You want to buy a foreclosure and flip it for some cash, eh? Maybe even live in it. Why not, right? I mean, the concept is hot like Hansel and you’ve got it all figured out. You are going to find that good deal, move right in, and make out like bandits when your done with it. Nothing to it. Piece of cake.
False!! (see Dwight Schrute, The Office)
Subsequent posts will discuss, amongst many other sensible and non-sensible things, how one can vet properties during the buying process or carefully tailor renovation plans to maximize “Dealage” potential and return on rehab expenses, respectfully. These types of strategies and measures can help increase your chances of hitting paydirt when you drop that bad boy on the market. But this is not those posts.
This post is reserved for that “move right in” bit you casually dropped in that master plan up top. I wanted to write about this first so that the wanna-bees and other trendy folk can begin picturing the strange labor and disgusting $#!t that is to be expected when dealing with many foreclosures right off the bat. Also, I do this to steer the faint of heart right back out the gate of opportunity that was meandered through when he/she/it began mulling the feasibility of such a quest. Don’t got time for quitters. Ain’t nobody got time for dat! Mm-mh. No suh. Plus, the more of you that decide it isn’t worth the trouble, the more homes we get to choose from when we done with this one.
But uh, back to the lecture at hand. Perfection is perfected…
The longer your selected gem has been uninhabited whilst in the “care” of the lender, the more fun you will have giving it a bath. Based on review of Zillow’s “Price/Tax History” function, we believed, as did our realtor, that our house had been vacant for roughly six months. We were shocked later when our neighbors informed us that it had actually been vacant for over three years! Whether you are going to be living in the home during renovations or not, you should make a “Deep Cleanse”, of basically the whole damn thing, one of your top priorities.
If you are going to live in the home during the rehab then you do not, I repeat, DO NOT want to move any furniture, clothing, human, or feline friendlies into selected home PRIOR to cleansing. Whatever mold, mildew, and other fuzzy nasties you are dealing with need to be taken care of before move-in occurs. If this is your chosen or forced route, welcome to the party baby. You will, if it goes down like it did for us, probably be on a tight schedule for the move from previous dwellings, still busy juggling your regular day-to-day responsibilities, and are most likely flat broke after that down payment. Relax, put on some old clothes, take a deep breath (once a respirator is sealed to that big face of yours), and get to scrubbing Yo.
So let us begin…
Foreclosure “Deep Cleanse” Starter Kit (see listing and picture below)
- Cleaning Vinegar
- 1-Gallon Plastic Pump Sprayer
- Sponges (several)
- Buckets (2)
- Safety Goggles (should conform to face and create a protective seal)
- Rubber/Nitrile Cleaning Gloves
- Chemical Odor Disposable Respirator
- Cute but Vicious Pet Predator (the more the better)
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT:
Do not mix bleach and vinegar! I’m no Walter White, but I’m fairly certain the resulting solution produces a toxic vapor/gas that can cause significant damage to humans or pets if inhaled, ingested, or exposed to for extended periods.
- Create selected cleaning solution in pump sprayer (see below for various cocktails)
- Fill one bucket with water, leaving the other empty
- Spray solution onto dirty surface
- Scrub surface with sponge (working ceilings first, and from top to bottom for walls)
- When “fully loaded” with (insert name of filth here), squeeze sponge over empty bucket
- Periodically submerge sponge in bucket of water and squeeze over the formerly emtpy bucket to keep sponge in “collection” mode instead of “spread” mode, ya dig?
- Repeat until surface is clean
- Move to next dirty surface
- Repeat… Repeat… Repeat
Cleaning Vinegar Solution
Every inch of our foreclosure’s interior was coated in the light, yellowish brown film known as mildew. If you have to live in your house immediately, and this varying collection of filth is all you are dealing with, then a cleaning vinegar solution that is more tame for the senses, but still a reliable course of action, may be best for you. Vinegar is not as effective as bleach at killing bacteria, mold, or mildew, but is both easier and safer to work with, and the remaining vinegar smell will allow you to inhabit the cleaned area a hell of a lot more quickly than if bleach had been used.
While harsh on the eyes, skin, and respiratory tract, a diluted bleach solution is really the only way to go if facing mold or heavy mildew concentration. We were fortunate that only one room in our foreclosure required this solution. Our master bedroom was covered in nasty wallpaper. Upon removing said wall paper (task and procedures to be addressed in future post), we encountered something that looked like this.
We believe a minor leak in the old roof and a few improperly sealed windows afforded moisture the opportunity to accumulate in said room. Add Florida’s propensity for rain and lots of sunshine and you have yourself an absolute paradise for bacteria, mildew, and mold! I used a 1 to 1 mixture of bleach and water with great results. This may seem like to much, and many sites will advise using less, but trust me, you really want that mold out of your life ASAP. So create your diluted bleach solution and have at it!
Dish Soap Solution
For the most part, ceilings, walls, moldings, trim, tile, concrete, and other not-so-porous materials are best served by one the two solutions detailed above. Hardwood flooring is a great example of material that should NOT be cleaned with either of the solutions detailed above. Depending on the situation, and each is different so don’t take this as my solution for all not-so-porous materials, a water and Dawn-like substance solution works great as a general cleaner and smells great!
photo recovered from day 1 of home ownership
Until next time…