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  1. #1
    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    Knowing when to back away

    Super bummed.

    Was in the process of buying a house, but just got the inspection report back and it's looking like it might turn out to be a money pit (or if we can get the sellers to fix the problems listed, it might be just fine). Since the sellers have done things to make me not trust them, I think it's time to walk away. Which sucks because it was a great looking house with a great yard in a good location. Lots of room for our family to expand and spread out and it just seemed like the perfect fit.

    Now, I'm not sure whether we're going to go with our second choice or if it's time to go back to the drawing board, rent for 6 months or a year, and then try again (which will mean 4 moves in less than 2 years with our toddler daughter). On the one hand, I hate moving, but on the other hand I'm afraid I feel we settled if we take our second choice (also a very nice house with a much better interior - except no walk out basement that the first choice had - but on a smaller lot and a slightly less ideal location). Dammit, I thought we'd finally had all this settled.
    Punctuation is important. It's the difference between "I helped my uncle, Jack, off a horse" and "I helped my uncle Jack off a horse"


  2. #2
    long time visiter Alfster's Avatar
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    What kind of stuff needs fixing?

  3. #3
    Animated Member ahsposo's Avatar
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    I'd say it's best to err on the side of caution. It's a big commitment.

    I don't know what the market is in your desired location but around my neighborhood the buyer has a lot of really good choices.
    Quote Originally Posted by toddles View Post
    If I gotta look up words, it's not worth my time.

  4. #4
    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alfster View Post
    What kind of stuff needs fixing?
    Let's see, major things, the house is settling, so it needs piers put it (the seller has arranged for that to be done but only did so the day the contracts were signed and only notified us by leaving a note saying it was going to be done when the our inspector came over - it's not scheduled and won't be done until a month or so after closing), that settling has lead to cracks in the poured concrete walls of the basement, the plumbing is all copper pipes and the inspector found corrosion on all the pipes he could see, so he figures they were bad copper and the ones he can't see probably need replacing too, circuit breaker box was made by a company that is no longer in business because it went bankrupt settling suits from all the house fires its boxes started and needs replacing, settling has caused upstairs doors not to be able to close properly, one of the few problems the seller did note in the disclosures they're required to give was a leak in the roof he said he'd had fixed, but our inspector when Tuesday when it was raining and the roof was actively dripping (and into a bucket in the attic no less, so the seller obviously knew it was still leaking and not fixed), a chunk of the sill plate needs replacing due to termite damage (termites have been taken care of), seals in all the windows in the back of the house have been broken (minor problem), some of the wiring isn't up to snuff (junctions not in junction boxes, some not properly joined), and then a bunch of cosmetic stuff like exterior boards that need replacing, a deck that needs new railings, door jamb on garage broken so door can not be securely shut (needs new door frame) garage door openers not working, stuff like that.

    All this in a house that's not quite 30 years old makes me think that maybe it wasn't built with the best of materials and maybe foundation problems will continue and it'll be a constant money drain that we'll be stuck with and unable to sell for the next 30 years.
    Punctuation is important. It's the difference between "I helped my uncle, Jack, off a horse" and "I helped my uncle Jack off a horse"


  5. #5
    derailleurs are overrated bigbenaugust's Avatar
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    Childproofing 4 different houses in 2 years?
    --Ben
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  6. #6
    Super Moderator no1mad's Avatar
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    Jettison all but the bare essentials and live in an RV. When it comes time to move, you're already packed and just put the thing in gear.

  7. #7
    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ahsposo View Post
    I'd say it's best to err on the side of caution. It's a big commitment.

    I don't know what the market is in your desired location but around my neighborhood the buyer has a lot of really good choices.
    Right this very moment it's not awful, but not spectacular. There were a lot of houses this summer, but as fall progresses to winter the best ones have been sold and few new ones come on the market this time of year (that means good prices on the ones that are left as sellers get antsy to sell before winter when no one buys, but not the best selection anymore).

    It's tricky because we are moving to a new city 1000 or so miles from our current one so we made a 9 day intensive house hunting trip a couple of weeks ago and have done everything else by phone/computer/fax/fedex since then and we have to move by December 15 (so 6 weeks) no matter what. That pretty much means going with choice number 2 or renting a year.

    Renting is probably the smart choice, but we've moved twice already in the last year (December will be move #3 since September 2011), and we have a 20 month old. We're also starting jobs teaching at a university, so a year from now we'll be in our first semester of really intensive teaching (so timing for a move, say during finals week or slightly before would suck). Plus, the university is paying for our move, so this is our one free move. I know such temporary concerns (and low price ones relative to the cost of a house) shouldn't play a part to a very expensive long term investment, but we were hoping this would be our last move. So, I'm just bummed.
    Punctuation is important. It's the difference between "I helped my uncle, Jack, off a horse" and "I helped my uncle Jack off a horse"


  8. #8
    Animated Member ahsposo's Avatar
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    Where you moving, if you don't mind telling?
    Quote Originally Posted by toddles View Post
    If I gotta look up words, it's not worth my time.

