Banks really are pretty black and white for the most part with their answers. You should certainly ask if they will repair the box so that you can properly inspect the home - however they will most likely say no. I know this is confusing because most people think to themselves "How are you supposed to buy a house when you can't even inspect it - doesn't the bank want to sell it"?
Banks sell properties "AS-IS", don't know, and make no warranties about - the condition of the home. They are generally not about to start coordinating and paying for repair work to be done on the hundreds, if not thousands of properties they have across the country. They price them to sell quickly, "AS-IS", and eventually - they do, and depending on the price - regardless of the inspection.
This is not an enviable position to be in.....to proceed without needed inspections would be to assume great risk for unforseen damage and to move forward with essential inspections will cost you additional money. You are between the proverbial "rock and a hard place."
My recommendation is to speak with an eletrician to see if there is anything that can be done temporarily without costing you a fortune that would allow the power to be connected only long enough to test the necessary systems.
IMO...moving forward without assurances should be considered a huge risk.
I appreciate your advice, but would like to clarify my position. We already have made an offer and it has been approved. We have scheduled several inspections and have had to cancel because of the electrical issue. The house has been winterized and we are prepared to have it de-winterized and re-winterized. The electricity is on. The problem is that there is a "piece" missing from the electric box so that the electricity is not able to get to the house. I just want to be able to have an inspector check the furnace and water pump and all the things that need electricity in a home. Are you suggesting that I replace the electric panel and hope that I haven't wasted my money? I am pretty sure that the bank would not reimburse me if I chose not to take this house.
Terry covered a lot wth his answer, but I just want to expand on it a bit. You are buying a foreclosure, the bank is seling it "AS IS" and in their opinion have it "priced accordingly". A far as damage goes, I am sure that they have winterized the home.
So schedule an inspection and see who will prepare the home for the inspection; turning utilities on, dewinterizing the home, etc. If the listing agent handles that, great, but if you have to take care of it, get it done. Once you have it scheduled, hire or ask an electrician and/or a contractor to accompany you and give the home the once over, along with an inspector.
Whatever you can test, or look at, great, whatever you can't, have the inspector or contractor give you a "worst case" estimate. Use these numbers to gauge where you will be cost wise, and maybe even add a 10% cushion and proceed accordingly. Be reasonable in your offer, but if you truly have an interest in the property, get your offer in and accepted, then worry about the inspection,you have to get your foot in the door first.
If your inspection reveals costly issues, then you can go back to the bank with an estimate from the contractor an ask for a reduction (within reason) and see what the bank says. You can always cancel the deal if you would like too, after the inspection and/or response from the bank.
Don't wait to long because if you think that "no one will buy that house" you will be wrong. Let me know if you need any more help.
Typically, banks are very stubborn about fixing anything - however it NEVER hurts to ask. She might be sharing these options, however the bank might simply be saying "NO" - so she's trying to come up with alternatives in an attempt to keep the deal together. Your options if they decide not to would be A. to walk away from the sale, or B. proceed "sight unseen" - which is obviously not a very wise idea. Additionally - if the home has not been winterized - there is the additional potential for major problems with the plumbing if/when the pipes freeze. You, the buyer, would most likely be responsible for dewinterization, and rewinterization should the bank allow you to do so if the water has been turned off.
The other option is to inspect "what you can" i.e. the roof, foundation, etc. - and take your chances with anything that can't be inspected due to the lack of electricity. In my opinion - not a wise idea either.
Bottom line - get a definitive answer either way on what they plan to do, if anything, to fix the issue from the attorney representing the bank.