference Between a Licensed and Certified Home Inspector?

In Virginia, a home inspector must be licensed through the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation (DPOR).  A licensed home inspector is not the same as a certified home inspector.  DPOR’s regulations for licensure do not prohibit individuals from performing home inspections for hire, provided they do not hold themselves out as or use the title of “certified

home inspector”, or offer to provide a “certified home inspection”.  A home inspector may become certified by the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) after completing 250 valid inspections, passing the National Home Inspector Examination and ASHI’s Standards and Ethics module, and must complete inspection reports successfully verified for compliance with ASHI’s Standards and Practices.

Is the Buyer Allowed to Accompany the Inspector During the Inspection?

While it’s not required, the American Society of Home Inspectors strongly encourages buyers to attend the home inspection.  A professional home inspection can be a valuable educational experience for the new homeowner.  You will be able to observe the inspector and ask questions as you learn about the condition of the home and how to maintain it.

What kind of Report Should I Expect?

  • A “narrative report”, which is the preferred type of report for a foreclosure or “as is” purchase, provides necessary information about the scope of each problem.
  • It is essential that all utilities be turned on in order to do an accurate inspection.  This enables the inspector to check the electric, A/C, plumbing, heating, appliances, pool, spa, security system and garage door openers.

To locate a certified home inspector, you may contact the American Society of Home Inspectors at 1-800-743-2744.

To verify whether a prospective inspector is licensed in Virginia, contact the licensing division of DPOR at 804-367-8595.

Thanks for listening to the Informed Consumer. For more information on this topic or if you feel that you’ve been a victim of a scam, please contact the Consumer Affairs Branch at 703-222-8435 or visit our web site at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/consumer. Informed Consumer is produced by the Fairfax County, Virginia, government.



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