Friday, March 26, 2010

Beware of Buying a Foreclosure, even in Hawaii Kai

We've been lucky in Hawaii Kai the past couple of years, because our foreclosure rate has been lower than in other parts of Oahu. But we have our share, and this is a tale of what buyers experienced after making an offer which was accepted on a Hawaii Kai condo.

The condo had been foreclosed on, so the buyers were dealing with a bank-owned property. The electrical and plumbing systems needed a lot of repair, but they didn't worry about those, or the fact that none of the appliances worked.

When you make an offer on a bank-owned home, you have the normal time to hire an inspector and do thorough due diligence. If you make an offer at a foreclosure auction, you will need to make sure the inspection is done before auction and any questions you might have answered before you bid.

Fortunately, my buyers hired a home inspector. First, when he examined the deck, his foot went through! Well, they thought they could fix that.

In this complex, where the living room joins the covered deck, the design goes down a step, about 5 inches. Many owners have left this step when they remodeled - it does create the feeling of entering a separate room. But in this unit, the previous owners had filled the height difference up with concrete, so it was the same level as the living room. Unfortunately, this made the ceiling too low and not up to code. Now my buyers were looking at major remodeling.

In addition, the sliding door to the outside from the deck was at the original floor level, so there was a gap between the end of the built-up floor and the door.

You can guess the ending. The buyers cancelled, and the bank lost a sale. The moral - beware of foreclosures and be sure and do a thorough inspection. Hire a professional who knows the building codes. And don't get emotionally involved with the property - at least until after it passes your inspection!

I've been selling real estate in Hawaii Kai for more than 20 years. Call or email if you have any questions about property here, the condo complexes or neighborhoods. I can recommend home inspectors and professional remodelers who will give you honest estimates of work involved.

Barbara Abe, Realtor

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