My Home Inspector Blog: Vacant Homes: Turning Utilities On- San Diego Home Inspector

Vacant Homes: Turning Utilities On- San Diego Home Inspector

 

Vacant Homes: Turning Utilities On- San Diego Home Inspector-  Currently, the majority of the properties for sale here in San Diego County are short sales or bank-owned homes. By the time a property sells and I arrive to conduct the home inspection, it has likely been vacant for several months and the utilities have been turned off.

 

 

 

I make every effort to ensure the gas, water, and electricity have been turned on before the inspection date. At the time of appointment booking, I send email confirmations to the buyer, buyer's agent, and the listing agent regarding the scheduled inspection. The email states in bold red letters the need for all utilities to be turned on for a complete inspection. The email to the listing agent states that an additional fee will be assessed if a return trip to the property is required.

 

 

Yet, when I arrive on scene, the utilities are still turned off a large percentage of the time. If the utilities have been turned on by the utility company but are still off at the house (electric panel, water and gas meters), I do not mind turning them on, but it can be risky doing so. The vacant home may have been sabotaged by the previous owner or damaged by vandals. What if the home catches on fire when the circuit breaker is turned on, or floods when I turn the water on?

 

 

 

When turning on the utilities, I always make sure someone is inside the home to warn me if there are any problems. Most electric meters here in southern California have been replaced with "smart" meters. Here's a helpful tip: In addition to flipping the main circuit breaker, the smart meter has a "reset" button that must also be pushed before the power will turn on!

 

 

 

Vacant Homes: Turning Utilities On- San Diego Home Inspector-    The lack of seller disclosure can be a disadvantage when buying a distressed home. A good property inspection by an experienced home inspector will let the buyer know what issues they may have to face with their new home. Steve Stenros- First Choice inspections, a San Diego home inspector, can be reached for appointment at 888-335-3040. Steve is a CREIA-certified inspector with the MCI designation. Clients receive a FREE lifetime appliance RecallChek with every standard home inspection.


 


             Steve Stenros, MCI         Biz card photo

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Comment balloon 18 commentsSteve Stenros • July 03 2011 07:00PM

Comments

We see the same thing all of the time with the appraisals too.  When they do get turned on, they are often very quick to get re-winterized in the winter.

Posted by Rodney Mason, VP of Mortgage Lending - AL, FL, GA, SC, & TN (Guaranteed Rate NMLS# 2611) about 9 years ago

Steve:  I do think it is the listing agent's job but, maybe it's just my control freakish nature, I make sure they are on myself, even if I have to turn them on in my name....I don't rely on anyone else, not even the listing agent if I am representing the buyer!

Posted by Sidney Kutchuk - Realty Works Temecula Kutchuk - Realty Works Temecula, Realty Works Temecula (Realty Works Temecula) about 9 years ago

Steve,

This is a big problem here in TX too. I also know there are investors who buy and flip and when they put the house on the market, not only is the property vacant, they won't pay for any utilities no matter what the season is, there's no air or heat and for Texas, that's very uncomfortable!

I also wish there was a law against turning the utilities off when the home is vacant and someone was held accountable. I just think it's too dangerous to shut it off and expect everything to be just fine, whenever the power is turned back on.

Thanks for your valuable input on this big problem. I'm going to click suggest because it's sounding to me like this is a universal problem here in all States. I think you're on to something good and big. I hope the AR Staff agrees and will feature your post because I really think it's of value to all.

Posted by Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP, Selling Homes Changing Lives (DFW FINE PROPERTIES) about 9 years ago

Hey Steve,

Wow, I continue to be impressed by your knowlege as an inspector and your ability to communicate that in such a helpful way.

Not sure about other places however our CA contract (RPA knows to us in r.e. Residential Purchase Agreement) on pg. 4 states..."seller to have utilities on..." and while I realize this is not applicable to REO's contractually (usually because of their own sales addendums) it does apply irrespective of vacant/short sale propeties. We're also REO agents in my office and by agreements have the utilities turned on in our name.

 

Posted by Lynda Eisenmann, Broker-Owner,CRS,CDPE,GRI,SRES, Brea,CA, Orange Co (Preferred Home Brokers) about 9 years ago

You know, Rodney, they even "winterize" the homes here in San Diego! I laugh when I see that. I hardly think we need to worry about frozen pipes!

