REOs and Dewinterizing after during inspection period

3 Replies

The bank just accepted my offer for a REO property. I just met with my realtor to sign paperwork and provide cashiers check for EM. The issue is that property is winterized and I was told that the selling agent has to dewinterize the place. The bigger problem is that she said she wont have time to deqinmterize until another 7 days. This significantly eats into my 10 day inspection period. Do I have any options? Can I request and extension or delay acceptance until the place is dewinterized? Do you think I have enough time to time to get the inspection and 3 bids in those 3 days? Should I just get the bids first and the inspections in 7 days?BTW This is my first flip.

Hi Will, I had this issue personally on a few deals.  Depending on the bank that owns the property you can handle it a couple different ways.  If the seller (bank) doesn't require you to use their property management company you can call around and find your own company that will de-winterize it for you quicker and may cost you $100 or so since they will then have to winterized the property again once inspections are complete.  On the other hand if the seller only allows their management company to de-winterize then your stuck waiting until they get to it.  You can always request an extension for the home inspection period if you need, but you would be surprised how quickly you'll know what your getting into if you can have everybody lined up and do as much research now. BTW-7 days seems way too long so I would push to get the dewinterization done quicker. 

Very Helpful Joe. I am requesting an extension to the inspection period but I dont know if they will budge so I'm asking if we can delay signing a couple of days to grant me more time.  Last option is to just get the bids first and update them when inspection comes in.

As a contractor that does both winterizations and de-winterizations for the banks in this situation, here is a quick "cheat".  Do an air pressure test on the plumbing.  If it holds air pressure, it will most likely hold water too.  Make sure you are permitted to do this inspection, don't just assume you can!

You can rent an air compressor, make an adapter out of a handful of fittings to go from an air quick connect to hose threads, then connect to anywhere there are hose threads (outside hose spigot, washer connection, etc.)  DO NOT OVERPRESSURIZE!  You only really need 30-40 PSI to tell the story.  Build air pressure in the system by closing all faucets after turning down the regulator to 30-40 PSI.  Once the compressor shuts off, go to each faucet.  Turn one knob at a time, if you hear air, that line is good.  If you don't hear air, look for a valve that is shut off.  You will likely have to shut off the valve under the toilet tanks, most flush valves leak too much and won't allow you to build pressure in the rest of the system.  Check for air to the toilets by cracking that valve open after pressure is build.  You may have to plug off the line from either the water meter or well supply.

On the other hand, if the compressor runs and runs and never builds pressure (we make our adapter with a tee fitting and pressure guage on the side of the tee so we can monitor the line pressure), then you either have an open valve or plumbing damage.  It is much easier to find leaks using air with a larger air compressor (3.0 CFM or larger, not pancake style) because it puts out enough air that you can sometimes hear it coming out of a split pipe.  For really tough houses that won't build pressure, if there are shutoffs above the water heater, use the water heater as a big air tank, shut off both valves on top and pressurize the water heater.  Assuming that IT holds air pressure, once it is up to full pressure, shut off the compressor and open the valves on top of the heater, then quickly walk through the property listening for air hissing.  You are shutting off the compressor to make it easier to hear.  The water heater holds a large volume of air so it gives you more time to walk through the house.

An advantage of testing with air is that you don't have to re-winterize the house AND air doesn't make a mess!  This will tell you the story on the pressure lines, but not drain lines.  In most houses we encounter, freeze damage in drain lines is ALMOST always confined to toilets (look for fine or major cracks in the porcelain) or traps.  The reason being is that in a properly build system, these are the only areas that hold water by design.  A quick check for all of these is to bring 2 gallons of RV (pink) antifreeze with you.  Pour a little down each sink and look underneath.  If pink comes out of the trap, it's bad.  Do the same for the toilets, especially if there is no antifreeze visible.  If you pour it in the toilet and it all disappears, you have a crack somewhere.

There is your quick cheat sheet.  It is not going to be 100%, but it will reveal much of what you want to know.  After you do this a few times, it will only take you an hour or so to do everything.  If, no matter how hard you try, you can't get the system to build pressure and you can't find enough existing valves to isolate where the damage is, then you will now know probably what the bank already knows from when they hired a guy like me to winterize it in the first place.

Good luck!

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