What should my dad do with this house?
March 30, 2011 10:37 AM   Subscribe

How, if it is even possible, can my father get out from under a nearly condemned home without still having a mortgage payment?

My parents have been seperated for nearly 3 years now, and are still in the process of getting the divorce finalized. My father moved out of the house in question 3 years ago, and my mother has been living there alone since, while my father still pays the mortgage and utilities. Apparently several months ago my mother moved in with her sister and left the place in a terrible state, and it has been sitting there for months that way. We already knew that my mother collects (literal) trash, and that it would be a huge overhaul to get the place in a livable condition, so my dad took a week off work and rented a dumpster to try to get the place cleaned up. What we didn't know is that the place is far worse than either of us expected. Imagine an episode of Hoarders, if you will. On top of the filth and trash, apparently my mother failed to tell anyone that there was some sort of pluming issue (a burst pipe/hot water tank/????) that flooded the main hallway and has been sitting there since before she moved out. We know because she tried to put things down soak it up, but I imagine has only added to the disgusting factor. Who even knows the other things that are going on in other parts of the house that haven't been explored yet. Understandably, my father, who had planned on cleaning it up and living there, is having trouble imagining a getting it to a livable condition without spending excessive time and money trying to get it up to code. I also told him that he should take photos of the state the house was left in, that way if he has to spend anything to get it fixed up, the expense can come out of what my mother is entitled to in regards to the house. Last I asked my dad said he had around 75,000 left on the mortgage. Without internal investigation the house was appraised in 2010 at $132,800.00.

Is there anything that can be done to just get out from under the house? I know there are companies that "buy ugly houses" and fix them up, but is this something that even they would buy at this point (if we get rid of the trash, of course) ? And if so would it be enough to even make a dent on the mortgage? He's coming into a fair amount of inheritance cash, and would possibly put some toward taking care of a little left over mortgage, but I don't know if it'd end up being more than half if he could do that. I'm trying to keep him positive, but he's understandably stressing because he doesn't really know what to do or where to start. Any advice would be appreciated on this… really anything. Thanks!
posted by Quincy to Home & Garden (4 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I don't have any type of experience with this but could he not get the house up to code and inhabitable with the inheritance money? It's probably going to cost him less to use the money towards making the repairs to the house than trying to pay down the mortgage.

Obviously I can't make any estimates on the costs associated or even a guess as to the damage to the home. I do hope the situation improves for your father. Good luck to you both..
posted by loquat at 10:47 AM on March 30, 2011

I would get a quote from a company that does catastrophic cleaning to have them come in and remove everything and clean, and, at the same time, get quotes for the plumbing (and whatever else needs fixing) repairs, also get a good, realistic appraisal done. Then he knows what the value vs. liability vs. mortgage situation is.

Right now he's faced with a lot of unknowns, that ups the stress factor...
posted by tomswift at 11:06 AM on March 30, 2011 [4 favorites]

First, he needs to talk with his divorce lawyer about who is responsible for the repairs to the property, especially if the house has been significantly damaged.
posted by Marty Marx at 11:24 AM on March 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

What is land worth in your part of the world? In some places, the majority of a house's value is the land it is sitting on. If that is the case, or if the house is in a good location with regard to amenities, schools, etc, someone might still pay a fair amount to buy the property even if they have to bulldoze the house and start over.
posted by lollusc at 8:43 PM on March 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

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