Issues in Distressed Properties

Because of their often-depressed price, distressed properties can be a great investment opportunity. They’re often sold in a “buyer beware” type of transaction, however, because they’re frequently damaged in some way. Here are several issues to look for in distressed properties.

Insect Damage

Insects like termites and carpenter ants can cause huge amounts of damage to a property. Keep an eye out for rotten wood. Skinny tubes of mud running up a wall are another sign. Also look for for sawdust in small piles and tiny holes in the walls.

Water Damage and Plumbing Problems

Like insect damage, water damage in distressed properties can be tough to detect at first. A slow drip can cause severe but unseen damage over the course of years. But there are some ways to detect damage; for example, look for mold, which needs water to form. You can also look for standing water under the house and check for give in the floor around toilets, tubs, and sinks. If any of these are present, look into the problem further.

One common cause of water damage is leaky plumbing. You can check for this with the property’s water meter, assuming the water is on. If all of the property’s water outlets are turned off but the water meter is still spinning, then a leak is present.

Sewer Line Damage

Sewer lines break down over time. To detect sewer line damage, look for oddities in the property’s lawn: Patches of green in otherwise brown lawns, recently dug-up areas, and depressions in the ground are three signs a sewer line may be broken. You can also ask neighbors near distressed properties if there have been any recent signs of sewer-line damage.

Gas/Electric Problems

Problems with the electricity or natural gas supply may not be as common as the other items on this list, but they’re the most dangerous. They can be hard to detect, especially if the utilities are off, so budget some extra cash for repairs after the purchase. Have an electrician and plumber look for problems in these areas is advisable.

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