Posted by Steve Stenros, CREIA MCI, ICC, ACI Home Inspector,San Diego (Poway,La Jolla,Del Mar,Mira Mesa,Carlsbad,Escondido,Temecula) about 9 years ago

Jane: You are "heads & tails" above most Realtors. Responsible agents like yourself are far and few between!

Posted by Steve Stenros, CREIA MCI, ICC, ACI Home Inspector,San Diego (Poway,La Jolla,Del Mar,Mira Mesa,Carlsbad,Escondido,Temecula) about 9 years ago

I agree, Patricia. Trying to do a home inspection in the middle of summer without any air conditioning can be a miserable experience. I can just imagine what it would be like in Texas! You are absolutely correct- someone needs to be accountable!

Posted by Steve Stenros, CREIA MCI, ICC, ACI Home Inspector,San Diego (Poway,La Jolla,Del Mar,Mira Mesa,Carlsbad,Escondido,Temecula) about 9 years ago

Thanks for your comment, Lynda. Conscientious Realtors like yourself are a rarity! Far too many listing agents seem disconnected.

Posted by Steve Stenros, CREIA MCI, ICC, ACI Home Inspector,San Diego (Poway,La Jolla,Del Mar,Mira Mesa,Carlsbad,Escondido,Temecula) about 9 years ago

Steve,

This economic climate has put a strain and extra work on everyone.  Thanks for sharing your perspective. /a

Posted by Ron and Alexandra Seigel, Luxury Real Estate Branding, Marketing & Strategy (Napa Consultants) about 9 years ago

Good Evening Steve, thanks for the point on smart meters, they are just being deployed here.

Having the utilities turned on for ALL the inspections is critical. 

Have a great 4th!

Posted by Dan Edward Phillips, Realtor and Broker/Owner (Dan Edward Phillips) about 9 years ago

Alexandra: Thanks for your comment! I hope you enjoyed your 4th!

 

Posted by Steve Stenros, CREIA MCI, ICC, ACI Home Inspector,San Diego (Poway,La Jolla,Del Mar,Mira Mesa,Carlsbad,Escondido,Temecula) about 9 years ago

Most all of the meters here in southern CA have been switched to the smart meters, Dan. The first time I tried to turn power on for a client, I couldn't figure out what the problem was. The seller was there and swore he had the utility company turn power on. A quick call to the utility cleared up the mystery!

Posted by Steve Stenros, CREIA MCI, ICC, ACI Home Inspector,San Diego (Poway,La Jolla,Del Mar,Mira Mesa,Carlsbad,Escondido,Temecula) about 9 years ago

Great tip about the reset button on the Smart meters.

Posted by Steve Hall, Make the Call to Hankins and Hall (RE/MAX United) about 9 years ago

Steve: Thanks for your comment! I hope you had a great 4th!

Posted by Steve Stenros, CREIA MCI, ICC, ACI Home Inspector,San Diego (Poway,La Jolla,Del Mar,Mira Mesa,Carlsbad,Escondido,Temecula) about 9 years ago

The only problem with utilities I have experienced is with REO properties.  Those smart meters have not been installed here yet.

Posted by Al Raymondi, Ormond By The Sea Florida - Home and Condo Sales (Ocean View Realty Group in Ormond By The Sea Florida) about 9 years ago

The smart meters are probably on the way, Al. Soon, all appliances will be "smart" too. If someone fails to pay their utility bill, their appliances can be individually turned off. All this technology can be dangerous in the wrong hands!

Posted by Steve Stenros, CREIA MCI, ICC, ACI Home Inspector,San Diego (Poway,La Jolla,Del Mar,Mira Mesa,Carlsbad,Escondido,Temecula) about 9 years ago

See my recent post on the same issue.  (photo of gas meter lock used by our gas utility).

Posted by Roger Hankey (Hankey & Brown Inspections) about 9 years ago

Thanks Roger, I'll take a look at it.

Posted by Steve Stenros, CREIA MCI, ICC, ACI Home Inspector,San Diego (Poway,La Jolla,Del Mar,Mira Mesa,Carlsbad,Escondido,Temecula) about 9 years ago

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