Weather Cold Snap and Vacant Properties

6 Replies

With these historically cold temperatures in the eastern part of the US, I'm curious to hear if there are any additional things to look for when dealing with vacant properties (with no utilities on) regarding damage?

I'd love to hear from some people who work with foreclosures in cold areas on their experience.

@Alex Huang We operate in an area that has cold winters here in CT and we also deal with a lot of foreclosures in this area also. All of the foreclosures are winterized so it keeps the pipes from freezing/bursting etc. As far as buying a foreclosure as a whole during periods of cold weather, the way I look at is no matter when you buy a foreclosure odds are none of the utilities are on anyway and should be budgeted for accordingly.

The properties to watch out for in my experience are the ones that are not foreclosures and have vacant units. Has the owner kept the heat on and taken the precautions necessary so the pipes don't freeze? Not always the case. I have walked into more than one house in my career where I was viewing a property for sale and was the first to encounter a burst pipe. This has never happened with a foreclosure for me.

Originally posted by @Michael Noto :

@Alex Huang We operate in an area that has cold winters here in CT and we also deal with a lot of foreclosures in this area also. All of the foreclosures are winterized so it keeps the pipes from freezing/bursting etc. As far as buying a foreclosure as a whole during periods of cold weather, the way I look at is no matter when you buy a foreclosure odds are none of the utilities are on anyway and should be budgeted for accordingly.

The properties to watch out for in my experience are the ones that are not foreclosures and have vacant units. Has the owner kept the heat on and taken the precautions necessary so the pipes don't freeze? Not always the case. I have walked into more than one house in my career where I was viewing a property for sale and was the first to encounter a burst pipe. This has never happened with a foreclosure for me.

Thanks.

I wasn't sure if "winterizing" protected pipes from freezing or if it simply reduced the likelihood. It sounds like it protects it completely which is good news!

Alex,

The biggest thing is to check the water and heating pipes. Make sure that they have been drained properly. 

Water pipes can be tested by using compressed air and seeing if the pressure drops over time.  If it drops,  then there is a leak in the system somewhere. 

Heating systems  (FHW and gravity systems) need to be gone over carefully. 

Other than that, you are looking for signs of a leaking roof, or structural issues (bowing roofs, walls, collapsed foundation walls etc.) From snow and ice loading. 

In the south or places with slab on grade construction  (no footers), check your foundations and outer walls carefully for movement. 

Pipes are the toughest,  mostly because they are hidden in walls, and fixing them involves ripping out walls and mitigation of water damage. 

Hope that helps. 

Good luck, 

Jim 

@Alex Huang A lot of it depends on the company that winterized the property and how competent they are, but for the most part it is done properly. Even if winterized I would highly recommend treating the plumbing as a big unknown with a foreclosure and budget accordingly.

Very rarely do you turn the water on after a property has been winterized and the water runs perfectly. most of the time there are small breaks in the plumbing or leaks to some degree.

Most of the properties in Forelcosure are winterized. If they are not it is best to keep the heat at 62 to avoid freezing pipes. This is of course will only work if the house has no draft areas.