  9. #9
    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigbenaugust View Post
    Childproofing 4 different houses in 2 years?
    Fortunately, we left our first house when the baby was only rolling over, so it didn't need to be baby proofed, the house from Sept 2011-July 2012 she was mobile and that needed doing, July 2012-December 2012 we've just shut off part of the house and don't use it, but yeah, the rest we've had to do, and I really don't want to do two more.

    Quote Originally Posted by no1mad View Post
    Jettison all but the bare essentials and live in an RV. When it comes time to move, you're already packed and just put the thing in gear.
    Yeah, right now, our current lease was only for 5 months, so most of our stuff is still packed away in the basement from our last move in anticipation of the next one.
    Punctuation is important. It's the difference between "I helped my uncle, Jack, off a horse" and "I helped my uncle Jack off a horse"


  10. #10
    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ahsposo View Post
    Where you moving, if you don't mind telling?
    Louisville, KY from Boston.
    Punctuation is important. It's the difference between "I helped my uncle, Jack, off a horse" and "I helped my uncle Jack off a horse"


  11. #11
    long time visiter Alfster's Avatar
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    Almost everything you've listed would not be a show-stopper for me. Copper pipe and the breaker box is relatively easy to deal with ... especially if you can negotiate the price down to cover it. The roof leak can be leaky ... I've had both flat roofs and sloped. If it's sloped, I'd be willing to get it fixed. The showstopper I wouldn't put up with is the foundation issue, and evidence of shifting (doors not fitting properly). I wouldn't even consider taking that on.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by himespau View Post
    Let's see, major things, the house is settling, so it needs piers put it (the seller has arranged for that to be done but only did so the day the contracts were signed and only notified us by leaving a note saying it was going to be done when the our inspector came over - it's not scheduled and won't be done until a month or so after closing), that settling has lead to cracks in the poured concrete walls of the basement, the plumbing is all copper pipes and the inspector found corrosion on all the pipes he could see, so he figures they were bad copper and the ones he can't see probably need replacing too, circuit breaker box was made by a company that is no longer in business because it went bankrupt settling suits from all the house fires its boxes started and needs replacing, settling has caused upstairs doors not to be able to close properly, one of the few problems the seller did note in the disclosures they're required to give was a leak in the roof he said he'd had fixed, but our inspector when Tuesday when it was raining and the roof was actively dripping (and into a bucket in the attic no less, so the seller obviously knew it was still leaking and not fixed), a chunk of the sill plate needs replacing due to termite damage (termites have been taken care of), seals in all the windows in the back of the house have been broken (minor problem), some of the wiring isn't up to snuff (junctions not in junction boxes, some not properly joined), and then a bunch of cosmetic stuff like exterior boards that need replacing, a deck that needs new railings, door jamb on garage broken so door can not be securely shut (needs new door frame) garage door openers not working, stuff like that.

    All this in a house that's not quite 30 years old makes me think that maybe it wasn't built with the best of materials and maybe foundation problems will continue and it'll be a constant money drain that we'll be stuck with and unable to sell for the next 30 years.
    There is no way I would buy a house with this laundry list of problems when it is only 30 years old. Even if these problems are fixed, you wonder what will be next to go.
    Regards, MillCreek
    Snohomish County, Washington USA

  13. #13
    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alfster View Post
    The showstopper I wouldn't put up with is the foundation issue, and evidence of shifting (doors not fitting properly). I wouldn't even consider taking that on.
    Yeah, the other stuff might be a pain (pipe replacement means tearing out a bunch of drywall throughout the house to fix it if you do it all, which the seller recommended, but sill plate replacement might mean jacking up the house to replace (depending on how severe) and even if the seller pays for the current round of foundation fixes, I have no way of knowing the isn't still settling and mean pouring more and more money into without being able to sell. Once the severity of that got explained to us, that became the dealbreaker.
    Punctuation is important. It's the difference between "I helped my uncle, Jack, off a horse" and "I helped my uncle Jack off a horse"


  14. #14
    Look! My Spine! RubenX's Avatar
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    I don't know much about American house construction (no concrete). But I do know a little bit about cars. Buying a used home is similar to buying a used car in some ways. Imagine there's a car that's worth $1,000 and you are buying it at $500. Killer deal? But the car needs the 4 shock absorbers replaced, a $1,200 job. Suddenly, the car the $1,000 dollar car is gonna cost you $1,700, bad deal. *BUT* is you know how to replace the parts yourself, with parts costing only $250, the car ends up costing you $750... still a good deal.

