Storm-damaged East Coast homes selling for a fraction of their original asking prices

Recently in this blog, we talked about why buyers need to be cautious about purchasing foreclosed homes, and emphasized the importance of getting a home inspection before making a down payment on such properties. Real estate activity following Hurricane Sandy further illustrates why you should never buy a house without knowing exactly what you're getting yourself into.

According to The New York Times, homeowners in storm-damaged areas along the East Coast are facing difficult decisions about what to do with their houses. Some people who had their properties on the market earlier in the year have taken them off, hoping to wait until property values begin to rebound.

Others, like 72-year-old retired police officer John Vento, have decided to sell their homes for much less than what they are worth. Vento's home, which was originally on the market for $580,000, sold for a mere $279,000. Considering it had been flooded with 10 feet of water during the storm, Vento told the source that he considers himself fortunate for being able to sell it for even that much.

Steve Kaplan, an investment banker from Long Island who has been buying damaged properties there since the storm, told The New York Times that many residents are ready to move on, and don't want to have to deal with redoing their homes. Because of this willingness to sell for a fraction of what their homes were originally worth, there is an opportunity for buyers to score a property for a great deal.

In situations like this, it's essential for potential homebuyers to have a home inspection contractor evaluate the property and help them determine exactly what they will need to do in order to make it safe and liveable.