Mortgage Field Services
Vacant But Not Abandoned
An occupancy inspection is issued in order for the field rep to visit the property and determine if it is occupied. If the property is occupied, the names and contact information for the occupants is requested for the report.
It sounds a lot easier than it really is. Is the house occupied or vacant? To make matters worse, there are times when the exact same conditions results in one company wanting you to state “occupied” and another company would have you mark “vacant”. I am talking about Disaster Inspections and FEMA inspections. If you ever do these inspections, be sure to clarify what to report if the owner is on the property but not in the house – in other words, living in a FEMA trailer or a tent. In most of these extreme cases where the home is not in livable condition and the owners moved out due to that fact, use the term “vacant but not abandoned.”
There are other situations that will really have you earning every penny of your fee. You will be easily swayed to declare a house vacant if the grass is really high or if there is no electricity or water. I promise you I can take you to dozens of properties like that and all of them are occupied. And, some real estate companies will maintain a vacant house, have the utilities turned on and fill the inside with rented furniture.
Another problem is the “Do Not Contact” inspection or “Bankruptcy Inspection”. Sometimes you just have to knock on the door or sneak a peak inside to help you make your decision. “Do not Contact” and “Bankruptcy Inspections” mean you cannot talk to the occupant about the mortgage or any debt collections. That does not mean that you cannot hop out of your car and knock on their door to ask about the house down the street, their azalea bushes or even who they will vote for in the upcoming elections. Sometimes I let them figure out that I’m on the wrong street or at the wrong house number and I thank them for their help. I also ask for a lot of help trying to locate the guy somewhere in this neighborhood that raises Siberian Huskies.