    I imagine the same goes with houses. If there's stuff you can do, it's gonna be a lot cheaper. If you can't fix shistnitz, is gonna cost you a lot.
    "Hoy es un dia normal, pero yo voy a hacerlo intenso" ~ Juanes

  15. #15
    Pwnerer Wordbiker's Avatar
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    Single or two storey?
    Quote Originally Posted by ahsposo View Post
    Ski, bike and wish I was gay.

  16. #16
    Senior Member no motor?'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RubenX View Post
    I don't know much about American house construction (no concrete). But I do know a little bit about cars. Buying a used home is similar to buying a used car in some ways. Imagine there's a car that's worth $1,000 and you are buying it at $500. Killer deal? But the car needs the 4 shock absorbers replaced, a $1,200 job. Suddenly, the car the $1,000 dollar car is gonna cost you $1,700, bad deal. *BUT* is you know how to replace the parts yourself, with parts costing only $250, the car ends up costing you $750... still a good deal.

    I imagine the same goes with houses. If there's stuff you can do, it's gonna be a lot cheaper. If you can't fix shistnitz, is gonna cost you a lot.
    I bet Rube could fix that in time to start another novella.

  17. #17
    Look! My Spine! RubenX's Avatar
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    About the electrical issue. I had a house once where the whole electrical installation had to be redone. The only thing that was good was the 3 main wires coming from the electric company into the kitchen. I did the whole thing by myself (and alone) over a weekend. new breaker box, 4 rooms, living room, kitchen, bathroom, garage and some outside lights/outlets. And that was using rigid pvp pipes (grey ones, electrical grade), over concrete. I imagine that using flex-pipe, through wood, should be even easier.

    The only thing I had to pay was the inspection... $300 bucks, out of a 6k job it would have been if I had hired somebody.

    Later I did hired somebody to redo the plumbing. But only because with the house being concrete, there was a *lot* of chiseling involved. Had it been wood, I would had done that myself.

    Leaky roofs I have also fixed. Also a one day thing.

    What puts me off of the settling thing. That is something I had no idea how to fix those. I'm curious now, I'm gonna google.
    "Hoy es un dia normal, pero yo voy a hacerlo intenso" ~ Juanes

  18. #18
    Look! My Spine! RubenX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by no motor? View Post
    I bet Rube could fix that in time to start another novella.
    If you provide some hot cheerleader telling Rube how hot he looks when he sweats, I'll probably get it all done in a week.
    "Hoy es un dia normal, pero yo voy a hacerlo intenso" ~ Juanes

  19. #19
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    there is so many houses out there for great deals take ya time

  20. #20
    Senior Member no motor?'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RubenX View Post
    If you provide some hot cheerleader telling Rube how hot he looks when he sweats, I'll probably get it all done in a week.
    I thought they found you.

  21. #21
    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RubenX View Post
    I don't know much about American house construction (no concrete). But I do know a little bit about cars. Buying a used home is similar to buying a used car in some ways. Imagine there's a car that's worth $1,000 and you are buying it at $500. Killer deal? But the car needs the 4 shock absorbers replaced, a $1,200 job. Suddenly, the car the $1,000 dollar car is gonna cost you $1,700, bad deal. *BUT* is you know how to replace the parts yourself, with parts costing only $250, the car ends up costing you $750... still a good deal.

    I imagine the same goes with houses. If there's stuff you can do, it's gonna be a lot cheaper. If you can't fix shistnitz, is gonna cost you a lot.
    I can fix some stuff, but lifting a house off its foundation to replace a sill plate and other foundation stuff is beyond me. And, since we'd be living there with a toddler while we had to do it, I'm not about to replace all the plumbing in a house (and tear out the dry wall to get at it and replace it when I'm done). And giving that the house is settling and shifting now, that's not something I can fix myself.
    Punctuation is important. It's the difference between "I helped my uncle, Jack, off a horse" and "I helped my uncle Jack off a horse"


  22. #22
    Riding Heaven's Highways on the grand tour ModoVincere's Avatar
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    A house is a major investment and it's where you are going to live.
    If you don't feel comfortable with the deal, and the sellers have given you reason not to trust them....walk away.
    Yes, it's emotionally involved and all, but walk away if you aren't comfortable. Much better to do that then to regret it and lose all your money in a money pit.
    1 bronze, 0 silver, 1 gold

  23. #23
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    On my 2nd home after cutting my losses on the first and looked at/went into 54 homes over 4 mos. before finding a place, so got good at knowing what to look for. So some thoughts:

    - The seller is bailing. They may very well be aware of many more issues that they aren't telling you and are getting out and cutting their losses.

