This is one big honking purchase...
March 22, 2013 10:14 AM Subscribe
We're house hunting. We think we've found a good match. But I need a sanity check. Help!
posted by Tehhund to home & garden (49 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
(tl;dr at the bottom)
We (wife and I) are getting ready to buy our first house! We're in the Cleveland area. We've been attending open houses since January and working with a realtor since mid February. We finally found a house that matches our needs! I'm excited for it, but there are a few downsides and I want a sanity check on whether we should reconsider, or if these are the kinds of things we should expect almost any not-new house to have. Also, if anyone would like to weigh in in depth, MeMail me and I can send a Zillow link.
It’s worth noting that we’re not planning on making/saving money on this vs renting. We’re going into this because we want to own a place and have total control over what we do to it, and we would just like to break even or ultimately lose not much money years from now when we end up selling.
The house itself is a really nice colonial. Brick exterior, tons of curb appeal, lots of character inside. Very modern updates to most of the interior. Smallish rooms, but we like that - we don't want tons of unused room, we just want enough for us, a kid or two, and occasional guests, and this house has that.
The big issue is the house was on the market for 4 months last year and never sold. The owners recently brought it back on the market at a reduced price and with a new realtor. The housing market around here is still a little slow and there are a number of houses that are sitting on the market, but at the same time lots of people are ready to buy at the current mortgage rates and the really nice and competitively priced houses (i.e., maybe slightly underpriced) are being bought within a week of being listed. We really like this house, so we are surprised that people don't find it desirable, but that is the big issue - in the future when may be looking to upgrade or move to another city, will the house just sit on the market like it is now? We're hoping that the issue is the current owners overpriced the house previously. They have reduced the price $30K since they brought it on the market – but it’s still available.
I also worry that it's small for the price. We want a smaller, nice house, so this fits us very well. But so many people just want a BIG house - maybe that will make it harder to sell?
The gas bill in the winter is $260-$360! That seems astronomical for a 2,200 sq ft house, but maybe I'm off. Yet the sellers claim that the house is well-insulated. It does have original windows – but I’m still wondering why on earth their gas bill alone is so high. Maybe they're lying / misinformed about the insulation? Maybe $360 isn't that high?
The house has an ancient (possibly 1920's) boiler. We're assuming that we'll have to replace it at some point (maybe immediately), we have the savings available and are pricing that into our offer. But strangely, the seller claimed that an inspector told that this ancient thing will outlast any modern boiler, and that it is more efficient than modern ones. I find the efficiency claim... ludicrous, and for some reason that makes me nervous. My thought process is: If they’ll lie about a boiler being efficient, what else are they hiding? Or am I beanplating?
Some of the wiring appears to be knob-and-tube hooked up to an old fusebox, though I’ll have to get a contractor in there to verify that the old wiring is actually in use. Is that something that will definitely have to be replaced? Are we nuts for buying a place with old wiring? I feel like every house we see in this neighborhood has some old wiring and it’s inevitable.
That leads me to the final questions. I would like to get an inspection prior to making an offer - after all, if there are nasty surprises then why bother with an offer? I’d also like to walk through the place with a contractor to estimate some bathroom updates, check out the plumbing age, estimate any electrical upgrades, and to discuss replacing the (original) windows. I’d even like to pay for an assessment to make sure we’re paying about the right amount. But I’m told by our realtor and by a friend who is a mortgage broker that it’s customary to do those things after having our offer accepted, and amend the offer based on the inspection. That seems extremely backwards – why would we make an offer on any house with so many unknowns? I’m wondering if that’s a sign that we should run away, or if it truly is customary to put an offer down and then count on the inspection to save us from this being a money pit.
We trust our realtor as much as we would trust any realtor. We get good comments about him whenever we mention him, and he is highly recommended by his past clients. And he is very helpful and quick to answer questions. We just have problems trusting any realtor’s opinion since they benefit from us closing on a house.
tl;dr: buying an old house because we like old houses and like this one especially. Sat on market for 4 months, worries we’ll have trouble selling as well when the time comes. Gas bill is $250-$360 / mo. Some electrical updated, some may be old. Realtor says we shouldn’t get an inspection, get an appraisal, or have a walk-through with a contractor until we have an accepted offer, but it seems to me that those things should happen first. Go for it, or tap the brakes / run away?