A sick house is no bargain -- here's what to look for

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A fairly large percentage of homes selling nowadays are so-called "distressed properties" -- homes that were lost to their previous owners through foreclosure. Their prices are lower and, without doubt, there are bargains to be had so long as you are employed (or have a thriving business) and a decent credit rating --- not to mention (though I am about to) the ability to make a handsome down payment on the mortgage.

But as tempting as these bargains might be, you will do yourself and your family a service by first doing some detective work to make sure the existing house doesn't come complete with tons of existing -- and potentially costly -- health problems.