Many homeowners wouldn’t think about acquiring an abandoned house, especially when they’re run-down and not in good condition. But for some, an abandoned house is an opportunity and a chance to start over. It’s a dream for some homeowners, particularly those into extreme DIYs, to fix up houses like these. And not to mention, they’re usually cheaper than most houses on the market, making it an attractive option for buyers. If you’ve got your eye set on an abandoned house, there are a few things you need to know about it first before you can make it yours.
Find out if it truly is abandoned.
Neglected, overgrown vegetation, piles of unopened mail and newspapers, along with no obvious signs of life, are some telltale signs that a house has been abandoned. However, just because it looks abandoned doesn’t automatically mean it is. You still need to do a little more digging to find out if it really has been abandoned. A few ways to find out are asking the neighbors about the previous owners and how long since they left. You can also try looking up the owner of the property on websites such as PropertyOwner.us.org or qPublic.net. Finally, you can also try visiting the local tax assessment office in the area because it’s highly likely that they have such information since they’re in charge of collecting property taxes.
Once you’ve found the details of the previous owner, try to contact them and negotiate a price. If you can’t find the previous owner, you should call the bank that granted its mortgage. Usually, abandoned houses are in foreclosure or are on their way to foreclosure. That means you’ll have to talk to the bank about buying this house. If it’s not the bank, the government has condemned the house, and you’ll have to contact the local government office to buy it from them. Whoever it is you’re buying the house from, it’s good that you find a real estate agent to give you professional tips on buying houses like these. That way you get proper advice on how much money you should be spending on such a house. This will help you when you have to negotiate the price.
Figure out what your intentions are for this home
Are you planning to live in this house? Or are you planning to renovate it and sell it once it’s fixed? Have a clear intention set for what you’re going to do to this house, so you know how much time, money, and commitment you’re going to put into this. If you’re planning to live in it, you can spend more since you’ll have all the time you need to make the repairs. If you’re planning to sell it and you’re in a bit of a time crunch, you might want to try negotiating for a lower price since you might have to spend a lot of money on the repairs and get it done quickly.
Check your financial situation.
Don’t bid on a property without reviewing your financial situation first. Abandoned houses are much cheaper than most houses on the market. But you’ve got to consider the expenses you’ll have to make with the repairs. This can cost you tens of thousands of dollars in total (if you’re making major repairs). But if you’re lucky enough to find an abandoned house that isn’t too run-down, it’ll be much better for you financial-wise.
You can visit the Home Advisor’s True Cost Guide to find out how much different repairs cost in each state on average. You can also get it inspected by a professional and ask for a quote if you can. This will give you a better idea of how much you’ll need to spend on the house. There are plenty of home improvement projects that you can DIY. If you’ve got minor repairs that you know you can do yourself, why not DIY? Doing so will help save you more money.
After you’re done all that, all that’s left for you to do is buy the property and get a mortgage. Buying an abandoned house is much like buying any other house. You go through the same processes and procedures. However, there are some rare occasions that people try to acquire an abandoned house for free through adverse possession. Adverse possession, also known as squatter’s rights, is a law that allows people to claim the title of a property for as long as the legal owner of the property doesn’t exercise their rights to take back their property in a certain period.
The period in which the legal owner is allowed to take back their property differs from state to state. Some as short as five years and others as long as 40 years. Trying to acquire property through adverse possession is not always a good idea. First of all, you’re technically trespassing. Second, you risk getting ejected. Third, if you do end up making renovations, but the legal owner tries to take back their property within the allotted time, you’ll end up taking a big financial loss. Depending on adverse possession laws is not a good idea. Just try to look for the legal owner, negotiate a price that’ll make you both happy, and buy the house instead. Who knows, you might even get a surprisingly good deal out of it?