    - If there are termites and damage then the house is somewhat susceptible to future damage and that gets tiring to deal with. Some banks will not write a mortgage if there's termite damage not dealt with.

    - The electrical panel can be replaced, but not likely the seller will do it, so a $2000 out-of-pocket for you. That money can be used for something else. Additionally, the presence of a crappy panel may mean the builder cut corners throughout the electrical system and that is very expensive to deal with.

    - If the roof is leaking it typically needs to be fixed or no mortgage. This is at cost to the seller and it is not in their best interest to do a good job of fixing the leaks.

    - The foundation and structural issues are the clincher. This is going to be very expensive to deal with, not just the foundation, but all the issues related to interior cracks, potential for exterior siding issues, etc... This issue alone would have me not considering and when you add in all the others, there is no way I'd be buying.

    Unless the seller were willing to see a huge, and I mean very large reduction in the selling price. If it's going to cost you $100,000 over the next 5-8 years to fix and deal with the issues it's going to immediately reduce any of the positive's, such as look, yard and location.

    I'd move on.

  24. #24
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    Consider buying it as a tear-down and build a new one. Sounds like the cost to fix the problems will exceed the value of the dwelling.

  25. #25
    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    Immediate fixes were more in the $10-20,000 range (the thing is would the fixes need to be made again with regards to settling of the house and would new things pop up if this was a house built with cheap materials). I don't know how much of that the seller would have been willing to take on, but it doesn't matter as we signed the papers this morning saying that we were backing out of the contract as a result of the inspection as per the clause in our contract that allowed us to do that. So we're just out the $600 for inspection (worth it) and have to wait to get our good faith money back.

    So now we're back to trying to decide what to do next. Our second choice house is still on the market. It was neck and neck with the one we went with (tossed these two around for 4-5 days before making an offer), but it's in the same subdivision (so potentially same builder). Some really nice features, but also some flaws (and we really emphasized the flaws when trying decide between our top 2). It does appear pretty much turn key move in ready with only minor things that need doing. The thing is, when you have to start picking knits to choose between two thing, it's those little flaws that stay with you.

    Oddly, our third choice has popped back into the picture as an option. Initially, it was a distant third compared to the top two (but we've since had to take into consideration things like schools that we didn't know then). It's a lot more dated and would want more cosmetic work (new paint and carpet in pretty much every room - fortunately it's mostly white paint, so that's easy to change), faucets and light fixtures are more dated), would need a new kitchen eventually (older appliances, cheap builder grade counters and cabinets, but we could live with that for 5 or so years until we got the money to make the upgrade), and it's about 10-15% more expensive.

    The thing is underneath what was originally our third choice has better bones (properly fixed up to the level the other one is, there's no way we could afford it). It's bigger with more bedrooms and bathrooms should our family grow (don't know) or if we want to host guests, it's in a better neighborhood (the other isn't bad, but is on par with the nicest houses on the street and this is more expensive and is definitely not the most expensive house on the street) and is in a much better school district (the other is not bad, just average, while this is widely regarded as the best schools around). You can fix up our second choice somewhat if we wanted, but we can't put it in a nicer school district and you can't really make it that much bigger easily or magically add a walk out basement with tall ceilings where there was a small dark cellar before.

    Or we could move to the city, rent for a year, and put our decision off until our lease runs out a year from now and make a decision then. Like I said, that would mean our 4th move in about 2 years, but we'd get to find out exactly where in the city works best for us.

    By nature, I'm a rather indecisive person (I mean I have opinions, but I'm often happy deferring to make the other person happy), so I was relieved when I thought the decision was made. Plus, in my mind, I'd sort of already moved into the other house (planned where things would go, how we'd do holidays, etc.) so it's kind of painful to let that thought go. I know why car dealers encourage you to just sit in a car before even talking about test drives. You imagine yourself there and it becomes part of you, and it's hard giving that up, but I know we made the right choice.

    I know my problems in the grand scope of things aren't a big deal. No matter what I can afford to find a place to live. My wife and I will both have jobs. We're not in New Jersey with all of our possessions washed away by Sandy. We're healthy (and so is our daughter). We're going to be moving within easy (6 hours vs 16 now) driving distance of our families. So yeah, life is good, but, at the same time this is stressing me out.
    Last edited by himespau; 11-02-12 at 12:51 PM.
    Punctuation is important. It's the difference between "I helped my uncle, Jack, off a horse" and "I helped my uncle Jack off a horse"


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